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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

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West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Josh&Historyland » March 20th, 2013, 4:36 pm

The First Eagles Captured by the British where taken in this campaign. Admittedly they where in store at Martinique but nevertheless, it is a little known corner of the global conflict that Britian was involved in. I've been looking into the Invasion of Martinique and the role played by the West Indian Regiments, all very sketchy to me at the moment but, it deserves a thread here.

(PS if there already is one and I've missed it, please feel free to act accordingly with this topic)

Josh.
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby jeffzcubfan » March 20th, 2013, 4:52 pm

When I see this, why do I have an image of Grenada from 1983???? :lol:
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Josh&Historyland » March 20th, 2013, 5:04 pm

Because not many people know about the West Indies Campaign... Because you like Grenada....? Because you where born in 1983....? Becasue you're particularly random... Because... Ok I'm out.

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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby jeffzcubfan » March 20th, 2013, 5:15 pm

Because there was probably as much action, I'm thinking. I'm guessing once you got past the naval action, the worst they were fighting was the heat and the insect life.
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Josh&Historyland » March 20th, 2013, 9:01 pm

There where lots of amphibious landings, and battles over the islands, as yet I have no clear picture in my head though, I hope some member might throw some light on it, I might try to put together some sort of chronology detailing land and naval actions, with perhaps more detail involved depending on time space and my own inclination or energy...

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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » March 21st, 2013, 7:10 am

Josh&Historyland wrote: I might try to put together some sort of chronology detailing land and naval actions, with perhaps more detail


An interesting new topic Josh. By all means, tell us more when you can. Lesser known action sometimes has an impact on more familiar events.

Sarah
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby PaulC » April 6th, 2013, 6:09 pm

The West Indies theatre was a major part of the conflict during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period and a continuous campaign was fought to capture many enemy colonies. The amphibious operations against enemy possessions generated many thousands of prisoners of war who were shipped back to England. My own research into captives held in this country shows that every prison depot had men taken in this theatre. For example in 1796 General Abercrombie sent 3000 prisoners to England in one transport alone. It was not just the soldiers and seamen who were captured there, but also many civilians and their families.

When an enemy colony was captured by the British is opened up that colony’s trade to British merchants. This benefited the British economy to the detriment of the enemy. As a result many enemy privateers especially French, were fitted out to attack the merchant ships that now traded with these new British markets. This meant that the Royal Navy was kept busy protecting the British sea lanes. Those merchants who were benefiting from this new trade were also the same men who were lending the government funds to fight the war, so they had a very great political clout. This meant that the government had to expend a lot of resources to protect the sea lanes and the Royal Navy was very busy in this theatre. This in turn generated many thousands of privateer prisoners of war who were sent back to England.

While the history books tend to focus on the major European campaigns, the Caribbean was an important part of the war and virtually a continuous campaign was fought throughout the entire period. It tends to be regarded as a sideshow in most histories of the period. Osprey publish two very good books on the soldiers in this theatre which also give some good background information on the conflict.

Napoleon’s Overseas Army by René Chartrand
British Forces in the West Indies 1793-1815 by René Chartrand
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Josh&Historyland » April 7th, 2013, 3:55 pm

Thanks Paul I'll look forward to them.
The poor coverage of the West Indies Campaign needs to be redressed. These where vitally important islands. For centuries they had been fought over for the wealth of their produce and the control of their trade links, the Spanish had fought fiercely since the 15th century to prevent other European nations getting a foot in. Their loss to the British would have been a great blow, for naval, strategic and as well as economic reasons, and as such they where just as vital to France so they where a great strategic aim for the British, they had to hold and they wanted to take them, and so an almost war long struggle occurred. It was the War within a War.

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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Waggoner » April 7th, 2013, 4:31 pm

A very interesting topic! One of the expeditions, circa 1810, was mounted out of Halifax, NS. After the war, the Royal West Indian Rangers were disbanded in New Brunswick and many soldiers received land grants here. There is still an area known as "Ranger Settlement".

All the best,

Gary
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Josh&Historyland » April 7th, 2013, 8:52 pm

I think I read about a similar story to that in the History of the 1st West India Regiment. It's great how some things are handed down like that, you have to know though... The West Indies Campaign is covered in great Piratical and adventure type names.
It's also famous for mortality though. I'm sure many of the members will have read in most Napoleonic War books about the decimation of regiments serving in the Carribbean, Wellington himself was nearly sent there when he was younger, and Sir John Moore actually served there and came back with a great respect for West Indian Regiments (I believe he commanded one for a while) this War within a War was a costly one for white troops. And also saw certain changes in dress to deal with the climate. Also, it goes without saying that the Navy played a most important part in it, and (not for the first time) much like the Egyptian campaign, it demonstrated what could be done (at least towards the end) when both arms worked together.

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