Book review Book Review: "JOHN PAUL JONES and the BONHOMME RICHARD, A Reconstruction of the Ship and an Account of the Battle With HMS Serapis" by Jean Boudriot


Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria
Book Review:
A Reconstruction of the Ship and an Account of the Battle With HMS Serapis

by Jean Boudriot
Translated by David H. Roberts

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  • Hardcover: 127 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press; 1st edition (November 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • Package Dimensions: 12.4 x 9.5 x 0.8 inches, 31.8 x 24 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
still available from ancre for a price of 48,00 Euro



Ever since the Bonhomme Richard sank off Flarnborough Head after defeating HMS Serapis in 1779, there has been speculation about her appearance. Contemporary paintings and engravings are inaccurate, manuscript records are sketchy, and the original plans have not survived. Over the last 200 years the evidence has become dispersed , and is now to be found in public and private collections in Frànce, in England , and in America . Because Bonhomme Richard was a French ship, lent by Louis XVI to Captain John Paul Jones of the young American Navy, it required an unusual combination of talents to attempt the reconstruction: knowledge ofwhere to look for the elues; access to both French and English-language archives; a knowledge of the ships of the French East India Company ; the ability to represent the evidence visually, in a style which is bath clear and interesting; and a historian's skill to weigh facts which are sometimes conflicting, and place them within the context of the late !8th century.

In this book, Jean Boudriot has cal led on the talents of many people, from both sides of the Atlantic, to achieve the goal which he had set: nothing Jess than bringing to !ife the wreck of a ship which lies in the deep waters of the North Sea, reconstrucfing it timber by timber in a succession of drawings, and showing us, for the first time in more than two hundred years, the true appearance of the Bonhomme Richard on that fateful day in September 1779.

The sarne painstaking search for accuracy is found in every chapter: the first detailed account of the farnous and bloody battle with H.M.S. Serapis; an evaluation of the ship's sailing qualities; a discussion of the uniforms wom by John Paul Jones during those earl y years of the Arnerican Navy ; a series of masterful paintings which breathe !ife into the events which are recounted ; a series of computer drawings which allow us to look at the hull from every perspective; and finally a remarkable mode!built from Jean Boudriot's plans. Nothing like this has ever been attempted before.

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Notes on 18th Century Measurements
Chapter I: The Indiaman: The Duc de Duras
Chapter II: The Warship: The Bonhomme Richard
Chapter III: Fitting Out For Battle - The Great Guns - The Small Arms - The Seamen - The Marines
Chapter IV: The Battle
Chapter V: The Uniforms of John Paul Jones
Chapter VI: The Bonhomme Richard Under Sail
Chapter VII: The Bonhomme Richard as Seen by The Computer
Chapter VIII: The Bonhomme Richard Rebuilt: Ship Models


I Bonhomme Richard & Pallas in a Gale by William Gilkerson
II Bonhomme Richard by William Gilkerson
III "The hail of fire from Richard 's tops was now intense" by William Gilkerson
IV The Battle: September 23rd 1779 by William Gilkerson
V United States Flags by William Gilkerson
VI The Uniforms of the Régiment de Walsh-Sérrent by Michel Pétard
VII "/ saw with inexpressible grief the fast glimpse" by William Gilkerson
VIII John Paul Jones in Uniform by William Gilkerson
IX The Uniforms of the United States Navy by Michel Pétard
X "Got under way from the Isle of Graw in France"
Saturday, August 14th 1779 by William Gilkerson


Frontispiece: John Paul Jones by J.M . Moreau
1 Schematic Sheer Draught
2 Timbering of the Hull
3 Duc de Duras: Arrangement of the Gunports
4 Bonhomme Richard: Arrangement of the Gunports
5 Close-up of the Hull Timbers and Gunports
Manuscript Sources
Draughts of the Massiac and the Bertin
Manuscript Sources
6 Body Plan
7 Sheer Plan
8 Half-Breadth and Horizontal Sections
9 Broadside View of the Ship, as Fitted Out
10 View of the Bow
11 View of the Stern
12 Profile of Inboard Works
13 Transverse Sections
14 The Lower Deck
15 The Upper Deck
16 Forecastle, Quarterdeck and Gangways
17 The Poop
18 Fittings: Guns, Capstans, etc
19 The Bonhomme Richard Under Sail
20 Fittings: Anchors and Boats
21 The Great Guns
22 Drawing by Maritz of a 12-Pdr (1761 Mode!)
23 Drawing by Maritz of an 8-Pdr (1761 Mode!)
24 Swivel or Petrero
25 Small Arms
26 Selection of Headgear Worn by 18th Century Seamen Tl Celebrating the Victory
28 Two Men Carrying a Budge Bucket Containing a Cartridge
29 The Battle: 1.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m .
30 The Battle: 6.00 p. m. to 7.30 p.m.
31 Draughts of H.M.S. Serapis
32 The Battle: 7.45 p.m. to 8.05 p.m .
33 "So close we could not run the guns out"

John Paul Jones' Achievement of Arms
Curves of Form: Hydrostatic Properties
Displacement Variation by Vial du Clairbois
Computer Drawings of the Bonhomme Richard

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More Look Inside photos in the next post
Unfortunatly the book isn´t availible at The description is: Out of stock. But more than 6 month now, maybe the stoped the production of this book. In my opinion the book is only a nice to have, but the drawings are all the same as in the planset (only in small). The history is interesting to read, but only for a few pages to buy this book is for enthusiasts only to complete the collection.
@Olivers Historic Shipyard ,
I agree with you, if you have the planset, nothing new is shown in order to build the model.
On the other hand, if you do not have the planset from Boudriot and you do not want to build the model, it is a very interesting book to understand the ship and his a „stand alone“ document.
Sorry, I did not check if it is out of stock. The book is often available also as second hand in very good conditions.....check it out on abebooks f.e.
I bought a Book and the plans used on ebay. But the planset was incomplete. I exchanged book and planset and i get back my money. But I learned one important thing. Dont buy on ebay things with various pieces. I bought a new planset on ancre but i live now without the BHR-Book. Maybe in the future when i found it cheap i will complete my collection. If not, it doesnt matter.