Book Review: Utmost Gallantry: The U.S. and Royal Navies at Sea in the War of 1812


by Kevin D. McCranie

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011. Pp. xvi, 368. Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio, index. $39.95. ISBN: 159114504X

Utmost Gallantry takes a fresh new look at the naval side of the War of 1812 by a professor at the U.S. Naval War College. 

While one would think the subject has been well covered, Prof. McCranie, manages to throw a great deal of new light on the naval side of the "Second War for Independence".  Wile he still gives us many examples of the “Utmost Gallantry” in his title, with frigate duels (e.g., Constituion v. Guerriere, , etc.), lake battles (Erie, Champlain), and even land battles (Bladensburg and New Orlens), he tends to focus on the war on the high seas.  McCranie also takes a more modern look at the strategy and policy of both sides, and fits the struggle snugly within the framework of the Napoleonic Wars, often overlooked by Americans writing on the subject: It was the need to keep Napoleon pent up in Europe that tied down most of the Royal Navy, thus helping the young U.S. Navy win its spurs. 

Although McCanie’s focus on the war on the high seas may trouble some readers, wishing to hear about more on the lake battles and commerce raiders, this is an essential read for those with an interest in the War of 1812, the age of fighting sail, or the navy in general.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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