Book review Book Review: "FRENCH WARSHIPS in the Age of Sail 1786 - 1862" by Rif Winfield & Stephen S. Roberts

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Book Review:
FRENCH WARSHIPS in the Age of Sail 1786 - 1862
Design, Construction, Careers and Fates

by Rif Winfield & Stephen S. Roberts

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  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (30 Oct. 2015) also Seaforth Publishing, Pen & Sword Books Ltd
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781591146292
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591146292
  • ASIN: 1591146291
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 2.5 x 30.5 cm

SYNOPSIS from Book Cover:

In 1786 the French Navy had just emerged from its most successful war of the eighteenth century, having frequently outfought or outmanoeuvred the Royal Navy in battle, and made a major contribution to American independence. The reputation of its ship design and fighting skills never stood higher, yet within a few years the effects of the French Revolution had devastated its efficiency, leading to defeat after defeat. Fine ships continued to be built, but even under Napoleon's dynamic influence the navy never recovered sufficiently to alter the balance of sea power. It was only after 1815 that the navy revived, espousing technical innovation and invention, to produce some of the most advanced ships of the age. This book is the first comprehensive listing of these ships in English, and follows the pattern set by the companion series on British warships in the age of sail in providing an impressive depth of information. It is organised by Rate, classification and class, with significant technical and building data, followed by a concise summary of the careers of each ship in every class. Thus for the first time it is possible to form a clear picture of the overall development of French warships in the latter half of the sailing era.

Certain to become the standard English-language reference work, its publication is of the utmost importance lo every naval historian and general reader interested in the navies of the sailing era.

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About the AUTHORS:

Rif Winfield
has made a lifetime's study or the sailing warship. Besides a number of journal articles, he is the author of The 50 gun Ship (published in 1997) and was responsible for bringing to fruition The.Sail & Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889. This monumental work was planned by David Lyon as a follow-up to his Sailing Navy List but left incomplete on his untimely death. Rif not only filled the many remaining gaps with original research, but also revised and expanded the existing material, ensuring that it was accurate, exhaustive and original. He followed this with the even more demanding task of tracking down the career details of literally thousands of British sailing warships, many of which have made little impact on the written record. This painstaking compilation of information was published in four volumes covering the periods 1603-1714,1714-1792,1793-1817 and 1817-1863. This coverage of the British Navy's ships during the three and a half centuries that they were principally propelled by sail is meticulously researched and exhaustive in scope, constituting one of the most important reference works in the field of naval history.

Stephen S Roberts first visited the French naval archives in Paris in 1964 in connection with an undergraduate thesis at Harvard University. After five years of service afloat as an officer in US Navy destroyers he returned in 1973 for II months of research for a PhD dissertation, 'The Introduction of Steam Technology in the French Navy, 1818-1852'. Following receipt of his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1976 he continued to visit the French naval archives, collecting additional material for what became this book. In 1987 he edited for publication a classic work by Theodore Ropp, The Development of Modern Navy: French Naval Policy 1871-1904. A volunteer at the US Naval Historical Center for over 30 years, he prepared a detailed reference volume in 1991, Register of Ships of the US Navy, 1775-1990, Major Combatants, that was a radical update of a 1969 volume by K Jack Bauer, and he currently operates a website with extensive information on US Navy auxiliary vessels and other topics, www.shipscribe.com. The fruitful collaboration between the two continued with French Warships in the Age of Sail 1626 - 1786 , published in 2017.

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Detailed CONTENTS:

Preface
Acknowledgments
Structure and Organisation of the Book
Historical Overview
Chronology
French Naval Operations
Dockyards and Infrastructure
French Navies and Naval Construction outside France, 1797-1814
Sources and Bibliography
Glossary and Abbreviations
List of the French Fleet as at 1 January 1786.
Chapter 1: The Three-deckers
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Vessels acquired from 26 June 1815 (E) Screw three-deckers
Chapter 2: Two-decker Ships of the Line, 80 to 100 guns
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
(E) Screw two-deckers, 21 and 3rd Ranks
Chapter 3: Two-decker Ships of the Line, 74 guns and below. Two-deckers with fewer than 60 guns
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
64-gun two-deckers
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
74-gun two-deckers
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
(E) Screw two-deckers, 4th (and 3rd) Rank
Chapter 4: The Larger Frigates (24-, 30-, and 36-pounder Frigates)
(A) Larger frigates in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Larger frigates acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Larger frigates acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Larger frigates acquired from 26 June 1815
(E) Screw frigates, 1" and 2" Ranks
Chapter 5: The Smaller Frigates (8-, 12-, and 18-pounder frigates)
8-pounder frigates
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1785
12-pounder frigates
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1785
18 pounder Frigates) 121 121 I
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
18-pounder frigates
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1785
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
(E) Screw frigates, 3rd Rank
Chapter 6: Corvettes
(A) Corvettes in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Corvettes acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Corvettes acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Sailing corvettes acquired from 26 June 1815
(E) Screw corvettes
Chapter 7. Brigs
(A) Brigs in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Brigs acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Brigs acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Brigs acquired from 26 June 1815
Chapter 8: Small Sailing Patrol Vessels
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
Chapter 9: Sailing Gunboats and Coastal Vessels
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
Chapter 10: Miscellaneous Sailing Vessels Lateen-rigged vessels
(A) Vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
Bomb (mortar) vessels
(A) Bomb vessels in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Bomb vessels acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Bomb vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Bomb vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
Floating batteries
(A) Floating batteries in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Floating batteries acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Floating batteries acquired from 25 March 1802
Hydrographic vessels
(A) Hydrographic vessels acquired from 25 March 1802
(B) Hydrographic vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
Yachts
(A) Yachts in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Yachts acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Yachts acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Yachts acquired from 26 June 1815
Chapter 11: Paddle Vessels
(A) Early paddle vessels
(B) Paddle frigates and corvettes
(C) Larger paddle avisos
(D) Smaller paddle avisos (90nhp and less)
(E) Paddle yacht (later paddle corvette)
Chapter 12: Screw Avisos and Screw Gunboats
(A) Screw 1st and 2nd Class avisos
(B) Small screw avisos (90nhp and less)
(C) Screw gunboats
(D) Screw gun launches and sectional gun launches
(E) Screw sectional armoured floating batteries
Chapter 13: The Larger Transports Flutes (corvettes de charge from 1821, transports from 1846)
(A) Flutes in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Flutes acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Flutes acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Flutes and corvettes de charge acquired from 26 June 1815
Gabarres (transports from 1846)
(A) Gabarres in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Gabarres acquired from 1 January 1786
(C) Gabarres acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Gabarres acquired from 26 June 1815
Large transports
(A) Vessels acquired from 26 June 1815
(B) Screw transports
Chapter 14: The Smaller Transports
(A) Smaller transports in service or on order at 1 January 1786
(B) Smaller transports acquired from I January 1786
(C) Smaller transports acquired from 25 March 1802
(D) Smaller transports acquired from 26 June 1815
Postscript:
Broadside Ironclads
Ironclad frigates
Ironclad floating batteries
Appendix A. Standard Armaments of French Ships, 786-1848
Appendix B. French Naval Artillery, 1786-1860
Appendix C. Resources Provided to the French Navy, 1816-1861
Appendix D. Strength of the French Navy 1818-1859
Appendix E. French Naval Programs, 1820-1857
Appendix F. French Ministers of Marine, 1780-1870
Appendix G: French Navy Shipbuilding Officials
Appendix H. Selected French Naval Constructors, 1786-1861
Appendix I. French Naval Ship and Engine Builders, 1793-1861
Appendix J. Composition of the Crew for a French Ship of the Line, 1795
Index to Named Vessels

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REVIEW:

This book is one of the latest in a series of books on the major navies of the Age of Sail and like the others is full of information. This book contains an over view of the French Navy during this period and the battles fought, as well as the bases used by the navy. The biggest part of the book is an extensive inventory of French naval ships by type and how they were acquired, the ship information, every French warship from this period is here with class info, armaments, and career information. The cover said "Design, Construction", but here (unfortunately as usual in this series of books) the information are limited.The illustrations are sparse and limited to ship plans, base maps and b/w paintings and drawings of the ships as well as some b/w photos of some of the later ships, if you are expecting lots of color paintings of ships and the models of ships this is not that kind of book. I own all of the books in this series and love all of them for the huge amount of data that they contain. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the French Navy during this period, there is no other english written book like this one.


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To complete the period please take also a look at the Book Review:
FRENCH WARSHIPS in the Age of Sail 1626 - 1786

 
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