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War, naval logistics and the British state: supplying the Baltic fleet 1808-1812

War, naval logistics and the British state: supplying the Baltic fleet 1808-1812

Davey, James (2009) War, naval logistics and the British state: supplying the Baltic fleet 1808-1812. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This thesis analyses the victualling system that distributed provisions to the Royal Navy fleet in the Baltic between 1808 and 1812, asking how it was done and with what success, measuring its performances over time. It covers the operational and strategic consequences of an improving logistical service, but also enables significant judgements to be made on the 18th century state, its performance under pressure of war, the public-private relationship, and the links between supply and diplomacy.

The transportation of provisions to the Baltic posed serious problems for naval administrators, politicians, and admirals alike. This thesis shows that in practice, naval supply was conducted very effectively; operations in the Baltic were not harmed for want of provisions. The state used the resources of the private sector, particularly the market for shipping, to serve its interests. In the Baltic itself, means were found to secure provisions locally, even from countries in conflict with Britain. Sweden – forced into an unwanted war with Britain by Napoleon – was happy to supply the British though it required much discretion and diplomatic intrigue to avoid the ears of the French spies.

Wide scale governmental reform, particularly the Commission for Naval Revision which reported from 1809, brought enhanced timeliness and efficiency to the victualling service. By 1810 a fleet lying in the Baltic was as well supplied as one lying off Deptford, significantly widening operational capabilities. The successful British blockade in the Baltic could not have been achieved twenty years earlier. It is argued that administrative developments created a strategic watershed, after which naval power could be more fully mobilised than ever before.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: war, naval logistics, Royal Navy, Baltic, Sweden, France, espionage, diplomacy,
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
V Naval Science > V Naval Science (General)
V Naval Science > VM Naval architecture. Shipbuilding. Marine engineering
Pre-2014 Departments: Greenwich Maritime Institute
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2019 16:03

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