Tag Archives: The French Admiral

A King’s Trade

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.

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Introducing the Carronade

68-pounder carronade on HMS Victory

68-pounder carronade on HMS Victory


Warfare through the ages has been driven by the measure-countermeasure struggle between armor and armament.

Sometimes a breakthrough significantly shifts the balance one way or the other and changes warfare at least temporarily. Castles and armor dominated for a while but were driven into obsolescence by gunpowder. In our own era we’ve seen the tank reign supreme (World War II), have it’s death proclaimed with the advent of the man-portable guided missile and shaped charge (the Sagger missile during the Yom Kippur War) and then reemerge to dominate the battlefield thanks to the high velocity smoothbore cannon, reactive armor, and other advances in armor (the M1 Abrams).

The same saga played itself out at sea where naval architects had to deal in the assorted trade offs of weight distribution, handling, and the tensile strength of their basic construction material, wood.

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Sea of Grey

Sea of Grey is the tenth of the Alan Lewrie novels by Dewey Lambdin.

A Sea of Grey picks up at the conclusion of King’s Captain. Regaining control of his ship in the aftermath of the mutiny at The Nore, Lewrie joins the squadron of Admiral Adam Duncan blockading the Dutch port of Texel.

Major spoilers follow.

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Jester’s Fortune

Jester’s Fortune picks up the career of Dewey Lambdin’s character, Alan Lewrie, where A King’s Commander ended.

It is 1796 and Admiral Sir John Jervis has just succeeded Admiral Sir William Hotham to command of the Mediterranean theater. A previous obscure Corsican artilleryman is beating the unbeatable Austrians like a rented mule and the various Italian states are falling like dominoes.

Jervis decides to send a small squadron into the Adriatic to harry French commerce and to demonstrate support to both Venice and Austria.

Major spoilers to follow.

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HMS Cockerel

The Gun Ketch covers the year 1793 in the career of Dewey Lambdin’s naval character, Alan Lewrie.

As the story opens in January, 1793. Lewrie has been living for 4 years as a tenant farmer on the estate of Caroline’s uncle, Phineas Chiswick. Lewrie is bored. His grandmother has died living him well off financially. He has three children. He was called up in 1791 for six weeks during the Nootka Sound crisis but the rest of the time he’s been on half pay. He also has feelings of inadequacy as he simply isn’t mastering farming the way he did seamanship, even though the has applied himself diligently. He and Caroline, because of the circumstances of their wedding (see The Gun Ketch) finds himself socially isolated for the local gentry.

As war with Revolutionary France becomes inevitable he receives a message from the Admiralty directing him to report to London for an assignment.

Major spoilers follow.

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The Gun Ketch

The Gun Ketch covers the years 1786-1789 in the career of Dewey Lambdin’s naval character, Alan Lewrie.

It opens with Lieutenant Alan Lewrie in England after his return from the Far East as chronicled in The King’s Privateer. While awaiting his new ship, the converted bomb ketch HMS Alacrity, he takes advantage of this opportunity to visit the Chiswick family, North Carolina loyalists with whom he became acquainted during the American Revolution (see The French Admiral) and with whom he renewed that acquaintance before his last commission. He finds the family well situated as tenant farmers on the Surrey estate of the brother of the family patriarch, with the older brother, Gouvernour, married into the family of the local squire, Sir Romney Embleton.

Major spoilers follow.
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Alan Lewrie Characters

The file of characters, ships, and literary references from Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novels has been updated to include the King’s Privateer.

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The King’s Privateer

The King’s Privateer, the fourth in the Alan Lewrie series by Dewey Lambdin, picks up with Alan’s return to London after bringing the HMS Shrike back from the West Indies (See The King’s Commission) and seeing her paid off and laid up in ordinary. The American Revolutionary War is over and Europe is momentarily at peace.

Lewrie is enjoying his life as a gentleman of leisure in the winter of 1783-84 but all of that changes rapidly.

Major spoilers to follow.

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The French Admiral

The French Admiral is the second in the series of Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie series of naval adventures.

The French Admiral is set during the period August 1781 through January 1782 and covers the Battle of the Capes, the Siege of Yorktown, and the evacuation of Loyalist families from Wilmington, NC.

It begins with Lewrie still aboard the HMS Desperate, a 28-gun frigate on the North American station. Lewrie’s commander has developed a strong dislike for him because he has been apprised of the circumstances under which Lewrie was sent to the Navy, a dislike which has been aggravated by a blow to the head he took from a French rammer in the previous novel, The King’s Coat.

Matters aren’t helped when Lewrie and a companion connive their way onto shore in Charleston, SC, and end up in a fatal brawl involving Patriot sympathizers. During a visit to a brothel, Lewrie becomes aware of the brutal internecine warfare being waged between Patriots and Loyalists in the South.

Serious spoilers follow. Continue reading

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Admiral Sir Samuel Hood

As this site has an interest in the Alan Lewrie novels by Dewey Lambdin, I’m going to take a moment to profile the historical character who becomes Lewrie’s patron and the source of his “interest” which leads to his continuous employment as naval officer and subsequent advancement, Admiral Sir Samuel Hood.

Hood was the son of an Anglican churchman and entered the Royal Navy in 1741 at the rather advanced age of 17. He didn’t have the meteoric rise in ranks that marked other famous admirals. He spent the obligatory 6 years at sea before receiving his promotion to lieutenant at a time when it was common for children’s names to be entered on the books of a man-o-war while still toddlers in order to ensure they could be promoted to lieutenant as soon as they reached age 20. He received his first command 8 years later and was made post captain in 1757 at age 33.

He enters our picture in 1781 when he commanded a squadron under Admiral Thomas Graves at the Battle of the Capes. Graves was probably one of most significant mediocrities produced by the Royal Navy and his inept handling of his fleet led to he defeat of the British fleet and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown:

At 3:45 P.M., with the two fleets on nearly parallel courses a mile or two apart, Graves hoisted the signal “line ahead,” meaning that his ships were to remain in single file, bow to stern, as they approached the enemy. As the forward end, or “van,” of the British line approached the French at a slight angle, forming a “V,” Graves signaled for his fleet to “bear down and engage,” meaning that each ship was to engage its opposite in battle. However, Graves continued to fly the signal for “line ahead.” Hood, knowing that the requirement to follow the “line ahead” signal superceded all other signals, remained doggedly in line in the rear, positioned too far back to be actively engaged. For nearly an hour and a half, only the van of the British fleet engaged de Grasse’s ships. Finally, at 5:20 P.M., Graves lowered all signals and hoisted the sign for “close action.” Hood’s squadron joined the fight. However, by this time, three British ships had been disabled.

As the afternoon wore on, de Grasse ordered his ships to break contact and bear away. The battle ended by 6:30 P.M., as daylight failed.

This remains a source of controversy among naval historians and causes our hero, Alan Lewrie, to brand Hood a poltroon for not joining the melee. In The French Admiral, Hood expresses his admiration for Lewrie and appears again in The King’s Privateer as his patron.

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