The age of fighting sail is primarily seen as a contest on the oceans, but there was also a huge, if neglected, naval shipbuilding effort on both sides of the Canadian Great Lakes. For eighty years between 1754 and 1834, these great expanses of fresh water saw the construction of warships that ranged from simple rowing gunboats to gigantic three-deckers that could have held their own in Nelson's line of battle. This book presents the history of the freshwater navies developed by the French, British and Americans as they struggled to control a wilderness frontier. It concentrates on the ships themselves, pointing up both the similarities and the differences compared with deep-water vessels. As many as possible are illustrated with original draughts and contemporary paintings and prints. Apart from the ships, it also considers the logistics of the building operations, the provision of skilled labour and the supply of guns, revealing a story of human ingenuity and success against odds that surpasses the purely technical interest of the ships - probably the most astounding example being the pre-fabricated frigates that were built in Britain, dismantled, and labouriously hauled in pieces up the St Lawrence for eventual reconstruction on Lake Ontario.
About the Author
Robert Malcomson is a Canadian historian specialising in naval aspects of the War of 1812. He has written two previous books about warfare on the Great Lakes, and has also edited an anthology of eyewitness accounts of the naval war.
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