A General History of the British Empire in America: by John Huddlestone Wynne

By John Huddlestone Wynne

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Nor was the path of the shell gun smooth. In 1844 a newly designed 12-inch model was installed in USS Princeton. During trials the gun burst killing not only the Secretary of the Navy but the Secretary of State. It was not until the Bessemer process came into use in the fifties 61 that metal construction became practicable for warships, but USS Princeton set another-trend that was not reversed, for, unlike most of the British and French warships, she was screw-driven. All commercial experience had favoured the paddle but in 1842 BruneI decided that the liner Great Britain, laid down as a paddle steamer, should be converted to screw.

Portents of change appeared within twenty years of Waterloo: the vulnerable despatch rider (RIGHT) was being supplemented with a primitive telegraph; the Congreve rocket (LEFT) was being fired by the Royal Horse Artillery in 1835; and the first longdistance railways, such as the Liverpool to Manchester line in 183 I (BELOW), were being built FLINTLOCK AND SAIL The only advances made in artillery missiles during the Napoleonic wars were both British. The most successful was the invention of Colonel Henry Shrapnell and was known as spherical case-shot.

Forced marches could achieve more, going to Talavera, Craufurd's Light Brigade had achieved 42 miles in twenty-six hours but such feats could not be done day after day and left the troops exhausted. Cavalry could, of course, achieve longer distances but again only for limited periods. Troop horses became exhausted more quickly and needed longer to recover than infantrymen. The only alternative to moving at a foot pace was transport by water. In 1806 The Times reported the movement of a battalion by barge from London to Liverpool, remarking that 'by this mode of conveyance the men will be only seven days in reaching their destination and with comparatively little fatigue, as it would take them fourteen days to march that distance'.

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