Category Archives: Lord Ramage Novels

Ramage and the Guillotine

Ramage and the Guillotine opens in the summer of 1801. Ramage is home awaiting employment after his exploits in Ramage’s Prize and Britain is on tenterhooks expecting Napoleon to invade.

The Pitt government has fallen and Ramage’s patron, First Lord of Admiralty, Lord Spencer, is out of office and is replaced by Lord St. Vincent, someone with whom Ramage is on equally good terms.

Major spoilers follow. Continue reading

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The Packet Service Scandal

packet
I’ve noted at several places on this blog that a great many of the adventures of our favorite fictional naval officers are actually real incidents with some characters, sometimes not that many characters changed. Such is the case with Dudley Pope’s Lord Ramage novel, Ramage’s Prize.

Sit back and relax, this is a longish story but an interesting one.
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Ramage’s Prize

Ramage’s Prize picks up shortly after where Governor Ramage, R.N. leaves off. Lieutenant Ramage is unemployed in Kingston, Jamaica and it seems unlikely that he will wring another command from Rear Admiral Sir Pilcher Skinner, the commander of the Jamaica Station.

Major spoilers follow.
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Governor Ramage, R. N.

The novel opens in Carlisle Bay, Barbados where Lieutenant Ramage, commander of the brig HMS Triton, is receiving orders, along with the masters of 49 merchantmen and four other escorts, for a convoy to Kingston, Jamaica. Ramage has again found himself under the command of two of his father’s enemies, men who contrived Ramage’s court martial on charges of cowardice when he was in the Mediterannean. He knows the trip will be fraught with professional danger because of his commander, but they are departing at the beginning of hurricane season and the convoy commander, Ramage’s nemesis Admiral Goddard, alludes to one of the merchantmen carrying a very valuable cargo but doesn’t specify which ship.

Major spoilers follow. Continue reading

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Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

marigot
In Ramage and the Freebooters, Lieutenant Nicholas Ramage finally tracks down the lair of the French privateers at Marigot Bay, St. Lucia.

The landward end of the bay shows the channel that could have easily been concealed from seaward view by the use of rafts bearing camouflage.

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Ramage and the Freebooters

When we last encountered Lieutenant Nicholas Ramage, he was heading home from the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, having lost his ship, the cutter HMS Kathleen, in an attempt to keep a Spanish ship of the line from escaping.

Ramage and the Freebooters opens with Ramage reporting to Whitehall in response to a summons from Lord Spencer, First Lord of the Admiralty. Spencer is a long time friend of Ramage’s family and sympathetic to the dangers facing Ramage in the service because of the court martial of his father.

Major spoilers follow.
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St. George’s, Grenada

fort st george grenada
The main action in Ramage and the Freebooters is centered on St. George’s, Grenada. The above photo gives a panorama of the harbor. Fort George, seat of the military administration in the novel, is easily visible in the center background.

Fort George, then called Fort Rupert, was heavily damaged by US airstrikes during Operation URGENT FURY in October 1983.

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Cartagena

cartagena
The harbor at Cartagena, Spain.

Cartagena holds a shipyard as well as a major Spanish naval base.

Cartagena is the base from which the Spanish fleet sailed in February, 1797 to defeat at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. It is where the fictional Lieutenant Nicholas Ramage, holding a forged Protection, was held awaiting transit to the United States. It is also where the real British officers Thomas Hardy and Jonathan Culverhouse were held until their exchange was arranged by Commodore Horatio Nelson on February 10, 1797.

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Adventures in the Fog

Periodically, we’ve noted instances where actual events enter naval fiction set during the Age of Sail will little more than the names of people and ships changed. Sometimes the actual events are toned down for the novel because of the implausibility of the real event, such as Cochrane taking El Gamo or Nelson using one Spanish first rate as a bridge to board and take a second first rate.

Another incident ties together Midshipman Horatio Hornblower, Lieutenant Lord Ramage, and Commodore Horatio Nelson. Fog and the Spanish Fleet.

In the short story, Hornblower, the Duchess, and the Devil, which is included in C. S. Forester’s Mr. Midhipman Hornblower, Hornblower, commanding a prize en route to England, finds himself enshrouded in fog, a fog which also includes the Spanish fleet and is subsequently captured and imprisoned at the fortress at Ferrol. In Dudley Pope’s Ramage, Lieutenant Lord Ramage, commanding the cutter HMS Kathleen, finds himself in the same unpleasant circumstances. He however, evades imprisonment, gains key intelligence on the Spanish fleet then in port in Cartagena, and is able to warn Admiral Sir John Jervis of their intentions.

The real story is just as strange.
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Drumbeat

Drumbeat is the second of the Nicholas Ramage novels by Dudley Pope. It picks up where Ramage left off, with Nicholas Ramage commanding the cutter HMS Kathleen and en route to Gibraltar from Corsica. It ends with the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, February 14, 1797.

Major spoilers follow.
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