Baker, Norman.


University of London, The Athlone Press, 1st.ed., 1971. X + 274 pp. D.j., 22 x 15cm. Nr.FINE. During the American War of Independence, the British government faced the unprecedented task of feeding, clothing, arming and equipping a large military and naval force 3,000 miles from home. The Treasury was largely responsible for providing supplies to the armed forces, and over the years there has been an uncritical acceptance of contemporary parliamentary opposition claims that the Treasury used army supply contracts as a form of political patronage to the detriment of the war. This view was first questioned during the 1930s but Professor Baker provides the first detailed study testing its validity. The result, although still critical of the Treasury in some respects, forces a reassessment of previously long-held views. Under Treasury supervision, supplies were carried by armed merchant ships proceeding independently. In 1779 the Navy Board took over responsibility for shipping supplies and, with the increasing threat of these lines of communication posed by French and Spanish naval forces, the armed transports were replaced by unarmed ships proceeding in convoy under the escort of the Royal Navy. The author examines every aspect of the supply of provisions, the role of the contractors and agents, and gives an overall assessment of a complex and difficult task given the great distance involved. A near-FINE copy.

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