The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #148498   Message #3449901
Posted By: Les from Hull
09-Dec-12 - 06:06 PM
Thread Name: BS: Pearl Harbor Day / December 7
Subject: RE: BS: Pearl Harbor Day / December 7
As usual people fail to understand Britain's impressment of sailors. As an island nation and the world's foremost maritime power, Britain maintained a large navy, but relied on a form of conscription to man its ships during time of war. So, by Acts of Parliament, British sailors had a legal duty to serve in the Royal Navy. They could not avoid this by serving on board foreign vessels, or by claiming they had become the subjects of another nation. This concept was unknown at the time. In the incident between Leopard and Constitution the Royal Navy was looking for deserters, and US Navy ships were known to shelter them. Four men were taken off, three returned as innocent, the other hanged.

In the action between Shannon and Chesapeake, after the latter's surrender, a party of sailors continued attacking, seriously wounding Captain Broke, who was trying to save further bloodshed. Guess what, British deserters.

There are quite a numer of other cases. I'm not defending impressment, it was a rotten system and very much unliked. But it was the system. If, during the Vietnam War, US Army deserters joined the Canadian Army you might be a bit upset not to get them back.

In spite of a lot that has been written about the naval side of this war, the US Navy never won one single ship action between ships of equal force. After some early success against merchant ships, mostly by privateers, the naval blockade more or less halted commercial traffic and just about bankrupt the US Government. And as for boarding other nations' ships, can you say 'Steamer Trent'?