Amphibious Warfare In The 18Th Century: The British Expedition To The West Indies, 1740-42 (Royal Historical Society Studies In History New Series)
Publish Date: 1991-04-01
Author: Richard Harding
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Since the 16th century, amphibious warfare has been central to British strategy; the thinking behind it and the way it was conducted colour British political and cultural attitudes to this day. Received ideas about such warfare are largely based on detailed analysis of successful operations. This book examines failure - an expedition to the West Indies in 1740-1742 which ended in total disaster, usually blamed on inept political direction, poor organisation, and the incompetence of the land commander, Major-General Thomas Wentworth. Detailed examination of both public and private papers reveals that the expedition was in fact carefully planned and executed, but was doomed to failure because of the impossibility of mobilising adequate military resources within the constraints of contemporary political and social conditions. This assessment of a relatively unknown event in mid-eighteenth century history provides valuable insight into how combined amphibious operations were conducted in the pre-industrial world, and the conditions necessary for their success. It is the starting point for a re-examination of the whole nature of amphibious warfare in the period 1689-1815.