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Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K.C.B., and the North American and West Indian station, 1860-1864

Courtemanche, Regis Armand (1967) Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K.C.B., and the North American and West Indian station, 1860-1864. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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During most of the nineteenth century, Great Britain maintained eight foreign naval stations, for the protection of her subjects and commerce. This thesis concerns the North American and West Indian Station and its commander, Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K.C.B., in the years 1860-1864. The first year of Milne's a command was relatively quiet and enabled him to learn the essentials, and to visit the important places of this, his first station command. The Prince of Wales had visited North America in I860, but this had gone very smoothly, 1861 saw the beginning of the American Civil War and the "testing" time for the admiral and his officers. Duo to the poor communications with England, Milne made many of his own decisions; for example, he sent his warships to inspect the federal blockade when it was just being put into effect, and there are many other instances of this initiative. The offensive and defensive capacity of the station is examined at the time of the Trent affair, as well as the allied expedition to Mexico at the same time, December 1861, The second and third years of the war are concerned largely with the legal and diplomatic problems that arose: Milne’s opposition to the sustenance and repair of blockade runners, conflicts with colonial governors over the role of naval officers vis-a-vis the belligerents, and other matters. The administration and problems of the station are not neglected. The chain of command is explained and the two most endemic problems of the area: desertion and yellow fever,are examined. With the engagement between, the Monitor and Merrlmack, the conflict between ordnance and armour was accelerated. The introduction of the Armstrong gun and the reasons for its failure are detailed. This was a critical situation as it meant that a largo part of the armament of nearly every British warship was, from 1861 to 1864, defective. The British view of American forts, weapons and warships is also recounted. No serious writer has accused Milne of being partial to either side in the American struggle. But he was criticised for being more of a 'diplomat' than a 'fighter'. There can be no doubt, however, that his was a position of great delicacy and he handled the problems with consummate skill.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1967 Regis A. Courtemanche
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration

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