From Across the Sea

North Americans in Nelson’s Navy

From Across the Sea: North American's in Nelson's Navy explores the life and service of North American-born sailors and officers who served in the Royal Navy during the Wars with France.
Date Published :
June 2020
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Editor :
Sean M. Heuvel, John A. Rodgaard
Series :
From Reason to Revolution
Illustration :
c 30-335 b/w ills
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781913118921
Pages : 304
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.25 inches
Stock Status : Available


From Across the Sea: North Americans in Nelson’s Navy explores the varied contributions of North Americans to the Royal Navy during Great Britain’s wars against Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. It is the first book that explores this topic in depth. As an edited compilation, top specialists in the field have contributed thematic essays (on topics ranging from impressment to the Anglo-American maritime relationship) as well as biographical essays on a range of North Americans from both the officer ranks and the lower deck. For the biographical portraits, special attention has been paid to individuals who have not already been the subject of extensive research and writing. Accompanying these essays are several never-before-published illustrations depicting some of the key North Americans as well as the ships and naval battles in which they were a part.

The book’s central focus is to challenge the common assumption that the Nelsonic-era Royal Navy was manned exclusively by British sailors and officers. Instead, Royal Navy personnel from this era often hailed from different parts of the world, with North Americans comprising a particularly significant contingent. For instance, Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar had hundreds of Americans as well as Canadians, not to mention individuals from the Caribbean. Thus, From Across the Sea sheds new light on these sailors and officers, showcasing years of original, primary source research on the subject.

The book also challenges the misconception that all North American-born sailors who served in the Royal Navy were pressed into service. Instead, a significant number volunteered for service of their own free will, lured into the Royal Navy by visions of adventure and prize money. Others volunteered more reluctantly, figuring that joining the Royal Navy on their own terms was preferable to being forced in by a press gang. Thus, From Across the Sea reveals that impressment was a more complicated topic than most generally assume.

Over all, From Across the Sea concludes that North Americans played an integral role in the Royal Navy during the Wars with France, from the lower deck all the way to the highest levels of command. While some of these North Americans operated in relative obscurity, others achieved high rank and formed lasting friendships with some of Great Britain’s foremost naval leaders of the age, including Lord Nelson and King William IV. Theirs is a story that needs to be told, and now it has been told for the first time through From Across the Sea.

About The Author

Sean M. Heuvel, Ph.D. is a faculty member in the Department of Leadership and American Studies at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. He holds a B.A., M.Ed., and Ph.D. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. in History from the University of Richmond. A military historian by trade, Dr. Heuvel specializes in the American Revolution as well as British and American naval history during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He has authored or edited multiple books, including The Revolutionary War Memoirs of Major General William Heath. An active member of The 1805 Club and The Society of the Cincinnati, Dr. Heuvel also co-founded the Williamsburg-Yorktown American Revolution Roundtable in 2013 and now serves as a president emeritus on its executive board.

Captain John A. Rodgaard, USN (Ret.) has over 41 years with the naval service of the United States, to include 12 years as a petty officer and 29 years of commissioned service as a naval intelligence officer. He is also a published author and a contributor to several Discovery Channel Unsolved History Television Programs. Captain Rodgaard co-authored A Call to The Sea: Captain Charles Stewart of The USS Constitution, and authored A Hard Fought Ship: The Story of HMS Venomous. He is the recipient of the Naval Institute’s History Author of the Year for the year 1999 and he is a contributor and frequent reviewer to the Naval Institute’s Naval History Magazine, The Society for Nautical Research Quarterly, The Mariner’s Mirror, and the Naval History Foundation’s Naval History Book Reviews. Captain Rodgaard holds a B.A. in History and Political Science; an M.A. in Political Science, and is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College.


"There are fascinating and insightful tidbits within these pages that enlighten and expand our knowledge; at the same time, the information offers up possibilities for future in-depth research. The primary goal of this book is to show that men outside of Britain fought valiantly for king and country, and the editors and contributors have done a laudable job in this endeavor."

- Pirates and Privateers

"...these contextual essays and all that follow are vitalized by a variety of authorial voices, and are deeply-etched, owing to the authors’ careful attention to the human embeddedness of specific sailors in the complexities of history."

- The Nautilus: A Maritime Journal of Literature, History, and Culture

"With writers of this caliber involved, the book is an excellent and compelling read as well as being fascinating in its content."

- Nautical Research Journal

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