Book Review-‘Knickerbocker Commodore: The life and times of John Drake Sloat, 1781–1867’ by B. A. Castleman

By Benjamin Arnstrong USN, published November 2020


Biographies of American naval officers in the age of sail have tended to focus on the captains and heroes of the US Navy’s early conflicts. The multiple volumes on Stephen Decatur and his actions in the Barbary campaign through the War of 1812, and his final demise in a duel with a fellow captain, are perhaps the most common example. But historians have studied others, from Edward Preble and Oliver Hazard Perry, to Charles Stewart. Yet the era from 1816 to the Civil War’s beginning in 1860 has seen far less effort to examine the officers of what might be called America’s late age of sail. Bruce Castleman’s new book Knickerbocker Commodore examines the life of John Drake Sloat, an officer whose service and life bridged the early and late period of America’s sailing navy, and makes a worthy contribution to the literature of the period…

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Filed under: War of 1812 | Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Biography

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