Book Review-‘British Expeditionary Warfare and the Defeat of Napoleon, 1793–1815’ by R. K. Sutcliffe

By Janet Macdonald, published November 2020


This book had its origins in the author’s doctoral thesis, and as one might suppose, is extensively researched. Though this is not always the case with theses, it is also well written.

Its main area of concentration is the work of the Transport Board and how this contributed to British efforts in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Prior to the Board’s formation in 1794, organizing ships to carry troops, materiel and other supplies to theatres of war had been handled by various organizations, including the Navy Board, Victualling Board, and Treasury. This led to competition between the boards that inevitably led to raised prices and much confusion.

After the American War of Independence, there was much discussion about the need for a separate board to handle the procurement of shipping. Despite much lobbying from Charles Middleton and the Navy Board, when Pitt obtained an Order in Council in July 1794 to start the Transport Board, he gave the task to the Treasury. There it remained, not, as has been previously reported, as part of the Admiralty. In September 1795 it took over the responsibility for prisoners of war from the Sick and Hurt Board, and in 1806 when that board was disbanded, it took over the rest of its duties as well…

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Filed under: Napoleonic War | Other (Eighteenth C) | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Administration | Logistics

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