This is the 131st title in Osprey’s Warriors series whose main focus are the fighting men over the ages. The period covered is from 1798 to 1815.
Nelson’s Officers and Midshipmen
Author: Gregory Fremont-Barnes
Illustrator: Steve Noon
US Price: $18.95
UK Price: £11.99
Canadian Price: $22.00
Release Date-June 2009
64 pages ttl.
Training, Promotion, and Appearance
Conditions of Service
Experience of Battle and Aftermath
Museums and Places of Interest
Bibliography and Further Reading
As with most of Osprey’s books the term chapter really should be changed to section.
Cronology gives a one page run down of the years covered in the book. 1793 signals the start to the American Revolution and 1815 marks the end of the Napoleonic wars.
Training, Promotion, and Appearance starts to bring out the meat of the book. Beginning with Midshipmen the book details exactly how a boy as young as 9 could begin his career with the Royal Navy. Unless he was formally trained at the Naval Academy a young boy would first send 2 years onboard as a volunteer. As the Royal Navy grew new rules for promotion of Midshipmen were enforced. Making the jump from Midshipman to Lieutenant was a major accomplishment for a young man. IN the Royal Navy commissions were earned, not bought like in the Army.
Closing out this section the Appearance of a Royal Naval officer is covered. Their uniforms for both day to day and dress are covered using nice color plates.
Conditions of Service tells about life on board a Royal Navy ship. This is for sure one time Hollywood has things wrong! Space was very tight, the food sub par, and conditions beyond bad. A midshipman would eat, sleep, and live on the gun deck. Part of his drive for promotion was more space. I can say today’s Navy is exactly the same, the higher the rank the more space, but the food surely is better.
This section is further divided into sub sections covering food and accommodation, pay and expenses, and finally discipline and punishment.
What is interesting is how much it could cost a person to actually put to sea as a midshipman. You were required to provide certain equipment at your own expense. Those familiar with the Hornblower series remember this being covered. Young men could be placed in a good deal of debt, just for a chance to serve in the Royal Navy.
And should the young midshipman or junior officer break a rule, he should be prepared to pay the price. In Nelson’s time a young man breaking a rule would not be assigned extra duty like in today’s Navy. He might receive lashes be tied spread eagle in the rigging or any other number of physical or humiliating punishments. Punishments were serious, because the Navy is a serious place.
On Campaigncovers life on a warship at war. Ships are designed to be at sea and fight, so a good portion of a midshipman and officer in Nelson’s time would be training for battle. Along with learning navigation midshipmen and junior lieutenants were tasked with learning to fight. Officers were expected to fight along side the crew. Nelson more than once lead boarding parties as a junior officer and even as a ships captain.
Once again those of us familiar with the Hornblower series will remember how many time your Horatio would be sent to take an enemy ship or enemy fort. He would continue to take these actions all along the path to command.
But also remember the times when he had to also take on the everyday tasks of a warship on patrol. Bringing on stores, keeping track of the crew, making sure the ship is clean, and of course learning and teaching.
The duties of each step in the officer chain is covered in this section from the midshipman all the way up to the Admiral.
Experience of Battle and Aftermath breaks down what happens after the victory is won and everyone is back safe into port. Every person would be debriefed by his immediate officer in change who in turn would then relay the information up the chain of command until every detail was talked about at the Admiralty Board Room.
Museums and Places of Interest brings a short list of places the reader would find of interest after finishing this book. HMS Victory is of course #1 on the list. Then there are also different museums in England dedicated to this tie period and special subject, including The National Maritime Museum in Greenwhich and The Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth.
Author and Illustrator…
Author Gregory Fremont-Barnes holds a doctorate in Modern History from Oxford University. He has written many books on the subject of Navies during the Napoleonic wars. Some of his other works include “Trafalgar 1805” and “Victory vs. Redoutable”. He is also a senior lecturer at Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
Steve Noon is the illustrator for this book. His career started as a professional artist in 1985.
First off, this is not a book on modeling. Secondly, I seriously LOVE this time period. So with both of those statements out of the way I can honestly say I enjoyed this book. The writing and illustrations go hand in hand. Both are top notch and easy to follow.
Those of us who are also Naval enthusiasts will really want to get this and add it to their reference library. Plus if you ever wish to venture into figures the illustrations will help out in the painting of them as well.
Highs: Wonderfully written and richly illustrated.
Full of history and gives a good insight into Nelson’s navy.Lows: Not a modeling book.Verdict: Fans of this time period will want to get this book.
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