In Pursuit of the Essex: Heroism and Hubris on the High Seas in the War of 1812

In Pursuit of the Essex: Heroism and Hubris on the High Seas in the War of 1812

by Ben Hughes

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On 26 October 1812, during the war between Britain and the United States, the frigate USS Essex set sail on the most remarkable voyage in the early history of the US navy. After rounding Cape Horn, she proceeded to systematically destroy the British South Seas whaling fleet. When news reached the Royal Navys South American station at Rio de Janeiro, HMS Phoebe was sent off in pursuit. So began one of the most extraordinary chases in naval history.In Pursuit of the Essex follows the adventures of both hunter and hunted as well as a host of colourful characters that crossed their paths. Traitorous Nantucket whalers, Chilean revolutionaries, British spies, a Peruvian viceroy and bellicose Polynesian islanders all make an appearance. The brilliant yet vainglorious Captain Porter of the Essex, his nemesis Captain James Hillyar of the Phoebe, and two young midshipmen, David Farragut and Allen Gardiner, are the principal narrators. From giant-tortoise turning expeditions on the Galapagos to the perils of rounding Cape Horn, via desperate skirmishes with spear-toting natives on the Marquesas and a defeated duellist bleeding his life out onto black, volcanic sands, the reader is immersed in the fantastical world of the British and American seamen who struggled for supremacy over the worlds oceans in the sunset years of the age of sail. Ben Hughess graphic account is a work of non-fiction, yet reads like a novel, from the opening view of the Essex preparing for her cruise on the Delaware River to the storys bloody denouement in Valparaiso Bay.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781473881105
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Limited
Publication date: 03/31/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 17 MB
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About the Author

Ben Hughes is a teacher and lecturer. He has spent many years living and travelling in South America and exploring its colonial history and he a special interest in the Napoleonic Wars. His previous books include Conquer or Die!, They Shall Not Pass! And The Siege of Fort William Henry.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Preface viii

Acknowledgements x

Maps xi

Prologue: 'A Prodigious Slaughter': USS Essex, Valparaiso Bay, 6.30 p.m., 28 March 1814 1

Introduction: A Tale of Two Navies 2

1 'Yankee Warriors True': Captain David Porter and the Essex, 1 September 1812 -25 January 1813 10

2 The South Atlantic: USS Essex, 27 November 1812 - 25 January 1813 23

3 'A finer set of fellows': Captain James Hillyar and the Right Revered HMS Phoebe, 27 December 1812 - 11 April 1813 36

4 Into the Pacific: USS Essex, 26 January 1813 - 11 April 1813 51

5 From Tenerife to Rio: HMS Phoebe, 12 April 1813 - 9 July 1813 70

6 The Galapagos Islands: USS Essex, 11 April 1813 - 9 July 1813 79

7 In the Footsteps of Robinson Crusoe: HMS Phoebe, 10 July 1813 - 6 October 1813 100

8 A Matter of Honour: USS Essex, 9 July 1813 - 2 October 1813 108

9 Tragedy at Tumbez: HMS Phoebe, 3 October 1813 - 10 December 1813 118

10 Death in Paradise; USS Essex, 4 October 1813 - 13 December 1813 124

11 The Valley of the Unknown God: HMS Phoebe, 24 November 1813 - 8 February 1814 142

12 The Standoff, 13 December 1813 - 28 March 1814 149

13 The Battle, 27-28 March 1814 167

14 The Aftermath, 29 March 1814-25 December 1814 178

Epilogue: Loose Ends, 7 July 1814 - 14 August 1870 188

Notes 209

Bibliography 234

Index 242

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