Most readers of naval fiction of the Age of Sail are fairly familiar with the broad outlines of the Napoleonic Wars. In reality, Britain had been at war with Revolutionary France for nearly seven years when the 18 Brumaire Coup brought Napoleon to power.
While Horatio Hornblower spent those years as a midshipman in the Channel Fleet with some limited service in the Mediterranean before being captured and imprisoned, Dewey Lambdin’s character Alan Lewrie spends those years in the central arena of the war.
The Alan Lewrie novel A King’s Commander covers the Glorious First of June, the brief establishment of a Anglo-Corsican state under Pasquale Paoli, and naval operations oriented on the right flank of the French army advancing on Genoa and covering the left flank of the Austrians who notionally were operating against the French.
Captain Horatio Nelson, operating essentially as a commodore independent of the main fleet under Admiral Lord William Hotham, harried French coastal shipping which was essential to supplying the French Army and their allies in Savoy. Genoa and other Italian states while nominally allied with Britain were, in fact, hedging their bets and trading with the French (some things just never change, see WW I and WW II).
Nelson, of his own volition, instituted a blockade of the coast, intercepting all shipping and sending it with prize crews to Vado Bay. There Nelson personally ruled on whether or not to condemn the ship and cargo, confiscate the cargo, or release the shipping. Genoa protested half-heartedly to London but as they were “allies” it was hard to make a compelling case for why their shipping should be allowed to traffic with the enemy. Though Admiral Hotham has been the target of many slings and arrows because he was not an energetic theater commander and obviously overwhelmed by his task, he supported Nelson and let the blockade continue.
The photo above is of Vado Bay taken from the town of Vado Ligure.