Splintering the Wooden Wall

The British Blockade of the United States, 1812-1815
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Published:January 9, 2003
By Wade G. Dudley (Author)

Most naval historians take their cue from the work of Alfred Thayer Mahan published a century ago and view the blockade of the United States during the War of 1812 as a highly effective wooden wall. But Wade Dudley challenges that prevailing interpretation and in the pages of this new study provides a bold new assessment. Rather than an impermeable wooden wall, he says the Royal Navy's blockade resembled a light picket fence that was easily splintered by aggressive American public and private navies preying on British merchantmen. The first book-length treatment of the 1812 blockade since Mahan's, his well-reasoned analysis is certain to influence future thinking about the most used tool in a sailing Navy's arsenal.

The work presents a useful overview of the history, theory, and practice of blockades during the age of fighting sail along with an evaluation of the naval capabilities of the belligerents, a comparison of the blockade of the United States to British blockades of Revolutionary and Napoleonic France, and a discussion of the importance of geography in the theater of conflict. Readers will be fascinated by the story that emerges of the modern world's first super power at war with a developing nation and of a conflict between civilized states that threatened to devolve into little more than a campaign of terror.

List Price: $32.95
Member Price: $26.36
Product Details
  • Subject: War of 1812
  • Hardback : 256 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (January 9, 2003)
  • ISBN-10: 155750167X
  • ISBN-13: 9781557501677
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 18.4 oz
  • "Accomplished maritime historian Dudley turns his attention to the War of 1812, specifically, the British blockade and previous descriptions of it as tight, unbreakable, or even decisive in a favorable outcome for the British. He begins by discussing the geographical and technical factors of the naval war and proceeds to show the problems those factors presented to the two opposing navies. The British, usually short of ships, men, supplies, and bases, partially succeeded in bottling up the American navy and merchant marine, but they never sealed off America's coasts or prevented privateers from ravaging British commerce. Dudley thereafter places the War of 1812 in the context of a general study of blockades from the seventeenth century on, emphasizing the Napoleonic era, and concluding that blockades are hardly ever as all-conquering as some previous maritime historians have made them out to be. This dense book, while suited to advanced and scholarly students, is pretty much without peer on its subject." — Booklist
  • "...an excellent account of Warren's service during the War of 1812." — International Journal of Maritime History
  • "...successfully challenges Mahan's [wooden wall] assertion by reviewing the historical development of British blockades." — Choice

Wade G. Dudley holds a Ph.D. in military and naval history from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and is also the author of a biography on Sir Francis Drake.

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