The Glorious First of June
The Hearts of Oak Trilogy: Book 3
Read more about the Hearts of Oak Trilogy here…
France, early summer 1794. The French Revolution has been hijacked by the extreme Jacobins and is in the grip of The Terror. While the guillotine relentlessly takes the heads of innocents, two vast French and British fleets meet in mid-Atlantic.
The French, in ships painted blood-red and bearing banners proclaiming ‘la République ou la mort!’ are escorting an American grain convoy to Brest to feed a starving population; the British, under the command of Lord Howe, a radical innovator and tactical genius, are bent on destroying it. The ensuing clash would swiftly become known as the hardest-fought battle of the age of sail.
Both sides claimed victory. For the French, it represented a strategic success since the convoy and its precious cargo made it safely through. But this outcome came at a heavy material cost. In purely numerical terms ‘the Glorious First of June’ was the greatest British naval victory over her oldest enemy for more than a century: 4,200 French sailors were killed and 3,300 wounded – ten per cent of their entire maritime workforce.
In The Glorious First of June Sam Willis not only tells, with thrilling immediacy and masterly clarity, the gripping story of an epic and complex battle, he places it within the context of The Terror, the survival of the French Revolution and the growth of British sea-power. He also explains the battle’s critical importance for the development of British naval tactics which, finessed and perfected by Horatio Nelson, would bring Britain to the apogee of its maritime supremacy.
The Glorious First of June is the last in ‘The Hearts of Oak trilogy’ and, like The Fighting Temeraire and The Admiral Benbow, is another thrilling account of the Age of Sail by one of our most exciting young historians.
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