With the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, the French in North America were firmly on the back foot. Pitt’s grand strategy for 1759 was to launch a three-pronged attack on Canada. One army would move north from Lake Champlain, and another smaller force would strike across the wilderness to Lake Ontario and French-held Fort Niagara. A third, under Admiral Saunders and General Wolfe, would sail up the Saint Lawrence, where no battle fleet had ever been, and capture Quebec.
Captain Edward Carlisle sails ahead of the battle fleet to find a way through the legendary dangers of the Saint Lawrence River. An unknown sailing master assists him; James Cook has a talent for surveying and cartography and will achieve immortality in later years.
Amphibious warfare was in its infancy in the mid-eighteenth century – it was the poor relation of the great fleet actions that the navy so loved…
That all changed in 1758 when the British government demanded a campaign of raids on the French Channel ports. Command arrangements were hastily devised and a whole new class of vessels was produced at breakneck speed: flatboats, the ancestors of the landing craft that put the allied forces ashore on D-Day.
Commander George Holbrooke’s sloop Kestrel is in the thick of the action: scouting landing beaches, dueling with shore batteries, and battling the French Navy.
The French called it La Forteresse Maudite, the Cursed Fortress.
Louisbourg stood at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, massive and impregnable, a permanent provocation to the British colonies. It was Canada’s first line of defence, guarding the approaches to Quebec, from where all New France lay open to invasion. It had to fall before a British fleet could be sent up the St. Lawrence. Otherwise, there would be no resupply and no line of retreat; Canada would become the graveyard of George II’s navy.
A failed attempt on Louisbourg in 1757 had only stiffened the government’s resolve; the Cursed Fortress must fall in 1758.
It is 1758 and the Seven Years War is at its height. The Duke of Cumberland’s Hanoverian army has been pushed back to the river Elbe while the French are using the medieval fortified city of Emden to resupply their army and to anchor its left flank.
George Holbrooke has recently returned from the Jamaica Station in command of a sloop-of-war. He is under orders to survey and blockade the approaches to Emden in advance of the arrival of a British squadron. The French garrison and their Austrian allies are nervous. With their supply line cut, they are in danger of being isolated when the French army is forced to retreat in the face of the new Prussian-led army that is gathering on the Elbe. Can the French be bluffed out of Emden? Is this Holbrooke’s flood tide that will lead to his next promotion?
It is 1757, and the British navy is regrouping from a slow start to the seven years war.
A Spanish colonial governor and his family are pursued through the Caribbean by a pair of mysterious ships from the Dutch island of St. Eustatius. The British frigate Medina rescues the governor from his hurricane-wrecked ship, leading Captain Edward Carlisle and his first lieutenant George Holbrooke into a web of intrigue and half-truths. Are the Dutchmen operating under a letter of marque or are they pirates, and why are they hunting the Spaniard? Only the diplomatic skills of Carlisle’s aristocratic wife, Lady Chiara, can solve the puzzle.
In late 1756, as the British government collapses in the aftermath of the loss of Minorca and the country and navy are thrown into political chaos, a small force of ships is sent to the West Indies to reinforce the Leeward Islands Squadron.
Captain Edward Carlisle, a native of Virginia, and his first lieutenant George Holbrooke are fresh from the Mediterranean and their capture of a powerful French man-of-war. Their new frigate Medina has orders to join a squadron commanded by a terminally ill commodore. Their mission: a near-suicidal assault on a strong Caribbean island fortress.
The Western Mediterranean, 1756. An uneasy peace is about to be shattered as France’s greatest living general prepares an invasion force in Toulon; but where is it bound?
Captain Carlisle hails from Virginia, a loyal colony of the British Crown. As the clouds of war gather, Carlisle’s small frigate — Fury — is ordered to Toulon on a reconnaissance mission. If battling the winter weather in the Gulf of Lions is not a sufficient challenge, Carlisle must also juggle the delicate diplomatic issues in this period of pre-war tension while contending with an increasingly belligerent French frigate.