Book Review – ‘The Milne Papers: The papers of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alexander Milne, Bt., K.C.B. (1806–1896), vol. II, The Royal Navy and the Outbreak of the American Civil War, 1860-1862’ by Howard J. Fuller
After 11 long years we finally have John Beeler’s second volume of Milne Papers, solidly compiled and published through the Navy Records Society (their 162nd volume). The first volume of his papers, published in 2004, featured 672 separate documents in its 788- page bulk, and while it covered the period from 1820–59, its most interesting sections arguably focused on the Crimean War years, when Milne was Fourth Sea Lord and in charge of supply and logistics in Lord Aberdeen’s ill-fated war- time ministry.
This second volume presents another 510 documents (often with extensive enclosures) over 642 pages but covers only the years 1860–2. And while the editor wishes them to ‘illustrate the norm instead of the extraordinary’, that is ‘ordinary dutie’ rather than ‘special operations’ and ‘diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution over military actions’, undoubtedly the historical climax here is the Trent affair of November 1861 to January 1862, the final three months covered by this volume taking up approximately a quarter of its apportioned length overall …