On a September day in 1813, as citizens watched from the rocky shore of Pemaquid, Maine, two of the last and bravest military sailing commanders engaged in a battle that would change the course of the War of 1812...
Samuel Blyth was the youthful commander of His Britannic Majesty's brig Boxer, and William Burrows, younger still, commanded the USS Enterprise. Both men valued honor above all, and on this day their commitment would be put to the ultimate test.
Though it lasted less than an hour, the battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise was a brutal contest whose outcome was uncertain. When the cannon smoke cleared, good men had been lost, and the U.S. Navy's role in the war had changed.
In Knights of the Sea, David Hanna brings to life a lost era, paying tribute to the young commanders who considered it the highest honor to harness the wind to meet their foes, and would be immortalized by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The only major naval battle of the War of 1812, the battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise came to represent not only a military turning point, but a maritime era that would soon be gone forever. INCLUDES PHOTOS AND MAPS
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm not much of a naval historian/expert, but I do like tales of the sea and I really enjoy books that shed light on little known or overlooked part of history. I read "Knights of the Sea" not to become an expert on naval maneuvers or for a full retelling of the War of 1812, but instead, to learn about the two young captains behind an important battle of that war. Hanna does a superb job setting the stage for what would be one of the last clashes of ships powered by the wind. The book reads like fiction as you learn about the events of the day, the reasons why the two nations were at war, and the importance of the sea at this time in history. The research that went into finding out about the lives to the captains is very impressive. These young men are straight out of central casting. I don't understand the harsh comments some reviewers have left. It is a very well written book that's easy to read. If you want to find out about a moment in history often left out of the history...
As a retired Naval officer, a sailor, a wannabe historian, and a veteran, I dove into Hanna's book with great anticipation. I was not disappointed! The culture of the sea-going Navies of the upstart United States and the juggernaut British Empire is vividly portrayed (I loved the sardine-in-the-mouth hazing of the young sailors by the old salts - which I'm sure reflects life aboard ship in the early days of our Navy!). The mind/body-consuming onslaught of the unpredictable sea on a sailing vessel, large or small, inflicting utter boredom or sheer terror is the way it is even today, and Hanna made me feel those emotions again, even as I sat next to the wood stove in my cozy study! The personal, even intimate stories of the lives of Blyth and Burrows, melded into the politics and social constructs of the day gave the book texture and depth. Talk about "history coming alive...," those two "knights of the sea" are real people. And, Hanna's treatment of the actual battle; brief,...
The author deserves credit for an enjoyable survey, placing a brief sea battle in the context of the War of 1812, early nineteenth-century naval warfare, and life in the seaport cities of the age. This is the strength of the book, but also its weakness. We learn a great deal about things that are tangentially related to the two captains: activities they "must have" taken part in, sights they "would have" seen. I enjoyed the digressions, but (as other reviews illustrate) some will find the book too discursive. I came away from the book wishing that a strong editor had reviewed it, tightening up the text, cutting down the Vietnam and Iraq analogies, and trimming the musings about war and medieval chivalry. Oh, and doing some more fact checking. My example is Hanna's assertion that the inscription "vivere sat vincere" means "to live is sufficient victory." A contemporary would have understood the motto to mean "to conquer is to live enough." See Boston Gazette, July 21, 1814,...
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