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The Forgotten War Against Napoleon: Conflict in the Mediterranean, 1793-1815, by Gareth Glover

Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate Publishers, 2017. Pp. xviii, 268. Illus., maps, table, notes, biblio., index. $50.00. ISBN: 1473833957.

The Mediterranean Theatre in the French Wars

Glover, well know for his extensive writings on the French Wars of 1793-1815 and as the editor of The Waterloo Archive, gives us a comprehensive look at the Mediterranean and adjacent territories, a largely “forgotten” theatre of the very long Anglo-French war. To be sure, events in these areas are usually touched upon in works on this protracted series of wars, such as Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt and Syria or the Battle of Maida. But Glover points out that most of the coverage, especially in English, is concentrated elsewhere, notably on northwestern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula.

There were, in fact many other campaigns and battles in the Mediterranean region that are usually overlooked, such as the Franco-Neapolitan War of 1798-1799, or the unsuccessful Anglo-Russian intervention in to prevent a French invasion of Naples in 1805-1806, which involved more than just the Battle of Maida and also resulted in protracted guerrilla resistance. We also get looks at British, French, and Russian operations in Greece and the Aegean, French attempts against Sicily, and more.

In addition to British and French forces, on which most attention is usually focused, there were also Spanish, American, Neapolitan, Tuscan, Ottoman, Barbary, Austrian, Swedish, Russian, Maltese, and others, all in pursuit of their own strategic, territorial, or other gains. Glover notes that between 1807 and 1814 Britain’s commitment to operations in the theatre frequently ran to forty or more battalions and as many as fifty ships-of-the-line, as well as many smaller warships.

Glover uses a chronological approach, covering events in nearly 60 chapters, most concise and well written. Each chapter deals with operations in a particular area as they unfolded. He explains the rationale for the events, discusses the forces and people involved, and sets them within the framework of the larger war. This approach allows him to point out some of the complexities of a so great a war, so that, for example, we find American merchant ships protected by British safe conducts from attacks by the Barbary states, when carrying supplies for British forces in the theatre, despite the U.S. and Britain being at war.

The Forgotten War Against Napoleon is a good introduction to the theatre for the novice, and will prove profitable reading for the seasoned student of the period as well.

 

Note: The Forgotten War Against Napoleon, is also available as an e-Pub, $30.00, ISBN 978-1-5267-1588-3, and in PDF, $30.00, ISBN 978-1-5267-1589-0

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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