A Well-Timed Ruse: The “Peacock” Captures The “Epervier”

The naval actions of the War of 1812 are instructive for several reasons.  These derive from the particular circumstances of the war, and from the nature of armed conflict in general.  In the War of 1812, the United States was at a significant disadvantage to her British adversary; the British navy was the best in the world, able to project power across the world in a way that the US Navy could not.  British officers were in general better trained and equipped, and often could rely on numerical superiority in engagements at sea. 

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The Strength Of Organized And Cumulative Effort

When studying the history of the exploration of the African continent, one is struck by the relative recentness of our acquisition of its geographic details.  Ancient man undoubtedly mounted expeditions here and there, but none of them has left a lasting modern mark.  Egyptians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans eventually contented themselves with an awareness of the continent’s general contours.  Its interior they count not penetrate; deserts, mountains, rain forests, disease, heat, and hostile native peoples proved too forbidding.    

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Thomas Boyle Attacks Four Opponents At Once, And Beats Them All

Privateers were used extensively by the United States during the War of 1812.  The young American Navy did not have the money, resources, or manpower to conduct naval operations along the entirety of its vast coastline; it found it expedient to commission private parties to carry out some of its objectives. 

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Charlemagne Instructs On The Moral Requirements Of Leadership

We do not know the precise location of Charlemagne’s birthplace.  He donned the crown at the ripe age of twenty-nine in 771 A.D. upon the death of Carloman II.  From that moment he became embroiled in an almost ceaseless series of military campaigns designed both to expand his frontiers and safeguard them; in this turbulent age, kings needed to fight as well as administrate.  Historians tell us that he undertook around fifty-three campaigns, and personally commanded most of them. 

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Anecdotes From The Court Of Charlemagne

The chronicler known to posterity as Notker the Stammerer (“Notker Balbulus”) was born in what is now Switzerland around A.D. 840.  He seems to have come from a family that had the means to provide him with the best education his era could offer.  We find him in adulthood as a monk at the monastery at St. Gall, where he was able to exercise his considerable musical talents in composing verses and hymns. 

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A Heinous And Remorseless Maritime Killer

I first learned of the following story in a long-forgotten book of maritime lore entitled Unsolved Mysteries of Sea and Shore.  Authored by Edward Snow, it was published in only one edition in 1963.  As it is a difficult volume to procure, it will be useful for me to retell the tale here in abbreviated form, so that readers can form their own conclusions on the purposes of an elusive and sinister figure named William Kellogg Thompson.

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Breakout From Britain

Gunther Plüschow, Germany’s legendary escape artist of the First World War, was born to a  well-traveled family in Munich on February 8, 1886.  He was taken by his family to Rome at an early age, and was fortunate to have grown up amid the Eternal City’s bustle, ruins, and excitement; it was there that he acquired his facility with languages and adroitness in maneuvering his way out of trouble. 

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The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair And Its Tragic Aftermath

To understand the incident that has come to be called the Chesapeake—Leopard Affair, we must first understand the political and diplomatic circumstances that existed between the young United States and the European superpowers at the outset of the nineteenth century. 

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The Terrifying Wreck Of The “São João”

By the close of the fifteenth century, the maritime enterprise of Portugal had established a reliable network of trading routes from the Iberian peninsula to the Indian Ocean.  These routes were won at great cost; we note the results of the budding Age of Exploration, but forget the fearsome human toll that this Age exacted.  Shipwreck, loss at sea, loss of life on land, loss of property:  any one of these misfortunes—or a combination of them—could befall the intrepid explorer or trader at any time. 

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Escape From Fort Warren

Fort Warren is a pentagonal fortress located on Georges Island in Boston Harbor.  Older reference works call the island “George’s Island,” while modern texts have removed the apostrophe; readers can decide for themselves which spelling is more authentic.  The island’s fortress was one of the most solidly constructed and intimidating military installations of nineteenth century America. It is, in fact, more of a dungeon than a fortress. 

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