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.
I stumbled across this transcription of the 1811 pamphlet titled A Narrative of Joshua Davis at the Navy’s online library. The subtitle slash promotional blurb reads:
An American citizen,who was pressed and served on board six ships of the British navy, he was in seven engagements, once wounded, five times confined in irons, and obtained his liberty by desertion. the whole being an interesting and faithful narrative of the discipline, various practices and treatment of pressed seamen in the British navy. And containing information that never was before presented to the American people.
It is an interesting read and also gives a bit on insight into the bitterness felt by Americans towards the British over the practice of impressment right before the War of 1813.
I’ve dressed it up a bit and posted it at scribd.com.
From Baltic Gambit as Captain Alan Lewrie’s HMS Thermopylae joins Admiral Sir Hyde Parker’s frigates moving to attack the Danish fleet at Copenhagen:
Sails sprang aloft, even as the best bower was rung up, catted, and fished, and Thermopylae paid off the breeze from her anchorage, a faint wake beginning to form as she gained a bit of steerageway among the many warships preparing for battle, slowly threading her way to join up with Capt. Riou’s HMS Amazon.
“A tune, there!? Lewrie yelled. “Desmond, gather the lads, and carry us in!”
A moment later, and the Marine drummer lad, the fifer, Desmond and his uillean pipes, and the ship’s fiddler began One Misty, Moisty Morning, a gay, uplifting tune. Sailors began to stamp their feet in time, and several bellowed out the brief repeating chorus, of “And How D’ye Do, and how d’ye do, and how d’ye do, again!” whenever it came around.
As I’ve noted earlier, part of the enjoyment of Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novels is that they immerse you in the 18th century.
I’m also a fan of Steeleye Span, so on this occasion a favorite music group and a favorite author coincide.
The list of ships, characters, and cultural references from Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novel, Troubled Waters is available at scribd.com.
Now the dalliance of Parliament and the blinding stupidity of the Admiralty combined into what was a potentially deadly set of circumstances. Bridport had heard French fleet was out on May 3, but the winds were not favorable for the Channel Fleet to sail until May 7. Because the Seamen’s Bill had not passed Commons and the Fleet now knew of the Admiralty order to suppress all dissent, he knew fleet would not move. So he did the prudent thing and he didn’t order it to sortie.
The Fleet delegates now moved to force action. Sometime during the night of May 6-7 the delegates decided to remove all unpopular officers as a way of demonstrating their resolve and to remove potential flashpoints of violence. They also suspected that the Admiralty would attempt to deal with the mutiny ship by ship. To prevent this from happening all the ships in the mutiny were ordered to move to St. Helens where they could be sequestered from Admiralty agents and kept out of range of the militia congregating in Portsmouth.
Around 9 am the delegates began moving from ship to ship passing the word. Some officers were removed with every courtesy. Others were unceremoniously bundled ashore.
I’ve recently finished working my way through Dewey Lambdin’s series of novels following the career of his character Alan Lewrie. I stumbled onto the first by accident, was captured in the first paragraph, back in November and to a certain extent that novel, The King’s Coat, crystallized some ideas that had been floating around in my head about providing a researched resource covering life at sea, particularly life in the British navy, in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
It seems that I have nearly a year to wait until the next installment arrives, so I’ll close this chapter with my perspective on the novel and the character.
Anchor from HMS St. George at Strandingsmuseum, Thorsminde, Denmark
Below we discuss the horrendous losses inflicted upon the British Navy by the storm that raged across the North Sea at Christmas 1811. In the course of writing it we stumbled onto some interesting resources and were afraid they would get lost in the shipwreck narrative.
In the immediate aftermath of the wreck of HMS St. George and HMS Defence both wrecks were heavily salvaged. The recovered bodies were buried in the dunes adjacent the wrecks, though the body of Defence’s captain, Captain David Atkins and those of two sailors were buried in a church cemetery.
The wreck of St. George was so remote that even though the cannon were salvaged and moved onto the beach, no one could come up with a way of moving the cannon from the beach to any other location and they were subsequently abandoned.
The sand as well as the wave action and storms visited on Jutland buried the wrecks. But they were not forgotten.