|About the Book|
If anyone wishes to know the history of this war, I will tell them that it is our maritime superiority gives me the power of maintaining my army while the enemy are unable to do so. Wellingtons remark reveals that he fully appreciated theMoreIf anyone wishes to know the history of this war, I will tell them that it is our maritime superiority gives me the power of maintaining my army while the enemy are unable to do so. Wellingtons remark reveals that he fully appreciated the strategic importance of the naval support for his campaign, but up to now this crucial aspect of the Peninsular War has been largely ignored, except where there were overt naval contributions to battles and sieges. As this new book amply demonstrates, the maritime dimension was far broader, and stretched from the very start of the military intervention to the final days of Wellingtons invasion of southern France. The Navy not only transported the armies to the theatre - and evacuated them when required, as at Corunna - but also provided direct support to the land campaigns in terms of heavy gun crews at sieges, and also tied down large numbers of enemy troops by diversionary attacks on coastal targets. But the biggest contribution was less visible, though arguably the most significant: in order not to lose local support, Wellington refused to let his army live off the land as the French had done, so all provisions - food, clothing and arms - were supplied from the sea. This was an enormous undertaking, involving nearly 1000 ships (or about 10 per cent of the British merchant marine) which had to be convoyed and protected. Furthermore, local financial support had to be paid in hard currency, so the Navy also took responsibility for moving vast quantities of specie to the Peninsula, tying up valuable warships in the process. This important new book is the first full study of the workings of sea power in the campaign, from operations to the complexities of logistics and administration. It is significant reading for naval and military historians alike.