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Since its capture from Spain in 1704, Gibraltar has been one of Great Britain's most legendary citadels. As the gatekeeper of the Mediterranean Sea, its commanding position has shaped the history of the region and nations, including modern Britain. During the Napoleonic Wars (1793–1815) Gibraltar gained great strategic importance as a naval station in its own right. It became an offensive force, leaving the sanctity of the isle's fortificationsto attack the enemy in Europe and Africa. This history examines Gibraltar's growth during that twenty-year struggle with Napoleonic France. As a forward base for the operations of the Royal Navy and Army, the island allowed Nelson to achieve his victories at the Nile and at Trafalgar. The book also describes how Gibraltar served as the base of secret negotiations that brought Spain to the British side during the Peninsular War and further served as the most forward operations base for the British in that war.
Lt. Col. Jason R. Musteen, USA, teaches military history at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, he holds a PhD in Napoleonic history from Florida State University and has appeared frequently on the History Channel.
Praise for Nelson's Refuge
“…a very useful book on the role of Gibraltar for British military and naval forces between 1793 and 1815…Musteen’s original archival research and his discussion of developments ashore in Gibraltar—in the context of both military and naval operations—make it a valuable contribution to the literature.”
— The Historian, Vol. 75, No. 1
“…Very detailed and extensively annotated.”
— Work Boat World, November 2012
“…Well told and is obviously well researched. This is a book that tells a very interesting story with lots of detail about the role and events at Gibraltar during a tumultuous period in European history.”
“…the writing in this book is quite good.”
— International Journal of Maritime History, June 2012
“The author’s book is accessible to both the scholar and the interested reader. He interweaves the various characters and important events into a narrative which sheds welcome light on an under-studied period of Gibraltar’s history.”
— The Journal of Military History, April 2012
“Nelson’s Refuge is an excellent addition to any world history collection focusing on great battles and campaigns.”
— Midwest Book Review, January 2012
“This excellent study examines what no other work to date has: the role of the fortress during the Napoleonic Wars 1793–1815. Using an outstanding selection of archival, primary, and secondary sources from Spain, Britain and France, Musteen’s writing style is accessible to the general reader as well as the academic. His depiction of Gibraltar’s personalities and politics only enhance the military history and makes for a unique and fascinating read.”
— Warfare Magazine
“For any sailor, there is nothing in the world quite like the sight of the Rock of Gibraltar as one enters the Mediterranean from the Atlantic. The Rock is steeped in naval and military history and this book captures in comprehensive detail one of the most important periods in the Gibraltar story. For me, as a former naval officer for whom Gibraltar had been a refuge on many occasions, it is fascinating to read that story. Nelson’s Refuge tells it all!”
—VICE-ADMIRAL SIR ADRIAN JOHNS KCB CBE, Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Gibraltar
“Although the subject has never been looked at in any detail, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars saw Gibraltar play an important part in the British war effort: once again, indeed, the Rock proved itself to be a considerable asset. Jason Musteen’s book is therefore a helpful addition to the historiography.”
—CHARLES J. ESDAILE, University of Liverpool, author of Napoleon's Wars: An International History, 1803-1815 and Fighting Napoleon: Guerilla’s, Adventurer’s and Bandits in Spain, 1808-1814
“Jason Musteen has given us a unique study of one of the military icons of the world. Using an outstanding selection of archival, primary, and secondary sources from Spain, Britain, and France, Musteen writes in a style easily accessible to scholar and general reader alike. Musteen’s vivid description of Gibraltar’s personalities, politics, and even such things as the difficulties in supplying water and food greatly enhances his discussion of its military history. Had I been able to read this book before my own visit to Gibraltar I would have had a far better understanding of its unique and fascinating history.”
—J. DAVID MARKHAM, President, International Napoleonic Society, and author of The Road to St. Helena: Napoleon after Waterloo