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Papers And Correspondence Of Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth Volume 1: The French Revolutionary War, 1793–1802

Vol 169 (2022), John D. Grainger

Admiral Duckworth was a captain when the Revolutionary War began in 1793.  His papers in effect begin at that point, though he had served throughout the American war from which few documents remain; otherwise his papers are voluminous.  He seems to have kept every letter he wrote or received.  As a result there is a well-documented, sometimes almost minute by minute, record of some of the important events of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.He was a captain at the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794, and went on to the post of second-in-command of the Jamaica station soon afterwards.  There he suddenly discovered that his commander-in-chief had left for England without giving him any notice, and leaving him in command; he had to take control of the war against the French at Ste Domingue in a time of slave insurrection and devastating fever. 

It was this which tested him, and helped to promote him to higher status.  On his return he became was second in command on the Irish coast after the attempted French invasion, then was involved in the suppression of 1797 mutinies at Plymouth, expressing his disgust at the betrayal he felt by the mutineers.He was one of Admiral Jervis’ captains in the Mediterranean command, and on the return of the Navy into that sea in 1798 he was sent to secure control of Minorca, which he did efficiently and with few casualties, though he complained that the army commander was honoured more than he was – a complaint he made after every future success.  He was made the commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands, and here he was active against the French islands, and eventually in the conquest of the Danish and Swedish islands.

All this is fully recorded in his letters and other correspondence, at some length, as are some more personal items, though most of it is official.  He was a generally genial commander, well-liked by his men, and respected by his superiors.

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