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The Practice of StrategyFrom Alexander the Great to the Present$
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John Andreas Olsen and Colin S. Gray

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199608638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608638.001.0001

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Britain and the Napoleonic Wars

Britain and the Napoleonic Wars

Chapter:
(p.176) Chapter 8 Britain and the Napoleonic Wars
Source:
The Practice of Strategy
Author(s):

Charles Esdaile

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608638.003.0009

In Chapter 8, Charles Esdaile examines ‘Britain and the Napoleonic Wars’. He shows that control of the seas enabled Britain to sustain the conflict, in the sense that maritime commerce provided her with the resources of money and raw materials needed to continue the fight. At the same time it rendered her invulnerable to direct attack, while also strengthening her against assaults of a more insidious nature. Further, sea power was a force multiplier, enabling extensive expeditions. Britain's mastery of the seas brought the additional advantage of forcing Napoleon, at least in the early years of the conflict, to do battle with Britain on her own terms. Economic warfare as an extension of naval warfare, especially in the forms of raiding commerce and blockading ports, was an integral part of Napoleon's strategy, but the emperor never appreciated that this should have been the centrepiece of his strategy.

Keywords:   Britain, Napoleonic Wars, ‘God of War’, sea power, naval warfare, economic warfare, strategy, history

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