William S. Dudley Maritime Heritage Consultant


Welcome to the Web site of William S. Dudley, historian and maritime heritage consultant.  Long associated with the naval and maritime history of Maryland,  Bill currently serves in leadership positions with the Maryland Historical Society, the Naval Historical Foundation, and Sea History magazine. He is the historian general of the Naval Order of the United States.

The Naval War of 1812: America's Second War of Independence is his most recent work.  It follows Maritime Maryland, his extensive study of the Chesapeake and the growth of Maryland and its peoples.

  The Naval War of 1812: America's Second War of Independence
  Collections of William I. Koch and The United States Naval Academy Museum
  William S. Dudley with J. Scott Harmon

"Drs. William S. Dudley and J. Scott Harmon's The Naval War of 1812 is a "Cadillac" on the "showroom floor" of War of 1812 writings.  The print quality is truly superb.  One must open the book to hear the static cling seal give way to the incredible prints of 1812 battles, artifacts, and portraits.  The battle scenes are accompanied by remarkable line drawings by Helen Riegle, who masterfully shows ship locations, headings, and land topography.

There are terrific insights into the lives of the brilliant characters of these extraordinary battles.  One such story is of Thomas Macdonough.  His days as a lieutenant taking "command of a minuscule force of two row galleys, formed to discourage smuggling with Canada.  Macdonough showed himself to be a man of great activity, immediately purchased one sloop and rented two others..."  His story, like many others, celebrates resourcefulness (and daring) of our officer corps which the service carries to this day.  

The book offers new insight into all maritime operations rather than focusing only on the battles.  The well-written section on the 1813 British Blockade gave some background into the politics and personalities of blockade and the U.S. counter effort. The pages come alive with the portraits of the ruddy-cheeked Captain James Lawrence and the great majesty of British Captain Sir Phillip Bowes Vere Broke.  The two portraits capsulate the adversaries themselves; Lawrence representing the U.S. as the sanguine upstart group of colonies seeking true nation approval, and Broke as the proud dominant parent nation.

Mention of the merchant marine was especially poignant; the figurehead of the American privateer General John Armstrong shows a bearded armor-chested, U.S. flag bearing man from the Naval Academy's own collection.  The caption of "unknown artist" tells the story of numerous navy sailors and merchant mariners, who like the artist, went unknown but can be remembered and celebrated by similar volumes."

- Naval Historical Foundation, Book Reviews

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Maritime Maryland: A History

"William Dudley's work makes a major contribution to the genre and deserves to be welcomed by students of both maritime and current issues in cultural resource and environmental management.  And it deserves an audience far beyond the state of Maryland."

- John A. Tilley,
Nautical Research Journal

"Dudley successfully weaves the personal stories and antics... into the larger context of Maryland's maritime past, providing the reader with colour and levity throughout."

- Claire P. Dappart, Illinois State Archeological Survey, University of Illinois, for The International Journal of Nautical Archeology.

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Work in Progress: Inside the U.S. Navy of 1812-15

The Maryland Historical Trust
awarded Maritime Maryland: A History the Heritage Book Award for 2011.

Maritime Maryland
also received the annual John Lyman Book Award in U.S. Maritime History from the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH) which recognizes excellence in the publication of books that make significant contributions to the study and understanding of the maritime and naval history of North America.

At the New York Book Show, the
Book Industry Guild of New York awarded Maritime Maryland first place in book design for professional scholarly books.

The Washington Book Publishers 2011 Design and Effectiveness Awards
competition granted second place to Maritime Maryland for illustrated text.

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum chose Maritime Maryland: A History as a premium gift for major donors to its  Boating Party Gala.
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