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Young Nelsons - Boy Sailors During the Napoleonic Wars by D A B Ronald

Young Nelsons - Boy Sailors During the Napoleonic Wars

Part of the General Military Series
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Capturing the same kind of excitement and action that a novel by Patrick O’Brien might, this book tells the stories of the young men, and boys really, who fought in the Napoleonic wars. Unbelievable that boys as young as 8 would be sent to war but here, with many first hand letters and accounts to back this up, is the story of these brave young sailors.

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Young Nelsons - Boy Sailors During the Napoleonic Wars by D A B Ronald

They 'fought like young Nelsons.' The words of a schoolmaster, writing from aboard the Mars after the battle of Trafalgar, describing the valour of his pupils in the heat of battle. These boy sailors, alongside those of every other Royal Navy ship, had entered the British Navy to fight the French across every ocean of the world. There was a long-standing British tradition of children going to sea, and along the way found adventure, glory, wealth and fame. During the Napoleonic Wars, these children, some as young as eight or nine, were also fighting for the very survival of Britain. Drawing on many first-hand accounts, letters, poems and writings, this book tells the dramatic story of Britain's boy sailors during the Napoleonic Wars for the very first time.


To the best of my knowledge, this is the first book to examine this area, and its particular value lies in the mass of documentary evidence collected here from naval memoirs recounting the experiences of individual sailors, very often stories of endurance and suffering as these youngsters, some of them as young as 10 or 11, came to terms with the rites of passage (often involving bullying and the theft of their precious possessions) and the rough and tumble and hardship endured by novices at sea; all this graphically before us in vivid contemporary illustrations. Brian Southam, JASNA News (Summer 2010) Youong boys might well be though a nuisance on board a sailing warship, but it was essential to train them from an early age in the skills and discipline required to maneuver a large sailing vessel during battle... It is therefore surprising that relatively little has been written about the role of boys in Nelson's era. This welcome book redresses that deficiency, using secondary sources and a range of firsthand accounts gleaned from the boys
letters, logbooks, and contemporary reports. Young Nelsons is well

-written, well-referenced, and packed full of information -- an easy and enjoyable read both for the specialist and the popular market. Roy Adkins, Naval History (June 2010) Young Nelsons tells of boy sailors who volunteered to fight for Britain and found adventure, glory and fame in the process. These children -- some as young as eight or nine -- fought during the Napoleonic Wars: their letters, poems and diaries tell of their experience here and makes for an outstanding military history library addition. The Bookwatch (December 2009) Young Nelsons reads like Tom Brown's Schooldays at Sea. This is a fascinating though heartbreaking account of the little boys who grew into men in the hermetically sealed world of the Royal Navy. Riveting. Dr Amanda Foreman, Senior Visiting Scholar, AHRB Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Queen Mary, University of London and author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire This is a really first-rate book exploring in significant detail a little researched area of Naval Life and the author is to be congratulated on his depth of research to produce such a well structured and fascinating account. David Clement

About the Author

Douglas Ronald studied at Edinburgh University where he gained a Master of Arts Honours Degree in History and French. During a 30-year career in merchant banking, Douglas lived overseas for many years - in Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and the United States. In 1984, he returned to the U.K and founded his own boutique corporate finance consultancy based out of London and Oxford, specialising in cross-border mergers and acquisitions on behalf of major multinational corporations, and heritage tourism for the Government and the National Trust. Douglas is now a full-time writer.

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Book Info

Publication date

10th September 2009


D A B Ronald

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Osprey Publishing


320 pages


The Real World
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Napoleonic Wars
Naval forces & warfare
European history
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900



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