Broke of the Shannon and the War of 1812
Captain Philip Broke’s victory in 1813 over Captain Lawrence of USS Chesapeake, did much to restore the morale of the Royal Navy, shattered by three successive defeats in single-ship duels with U.S. frigates, and stunned the American nation which had come to expect success. The near-fatal wound Broke received in hand-to-hand fighting as he boarded the Chesapeake meant that he never served again at sea, but his work on naval gunnery, paid for out of his own pocket, transformed Admiralty thinking and led to the establishment of the British naval school of gunnery, HMS Excellent. With 2013 the Bicentenary year of his victory, this work is a reassessment of one of Britain’s finest frigate captains. A fictionalized account of the encounter was used by Patrick O'Brian in his novels The Fortune of War and The Surgeon's Mate, with Broke presented as a cousin of Captain Jack Aubrey.