Documents:-The Letters of Commander John Corbett, 1855–1857
This is an account of two years in the life of (then) Commander John Corbett, constructed from his letters sent home, his sketches and paintings, and contemporary newspaper reports. It starts with the shipwreck of HMS Wolverene in the Caribbean in 1855 and his subsequent court martial in Bermuda. It continues with the commissioning of his new command, the paddle steamer HMS Inflexible, in 1856 and his epic voyage towing a gunboat to Hong Kong in record time. It gives his account of his time in China, including his involvement in the May/June 1857 actions of Escape, Sawshee and Fatsham creeks, and it concludes with his promotion to captain for his part in those actions and his return to England in late 1857. Corbett’s letters provide an important insight into life in the Victorian navy and the way officers communicated with their families.