The Global Impact of British Naval Leadership, 1757-1805
Obringer, Christopher Scott
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Throughout the second half of the eighteenth century, the British Navy went through a development of its leadership that drastically changed its spirit and culture. After the court-martial and execution of Admiral John Byng for failing to relieve the British forces on the island of Minorca, the leadership in the British Navy took on a more aggressive posture and took more risks than in earlier periods. These changes in leadership were reinforced by the repeated success of naval leaders who experienced success through unconventional and aggressive combat tactics. However, combat tactics were not the sole source of British naval success. British naval officers learned their craft through a proven and comprehensive process of development that gave them a distinct advantage over their enemies. By the time the vast majority of officers received their commission as an officer, they were already thoroughly experienced with seamanship and had a chance to develop a leadership style which carried on with them throughout their careers. The unconventional tactics, the culture of aggressiveness, and the process of career development of British naval leaders are personified in several prominent naval leaders of the second half of the eighteenth century. This work explores these leadership characteristics in Admiral Richard Howe, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, and Admiral Edward Pellew.