- ISBN/SKU: 9781612510446
- Binding: Hardcover
- Era: War of 1812
- Number of Pages: 224
- Subject: Biography
- Date Available: September 2011
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This is the first biography of Captain Thomas Tingey, who was a key figure in the development of the early U.S. Navy. Having come to America after a short service in the Royal Navy, Tingey contributed importantly to the growth of the American Navy, but was then obliged to burn the Washington Navy Yard in 1814 to prevent it from falling into the hands of British invaders. This is at the same time a history of the first quarter-century of the Washington Navy Yard, which Tingey commanded for that period, and of the transition of the young Navy from an object of partisan discord to an honored defender of a growing and increasingly self-confident nation. The book looks at Tingey's contributions to navy yard procedures and practices, his civic role in the budding city of Washington, the dramatic events of 1814, and the rebuilding of the yard as a major technical center for the navy.
Gordon S. Brown is an author and retired diplomat whose books include Incidental Architect and Toussaint's Clause. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Praise for The Captain Who Burned His Ships
“A good read for anyone interested in war at sea in the age of sail.”
— The NYMAS Review
“Readers interested in the less glamorous side of early Republic naval history will find plenty of interest in Brown’s volumes…A highly informative and engaging biography: high praise indeed for both author and subject.”
— The Historian, Volume 74, No. 4
“Brown has provided a glimpse of what it meant to be a part of the nation’s navy in its formative years. He has increased our knowledge of the intimate lives of our early naval commanders. It is well worth adding to anyone’s library of naval history.”
— The Daybook, Volume 16, Issue 2
"Brown aptly devotes his biography to both the actions and achievements of a man's life and the circumstances surrounding his place as he contributed to the development of a new nation's navy in a vital and heroic way of his own."
— Nautical Research Journal, Autumn 2012
“The Captain Who Burned His Ships is a distinctly successful biography, focused, nicely written, and informative about a man an aspect of the early navy that had garnered little attention. Among the recent biographies of early American naval officers, it is one of the best.”
— The Northern Mariner, January 2012
“For anyone who has visited the Washington Navy Yard or who is interested in its history or anyone who wants to learn more about America’s early military and foreign policy, this slim volume should fill the bill.”
— The Journal of America’s Military Past, Spring/Summer 2012
“Brown does a good job of painting an admirable but balanced picture of [Tingey] in the context of his times…Brown’s examination of Thomas Tingey is worth a read for his careful look at a man whose work had a significant impact on the early US Navy and for the view into Tingey’s time and surroundings during the formative years of our government and navy.”
— Sea History, Summer 2012
“Ambassador Brown should be commended for finally bringing Tingey’s story to our attention in the manner it deserves. The Captain Who Burned His Ships reminds us of the great task that lay before the United States in the early 1800s and the challenges that were overcome with hard work, ingenuity, and dedication.
— Naval History, June 2012
“As we near the bicentennial of the War of 1812, The Captain Who Burned His Ships is a book worth buying. Brown correctly places Tingey in his proper historical place.”
— Naval Historical Foundation
“Brown’s book is more than a biography of a naval administrator who fought his best battles ashore. It is also the story of the growth and development of the Navy Yard and of the young nation’s new capitol. This book is an important (and quite readable) addition to the literature of the Navy, the War of 1812 and the history of the District of Columbia.”
— The Past in Review
“An excellent biography and work of American naval history, highly recommended especially for college library collections.”
— The Midwest Book Review, Library Bookwatch, October 2011
“This book fills a need to tell those stories and will be of interest and value not only to aspiring naval historians but to those who want to know more about the early days of the District of Columbia. The Captain Who Burned His Ships is a most valuable contribution to both Navy literature and the history of Washington. It should be added to many libraries, and it undoubtedly will garner a wide readership.”
— The Washington Times, Friday, June 17, 2011
“The Captain Who Burned His Ships is an inside story of the War of 1812 and more. By skillfully illuminating the career of Captain Thomas Tingey, USN, Gordon Brown delivers special insights on the era. Tingey served when America and the U.S. Navy were coming of age, and his story adds new dimensions to our understanding of a critical time in U.S. history.”
—REAR ADM. JOSEPH CALLO, USNR (RET.), author of John Paul Jones: America’s First Sea Warrior
“The Captain Who Burned His Ships details not only the remarkable life and naval career of Thomas Tingey, Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard for twenty-nine momentous years, but a seminal period in the history of the United States, the U.S. Navy, and the nation’s first naval base. With the bicentennial of the War of 1812 fast approaching, a conflict in which Tingey and the navy yard figured prominently, this book is a must read!”
—EDWARD J. MAROLDA, author of The Washington Navy Yard: An Illustrated History
“Although Tingey fought no famous naval engagements, Brown persuasively delineates his importance in the U.S. Navy’s early years as an administrator. In engaging prose, Brown portrays the personality as well as the character of an honorable and gentlemanly naval officer who adeptly navigated the shoals of congressional politics, naval bureaucracy, intra-service rivalries, and the social life of the young Washington, D.C.”
—MICHAEL J. CRAWFORD, editor of Naval Documents of the American Revolution
“By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the young United States Navy had already produced a respectable number of colorful, courageous, and expert captains. Names such as Barry, Dale, Decatur, Rodgers, Truxtun, and more come to mind. Not until Ambassador Gordon S. Brown came forth with his magnificently researched work has justice been done to one who should rank with those greats: Thomas Tingey. The Captain Who Burned His Ships is a most valuable contribution to both Navy literature and the history of Washington. It should be added to many libraries, and it undoubtedly will garner a wide readership.”
— VICE ADM. ROBERT F. DUNN, USN (RET.), The Washington Times
As the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is almost upon us, the new literature of that forgotten conflict will begin to crowd the bookshelves. The exploits of the United States Navy, especially, will be the subject of a number of wonderful titles. The Captain Who Burned His Ships is one of those titles but one that takes a different course. Thomas Tingey started his naval career as an officer in the Royal Navy of Great Britain. After a short stint of service, he became a successful merchant captain, sailing out of U.S. ports to various parts of the globe, including the Far East. The Quasi-War with France found him back in naval service as a ship’s captain; at the personal request of the secretary of the Navy, he became the first commandant of the Washington Naval Yard. That was in 1801 and he remained there until his death in 1829. During that time, the United States Navy developed into a permanent, valuable addition to the country’s defenses and the Washington Navy Yard became the principle facility of the Navy. Brown’s book is more than a biography of a naval administrator who fought his best battles ashore. It is also the story of the growth and development of the Navy Yard and of the young nation’s new capitol. Tingey raised his family there, was a part of Washington society and made important contributions to it. In 1814, he was forced to burn his creation to the ground to prevent its capture and use by the invading British. It is a testament to his skill and reputation that the Yard was rebuilt under his leadership. This book is an important (and quite readable) addition to the literature of the Navy, the War of 1812 and the history of the District of Columbia.