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Posted on Aug 4, 2008 in Books and Movies

George Washington’s Secret Navy book review

By Jim H. Moreno

Washington deliberately kept the Continental Congress in the dark about much of his planning, as they were still holding out hope that the petty bickering with the Crown would be resolved peacefully. However, the citizens of the new world were steadfastly growing quite angry with British rule of law, and this gave rise to certain men to step forward and take a stand. Many of these men, like John Adams and Christopher Gadsden, were very familiar with naval warfare, and had served in previous naval combat actions with, not against, the British Navy. As more of these men chose to take their actions to help defend the colonies and their livelihood, Washington deftly worked them into his naval strategy as he saw fit, until finally, the Continental Congress could no longer ignore the transgressions being endured amongst the populace.

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Among the actions recounted in Secret Navy are the improbable success of the Sons of Liberty in capturing the armed schooner HMS Margaretta off Machias in present-day Maine and Benedict Arnold’s battle on Lake Champlain, October 11, 1776. Although Champlain was tactically a colonial defeat that cost Arnold nearly his entire fleet, it delayed British plans and was instrumental to the Continental Army’s victory at Saratoga the following year.

Nelson casts a wide investigative net in the book, capturing not only the Continental perspectives but also British observations from the likes of King George and General Thomas Gage. He provides new and intimate insight into George Washington’s character and sheds light on how that character was instrumental in the creation of the United States. I simply cannot recall having another read a military history book that was as enjoyable, fun, and informative. It is a fact-filled dossier on events that are sorely lacking from most military history courses, presented within an exceptionally well-written story.

Plot a course and set sail for the nearest bookstore, online or otherwise, and add George Washington’s Secret Navy to your military history library today!

Jim H. Moreno is a frequent contributor of game and book reviews to ArmchairGeneral.com.

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1 Comment

  1. I wrote George Washington’s New England Fleet (1969) and The Army’s Navy in a Year of Revolution (1976). I lived in Beverly, MA when I wrote these two books and others related to Washington’s New England and NY, ME fleet activity, eh?> I’m wondering if you used my books as sources. I’ll get yours to see. And, I’m wondering what inspired you to write this book. Thanks.

    Donald W. Beattie, Ph.D.
    President, Mackintosh Associates
    245 Main Street
    Winthrop, ME 04364

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