Sir Samuel Hood and the Battle of the Chesapeake

Colin Pengelly

Foreword by James C. Bradford and Gene A. Smith, Series Editors
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"This is a carefully researched, judiciously considered, and well-crafted study of the most important and the most controversial naval battle for winning American Independence."----Michael Duffy, University of Exeter

The Siege of Yorktown--the military engagement that ended the American Revolutionary War--would not have been possible without the French fleet's major strategic victory in the Battle of the Chesapeake on September 5, 1781. It was during this battle that British fleets lost control of the Chesapeake Bay and the supply lines to the major military base at Yorktown, Virginia. As a direct result, General George Washington's forces and the newly arrived French troops were able to apply the pressure that finally broke the British army.

Sir Samuel Hood (1724-1816) was one of the commanders of the British fleet off the Virginia Capes during the American Revolution. Responsibility for some of the missed opportunities and gaffes committed by the British during the bloody Battle of the Chesapeake can be traced to him, specifically his failure to bring his squadron into action at a key moment in the action. Afterward, Hood defended his actions by arguing that ordering his ships to attack would have contradicted the orders sent to him by battle flag. Hood largely escaped blame, which was assigned to Rear Admiral Graves, who commanded the fleet.

Though Hood's inaction arguably resulted in the loss of the American colonies, he ultimately rose to command the Mediterranean fleet. Colin Pengelly engages the details of this battle as no other historian and sifts through Hood's own propaganda to determine how he escaped subsequent blame.

Colin Pengelly is a retired civil servant and amateur historian. He is the author of The First Bellerophon.

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"Supplies a detailed history of Hood's career and explains how he was able to escape blame for the end of the Revolutionary War for the duration of his lifetime."
--Book News

"A solid study of one of the major naval figures of the Revolutionary era. It will prove valuable both to students of the Royal Navy and of the American Revolution."
--United States Naval Institute

"A very thorough and instructive study of maritime strategy in the American and West Indies theatres in the American War of Independence with Hood as a focal point."
--International Journal of Maritime History

"will prove valuable for a specialist readership, for it offers a detailed account of Hood and the battle of Chesapeake, in which Graves emerges largely rehabilitated as a commander, if one of by no means the first rank."
--The Northern Mariner/ Le marin du nord v.xx, no. 3

Provides a good look at careerism, life, and service in the Royal Navy during the great sea wars of the eighteenth century, and thus, in the process, also gives the reader a good look at the naval side of the War of the American Revoluton. A good read for anyone interested in the Revolution, naval warfare in the age of sail, or the social and political life of the Royal Navy.
--The NYMAS Review

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