Willis, Dr. Sam.


1st.ed., 2010. Xxxv + 410 pp., frontis., + 65 plates & other ills (some cold.) + 6 maps. D.j., 24 x 16cm. FINE. John Benbow was a ruthless fighting admiral of indomitable courage and resource, but he is chiefly remembered for his last fight which caused an outcry when the details of the engagement reached home. In 1702 Benbow led his squadron into action against a French squadron off the Spanish main, but other ships in his fleet stood off and failed to support him. Benbow fought on until a cannonball shattered his leg and 'Brave Benbow' succumbed to his terrible wound and the French made good their escape. Two of the captains who had abandoned their admiral were court-martialled and shot. The name of Benbow the hero became the stuff of legend and was immortalized in a dozen different ways from having ships and taverns named after him, to having song and poetry written in his honour. Remarkably however, little has been written about Benbow and his extraordinary life and death until this study. Benbow was born during Cromwell's Commonwealth, served in the Restoration Navy under the Stuarts, fought against the navy of Louis XIV, and met his end in one of the most cowardly acts of betrayal in naval history. As the author reveals in this book, there was far more to Benbow than is generally known and understood.

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