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Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

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Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby Mark » October 31st, 2013, 2:14 pm

An interesting article from The Telegraph published earlier this month: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... algar.html

I don't agree that Nelson 'relied' on Frenchmen at Trafalgar in quite the way the article suggests but still worth a read.

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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 31st, 2013, 3:35 pm

I was talking on a thread about the Americans at Trafalgar with leatherneckgunner just a few days ago, weird! I agree the article puts a little too much emphasis on how much Nelson relied on these men, but it's journalism and to get eye catching articles they take the core of a story and hype it to far reaching but technically accurate levels. Even though in this case as in all cases Nelson did not depend on any man more than another and the phrase England expects of course ignores their nationality because they were serving in the British Royal Navy, and because it was a day of battle and commanders back then had better things to do than be PC, or as they might of put it, diplomatic. Also given Nelson's hatred of the French if I was a French sailor, (presumably a royalist) I wouldn't count on a good reference. Very interesting though.

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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby Mark » October 31st, 2013, 3:41 pm

The article is indeed typical of many journalists who write about history - they are journalist NOT historians. That said there are of course a number of journalists turned historians that have published some great works.

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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby jf42 » October 31st, 2013, 7:14 pm

I remember reading in David Howarth's 'Trafalgar' that the officer corps of the Royal Navy was predominantly from the southern English squirearchy, to the extent that Collingwood, coming from Northumberland, was seen as an outsider.

I wonder how many times the phrase- 'Anglo- XXX' has been used in describing composite forces in this period: Anglo-Spanish'; Anglo-Portugese; Anglo-German; Anglo-Hanoverian; Anglo-Prussian, Anglo-Belgian, Anglo-Dutch, and what have you. Apart from an element of English chauvinism, 'British' just doesn't lend itself easily to that kind of yoking while 'Anglo-' does, and always seems to sit so well at the head of any of these composite names, don't you think? Of course there is always the phrase 'Allied' to fall back on

We have to accept that until really quite recently, 'England' was very often taken to refer to the whole; though less so, presumably, by the Welsh, Irish and Scots. In the early C19th among the upper echelons from whatever corner of the Kingdom they hailed, I suspect it may not have been much of an issue.
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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby terry1956 » October 31st, 2013, 9:13 pm

I think the rule was on board ships.one set of rules, one language for orders etc.i don, t think that they cared a dam where the person came from.all that mattered was that they understood orders, fitted in with the way of things.my understanding of naval officers at the time was that the north was always poorer then the south.and that the first son got the estate, the second got the army.the third joined the navy or took the coller.in the south landed families could afford to pay for their sons commissions in most cases.up north it was the navy or the church for the second son.michael
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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby Josh&Historyland » November 1st, 2013, 1:31 am

jf42 wrote:I remember reading in David Howarth's 'Trafalgar' that the officer corps of the Royal Navy was predominantly from the southern English squirearchy, to the extent that Collingwood, coming from Northumberland, was seen as an outsider.

I wonder how many times the phrase- 'Anglo- XXX' has been used in describing composite forces in this period: Anglo-Spanish'; Anglo-Portugese; Anglo-German; Anglo-Hanoverian; Anglo-Prussian, Anglo-Belgian, Anglo-Dutch, and what have you. Apart from an element of English chauvinism, 'British' just doesn't lend itself easily to that kind of yoking while 'Anglo-' does, and always seems to sit so well at the head of any of these composite names, don't you think? Of course there is always the phrase 'Allied' to fall back on

We have to accept that until really quite recently, 'England' was very often taken to refer to the whole; though less so, presumably, by the Welsh, Irish and Scots. In the early C19th among the upper echelons from whatever corner of the Kingdom they hailed, I suspect it may not have been much of an issue.


It's probably why the British identify more with Trafalgar than Waterloo, easier to define and no one constantly yelling about how few British soldiers were there. At Trafalgar all you've got to say is the Royal Navy and it's actually the other side that you have trouble defining, it's either Franco-Spanish or I suppose Hispano-French or that nifty allied thing.
I do think the term British took a while to catch on, let's not forget that odd appellation North British for non Highland, Scottish troops, even though as a political entity Britain had existed since 1707, especially when your dealing with countries that prefer to use, Englander, Ingliski, Anglaise, and Inglese (pardon poor spelling) instead of British to describe the nation. The whole Anglo thing has bugged me for a while, it sounds appalongly PC, but it has it's uses, accuracy wise, though it can call for a horrendous mouthful sometimes. Maybe this is also why some armies are referred to by the names of their commanders, you know, Napoleon moved here, Blucher moved there, Wellington moved over here as if they were out for a stroll.

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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby Andrew » November 1st, 2013, 5:28 pm

Throughout the period the French always referred to the British army as 'English'; even in memoirs of junior ranks. It was certainly so at Waterloo. It must be a 'French thing'. :roll:
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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby post captain » March 20th, 2014, 10:16 am

According to Mark Adkin's 'Trafalgar Companion'
As well as the British crew of HMS Victory at Trafalgar, it also consisted of:
1 African
22 Americans
1 Brazilian
2 Canadians
7 Danes
2 Dutch
4 French
2 Germans
2 Indians
1 Jamaican
6 Maltese
2 Norwegians
1 Portuguese
4 Swedes
2 Swiss
4 West Indians
Last edited by post captain on March 20th, 2014, 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby post captain » March 20th, 2014, 10:19 am

An interesting site to trace any ancestors who may have served at Trafalgar.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nelson/
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Re: Frenchmen and landlubbers: the battlers of Trafalgar

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » March 22nd, 2014, 9:30 am

post captain wrote:According to Mark Adkin's 'Trafalgar Companion'
As well as the British crew of HMS Victory at Trafalgar, it also consisted of:


Thanks for this PC. Do you have a run-down of the non-British at Waterloo? Wellington was running out of able bodied British at his disposal by 1815.

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