View Full Version : Barbary Wars

Capt. Hatter USN
25th Nov 2004, 01:40
Only an idiot would fail to see the importance of the United States Navy in the Mediterranean during the early nineteenth century. It is not presentism, or patriotism that drives this, (I am a British subject) but good history. I don't think including the USN would cause anyone any disservice and may encourage more players to participate.

25th Nov 2004, 08:59
like Vic has mentioned repeatedly, US will have some presence in the game.

Though having them being an independant country is a bit unrealistic - considering they are not even on the map :-)

Capt. Hatter USN
25th Nov 2004, 16:26
I most certainly agree with the independent country comment. This was intended as a reply that I posted as a thread.


26th Nov 2004, 04:33
Tell me Bush, How did the USN affect the outcome of the Napoleonic wars?Tell me, how a bunch of merchants with guns on their ships sunk the Battleships of England without the help of the French. And don't say John Paul Jones...he sunk A ship then his ship went down with it. And they didn't shoot at the French either so what did they do Bush?

26th Nov 2004, 13:44

26th Nov 2004, 15:53
I think I can help here. (Please note that Mr Bush has not yet appeared in this thread so I think The_Russian_Rocket and "sick" may be calling on him in error.)

The USN did not affect the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars. The War of 1812 was a sideshow for Great Britain and of no consequence for Europe.

The Americans were not a bunch of merchants with guns on their ships. The US Navy were prime seamen with good ships. Having few ships they benefited from having the pick of available sailors, in contrast to France with her conscripts and England with her pressed men. Consequently the US Navy was an efficient, though small, force.

To my knowledge they did not sink any British battleship, not having battleships of their own (until late on) they relied upon powerful frigates and sloops. American frigates were exceptionally powerful for their day and had more and heavier guns, stronger hulls and more numerous crewmen than their Royal Navy counterparts. As they typically enjoyed a 3:2 advantage in terms of numerical strength over RN frigates it is little surprise that they were successful in one-to-one engagements.

When the US Navy fought against the RN they made sure they enjoyed an advantage in force. There are instances where the US captains refused to engage when they were confronted by comparable - or what they imagined to be comparable - forces. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact it is the responsible thing to do when life and death are involved. What is more, in a war where one's forces are limited compared with those of the opponent it is good sense to avoid putting them in too much risk. However a certain degree of myth has built up that paints the US Navy as invincible in small engagements when in fact they benefitted from greater force; when two similar vessels met (the USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon) it was the British vessel that triumphed.

Where I think the US Navy deserves particular credit is in putting to sea against the power of the Royal Navy. That such a small force was ready to leave the safety of port contrasts with the relative inaction of the French Navy who were less willing to confront their opponents.

But to stick to The_Russian_Rocket's main point, I would say that the actions of the US Navy were of no consequence in terms of the Napoleonic Wars. However I would be very interested to learn to the contrary, and I suspect that Messrs. Bush and Hatter may be able to enlighten us on its importance. Hatter has put things strongly in asserting that only idiots would fail to see the importance of the United States Navy in the Mediterranean during the early nineteenth century. Hmm, well I've never thought that ignorance of something, or a difference of opinion about something automatically amounted to idiocy. The actions of the US Navy have not been passed down to mainstream European History - that may well be a mistake and if that is the case I hope that we may be informed as to why in this thread.

That said, I would like to see the US Navy in IG as, if used properly, it would add to the colour and interest of the game and may help with the simulation.

26th Nov 2004, 17:45
Well gentlemen, this is the first time that I have been called out on the carpet on a thread I have not even participated in, but I will try to respond.

Russian Rocket - I think you need to reread your USN history a bit more, it seems you are mixing up different eras of the USN. Before the time of the French Revolution came around John Paul Jones was a Vice Admiral in the Russian Navy, fighing brilliant actions in the Black Sea against the Ottomans, and then later fighting in the North Sea. Read more here:


And again, I have never claimed that the USA or the USN played a cental or even crucial part in the European Theater. Historically though the USN cannot be ignored in the southern portion of that Theater. There the Mediterranean squadron continued to operate. Please see some information on these actions here:


Interestingly after the successful operations by the USN in the Mediterranean and North Africa, Pope Pius the Seventh declared that the Americans had done more for Christendom against the pirates than all the powers of Europe united. Not bad for a relatively small navy.

Walsh - I agree with a lot of what you said, but perhaps disagree with a few conclusions. I guess a Euro-centric view may describe the Barbary War and War of 1812 as a sideshow, but I would view it as a smaller theater of a larger world war. Most major wars from Napeleon on have had these different theaters. For instance regarding WWII, I have noticed that many of the history books I have read concentrate on the European Theater, when the Asian Theater was just as bitterly fought, perhaps even more so. I think we make a mistake when not studying and including in games like this these smaller theaters. I know practicality comes into play here, but I think the direction should be toward including smaller theaters.

Regarding the USN ships, I would say the USN was particularly savy in what they built. They made sure that their Frigates could easily out run any larger class of ship, but also defeat any ship near its equal.

A little disagreement on what standing orders were. The USN looked for more or less equal 1 vs 1 battles with RN Frigates, along with smaller ships. What they avoided was being outnumbered and would run from a fight like that. After suffering several 1 vs 1 Frigate battle losses the RN put out a standing order for their Frigate Captains to not engage USN Frigates on a 1 vs 1 basis.



26th Nov 2004, 21:26
Thanks Bush.

Read the links you posted. The tale of the conflict with the Barbary States was particularly exciting; an epic on a small scale. It ought to be made into a film.

I shall look out for books on the subject. Any suggestions will be welcome.

26th Nov 2004, 22:16
I just wanted to add to my last comments regarding USN ships. Walsh does correctly point out that the HMS Shannon defeated the USS Chesapeake. However there were mitigating circumstances. The USS Chesapeake sailed out of port to confront the HMS Shannon, with an entirely green crew, who had not sailed the ship nor drilled together. The action should probably never had taken place, but it did, and with the loss of her gallant Captain Lawrence whose last words were "Don't Give Up the Ship". She also was not the same design as the famous USN Frigates of USS Constitution etc.

Also as an aside, a short time later, Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry USN, as his squadron of USN ships approached an enemy British squadron on Lake Erie, hoisted a hand made flag that spelled out his friend Lawrence's last words "Don't Give Up The Ship". The rest was history!

For information on that see the following link:




27th Nov 2004, 03:38
For those of you not familiar with naval fiction, our Captain Bush is distantly related to Capt Hornblower's first Lt. Bush of the HMS Lydia.

Boy theres nothing better for the appetite than a conversation that takes a semi-predictable orbit. Im glad to see some reliable history repeated here, there's little enough of it. As far as I am concerned, the United States Navy was not interested in affecting the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars. Our ships just wanted to be left alone. The presence of so many former british sailors in American ships, and the desperate need in the British Navy for prime seaman, or any body that could walk on a deck for that matter, also increased the gripes between the two countries.

My point here is still the same, why limit the use of the game this way by trying to decide what countries you think were in a war and which ones weren't? The fact is that wars much smaller in scope than this one have affected the course of the entire world, so certainly you can say that a better game would be the one that considers more participants rather than less.