Book Review – ‘British Naval Captains of the Seven Years’ War: The view from the quarterdeck’ by A. B. McLeod
For any aspirant officer entering the Royal Navy in the mid-eighteenth century command of his own ship provided a vision of a future wealth, or at the very least the promise of an honourable and secure retirement. The key to this was to achieve post rank – the command of a Sixth Rate 20-gun ship or greater – which gave the officer the title of captain, a permanent place on the seniority list of the service and eventual progression to flag rank (should he live long enough). With this coveted position came almost complete responsibility for ship and the crew. Admirals commanded fleets and squadrons, but their effectiveness rested on the individual ships that made up the command, and so much of this resided in the competence of the captain. Consequently, a great deal of historians’ attention has been focused upon the role and performance of captains….