The Influence of Sea Power upon History

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The Influence of Sea Power upon History  (1890) 
by Alfred Thayer Mahan
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 is an influential treatise on naval warfare written in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan. It details the role of sea power throughout history and discusses the various factors needed to support a strong navy. — Excerpted from The Influence of Sea Power upon History on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This etext has been provided by Project Gutenberg.

Contents

Preface[edit]

Introductory[edit]

Chapter I: Discussion of the Elements of Sea Power.[edit]

  • History of Sea Power one of contest between nations, therefore largely military
  • Permanence of the teachings of history
  • Unsettled condition of modern naval opinion
  • Contrasts between historical classes of war-ships
  • Essential distinction between weather and lee gage
  • Analogous to other offensive and defensive positions
  • Consequent effect upon naval policy
  • Lessons of history apply especially to strategy
  • Less obviously to tactics, but still applicable
  • Naval strategic combinations surer now than formerly
  • Wide scope of naval strategy


Chapter II: State of Europe in 1660. Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665-1667. Sea Battles of Lowestoft and of the Four Days.[edit]

  • The sea a great common
  • Advantages of water-carriage over that by land
  • Navies exist for the protection of commerce
  • Dependence of commerce upon secure seaports
  • Development of colonies and colonial posts
  • Links in the chain of Sea Power: production, shipping, colonies
  • General conditions affecting Sea Power:
    • I. Geographical position
    • II. Physical conformation
    • III. Extent of territory
    • IV. Number of population
    • V. National character
    • VI. Character and policy of governments
      • England
      • Holland
      • France
  • Influence of colonies on Sea Power
  • The United States:
    • Its weakness in Sea Power
    • Its chief interest in internal development
    • Danger from blockades
    • Dependence of the navy upon the shipping interest
  • Conclusion of the discussion of the elements of Sea Power
  • Purpose of the historical narrative


Chapter III: War of England and France in Alliance Against the United Provinces, 1672-1674.--Finally, of France Against Combined Europe, 1674-1678.--Sea Battles of Solebay, the Texel, and Stromboli.[edit]

  • Accession of Charles II. and Louis XIV
  • Followed shortly by general wars
  • French policy formulated by Henry IV. and Richelieu
  • Condition of France in 1660
  • Condition of Spain
  • Condition of the Dutch United Provinces
  • Their commerce and colonies
  • Character of their government
  • Parties in the State
  • Condition of England in 1660
  • Characteristics of French, English, and Dutch ships
  • Conditions of other European States
  • Louis XIV. The leading personality in Europe
  • His policy
  • Colbert's administrative acts
  • Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665
  • Battle of Lowestoft, 1665
  • Fire-ships, compared with torpedo-cruisers
  • The group formation
  • The order of battle for sailing-ships
  • The Four Days' Battle, 1666
  • Military merits of the opposing fleets
  • Soldiers commanding fleets, discussion
  • Ruyter in the Thames, 1667
  • Peace of Breda, 1667
  • Military value of commerce-destroying


Chapter IV: English Revolution. War of the League of Augsburg, 1688-1697. Sea Battles of Beachy Head and La Hougue.[edit]

  • Aggressions of Louis XIV. on Spanish Netherlands
  • Policy of the United Provinces
  • Triple alliance between England, Holland, and Sweden
  • Anger of Louis XIV
  • Leibnitz proposes to Louis to seize Egypt
  • His memorial
  • Bargaining between Louis XIV. and Charles II.
  • The two kings declare war against the United Provinces
  • Military character of this war
  • Naval strategy of the Dutch
  • Tactical combinations of De Ruyter
  • Inefficiency of Dutch naval administration
  • Battle of Solebay, 1672
  • Tactical comments
  • Effect of the battle on the course of the war
  • Land campaign of the French in Holland
  • Murder of John De Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland
  • Accession to power of William of Orange
  • Uneasiness among European States
  • Naval battles off Schoneveldt, 1673
  • Naval battle of the Texel, 1673
  • Effect upon the general war
  • Equivocal action of the French fleet
  • General ineffectiveness of maritime coalitions
  • Military character of De Ruyter
  • Coalition against France
  • Peace between England and the United Provinces
  • Sicilian revolt against Spain
  • Battle of Stromboli, 1676
  • Illustration of Clerk's naval tactics
  • De Ruyter killed off Agosta
  • England becomes hostile to France
  • Sufferings of the United Provinces
  • Peace of Nimeguen, 1678
  • Effects of the war on France and Holland
  • Notice of Comte D'Estrees


Chapter V: War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1713. Sea Battle of Malaga.[edit]

  • Failure of the Spanish line of the House of Austria
  • King of Spain wills the succession to the Duke of Anjou
  • Death of the King of Spain
  • Louis XIV. accepts the bequests
  • He seizes towns in Spanish Netherlands
  • Offensive alliance between England, Holland, and Austria
  • Declarations of war
  • The allies proclaim Carlos III. King of Spain
  • Affair of the Vigo galleons
  • Portugal joins the allies
  • Character of the naval warfare
  • Capture of Gibraltar by the English
  • Naval battle of Malaga, 1704
  • Decay of the French navy
  • Progress of the land war
  • Allies seize Sardinia and Minorca
  • Disgrace of Marlborough
  • England offers terms of peace
  • Peace of Utrecht, 1713
  • Terms of the peace
  • Results of the war to the different belligerents
  • Commanding position of Great Britain
  • Sea Power dependent upon both commerce and naval strength
  • Peculiar position of France as regards Sea Power
  • Depressed condition of France
  • Commercial prosperity of England
  • Ineffectiveness of commerce-destroying
  • Duguay-Trouin's expedition against Rio de Janeiro, 1711
  • War between Russia and Sweden


Chapter VI: The Regency in France. Alberoni in Spain. Policies of Walpole and Fleuri. War of the Polish Succession. English Contraband Trade in Spanish America. Great Britain Declares War Against Spain, 1715-1739.[edit]

  • Death of Queen Anne and Louis XIV
  • Accession of George I
  • Regency of Philip of Orleans
  • Administration of Alberoni in Spain
  • Spaniards invade Sardinia
  • Alliance of Austria, England, Holland, and France
  • Spaniards invade Sicily
  • Destruction of Spanish navy off Cape Passaro, 1718
  • Failure and dismissal of Alberoni
  • Spain accepts terms
  • Great Britain interferes in the Baltic
  • Death of Philip of Orleans
  • Administration of Fleuri in France
  • Growth of French commerce
  • France in the East Indies
  • Troubles between England and Spain
  • English contraband trade in Spanish America
  • Illegal search of English ships
  • Walpole's struggles to preserve peace
  • War of the Polish Succession
  • Creation of the Bourbon kingdom of the Two Sicilies
  • Bourbon family compact
  • France acquires Bar and Lorraine
  • England declares war against Spain
  • Morality of the English action toward Spain
  • Decay of the French navy
  • Death of Walpole and of Fleuri


Chapter VII: War Between Great Britain and Sapin, 1739. War of the Austrian Succession, 1740. France Joins Spain Against Great Britain, 1744. Sea Battles of Matthews, Anson, and Hawke. Peace of Aix-La-Chapelle, 1748.[edit]

  • Characteristics of the wars from 1739 to 1783
  • Neglect of the navy by French government
  • Colonial possessions of the French, English, and Spaniards
  • Dupleix and La Bourdonnais in India
  • Condition of the contending navies
  • Expeditions of Vernon and Anson
  • Outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession
  • England allies herself to Austria
  • Naval affairs in the Mediterranean
  • Influence of Sea Power on the war
  • Naval battle off Toulon, 1744
  • Causes of English failure
  • Courts-martial following the action
  • Inefficient action of English navy
  • Capture of Louisburg by New England colonists, 1745
  • Causes which concurred to neutralize England's Sea Power
  • France overruns Belgium and invades Holland
  • Naval actions of Anson and Hawke
  • Brilliant defence of Commodore l'Etenduere
  • Projects of Dupleix and La Bourdonnais in the East Indies
  • Influence of Sea Power in Indian affairs
  • La Bourdonnais reduces Madras
  • Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748
  • Madras exchanged for Louisburg
  • Results of the war
  • Effect of Sea Power on the issue


Chapter VIII: Seven Years' War, 1756-1763. England's Overwhelming Power and Conquests on the Seas, in North America, Europe, and East and West Indies. Sea Battles: Byng off Minorca; Hawke and Conflans; Pocock and D'Ache in East Indies.[edit]

  • Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle leaves many questions unsettled
  • Dupleix pursues his aggressive policy
  • He is recalled from India
  • His policy abandoned by the French
  • Agitation in North America
  • Braddock's expedition, 1755
  • Seizure of French ships by the English, while at peace
  • French expedition against Port Mahon, 1756
  • Byng sails to relieve the place
  • Byng's action off Port Mahon, 1756
  • Characteristics of the French naval policy
  • Byng returns to Gibraltar
  • He is relieved, tried by court-martial, and shot
  • Formal declarations of war by England and France
  • England's appreciation of the maritime character of the war
  • France is drawn into a continental struggle
  • The Seven Years' War (1756-1763) begins
  • Pitt becomes Prime Minister of England
  • Operations in North America
  • Fall of Louisburg, 1758
  • Fall of Quebec, 1759, and of Montreal, 1760
  • Influence of Sea Power on the continental war
  • English plans for the general naval operations
  • Choiseul becomes Minister in France
  • He plans an invasion of England
  • Sailing of the Toulon fleet, 1759
  • Its disastrous encounter with Boscawen
  • Consequent frustration of the invasion of England
  • Project to invade Scotland
  • Sailing of the Brest fleet
  • Hawke falls in with it and disperses it, 1759
  • Accession of Charles III. To Spanish throne
  • Death of George II
  • Clive in India
  • Battle of Plassey, 1757
  • Decisive influence of Sea Power upon the issues in India
  • Naval actions between Pocock and D'Ache', 1758, 1759
  • Destitute condition of French naval stations in India
  • The French fleet abandons the struggle
  • Final fall of the French power in India
  • Ruined condition of the French navy
  • Alliance between France and Spain
  • England declares war against Spain
  • Rapid conquest of French and Spanish colonies
  • French and Spaniards invade Portugal
  • The invasion repelled by England
  • Severe reverses of the Spaniards in all quarters
  • Spain sues for peace
  • Losses of British mercantile shipping
  • Increase of British commerce
  • Commanding position of Great Britain
  • Relations of England and Portugal
  • Terms of the Treaty of Paris
  • Opposition to the treaty in Great Britain
  • Results of the maritime war
  • Results of the continental war
  • Influence of Sea Power in countries politically unstable
  • Interest of the United States in the Central American Isthmus
  • Effects of the Seven Years' War on the later history of Great Britain
  • Subsequent acquisitions of Great Britain
  • British success due to maritime superiority
  • Mutual dependence of seaports and fleets


Chapter IX: Course of Events from the Peace of Paris to 1778. Maritime War Consequent upon the American Revolution. Battle off Ushant.[edit]

  • French discontent with the Treaty of Paris
  • Revival of the French navy
  • Discipline among French naval officers of the time
  • Choiseul's foreign policy
  • Domestic troubles in Great Britain
  • Controversies with the North American colonies
  • Genoa cedes Corsica to France
  • Dispute between England and Spain about the Falkland Islands
  • Choiseul dismissed
  • Death of Louis XV
  • Naval policy of Louis XVI
  • Characteristics of the maritime war of 1778
  • Instructions of Louis XVI. To the French admirals
  • Strength of English navy
  • Characteristics of the military situation in America
  • The line of the Hudson
  • Burgoyne's expedition from Canada
  • Howe carries his army from New York to the Chesapeake
  • Surrender of Burgoyne, 1777
  • American privateering
  • Clandestine support of the Americans by France
  • Treaty between France and the Americans
  • Vital importance of the French fleet to the Americans
  • The military situation in the different quarters of the globe
  • Breach between France and England
  • Sailing of the British and French fleets
  • Battle of Ushant, 1778
  • Position of a naval commander-in-chief in battle


Chapter X: Maritime War in North America and West Indies, 1778-1781. Its Influence upon the Course of the American Revolution. Fleet Actions off Grenada, Dominica, and Chesapeake Bay.[edit]

  • D'Estaing sails from Toulon for Delaware Bay, 1778
  • British ordered to evacuate Philadelphia
  • Rapidity of Lord Howe's movements
  • D'Estaing arrives too late
  • Follows Howe to New York
  • Fails to attack there and sails for Newport
  • Howe follows him there
  • Both fleets dispersed by a storm
  • D'Estaing takes his fleet to Boston
  • Howe's activity foils D'Estaing at all points
  • D'Estaing sails for the West Indies
  • The English seize Sta. Lucia
  • Ineffectual attempts of D'Estaing to dislodge them
  • D'Estaing captures Grenada
  • Naval battle of Grenada, 1779; English ships crippled
  • D'Estaing fails to improve his advantages
  • Reasons for his neglect
  • French naval policy
  • English operations in the Southern States
  • D'Estaing takes his fleet to Savannah
  • His fruitless assault on Savannah
  • D'Estaing returns to France
  • Fall of Charleston
  • De Guichen takes command in the West Indies
  • Rodney arrives to command English fleet
  • His military character
  • First action between Rodney and De Guichen, 1780
  • Breaking the line
  • Subsequent movements of Rodney and De Guichen
  • Rodney divides his fleet
  • Goes in person to New York
  • De Guichen returns to France
  • Arrival of French forces in Newport
  • Rodney returns to the West Indies
  • War between England and Holland
  • Disasters to the United States in 1780
  • De Grasse sails from Brest for the West Indies, 1781
  • Engagement with English fleet off Martinique.
  • Cornwallis overruns the Southern States
  • He retires upon Wilmington, N. C., and thence to Virginia
  • Arnold on the James River
  • The French fleet leaves Newport to intercept Arnold
  • Meets the English fleet off the Chesapeake, 1781
  • French fleet returns to Newport
  • Cornwallis occupies Yorktown
  • De Grasse sails from Hayti for the Chesapeake
  • Action with the British fleet, 1781
  • Surrender of Cornwallis, 1781
  • Criticism of the British naval operations
  • Energy and address shown by De Grasse
  • Difficulties of Great Britain's position in the war of 1778.
  • The military policy best fitted to cope with them
  • Position of the French squadron in Newport, R. I., 1780.
  • Great Britain's defensive position and inferior numbers.
  • Consequent necessity for a vigorous initiative
  • Washington's opinions as to the influence of Sea Power on the American contest


Chapter XI: Maritime War in Europe, 1779-1782.[edit]

  • Objectives of the allied operations in Europe
  • Spain declares war against England
  • Allied fleets enter the English Channel, 1779
  • Abortive issue of the cruise
  • Rodney sails with supplies for Gibraltar
  • Defeats the Spanish squadron of Langara and relieves the place
  • The allies capture a great British convoy
  • The armed neutrality of the Baltic powers, 1780
  • England declares war against Holland
  • Gibraltar is revictualled by Admiral Derby
  • The allied fleets again in the Channel, 1781
  • They retire without effecting any damage to England
  • Destruction of a French convoy for the West Indies
  • Fall of Port Mahon, 1782
  • The allied fleets assemble at Algesiras
  • Grand attack of the allies on Gibraltar, which fails, 1782
  • Lord Howe succeeds in revictualling Gibraltar
  • Action between his fleet and that of the allies
  • Conduct of the war of 1778 by the English government
  • Influence of Sea Power
  • Proper use of the naval force


Chapter XII: Events in the East Indies, 1778-1781. Suffren Sails from Brest for India, 1781. His Brilliant Naval Campaign in the Indian Seas, 1782, 1783.[edit]

  • Neglect of India by the French government
  • England at war with Mysore and with the Mahrattas
  • Arrival of the French squadron under Comte d'Orves
  • It effects nothing and returns to the Isle of France
  • Suffren sails from Brest with five ships-of-the-line, 1781
  • Attacks an English squadron in the Cape Verde Islands, 1781
  • Conduct and results of this attack
  • Distinguishing merits of Suffren as a naval leader
  • Suffren saves the Cape Colony from the English
  • He reaches the Isle of France
  • Succeeds to the chief command of the French fleet
  • Meets the British squadron under Hughes at Madras
  • Analysis of the naval strategic situation in India
  • The first battle between Suffren and Hughes, Feb. 17, 1782
  • Suffren's views of the naval situation in India
  • Tactical oversights made by Suffren
  • Inadequate support received by him from his captains
  • Suffren goes to Pondicherry, Hughes to Trincomalee
  • The second battle between Suffren and Hughes, April 12, 1782
  • Suffren's tactics in the action
  • Relative injuries received by the opposing fleets
  • Contemporaneous English criticisms upon Hughes's conduct
  • Destitute condition of Suffren's fleet
  • His activity and success in supplying wants
  • He communicates with Hyder Ali, Sultan of Mysore
  • Firmness and insight shown by Suffren
  • His refusal to obey orders from home to leave the Indian Coast
  • The third battle between Suffren and Hughes, July 6, 1782
  • Qualities shown by Hughes
  • Stubborn fighting by the British admiral and captains
  • Suffren deprives three captains of their commands
  • Dilatory conduct of Admiral Hughes
  • Suffren attacks and takes Trincomalee
  • Strategic importance of this success
  • Comparative condition of the two fleets in material for repairs
  • The English government despatches powerful reinforcements
  • The French court fails to support Suffren
  • The fourth battle between Suffren and Hughes, Sept. 3, 1782
  • Mismanagement and injuries of the French
  • Contrast between the captains in the opposing fleets
  • Two ships of Suffren's fleet grounded and lost
  • Arrival of British reinforcements under Admiral Bickerton
  • Approach of bad-weather season; Hughes goes to Bombay
  • Military situation of French and English in India
  • Delays of the French reinforcements under Bussy
  • Suffren takes his fleet to Achem, in Sumatra
  • He returns to the Indian coast
  • Arrival of Bussy
  • Decline of the French power on shore
  • The English besiege Bussy in Cuddalore by land and sea
  • Suffren relieves the place
  • The fifth battle between Suffren and Hughes, June 20, 1783
  • Decisive character of Suffren's action
  • News of the peace received at Madras
  • Suffren sails for France
  • His flattering reception everywhere
  • His distinguishing military qualities
  • His later career and death


Chapter XIII: Events in the West Indies after the Surrender of Yorktown. Encounters of De Grasse with Hood. The Sea Battle of the Saints. 1781-1782.[edit]

  • Maritime struggle transferred from the continent to West Indies
  • De Grasse sails for the islands
  • French expedition against the island of St. Christopher, January, 1782
  • Hood attempts to relieve the garrison
  • Manoeuvres of the two fleets
  • Action between De Grasse and Hood
  • Hood seizes the anchorage left by De Grasse
  • De Grasse attacks Hood at his anchorage
  • Hood maintains his position
  • Surrender of the garrison and island
  • Merits of Hood's action
  • Criticism upon De Grasse's conduct
  • Rodney arrives in West Indies from England
  • Junction of Rodney and Hood at Antigua
  • De Grasse returns to Martinique
  • Allied plans to capture Jamaica
  • Rodney takes his station at Sta. Lucia
  • The French fleet sails and is pursued by Rodney
  • Action of April 9, 1782
  • Criticism upon the action
  • The chase continued; accidents to French ships
  • The naval battle of the Saints, April 12, 1782
  • Rodney breaks the French line
  • Capture of the French commander-in-chief and five ships-of-the-line
  • Details of the action
  • Analysis of the effects of Rodney's manoeuvre
  • Tactical bearing of improvements in naval equipment
  • Lessons of this short naval campaign
  • Rodney's failure to pursue the French fleet
  • Examination of his reasons and of the actual conditions
  • Probable effect of this failure upon the conditions of peace
  • Rodney's opinions upon the battle of April 12
  • Successes achieved by Rodney during his command
  • He is recalled by a new ministry
  • Exaggerated view of the effects of this battle upon the war
  • Subsequent career of De Grasse
  • Court-martial ordered upon the officers of the French fleet
  • Findings of the court
  • De Grasse appeals against the finding
  • He is severely rebuked by the king
  • Deaths of De Grasse, Rodney, and Hood


Chapter XIV: Critical Discussion of the Maritime War of 1778.[edit]

  • The war of 1778 purely maritime
  • Peculiar interest therefore attaching to it
  • Successive steps in the critical study of a war
  • Distinction between "object" and "objective"
  • Parties to the war of 1778
  • Objects of the different belligerents
  • Foundations of the British Empire of the seas
  • Threatened by the revolt of the colonies
  • The British fleet inferior in numbers to the allies
  • Choice of objectives
  • The fleets indicated as the keys of the situation everywhere
  • Elements essential to an active naval war
  • The bases of operations in the war of 1778
    • In Europe
    • On the American continent
    • In the West Indies
    • In the East Indies
  • Strategic bearing of the trade-winds and monsoons
  • The bases abroad generally deficient in resources
  • Consequent increased importance of the communications
  • The navies the guardians of the communications
  • Need of intermediate ports between Europe and India
  • Inquiry into the disposition of the naval forces
  • Difficulty of obtaining information at sea
  • Perplexity as to the destination of a naval expedition
  • Disadvantages of the defensive
  • England upon the defensive in 1778
  • Consequent necessity for wise and vigorous action
  • The key of the situation
  • British naval policy in the Napoleonic wars
  • British naval policy in the Seven Years' War
  • Difficulties attending this policy
  • Disposition of the British navy in the war of 1778
  • Resulting inferiority on many critical occasions
  • Effect oil the navy of the failure to fortify naval bases
  • The distribution of the British navy exposes it to being out-numbered at many points
  • The British naval policy in 1778 and in other wars compared
  • Naval policy of the allies
  • Dives-gent counsels of the coalition
  • "Ulterior objects"
  • The allied navies systematically assume a defensive attitude
  • Dangers of this line of action
  • Glamour of commerce-destroying
  • The conditions of peace, 1783


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1914, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 99 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.