The Navies of the Napoleonic Wars

Feb 2019
861
Serbia
This thread is a sort of a counter to the thread on WWII navies with the intention to record the organisation, sizes, tactics, strategies, battles etc. of the navies of the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, preferably also putting forward sources for further reading and verification.

To start with: The Royal Navy.

In 1793 the amount of ships from 1st to 6th rate were 83, including 26 Ships of the Line*. Schooners, Sloops, Fire ships and anything less than a 6th rate are not included in this rating. The tonnage of the 26 Line Ships totals 44,116 tonnes and of all 83 ships it is almost doubled, standing at 87,893 tonnes. These figures are found in Gregory Fremont-Barnes' Royal Navy 1793-1815 at page 4.

*Anything less than a 3rd rate (74 guns.) does not count as a full Ship of the Line in Barnes' book. 4th rates and below are considered great frigates and will count as such here, one problem with this rating is that some might count 4th and 5th rates as Ships of the Line, so the numbers may change in other sources.

Main British fleets in Europe were: The Mediterranean Fleet, the Channel Fleet, North Sea Fleet and the Baltic Fleet.

These names are somewhat misleading as the fleets were assigned to more or less than their geographical area. The Channel Fleet covered the entire Atlantic coast of France and ventured off onto the north coast of Spain. Blockading Lorient, Rochefort and other such ports which were not in the Channel. The North Sea Fleet blockaded and patrolled, other than the actual North Sea, the Low Countries and the area of Boulogne, part of the English Channel. The Baltic Fleet was first assembled in 1801 and fluctuated in size and strength as the situation demanded, being formed into a permanent establishment in 1807. The Mediterranean Fleet, besides the Mediterranean was also active off the Portuguese coast. Other fleets and squadrons were stationed in non-European areas and will be covered in future posts if there is any interest in this thread.

The fleets were regularly divided into 2 or 3 squadrons, a centre squadron, a van squadron and a rear squadron if the 3rd squadron exists. The squadrons were usually evenly divided with the 27 Ships of the Line at Trafalgar as an example divided in 2 squadrons of 13 and 14 respectively. The command structure was that of a Commander in Chief of a fleet, a high ranking admiral, being the main commander. The Squadrons were commanded by lower ranking Admirals with their flagships being commanded by their respective captains, under them were individual captains of individual ships followed by lieutenants which were followed by midshipmen which were followed by other lower ranks.

I hope that this thread covers more than just 1793, with the following years until 1815 covered in some way as well.

If there is interest in this thread I hope that other people will join in and add more as I don't have figures for all nations, ship types and years.
 
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Oct 2015
894
Virginia
Royal Navy at the beginning 1793 (per Wm James " Naval History of Great Britain" (1824) & W L Clowes "The Royal Navy" (1899)):
113 Ships of the Line - 5 x 1st rates, 16 x 2d rates, 92 x 3d rates
126 Frigates - 12 x 4th rates, 79 x 5th rates, 35 x 6th rates
40 Sloops
25 Brigs, Cutters, Bombs, Fireships etc
Total tonnage - 295,409

Beginning of 1796:
116 of the Line - 6 x 1st rates, 16 x 2d rates, 94 x 3d rates
164 Frigates - 21 x 4th rates, 106 x 5th rates, 37 x 6th rates
84 Sloops
41 Brigs etc

Beginning of 1802:
126 of the Line - 6 x 1st rates, 16 x 2d rates, 104 x 3d rates
161 Frigates - 13 x 4th rates, 120 x 5th rates, 28 x 6th rates
98 Sloops
120 Brigs etc
Total tonnage - 416,566

Beginning of 1803:
111 of the Line - 6 x 1st rates, 15 x 2d rates, 90 x 3d rates
135 Frigates - 11 x 4th rates, 102 x 5th rates, 22 x 6th rates
78 Sloops
64 Brigs etc
Total tonnage - 356,400

Beginning of 1805:
116 of the Line - 7 x 1st rates, 14 x 2d rates, 95 x 3d rates
152 Frigates - 13 x 4th rates, 114 x 5th rates, 25 x 6th rates
121 Sloops
145 Brigs etc
Total tonnage - 407,814

Beginning 1809 (maximum):
127 of the Line - 6 x 1st rates, 12 x 2d rates, 109 x 3d rates
180 Frigates - 8 x 4th rates, 144 x 5th rates, 28 x 6th rates
251 Sloops
170 Brigs etc
Total tonnage - 501,596

"Rates":
Ships of the Line: 1st - 100+ guns on 3 decks, 2d = 90-98 3 decks, 3d = 64-80 2 decks
"Cruising" ships (4th rates were no longer considered capable of standing in the line, but weren't really frigates either): 4th = 50-60 2 decks, 5th = 32-44 1 deck (usually), 6th = 20-24 1 deck

Numbers differ in different sources as which ships are included varies even more than in the 20th century. Clowes says these were checked against the "Official Lists" and the "Naval Chronicle" (?)
 
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Feb 2019
861
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@Dentatus Statistics for 1793 and 6 used here are interesting, Fremont-Barnes gives another table at page 6 which says ''total active ships.'' which corresponds to this. The first table used that gave the numbers at 26 ships of the line also says ''at key points'' so maybe it just listed ships in specific locations as opposed to all ships everywhere .

The table at page 6 looks like this:
1562874417649.png

Do your sources correspond to this?
 
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Triceratops

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
3,003
Late Cretaceous
This is very basic:


Ships of the line

Year GBR FRA NLD ESP DNK RUS
1790 145 73 48 72 32 58
1795 123 56 28 76 30 61
1800 127 44 16 66 28 67
1805 136 41 15 40 20 47
1810 152 46 13 28 2 43
1815 126 52 19 16 2 48

Cruisers

Year GBR FRA NLD ESP DNK RUS
1790 131 64 36 46 16 52
1795 160 65 30 51 13 40
1800 158 43 6 41 9 34
1805 160 35 10 26 11 16
1810 183 31 7 17 0 14
1815 151 31 14 15 3 21

the above table was on a website, figures transcribed from NAM Rodger, Command of the Ocean, in turn Rodger has used Jan Glete's Navies and Nations

sorry about the layout, every attempt at editing ended up a mess.

Comparison of naval fleet strengths during the Napoleonic wars
 
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Triceratops

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
3,003
Late Cretaceous
Russian Fleet in 1798, as per napolun.com:

In 1798, the Russian fleet was officially divided into two formations:
  • on Baltic Sea were: 45 ships-of-the-line and 19 frigates
  • on Black Sea were: 15 ships-of-the-line and 10 frigates
 
Oct 2015
894
Virginia
@Dentatus Statistics for 1793 and 6 used here are interesting, Fremont-Barnes gives another table at page 6 which says ''total active ships.'' which corresponds to this. The first table used also says ''at key points'' so maybe it just lists ships in specific locations as opposed to all ships everywhere .

The table at page 6 looks like this:
View attachment 21439

Do your sources correspond to this?
They are undoubtedly the same source, viz Wm James, summarized by W L Clowes. Clowes says they represent the "effective fleet", " exclusive of harbor and stationary vessels ...and ships building etc". How many were manned, fitted out and ready for sea is another question.
Clowes has at least the virtue of completeness (if not clarity) as he gives these stats for each year 1793-1802 in vol 4, and 1803-1815 in vol 5. He also provides appendices listing every loss of the French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Russian, Turkish, American and British Navy by date.
 
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Oct 2015
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Another data bit from Clowes: "British officers holding command of the chief stations in 1803" (war was declared May 16):
Portsmouth - Adm Lord Gardner
Plymouth - Adm Geo Montagu (fm May 26)
Channel - Adm Wm Cornwallis
Mediterranean - VAdm Lord Nelson
Downs - Adm Lord Keith
North America - VAdm Andrew Mitchell
East Indies - VAdm Peter Ranier
Jamaica - RAdm John T Duckworth
Leeward Is - Commod Samuel Hood
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,643
Spain
The three great navies in the world in 1805 were:

Great Britain: 111 ships of the line, 814 shpis and 233.000 men
France: 62 ships of the line, 614 ships and 153.000 men
Spain: 54 ships of the line, 292 ships and 96.000 men

About bases in the world.. i would say:
Spain
Great Britain
France? or Portugal? Netherland?
 

Triceratops

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
3,003
Late Cretaceous
Royal Navy at the beginning 1793 (per Wm James " Naval History of Great Britain" (1824) & W L Clowes "The Royal Navy" (1899)):
113 Ships of the Line - 5 x 1st rates,

Beginning of 1796:
116 of the Line - 6 x 1st rates,
I think I've identified the names of these 5/6 first rates.

HMS Britannia 1762
HMS Victory 1765
HMS Royal Sovereign
1786
HMS Royal George 1788
HMS Queen Charlotte 1790 (destroyed by accidental fire 1800)
+
HMS Ville de Paris 1795


Royal George in the Medway 1790. Her sister ship, Queen Charlotte, under construction in the background dockyard

 
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Feb 2019
861
Serbia
Another table from Fremont-Barnes, found at page 12:

1562927012131.png

He provides some statistics for the Channel Fleet, it had, in terms of deployed Ships of the Line in 1804:

20 ships off Brest
7 off Rochefort
7 off Ferrol
3 around the Portuguese and Spanish coasts
Its main stations were Portsmouth and Plymouth with anchorages at Spithead, St. Helens and other ports in Southern England.

Another fleet in Europe was the Irish Squadron. Its main port was in Cork and it had in:

1797- 16 ships (1 Ship of the Line, 15 Frigates and Sloops.)
1805- 23 ships ( 12 frigates, 8 sloops and 3 smaller ships.)
Source: Barnes, page 15

in 1795 not all ships are included for the Mediterranean Fleet in the table above, only 14 displayed with the number later given at 31 total ships, not all of which were Ships of the Line.

The Jamaica Squadron in 1793 consisted of:
9 ships (1 4th rate (50 guns), 3 frigates (32 guns each.) 4 sloops and 1 schooner.)

In 1795 this rose to the number given in Barnes' table above:

19 ships. (3 Ships of the Line, 9 Frigates, of which 2 4th rates, 6 5th rates, 1 6th rate, 3 schooners and 4 other ships.)

In 1799 this increased to:

31 ships. (7 Ships of the Line, 15 Frigates, 7 Sloops and 2 smaller ships.)

In 1805 this in turn increased to:

51 ships. ( 3 Ships of the Line, 14 Frigates, 24 Sloops and 10 smaller ships.)

In 1812 the size of the fleet actually decreased, standing at:

19 ships. (1 Ship of the Line, 8 Frigates and 10 smaller ships.)

The Jamaica Squadron was one of 2 squadrons set to patrol the Caribbean, the other being the Leeward Islands Squadron. The Jamaica Squadron was based on Port Royal as its main base.

About the Franco-Spanish fleets in 1805: James Davey in his book In Nelson's Wake:The Navy and the Napoleonic Wars 1803-1815 at page 116 claims that Britain had 83 Ships of the Line ''in seagoing condition'' against the 102 ''seaworthy'' Ships of the Line of France and Spain combined, he does not include all ships everywhere, only those ready for the sea. He cites another book called The Command of the Ocean by Nicholas Rodger as his source.