Book Review:
Defiant and Dismasted at Trafalgar:

The Life and Times of Admiral Sir William Hargood

By Mary McGrigor

Unlike Admiral Horatio Nelson, few of his band of brothers - the captains who backed his leadership brilliance with courage and flair - are household names today.

One of those is Admiral Sir William Hargood who, at Trafalgar, was captain of the Belleisle - a 74-gunner that was mercilessly pounded by several French vessels.

Refusing to show weakness the Belleisle fought for hour after exhausting hour against all comers and despite being dismasted and unable to manouevre its crew only thought on how to injure the enemy further.

One of the main reasons for intransigence of the Belleisle is the respect the men had for their captain.

Despite being small in stature, Hargood was courageous and was a man whose career stretched back to the American Revolutionary War.

In Defiant and Dismasted at Trafalgar: The Life and Times of Sir William Hargood, author Mary McGrigor looks at a quite remarkable career in the Royal Navy.

Beginning with his days as a cabin boy at age 10, McGrigor places the adventures of Hargood amid the social and military landscapes of the periods she is writing about.

She tells how among other escapades Hargood was forced to surrender his vessel to a superior French one, was one of the few whites to escape from the slave revolt on San Domingo, and faced court martial for losing his ship.

Based on an earlier biography by Joseph Allan, Defiant and Dismasted is a good read that hopefully will make Hargood better known among those interested in the period.

- Richard Moore


Defiant and Dismasted at Trafalgar: The Life and Times of Sir William Hargood, Pen and Sword, ISBN: 1844150348.

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