"James Nelson is not the first historian to reveal this
little-known albeit incredibly important aspect of our Revolution,
but no one has done it more thoroughly or with greater literary
--William M. Fowler, author of "Empires at War," .
In July 1775, in his first inspection of the American encampment
on the outskirts of Boston, the Continental Army's newly arrived
commander-in-chief noted its haphazard design and shabby
construction--clearly the work of men unprepared to face the
world's most powerful fighting force. George Washington had
inherited not only an army of woefully untrained and ill-equipped
soldiers, but a daunting military prospect as well. To the east he
could see the enemy's heavily fortified positions on Bunker Hill
and a formidable naval presence on the river beyond.
British-occupied Boston was defended by impressive redoubts that
would easily repel any American assault, and Boston Harbor bristled
with the masts of merchant ships delivering food, clothing, arms,
ammunition, and other necessities to the British. Washington knew
that the king's troops had all the arms and gunpowder they could
want, whereas his own army lacked enough powder for even one hour
of major combat. The Americans were in danger of losing a war
before it had truly begun.. .
Despite his complete lack of naval experience, Washington
recognized that harassing British merchant ships was his only means
of carrying the fight to the enemy and sustaining an otherwise
unsustainable stalemate. But he also knew that many in Congress
still hoped for reconciliation with England, and in that climate
Congressional approval for naval action was out of the question.
So, without notifyingCongress and with no real authority to do so,
the general began arming small merchant schooners and sending them
to sea to hunt down British transports in the Service of the
ministerial Army. . .
In "George Washington's Secret Navy," award-winning author James
L. Nelson tells the fascinating tale of how America's first
commander-in-chief launched America's first navy. Nelson introduces
us to another side of a general known for his unprecedented respect
for civilian authority. Here we meet a man whose singular act of
independence helped keep the Revolution alive in 1775. .
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