Book Review-‘Napoleon’s Admirals: Flag officers of the Arc de Triomphe, 1798-1815’ by R. Humble

By C.I.Hamilton, published October 2020


To many in the UK (though not readers of this journal) the French navy means only a few things, mostly disobliging, and chiefly its defeat at Trafalgar, one that somehow ended the war at sea in Britain’s favour. That bias is what Richard Humble is fighting against: he argues the French navy quickly recovered, remained a severe worry for the Admiralty during the rest of the war, and gave some hard knocks, in particular the British defeat at Grand Port in Mauritius in 1810.  His basis is the careers of a group of men commemorated on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. There are 660 names inscribed there in total, almost all soldiers, from 44 Marshals down to a 12-year-old militia boy, plus some army non-combatants. There are also 27 officers from the navy (counting Jérôme Bonaparte under his naval rank). Humble takes 26 of these as his sample: following his title, he wants only those who served Napoleon as flag officers, thus he leaves aside Ducampé de Rosamel, who ended the war as a captain..

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Filed under: Napoleonic War
Subjects include: Navies

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