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The U.S. and Royal Navies at Sea in the War of 1812
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781591145042
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 19th Century
  • Number of Pages: 384
  • Subject: War of 1812
  • Date Available: November 2011
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Full Description:
  • Named a Proceedings Notable Naval Book of 2011
  • Recipient of an Honorable Mention/Finalist for a "2012 Samuel Eliot Morison Book Award for Naval Literature" as awarded by the New York Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States

Focusing on the oceanic war rather than the war in the Great Lakes, this study charts the War of 1812 from the perspectives of the two opposing navies at sea—one of the largest fleets in the world and a small, upsta“Besides a generous number of illustrations, the book includes some excellent tables of warship strengths and other matters, as well as helpful maps of the several operations and single ship combats covered. Although a general understanding of the chronology of the War of 1812 would be helpful for any reader dipping into Utmost Gallantry, McCranie does an excellent job of weaving in sources from both sides of the ocean, commenting fairly when those sources conflict, and explaining the events at sea in terms of grand strategy. The book would be an excellent addition to any naval history library or fine reading for anyone interested in the War of 1812.” — The Journal of America’s Military Past, November 2012rt navy just three decades old. While American naval leadership searched for a means of contesting Britain’s naval dominance, the English sought to destroy the U.S. Navy and protect its oceanic highways. Instead of describing battles between opposing warships, McCranie evaluates entire cruises by American and British men-of-war, noting both successes and failures and how they translated into broader strategies. In the process, his study becomes a history of how the two navies fought the oceanic war, linking high-level governmental decisions about strategy to the operational use of fleets in the Atlantic and Caribbean and from the South Pacific to the Indian Ocean.

Unlike other books on the subject, this work offers a balanced appraisal of the war on the high seas, taking into account the strategic considerations of both sides and how the leadership from each side assessed, planned, and implemented operational concepts. Drawing on a wealth of British and American archival sources, McCranie guides the through the strategic decision making processes on both sides of the Atlantic.  He demonstrates vividly their impact of those decisions on the course of the war at sea, where the contest was close and deadly.  Indeed, the author's action-packed accounts of battles hold special appeal.

Kevin D. McCranie is a professor of strategy and policy at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, who holds a PhD in history from Florida State University. A specialist in the naval history of the Age of Sail, he is also the author of the award-winning Admiral Lord Keith and the Naval War against Napoleon. He lives in West Greenwich, RI.


“This is an essential read for those with an interest in the War of 1812, the age of fighting sail, or the navy in general.”

The NYMAS Review

“In all, Kevin McCranie's Utmost Gallantry is an admirable work. It certainly stands out among the other more recent works on the naval conflict in the War of 1812. The intricate detail he provides regarding the operations of the U.S. and Royal navies elevates his work from a standard narrative of the war to a must read for anybody interested in fully understanding the fighting on the high seas during the War of 1812.”

H-War, H-Net Reviews, August 2012

“…This is the best narrative account of American naval operations in the War of 1812…”

International Journal of Maritime History, June 2012

“McCranie, a specialist in naval conflict in the age of sail, provides colorful descriptions of several engagements. His detailed explanations of sailing tactics, assessments of command decisions and astute use of direct quotations from battle participants add new material to the battle narratives without detracting from the drama... McCranie always returns to strategic issues, however, which makes this book particularly valuable.”


“Among the plethora of bicentennial books describing the War of 1812 at sea, Professor Kevin McCranie of the Naval War College sets an unequaled standard for depth of research and analysis. It is to be hoped that Professor McCranie will follow up this volume with a second one dealing with those aspects of the naval conflict omitted in Utmost Gallantry. His talents in research diligence and analytical insight are too well demonstrated to leave us without a complete history of the naval aspects of the War of 1812.”

Naval History, August 2012

“…Geared toward serious students of this conflict and is a valuable asset to historians because of its impartial and well-researched analysis.”

— Privates and Privateers

“McCranie’s thought-provoking, well-written book puts the primary naval events of this war in a fresh perspective. Utmost Gallantry is an outstanding scholarly work, a book that is easy to recommend for anyone’s maritime library.”

Sea History, Spring 2012

“Kevin McCranie takes the refreshing high road to history in this absorbing page turner that makes the War of 1812 exude the immediacy of having happened yesterday….This effort is definitely one of the better new books to examine a war of far more significance than history usually accorded it.”

Sea Classics, April 2012

Utmost Gallantry is an important, balanced view of the War of 1812. McCranie offers a fresh perspective on both U.S. and British strategic considerations.”

—CLAUDE BERUBE, U.S. Naval Academy, co-author of A Call to the Sea: Captain Charles Stewart of the USS Constitution

“McCranie's fine book provides both a comprehensive review of the seaborne deployments during the 1812 war and insightful analyses of the strategic choices of the combatants. But it’s most intriguing contribution may be the examples it gives of the difficulties that faced the strategic and tactical decision makers as a result of slow communications combined with faulty and/or incomplete intelligence. It ignores the heroics to show a reader the true fog of war.”

—GORDON S. BROWN, author of The Captain Who Burned His Ships: Captain Thomas Tingey, USN, 1750–1829

“Based on a wide range of sources, Kevin McCranie offers an impressive account of the naval dimensions of the War of 1812—an account alive to tactical, operational, and strategic aspects.”

—JEREMY BLACK, professor of history at the University of Exeter and author of The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon

“Professor Kevin McCranie skillfully portrays the blue-water strategy and tactics of the naval high commands in Great Britain and the United States during the War of 1812. McCranie’s thoroughly researched study is a valuable addition to the naval literature of this important conflict.”

—GEORGE C. DAUGHAN, author of 1812: The Navy’s War and If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy from the Revolution to the War of 1812

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