×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Billy Ruffian: The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon
     

Billy Ruffian: The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon

by David Cordingly
 

From the author of Under the Black Flag, the biography of a British warship and a portrait of a world at war during the Napoleonic era.

The story of the seventy-four gun warship Bellerophon will be familiar to anyone who's read Patrick O'Brian or C.S. Forester. The Billy Ruffian runs from its subject's birth (in a small shipyard in 1782) to her

Overview

From the author of Under the Black Flag, the biography of a British warship and a portrait of a world at war during the Napoleonic era.

The story of the seventy-four gun warship Bellerophon will be familiar to anyone who's read Patrick O'Brian or C.S. Forester. The Billy Ruffian runs from its subject's birth (in a small shipyard in 1782) to her death (in a breaker's yard more than fifty years later, after serving as a prison ship). In the intervening years the Billy Ruffian played a conspicuous part in three of the most famous of all sea battles: the battle of the Glorious First of June (1794), the opening action against revolutionary France; the battle of the Nile (1798), which halted Napoleon's eastern expansion from Cairo; and the battle of Trafalgar (1805), which established British naval supremacy for 100 years. But her crowning glory came six weeks after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when Napoleon, trapped in La Rochelle, surrendered to the captain of the ship that had dogged his steps for more than twenty years.

Using diaries, ship's logs, personal letters, and other contemporary documents, David Cordingly has created a fascinating and eminently readable account of life both on ship and off during this most romantic of eras.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A satisfying tale of a mighty ship, and of a half-century under the mast in some of Europe’s fiercest wars. HMS Bellerophon, writes English maritime historian Cordingly (Women Sailors and Sailors’ Women, 2001, etc.), came into existence in 1782 with only the grudging consent of the Admiralty, which foresaw little use for a big, 74-gun vessel at the time. Soon enough, though, the Bellerophon—whose crew, not trained in the gentlemanly study of Greek mythology, called her the "Billy Ruffian" or "Belly Rough One" or variants thereof—was chasing around the high seas after French privateers, then Napoleon’s fleet, facing down said blighters in encounters such as the Battle of the Glorious First of June (1794), the Battle of the Nile (1798), and, most famous of all, the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). She took her blows and lost plenty of hands, but fewer so than her French foes; Cordingly describes one engagement in which the French commander lost both his legs, but "got himself strapped into a chair and was heard to say that a French admiral ought to die on his own quarterdeck"—just before being cut in two by a cannonball. (The incident, Cordingly adds, inspired the once widely recited poem that opens "The boy stood on the burning deck.") By good fortune, the Bellerophon received intelligence that Napoleon was planning to flee France after the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and kept after him until the emperor surrendered; the ship escorted him to Plymouth, where curious onlookers rowed out to gawk at the captive, but was judged incapable of making the long voyage to St. Helena, where Nappy lived out his days in exile. Alas, the Bellerophon lived out her own last days as a prison ship,an inglorious end to a much-vaunted vessel of the line. Solid and well-researched stuff, and a pleasure for fans of Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forester, and other chroniclers of the fighting sail. Author tour

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582341934
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
10/15/2003
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.22(w) x 9.52(h) x 1.49(d)

Meet the Author

David Cordingly is the author of several acclaimed books on the subject of pirates, including, most recently, Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life among the Pirates (1996). He lives by the sea in Brighton, England.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews