What did it take—logistically and operationally—for the small and underfunded US Navy to face the battle-hardened Royal Navy in the War of 1812? Find out in this book, the magnum opus of one of the deans of American naval history.
When the War of 1812 broke out, the newly formed and cash-strapped United States faced Great Britain, the world's foremost sea power, with a navy that had largely fallen into disrepair and neglect. In this riveting book, William S. Dudley presents the most complete history of the inner workings of the US Navy Department during the conflict, which lasted until 1815. What did it take, he asks, for the US Navy to build, fit-out, man, provision, and send fighting ships to sea for extended periods of time during the War of 1812?
When the British blockade of 1813–14 severely constrained American sea trade, reducing the government's income and closing down access to American seaports, the navy was forced to innovate: to make improvements through reforms, to redeploy personnel, and to strengthen its industrial capacity. Highlighting matters of supply, construction, recruitment, discipline, medical care, shipbuilding, and innovation, Dudley helps readers understand the navy's successes and failures in the war and beyond. He also presents the logistics of the war in relation to fleet actions on the lakes and selected ship actions on the oceans, stresses the importance of administration in warfighting, and shows how reforms and innovations in those areas led to a stronger, more efficient navy.
Refuting the idea that the United States "won" the war, Dudley argues that the conflict was at best a stalemate. Drawing on twenty-five years of archival research around the world, Inside the US Navy of 1812–1815 will leave readers with a better appreciation of how the navy contributed strategic value to the nation's survival in the conflict and assisted in bringing the war to an honorable end. This book will appeal to scholars and students of naval and military history, veterans, current officers, and maritime-oriented history buffs.
"Written by one of the deans of antebellum naval history, Inside the US Navy of 1812–1815 does an excellent job linking the internal complications of the navy department to the actions of its officers on the field."
— Abby Mullen, George Mason University, coauthor of Going the Rounds: Virality in Nineteenth-Century American Newspapers
"William S. Dudley is one of the leading scholars on the War of 1812, and this book represents the culmination of his insights from a long and successful career working on this topic. An excellent and original book that will be accessible to a wide audience beyond students and naval historians, Inside the US Navy of 1812–1815 will stimulate more detailed specialist investigation into the topics of logistics and naval administration."
— John B. Hattendorf, editor-in-chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History
"Bill Dudley addresses two overlooked aspects of the naval history of the War of 1812—the administration of the Navy Department and logistical support of the American fleet on the high seas and inland lakes. Moreover, his integration of the latest scholarship concerning the war's strategic, operational, and tactical issues makes this a necessary read."
— David C. Skaggs, Professor Emeritus, Bowling Green State University, author of Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the Early U.S. Navy
"William Dudley's triumphant book is an inquiry into the sinews of United States sea power during the epic War of 1812—administration, personnel, materiel, weapons, and readiness for war—all disclosed through examination of theaters of war and hard-pressed battles on inland waters and the high seas."
— Barry Gough, Wilfrid Laurier University, author of Churchill and Fisher: Titans at the Admiralty
"In addition to naval operations at sea and on the Great Lakes, William S. Dudley's new history covers dimensions of the War of 1812 that are too often overlooked, including munitions and ordnance, seaports and shipyards, pursers and provisions. Here is a valuable comprehensive history of the war in all its aspects."
— Craig L. Symonds, Professor Emeritus, US Naval Academy, author of World War II at Sea: A Global History
"No scholar knows more about the naval War of 1812 than William Dudley. In this masterful analysis Dudley seats himself behind the Secretary of the Navy's desk and discovers how three successive secretaries managed the complex operations and essential logistics of a war that ranged as far away as the Pacific and Indian Oceans."
— Christopher McKee, Professor Emeritus, Grinnell College, author of Ungentle Goodnights: Life in a Home for Elderly and Disabled Naval Sailors and Marines and the Perilous Seafaring Careers that Brought Them There