In the years 1803-5 Napoleon Bonaparte built 4 new harbours on his channel coast and assembled enough landing craft to put an army of over 165,000 men ashore on English beaches. Was this threat to Britain really serious and should we dismiss it as pure Bluff? Why was it never revived after Bonaparte's continental wars against the Russians, Austrians and Prussians? What did the English do about defending themselves? This book, originally published in 1973 tackles these questions. It shows why Bonaparte's flotilla was no Bluff but something the British were right to take seriously and also how their preparations to defend the beaches within reach of its bases made a revival of the flotilla after 1807 pointless. Though recognising the importance of Trafalgar the book rejects the fallacy that this victory ended Britain's danger. The book covers the background of the war, Britain's defence organisation, the Royal Navy's tasks, Bonaparte's preparations and how the British made ready to meet him.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Introduction 1. Background 2. The Organisation of British Defence 3. The Admiralty’s Tasks 4. The Boulogne Flotilla 5. Fortifications: Britain’s Counter to the Boulogne Flotilla 6. Raising Men For Defence and Counter-Attack, 1803-14 Part 2: Documents 1. Questions to Admiral Lord Keith, Commanding the North Sea Fleet from H.R.H the Duke of York, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, 19 October 1803 2. Lord Keith’s Answer, Monarch, off Broadstairs, 21 October 1803 3. Duties of the Ordnance Department 4. Intelligence: Bonaparte’s Methods. Bonaparte to Marshal Berthier, 28 August 1805 5. Intelligence: The Opportunities of Smugglers. Sir John Moore Reports to the Home Office, 17 February 1804 6. Intelligence: News from Deserters, Atlantic Theatre. D’Augvergne to J. W. Croker, Jersey, 11 September 1811 7. Intelligence: Report on the Basque Roads from an Escaped Prisoner of War 8. Intelligence: Checking an Agent’s Story. D’Auvergne to J. W. Croker, Jersey, 23 October 1811 9. Intelligence: Reading the Enemy’s Semaphore Signals. Collingwood to W. W. Pole, Ville de Paris, off Toulon, 20 July 1809 10. Intelligence: A Commander-in-Chief’s Monthly Report, Atlantic Theatre. Gambier to the Admiralty, 1 November 1808 11. Intelligence: a Commander-in-Chief’s Monthly Report, Mediterranean Theatre. Gambier to the Admiralty, 1 November 1808 12. Intelligence: The Enemy’s Coasting Trade, Atlantic Theatre. Rear Admiral Keats to Admiral Lord St. Vincent, from ‘off Chasseron, 31 March 1807’ 13. Intelligence: The Enemy’s Coasting Trade; Methods in Atlantic Theatre. Report from Capt. Lord Aemilius Beauclerk, of the Saturn, 16 December 1808 14. Bonaparte’s Naval Planning, 1805 15. Bonaparte’s Planning after 1805: a Proposal of March 1808 16. Bonaparte’s Planning After 1805: Draft Plan for 1812. Bonaparte to Decrès, 17 September 1810 17. Bonaparte’s Planning after 1805: Choice of a Port of Assembly. Bonaparte to Decrès, 16 August 1811 18. Bonaparte’s Naval Programme: A Reminder to the Minister of Marine. Bonaparte to Decrès, 17 September 1810 19. Bonaparte’s Naval Programme: Exposé of 30 June 1811 20. Bonaparte’s Naval Programme: Tasks Ordered for 1813-14. Bonaparte to Decrès, 23 January 1813 21. The Fortification of England’s South Coast: The Martello Towers 22. The Fortification of England’s South Coast: Romney Marsh 23. The Fortification of Eastern England: The Problem of Landguard Fort. Memoir of Gen. Sir James Craig, 11 July 1804 24. British Manpower: The Royal Navy and the Problem of the Sham Americans 25. British Manpower: Report on the Royal Artillery, 1803. Lord Chatham to the Duke of York, 7 July, with Enclosure 26. British Manpower: The Progress of the Volunteers 27. British Manpower: Marching Orders for the Volunteers 28. British Manpower: Recruiting the Regular Army 30. British Manpower: the Commander-in-Chief on Recruiting. Duke of York to Rt. Hon. William Windham, Secretary of State for War and Colonies, 18 March 1806.
Richard Glover was Professor of History at Carleton University, Canada.