PDA

View Full Version : Horatio Hornblower R.N.



snowcelt
2005-Apr-25, 12:59 PM
I have been re-reading C.S. Forester's series as of late and I was struck by H. Hornblower's general and specific knowledge.

First of all, I acknowledge that H.H. is but a figment of Forester"s mind; but, I wonder if smart men, and women, were perhaps smarter then we are today?

Forester seems, in my opinion, to point this question out to me. Hornblower is out in the eastern Pacific calculating: Wind age, ballast, trigonometry for firing solutions, rations, and navigational problems with nothing but experience and a pen and a brain. In the mean time, he has 400 men on his ship---half have been pressed into service---yet he controls them.

The Man is also fluent in English, French, Latin, and ancient Greek.

Are there men/women in this age that are capable of these kinds of feats?

Do not forget that Hornblower can not phone up the H.Q. He is on his own.

AT
2005-Apr-25, 01:04 PM
I think those things are his job, so he knows how to do them.
I can calculate force, acceleration, current, voltage drops, impedance, and explain the constitutional seperation of powers and constraints, because that's what by 'job' calls for.

The language thing is impressive, though.

snowcelt
2005-Apr-25, 01:13 PM
I think those things are his job, so he knows how to do them.
I can calculate force, acceleration, current, voltage drops, impedance, and explain the constitutional seperation of powers and constraints, because that's what by 'job' calls for.

The language thing is impressive, though.

Agreed. But think about commanding a work force to deal with what you have said you know; furthermore, make them do what you want when half of them were shanghaied of of the street of the town you came from. Oh, and by the way, maybe 10% ended up working for you because if they did not they would have been hanged because they were murderers and rapists.

captain swoop
2005-Apr-25, 02:02 PM
OK I could command the men if I had a gang of Mates with ROpe Ends, Flogging, and a platoon of highly paid and loyal Marines. Not to mention the threat of hanging.
On any RN ship of the period the actual men who sailed it as opposed to the men who manned the guns were highly paid and skilled seamen. Pressed men were usulay confined to the Gun Decks.

snowcelt
2005-Apr-25, 02:31 PM
OK I could command the men if I had a gang of Mates with ROpe Ends, Flogging, and a platoon of highly paid and loyal Marines. Not to mention the threat of hanging.
On any RN ship of the period the actual men who sailed it as opposed to the men who manned the guns were highly paid and skilled seamen. Pressed men were usulay confined to the Gun Decks.

Sounds like Nazi Germany or Stalin's U.S.S.R.

On a serious note, Bligh (a rough contemporary), was quite human for his day, yet the men mutinied.

captain swoop
2005-Apr-25, 03:14 PM
No, sounds like the RN of the day, or the British Army. Most British regiments worked on the theory that the soldier feared ytou more than he feared being killed by the Enemy. Most of the infantry regiments were routinely got up to strength by Pressing prisoners from the jails. Wellington described them as 'Scum of the Earth' and there were more floggings and hangings in the Army than the Navy.

As for Bligh!

After the Mutiny his career in the Navy continued. In 1790 he became Captain of the sloop HMS Falcon, followed by service on HMS Medea and HMS Providence. In 1792 he again visited Tahiti and successfully transported breadfruit to the West Indies.

In 1797 he commanded HMS Director at the battle of Camperdown and as Captain of HMS Glatton in 1801 took part in the battle of Copenhagen, after which he was commended for his bravery by Admiral Nelson.

Bligh was sent to New South Wales as Governor, in Sydney in 1808 he attempted to end the use of rum as a form of currency. A rebellion was led by John Macarthur, a pioneer and wool merchant. The British soldiers mutinied and Bligh was forcibly deposed by Major George Johnston of the 102nd foot and imprisoned for two years. On his release he returned to England where he was cleared of all blame and Major Johnston was tried at Chelsea Hospital in 1811 and cashiered. Bligh was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Blue and in 1814 became a Vice Admiral of the Blue.

Bounty was on a long cruise and being forced to leave what seemed to the crew as a Paradise can't have helped.

snowcelt
2005-Apr-25, 03:23 PM
It is amazing that the British held England with all the horrid things done to their own people (even though a large percent of Wellington's Peninsular Army was Irish.) Probably the one reason was that all the peoples the Brits ran into were so incompetent---one way or another.

captain swoop
2005-Apr-26, 09:54 AM
It is amazing that the British held England with all the horrid things done to their own people (even though a large percent of Wellington's Peninsular Army was Irish.) Probably the one reason was that all the peoples the Brits ran into were so incompetent---one way or another.

Just very good at what they did. and the prospect of being hung, shot, whipped or 'Blown from a Gun'

Superluminal
2005-Apr-26, 07:44 PM
Also, it was a differant culture in those days, that excepted that kind of treatment. I remember one of Hornblowers crewman saying, "'ornblower, 'e aint 'uman."

In 1997 I spent some time with a royal engineering unit at Lossiemouth Scotland. I was a military photographer, so my job was to take pictures, not work :P . One day while lounging about, one of the blokes I was with told me to get up and look alive because the Sgt. Major was in the area, " 'e's been known to give slackers a good whack with the cane 'e carries, 'e aint 'it an American yet, but there's always a first time". A few minutes later a rough looking older chap, with a cane, showed up. Everyone seemed a little more uptight while he was there than a group of American GI's would have been.

Sammy
2005-Apr-26, 08:37 PM
This is a bit off-thread, but it gives me a chuckle everytime I recall it.

I was browsing in a large chain bookstore when a person approached the clerk at the checkout and asked where the Horatio Hornblower books were shelved. The clerk (a 20ish guy) replied "Is that science fiction?" #-o

snowcelt
2005-Apr-26, 08:47 PM
I recall a funny anecdote about H.H. Back in the 70s, when James Earl Carter was the president, Carter was giving an introduction the an admiral and said something to the affect that now presenting the Admiral Horatio Hornblower! I always wonder what was going through Carter's mind when he made that gaff.

captain swoop
2005-Apr-27, 08:44 AM
In 1997 I spent some time with a royal engineering unit at Lossiemouth Scotland. I was a military photographer, so my job was to take pictures, not work :P . One day while lounging about, one of the blokes I was with told me to get up and look alive because the Sgt. Major was in the area, " 'e's been known to give slackers a good whack with the cane 'e carries, 'e aint 'it an American yet, but there's always a first time". A few minutes later a rough looking older chap, with a cane, showed up. Everyone seemed a little more uptight while he was there than a group of American GI's would have been.

Sounds right, a Sergeant Major is a man of fear and respect. He is the Senior Non commissioned officer, Each regiment has one Regimental Sergeant Major and each company has a CSM. Their rank is carried as a Royal Warrant, when not in full dress it is worn on a leather wrist band. In effect they are the direct link between the officers and the men. SMs ensure orders are carried out and enforces training and discipline.
As NCOs they don't get a salute or a Sir unless they are taking a parade at which an officer is present then he is adressed as though speaking to the officer.
Equivalent rank in the Royal Navy is Petty Officer or Chief Petty Officer