If you go to Amazon and enter in ‘Revolutionary War Navy Novels’ or ‘Revolutionary War nautical fiction’ in the search bar, you’ll find there aren’t many. There are a few by Alaric Bond from the British side and one or two from the American side. There is one by Alexander Dumas called Captain Paul based on John Paul Jones. Net net, there’s not much.
Most of the famous authors of the period – C.S. Forester, Patrick O’Brian, Alexander Kent – wrote about the Napoleonic Wars. I grew up reading and re-reading Forester’s Hornblower series that follows the career of a young midshipman through is career and ends when he makes admiral.
So why the sudden interest on my part? Historically it is important because the Napoleonic Wars were the end to what really was about a century of conflict.
For most of the 18th Century, the British, French and Dutch were at each other’s throats for control over the world’s trade routes. Each country was trying to build a global empire of colonies around the world. The Dutch were the first to fall out, but the British and the French kept at each other up until Napoleon was captured after the disaster at Waterloo. The wars embroiled the Russians, the Prussians, the Swedes, the Danes and almost every European power. In some ways, it was the Catholic countries – France and Spain – supported by the pope taking on the Protestant England. It was not a religious war but it had religious overtones.
Historically, in this maelstrom, the American Revolution was really a sideshow with the real effort focused on control of the Caribbean, trade routes to India. The Royal Navy was the predominant force in the world and it was a role it would not give up until the end of World War II.
So why my sudden interest, or more accurately stated, re-interest? Last month, at dinner with my publisher he asked me straight out had I ever thought about writing a book about the age of sail? The answer was no.
He said I should consider it. Hmmmm…. Then the discussion started one about an American captain with the time frame of the 1776 through 1814 so it encompasses the War of 1812. Why, because the fledgling U.S. Navy fights four wars – the Revolutionary War, the Quasi War with the French, the Barbary Pirates and the War of 1812 against the British. During these conflicts, the U.S. Navy comes of age as a viable, blue water navy capable of taking on the most powerful navy in the world, i.e. the Royal Navy.
At the end of dinner, I said I would think about it and I am. While I am working on getting my next book out – The Simushir Island Incident, from a writing perspective, it is all that I am thinking about. Ideas are rattling around in my head. The only thing I am sure about is that I am going to write at least one. More I won’t know until I sit down and think it through. Stay tuned.