*Submitted in competition for prize essay, 1914, and accepted for publication.
The operations of the British Navy in West Indian waters during the latter half of the seventeenth century are not an unknown page of Colonial history. The fleet engagements, expeditions, and single-ship actions, all have been described time and again; but they have, for the most part, been treated only as a series of isolated and independent facts, with no relation to each other or to the more important events of the period. Rarely have historians sought to discover the underlying causes for the outcome of the events which they recounted and for which they distributed praise and blame among the commanders. Yet these very causes often spelled disaster long before an enemy was sighted, and mismanagement in the administration at home, lack of preparation, inferiority of personnel, and mediocrity of material, all, at some time, proved obstacles which the abilities of even the best captains were powerless to overcome.