A new book by Sam Willis, In the Hour of Victory: The Royal Navy at War in the Age of Nelson, will be released in hardcover worldwide on 1 February 2013.
Between 1794 and 1815 the Royal Navy repeatedly crushed her enemies at sea in a period of military dominance that equals any in history. When Napoleon eventually died in exile, the Lords of the Admiralty ordered that the original battle dispatches from the seven major fleet battles in the period – The Glorious First of June (1794), St Vincent (1797), Camperdown (1797), The Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801), Trafalgar (1805) and San Domingo (1806) – should be gathered together and presented to the Nation. These letters, written by Britain’s Admirals, Captains, Surgeons and Boatswains and sent back home as updates in the midst of these conflicts, were bound in an immense volume, to be preserved and admired as a jewel of British history. Sam Willis stumbled across the volume quite by chance in 2010 languishing in the bowels of the British Library. Now we can rediscover this treasure of world history, and hear once more the voices of the officers describing the naval triumphs that made Britain great. Cogently introduced by a naval historian at the height of his powers, In the Hour of Victory tells their story.