Shipping and Military Power in the Seven Year War, 1756–1763
By David Syrett
The Seven Years War was the most successful in British History, with naval supremacy triumphantly asserted over France and Spain, and a vast new overseas empire conquered. This is the story of the British shipping that carried, supplied and sustained the British expeditions that shattered French and Spanish imperial power in America.
Solidly based on primary sources, the book shows that the tide of victories would have been impossible without a sophisticated and highly effective logistical support operation which got the troops, provisions and munitions to where they were needed and then maintained British armed forces in and off the coasts of Europe and throughout the world.
Contents: Introduction; Establishing the context of what follows; 1. The Navy Board's Shipping; Sets out how the Navy Board procured and fitted out ships as troop and horse transports, taking the reader through the complex process, commenting on the sheer scale of the operation, with frequent illustrative examples.; 2. The Victualling Board's Shipping; Sets out the same for the Victualling Board and includes a detailed study of how the Western Squadron was re-supplied at sea during its crucial close blockade of the main French naval base at Brest - which prevented the French from responding to the British expeditions against the French colonial possessions throughout the world and prevented the French from invading the British Isles.; 3. The Ordnance Board's Shipping; Sets out the same for the supply of guns and gunpowder to the armed forces, with appropriate illustrative detail.; 4. Agents for Transports and the Procurement of Shipping in North America; Examines the group who ran the transport system at the local/maritime level and how the transports were managed at sea. Also explores the special American agents necessary for raising shipping in North America and how the system worked there.; 5. The Machine in Motion: The procurement and fitting of transports for the expedition to Havana, 1762; A case study, which, after considering the hesitant start of the system at the beginning of the war, shows how it worked to its maximum efficiency in the last great overseas operation - the conquest of Havana.; 6. The management of amphibious operations in the mid-eighteenth century; Shows at the tactical level how the shipping was then employed in landing operations, putting ashore expeditions on enemy beaches.; Conclusion; Emphasising the significance of this immense and complex logistical effort in making the success of the Seven Years War possible and comparing it with the successes and failures of the preceding 1739-48 war and succeeding 1775-83 American War.
‘Shipping and Military Power is traditional, top-down naval history at its finest. The book is wonderfully illustrated, well written, and well researched.
‘Anyone interested in naval history in general, and naval administration and logistics in particular, will thoroughly enjoy this book.’ (Christopher P. Magra, Nautical Research Journal. Vol. 54, Issue 3. September 2009)
'...this is an excellent book, well researched, well crafted and well written.' (James Pritchard, The Journal of Military History, Vol 73 No 4, October 2009)
The late David Syrett was Distinguished Professor of History at Queens College, City University of New York and a well-known and respected writer in the field of naval history in the mid-18th century.