Small Boats and Daring Men: Maritime Raiding, Irregular Warfare, and the Early American Navy

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University of Oklahoma Press, Apr 18, 2019 - History - 280 pages

Two centuries before the daring exploits of Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders captured the public imagination, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were already engaged in similarly perilous missions: raiding pirate camps, attacking enemy ships in the dark of night, and striking enemy facilities and resources on shore. Even John Paul Jones, father of the American navy, saw such irregular operations as critical to naval warfare. With Jones’s own experience as a starting point, Benjamin Armstrong sets out to take irregular naval warfare out of the shadow of the blue-water battles that dominate naval history. This book, the first historical study of its kind, makes a compelling case for raiding and irregular naval warfare as key elements in the story of American sea power.

Beginning with the Continental Navy, Small Boats and Daring Men traces maritime missions through the wars of the early republic, from the coast of modern-day Libya to the rivers and inlets of the Chesapeake Bay. At the same time, Armstrong examines the era’s conflicts with nonstate enemies and threats to American peacetime interests along Pacific and Caribbean shores. Armstrong brings a uniquely informed perspective to his subject; and his work—with reference to original naval operational reports, sailors’ memoirs and diaries, and officers’ correspondence—is at once an exciting narrative of danger and combat at sea and a thoroughgoing analysis of how these events fit into concepts of American sea power.

Offering a critical new look at the naval history of the Early American era, this book also raises fundamental questions for naval strategy in the twenty-first century.

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List of Illustrations
John Paul Jones and the Birth of American Naval Irregular
QuasiWar Operations
Intrepid and Irregular Warfare on the Barbary Coast
Raiding on the Lakes 18121814
The Torpedo
Dawn of the West Indies Squadron
First Sumatra Expedition 18311832
The East India Squadron 18381839
The Regularity of the IrregularRaiding and Irregular

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About the author (2019)

Benjamin Armstrong is Assistant Professor of War Studies and Naval History at the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the editor of 21st Century Mahan and 21st Century Sims and the author of numerous articles on naval history, national security, and strategy.

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