In an action-filled narrative, the authors tell the remarkable story of the Victorian Royal Navy's fleet of small warships used to enforce the Pax Britannica around the world for half a century. Frequently acting without orders and largely beyond the reach of Admiralty interference, the gunboats' young commanding officers intervened to stamp out the slave trade and stop local rulers from interfering with legitimate trade. Explaining that gunboats fought as far afield as Borneo, China, Japan, Jamaica, the Baltic, the Black Sea, Africa, the Great Lakes, the Red Sea, and Egypt, Antony Preston and John Major trace the history of gunboats from the time they were built to fight the Russians in the Baltic in 1850 and the early skirmishes of 1857 that led to the Second China War right through to the role they played at the outbreak of the World War I. Supported by a wealth of illustrations, this classic reference ends with a complete listing of the gunboats that served with the Royal Navy between 1855 and 1914 along with their career histories. First published more than three decades ago and long out of print, the book has been revised for this new edition and an introduction has been added by the distinguished naval historian Andrew Lambert.