Elliot, Admiral Sir George.


Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1st.ed., 1885. Xii + 122 pp., 23 plates (2 fldg.), 6 maps (all fldg ; 1 lithograph), & 2 litho plates. Rebound in maroon cloth ; gold lettering to spine & front cover. 27 x 19cm. Internally V.G.+. externally FINE. The author had the greater part of this study published in the Illustrated Naval and Military Magazine and was encouraged to provide a collective study in book form. The year of publication, 1885, witnessed a major naval crisis with Russia over Afghanistan and its frontier with India. The Royal Navy was publicly criticized for its lack of readiness for war and, in a wider context, its ship design, armour, armaments and stability. This unease regarding the lack of an adequate fleet to defend Britain, her Empire and trade, led to a direct and effective response to improve the Navy. The author addresses the issue of the absence of a defined system of classification in ships of war ; estimates the value of outside armour ; examines the question of speed and naval gunnery ; and encourages discussion over naval expenditure, etc. The nine chapters cover (1) Line-of-Battle Ships and Torpedo Vessels. (2) Ram Attack and Defence. (3) The Gun Attack and Defence in Fleet Actions. (4) The Possession of the Suez Canal in Time of War. (5) England’s Exposed Position, Part I – Home Defences. (6) England’s Exposed Position, Part II – Our Defences Abroad. (7) Some Practical Remarks on Designs for Ships of War. (8) The Personnel of the Navy. (9) Cellular Deck Protection versus Side Armour. The book is illustrated with 23 interesting plates (two folding) ; 6 maps (all folding – one lithograph) ; and 2 other lithographs. The author, Admiral Sir George Augustus Elliot (1813-1901) was the eldest son of Admiral Sir George Elliot (1784-1863). Born at Calcutta, he entered the Royal Navy in 1827 and during his early naval career was highly successful in fighting slavers up the Congo River. He went on to fight in the Baltic during the Crimean War. He was strongly in favour of the ram as a primary weapon in modern naval warfare and pressed for increased freeboard, the retention of sailing rig, and the concentration of armour. The battleship TEMERAIRE was a direct result of this policy, and twenty years later his views on freeboard and armouring formed the basis of the modern battleship - but his was a minority view. By the time this book appeared, Admiral Elliot had retired from active naval service but not from naval debate. He made a major contribution to the intelligent discussion of naval issues for 40 years, although at times his views were considered to be radical and even impractical. He died in London towards the end of 1901 and was remembered not only for this book and his contribution to naval affairs, but also as a brilliant sailing-ship captain. SCARCE.

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