DOUGLAS, Sir Howard.
Naval Evolutions; A Memoir by…
containing a Review and Refutation of the Principal Essays and Arguments advocating Mr. Clerk's Claims in relation to the Manoeuvre of the 12th of April, 1782; and vindicating, by Tactical Demonstration, and Numerous Authentic Documents, the Professional Skill of the British Officers chiefly on that Memorable Occasion.
First edition. The third son of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Douglas, Douglas was originally intended for the Navy, but after his father’s death, his guardians, without consultation, obtained a place for him at the Royal Military Academy. He was subsequently superintendent of the senior department at Sandhurst, and served with distinction as assistant quartermaster-general in Spain, and on the disastrous Walcheren Expedition. In later life he gravitated toward naval matters, his Treatise on Naval Gunnery (1820) was the basis for training until the late 1840s; “Douglas’s book was more than a mere artillery training manual; it encompassed key elements of national strategy, notably the development of new weapons and tactics for the bombardment of foreign naval bases… He considered that mortars, and later Armstrong breech-loading cannon, enabled naval forces to lay off at long range and destroy naval bases. In the Crimean War his ideas were applied at Sveaborg in August 1855 with devastating results.” (ODNB) The present work, which was “suggested by a conversation with his old friend and school companion Sir Walter Scott,” is a defence of his father’s claim to be the originator if the manoeuvre of “the breaking of the line.” Douglas first published an article in the Quarterly Review in 1829 questioning the claims of John Clerk of Eldin, which initiated a furious controversy with Clerk’s supporters, despite the fact that Clerk, who had died in 1812, had “maintained in 1804 that his ideas were not fully developed at the time of the battle of the Saints, and that his thinking had not finally come together until the late 1790s, when he published details of the manoeuvre.”
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Octavo. Original dark green moiré cloth, paper label to the upper board, yellow surface-paper endpapers. 14 diagrammatic plates, and one double-sided, folding facsimile letter. A little rubbed and soiled, mild toning, scattered very light foxing, a very good copy.