Frigates and Foremasts
224 pages, 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
18 b&w illustrations, 2 maps
Release Date:01 Jul 2004
Release Date:15 Nov 2003
Release Date:01 Oct 2007

Frigates and Foremasts

The North American Squadron in Nova Scotia Waters 1745-1815

UBC Press

The first comprehensive study of naval operations involving NorthAmerican squadrons in Nova Scotia waters, Frigates and Foremasts offersa masterful analysis of the motives behind the deployment of Royal Navyvessels between 1745 and 1815, and the navy’s role on the WesternAtlantic.

Interweaving historical analysis with vivid descriptions of pivotalevents from the first siege of Louisbourg in 1745 to the end of thewars with the United States and France in 1815, Julian Gwyn illuminatesthe complex story of competing interests among the Admiralty, NavyBoard, sea officers, and government officials on both sides of theAtlantic. In a gripping narrative encompassing sea battles,impressments, and privateering, Gwyn brings to life key events andcentral figures. He examines the role of leadership and the lack of it,not only of seagoing heroes from Peter Warren to Philip Broke, but alsoof land-based officials, such as the various Halifax naval yardcommissioners, whose important contributions are brought to light.Gwyn’s brilliant evocation of people and events, and thescholarship he brings to bear on the subject makes Frigates andForemasts a uniquely authoritative history. Wonderfully readable, itwill attract both the serious naval historian and the general readerinterested in the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of navalhistory on North America's eastern seaboard.


  • 2004, Commended - Keith Matthews Prize, Canadian Nautical Research Society
  • 2004, Winner - John Lyman Book Award, North American Society for Oceanic History
  • 2004, Short-listed - Honourable Mention, Keith Matthews Prize, Canadian Nautical Research Society
Professor Gwyn’s admirable treatment of the socio-economic aspects of the squadron’s history include the attention paid to the development of the Royal Navy’s docking, building and careening facilities in Bermuda and Nova Scotia; his account of the squadron’s role in imposing London’s trade policies before the American Revolution; and some interesting comments comparing Nova Scotia and Georgia as colonies before 1775. David R. Jones, Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, Vol. 8, 2005
One of the great benefits of the recent upsurge in maritime and naval history has been the attention paid to topics or areas heretofore considered marginal. Julian Gwyn has provided here a welcome example of just such a neglected issue. Gwyn attempts, successfully, to correct the imbalance by explaining the essential role played by this marginal theatre in numerous phases of the great conflicts from 1745 to 1815. The book is a most welcome addition to naval and maritime history. The focus is Halifax and Nova Scotian water, but British relations with the Americans, and to a lesser degree the French, are paramount. Gwyn has thoroughly researched the primary and secondary material, and presents his findings clearly. This is a fine book that throws light on a neglected theatre of operations in several wars. Paul Webb, University of Western Ontario, International History Review, June 2005.
Julian Gwyn is Professor Emeritus in the Department ofHistory at the University of Ottawa and the author of ExcessiveExpectations: Maritime Commerce and the Economic Development of NovaScotia, 1740-1870.


1 The Siege of Louisbourg and Its Aftermath, 1745-55

2 The Halifax Squadron in Peace and War, 1755-75

3 Naval War with Rebel America, 1775-83

4 Short Peace and Long War, 1783-1807

5 Preying on American Commerce, 1793-1812

6 Maritime War with the United States, 1812-15

7 Conclusion and Epilogue




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