George Washington's Secret Navy: How the American Revolution Went to Sea (Google eBook)

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McGraw Hill Professional, Apr 21, 2008 - History - 320 pages
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In 1775 General George Washington secretly armed a handful of small ships and sent them to sea against the world's mightiest navy.

From the author of the critically acclaimed Benedict Arnold's Navy, here is the story of how America's first commander-in-chief--whose previous military experience had been entirely on land--nursed the fledgling American Revolution through a season of stalemate by sending troops to sea. Mining previously overlooked sources, James L. Nelson's swiftly moving narrative shows that George Washington deliberately withheld knowledge of his tiny navy from the Continental Congress for more than two critical months, and that he did so precisely because he knew Congress would not approve.

Mr. Nelson has taken an episode that occupies no more than a few paragraphs in other histories of the Revolution and, with convincing research and vivid narrative style, turned it into an important, marvelously readable book."
--Thomas Fleming, author of The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle to Survive after Yorktown

"A gripping and fascinating book about the daring and heroic mariners who helped George Washington change the course of history and create a nation. Nelson wonderfully brings to life a largely forgotten but critically important piece of America's past."
--Eric Jay Dolin, author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

"The political machinations are as exciting as the blood-stirring ship actions in this meticulously researched story of the shadowy beginnings of American might on the seas."
--John Druett, author of Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World


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1 The British Command
2 The Greatest Events in the Present Age
3 Noddles Island
4 Machias Sons of Liberty
5 The amiable generous and Brave George Washington Esquire
6 New Lords New Laws
7 We Have the Utmost Reason to Expect Any Attack
8 The Congressional Navy Cabal
20 Lees Autumn Cruise
21 The blundering Captn Coit
22 Convoys and Cruisers
23 Hard gales and Squally
24 Universal joy ran through the whole
25 His people are contentd
26 And a Privateering we will go my Boys
27 A New Army

9 Our Weakness the Enemys Strength at Sea
10 George Washingtons Secret Navy
11 Hannah Puts to Sea
12 Dolphin and Industry
13 Building and Equipping an American Fleet
14 Marblehead Boats at Beverly
15 Not a Moment of Time be lost
16 The Empire Strikes Back
17 Hancock and Franklin
18 Congress Pays a Visit
19 For Gods Sake hurry off the Vessels
28 A New Year
29 A New Fleet
30 Commodore of the Fleet
31 A Stroke well aimd
32 It is with the greatest pleasure I inform you
Washington Rides South

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Popular passages

Page 84 - And you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from this or a future Congress...
Page 40 - You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity...
Page 244 - Such a dearth of public spirit, and such want of virtue, such stock-jobbing, and fertility in all the low arts to obtain advantages of one kind or another, in this great change of military arrangement, I never saw before, and pray God's mercy that I may never be witness to again.
Page 38 - I was struck with General Washington. You had prepared me to entertain a favorable opinion of him, but I thought the half was not told me. Dignity with ease and complacency, the gentleman and soldier, look agreeably blended in him. Modesty marks every line and feature of his face.
Page 62 - We ought to have had in our hands, a month ago, the whole legislative, executive, and judicial of the whole continent, and have completely modeled a constitution ; to have raised a naval power and opened all our ports wide...
Page 47 - Though I am truly sensible of the high honor done me in this appointment, yet, I feel great distress from a consciousness, that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important trust...
Page 14 - a perfect original, a good scholar and soldier, and an odd genius, full of fire and passion, and but little good manners ; a great sloven, wretchedly profane, and a great admirer of dogs, of which he had two at dinner with him.
Page 74 - Colonies ; and, therefore, instruct their delegates to use their whole influence, at the ensuing Congress, for building, at the Continental expense, a fleet of sufficient force for the protection of these Colonies, and for employing them in such manner and places, as will most annoy our enemies, and contribute to the common defence of these Colonies...

About the author (2008)

James L. Nelson is the author of Benedict Arnold’s Navy, as well as several novels that take place during the age of the sailing navies. His first book of nonfiction was Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads.

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