Young Nelsons: Boy Sailors during the Napoleonic Wars
D. A. B. Ronald. Foreword by Alexander Kent. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2009. 304 pp. Illus. $25.95.
Reviewed by Roy Adkins
Horatio Nelson joined the Royal Navy in the spring of 1771 at the age of 12. His uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling, asked: "What has poor Horace done, who is so weak, that he above all the rest should be sent to rough it out at sea? But let him come, and the first time we go into action a cannonball may knock off his head and provide for him at once." Suckling had promised to help one of his nephews join the navy, and at least one biographer has suggested that he had in mind one more robust, rather than the sickly Horatio. Not for a moment did Suckling consider Nelson too young.