King, Ship, and Sword is the 16th and latest of Dewey Lambdin’s naval adventures chronicling the career of Alan Lewrie.
We left Lewrie in Baltic Gambit in the aftermath of the Battle of Copenhagen as the captain of HMS Thermopylae. He survives the battle with his professional reputation enhanced but staring the wreckage of his marriage and close friendships in the face.
King, Ship, and Sword picks up with Thermopylae on close blockade of the Dutch ports as peace becomes more and more inevitable. Lewrie, as usual, is in a state of disfavor with the powers at Whitehall and his ship is one of the last to be called home and paid off when the Peace of Amiens is signed.
In the third of Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novels, The King’s Commission, freshly commissioned Lieutenant Alan Lewrie finds himself assigned the mission of escorting a covert British mission to arm Indians in North Florida and encourage them to raid into Georgia. The trade network of a company called Panton, Leslie & Company is used to contact the Indians and facilitate the transfer of arms and trade goods.
In The Captain’s Vengeance, Lewrie is again detached to undertake a covert mission against pirates based in Spanish New Orleans. Again, Panton, Leslie & Company is the front used for the operation.
As with most of the side trips Lambdin takes us on, Panton, Leslie & Company was real and it did work hand in glove with the British government.
The the aftermath of the mission covered in The Captain’s Vengeance, Dewey Lambdin’s naval hero, Alan Lewrie had returned to Jamaica to general acclaim. His seizure of the Spanish treasure ship had made himself and his superiors wealthy men and the piracy ring had been suppressed thereby demonstrating the long reach of the British navy. But his triumph was to be short-lived. In a private dinner with the deputy to the commander of the Jamaica Station, Lewrie finds that while the squadron is planning an exciting, and possibly profitable, mission against Spanish shipping, Lewrie will not be involved. Instead, he is being sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Major spoilers follow.
We’ve discussed some of the esoteric armaments that have come in the possession of Dewey Lambdin’s naval character, Alan Lewrie. In The French Admiral he acquired a Ferguson rifle. In The Captain’s Vengenace he picked up a Girandoni air rifle. At least since The Captain’s Vengeance, though possibly as early as Havoc’s Sword, he has been in possession of a pair of double barrel dueling pistols by gunmaking legend Joseph Manton.
We’re not sure of the provenance of these pistols but these pistols were the pinnacle of the gunmaker’s art in the late 18th century.
The list of ships, characters, and cultural references from Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novel, The Captain’s Vengeance is available at scribd.com.
The climatic action in Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novel, The Captain’s Vengeance, takes place on Grand Terre Island.
Grand Terre, at the top of the above image (for orientation Barataria Bay is to the left and the Gulf of Mexico to the right), was a longtime haunt of pirates and privateersmen. Barataria Bay was virtually impossible to find unless you were looking for it.
Jean Lafitte, who has a cameo role in Lambdin’s novel, used Grand Terre as his base of operations until about 1814 when the US Navy became concerned with protecting commerce to its newly acquired Gulf ports. By 1815 the fact that New Orleans was under military government made Grand Terre and Barataria Bay unsuitable for pirates. Many of them decamped to Cuba and to Galveston, TX.
Dewey Lambdin’s naval hero, Alan Lewrie, has a way of collecting unique weapons. He owns a pair of double barrelled Manton dueling pistols and a Ferguson rifle.
In The Captain’s Vengeance, he adds yet another. The Girandoni air rifle.
The Alan Lewrie novel by Dewey Lambdin, Havoc’s Sword, ends and The Captain’s Vengeance begins at Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica.
Dominica, at the time, was wretchedly poor though the harbor at Prince Rupert Bay was highly regarded:
In this bay the whole of British navy may safely ride at anchor all seasons of the year, and be well supplied with necessaries not to be found at English harbours in Antigua, or any other part of the English West Indies, the rendezvous of the British fleet.
There was an attempt made to move the capital of the island from farther down the coast to the hamlet of Portsmouth but this effort was defeated by the marshes around Portsmouth and the inevitable diseases.
The view above is from Fort Shirley.
The Captain’s Vengeance picks up where Havoc’s Sword ended. Alan Lewrie and HMS Proteus are scouring the Caribbean to find a valuable prize that disappeared from Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica before a Prize Court could condemn it. The most likely suspect is a surly pressed seaman, Toby Jugg, who has a wife and children in Barbados. They visit his home and find his real name is Paddy Warder and he has an extensive history as a sailor and privateersman. However, she has not heard from him in some time.
Major spoilers follow.