In the Hour of Victory
‘Sam Willis has pulled off another notable coup in bringing to light these original despatches, which add so much knowledge, and so much colour and interest, to a period we thought we knew so well.’
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 dispatches from seven major fleet battles - 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 in the midst of conflict, were bound in an immense volume, to be admired as a jewel of British history.
Sam Willis, one of Britain's finest naval historians, stumbled upon this collection by chance in the British Library in 2010 and soon found out that only a handful of people knew of its existence. The rediscovery of these first-hand reports, and the vivid commentary they provide, has enabled Willis to reassesses the key engagements in extraordinary and revelatory detail, and to paint an enthralling series of portraits of the Royal Navy's commanders at the time.
In a compelling and dramatic narrative, In the Hour of Victory tells the story of these naval triumphs as never before, and allows us to hear once more the officer's voices as they describe the battles that made Britain great.
About the author: Sam Willis is a maritime historian and archaeologist and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Exeter's Centre for Maritime Historical Studies. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.