George Washington's Secret Navy: How the American Revolution Went to Sea

George Washington's Secret Navy: How the American Revolution Went to Sea

by James Nelson
George Washington's Secret Navy: How the American Revolution Went to Sea

George Washington's Secret Navy: How the American Revolution Went to Sea

by James Nelson


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In 1775 General George Washington secretly armed a handful of small ships and sent them to sea against the world's mightiest navy.

From the author of the critically acclaimed Benedict Arnold's Navy, here is the story of how America's first commander-in-chief—whose previous military experience had been entirely on land—nursed the fledgling American Revolution through a season of stalemate by sending troops to sea. Mining previously overlooked sources, James L. Nelson's swiftly moving narrative shows that George Washington deliberately withheld knowledge of his tiny navy from the Continental Congress for more than two critical months, and that he did so precisely because he knew Congress would not approve.

Mr. Nelson has taken an episode that occupies no more than a few paragraphs in other histories of the Revolution and, with convincing research and vivid narrative style, turned it into an important, marvelously readable book."
Thomas Fleming, author of The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle to Survive after Yorktown

"A gripping and fascinating book about the daring and heroic mariners who helped George Washington change the course of history and create a nation. Nelson wonderfully brings to life a largely forgotten but critically important piece of America's past."
Eric Jay Dolin, author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

"The political machinations are as exciting as the blood-stirring ship actions in this meticulously researched story of the shadowy beginnings of American might on the seas."
John Druett, author of Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071493895
Publisher: McGraw Hill LLC
Publication date: 04/21/2008
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

James L. Nelson is the author of Benedict Arnold’s Navy, as well as several novels that take place during the age of the sailing navies. His first book of nonfiction was Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads.

Table of Contents

Prologue: A Very Delightful Country     ix
The British Command     1
The Greatest Events... in the Present Age     10
Noddles Island     17
Machias Sons of Liberty     26
"The amiable, generous and Brave George Washington, Esquire"     37
New Lords, New Laws     46
"We Have the Utmost Reason to Expect Any Attack"     53
The Congressional Navy Cabal     62
"Our Weakness & the Enemy's Strength at Sea"     76
George Washington's Secret Navy     85
Hannah Puts to Sea     93
Dolphin and Industry     101
Building and Equipping an American Fleet     110
Marblehead Boats at Beverly     119
"Not a Moment of Time be lost"     126
The Empire Strikes Back     136
Hancock and Franklin     148
Congress Pays a Visit     156
"For Gods Sake hurry off the Vessels"     168
Lee's Autumn Cruise     177
"The blundering Captn Coit"     186
Convoys and Cruisers     198
"Hard gales and Squally"     207
"[U]niversal joy ran through the whole"     216
"His people are contentd"     227
"And aPrivateering we will go, my Boys"     235
A New Army     244
A New Year     256
A New Fleet     268
Commodore of the Fleet     280
"[A] Stroke well aim'd"     290
"It is with the greatest pleasure I inform you"     301
Epilogue: Washington Rides South     313
Acknowledgments     331
Endnotes     333
Bibliography     368
Index     375
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