I've put together a basic list of the different officers from the two branches of service in England in 1810
Admiral of the Fleet Marshall/Field Marshall
Blue Brigadier General
Commodore (Ret. Capt.) Brigadier
Captain / Colonel
Master and Commander Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant Commander Major/Commandant
Ensign 2nd Lieutenant
Midshipman Officer Cadet
Warrant Officer Sergeant Major
Leading Seaman Corporal
|Lieutenant in His Majesty's Royal Navy|
Admiral of the Fleet is the Commander in Chief. His command ships always fly the White Flag. They are traditionally first in the line of defense with the Fleet. They are the largest and most heavily powered Ship of the Line. They are called the Admiral of the White.
The Admiral of the Red is the second line of defense on the ocean.
The Admiral of the Blue is the third line.
The Captain of a vessel is not always the Master and Commander, but he should be. A Master and Commander knows everything there is to know about the ocean they travel on. Maps and stars are their best friends. He is the Master of the ship (as it were and knows how to do every job on it) and the Commander of his men. (Very important for dealing with personality disorder. Can you imagine living on a floating city for months at a time? I think not.)
It is striking to read accounts how the Royal British Navy dominated the oceans during that time
period. They had a superior battle plan and superior ships. Ports on every continent, (barring the Poles) and trade with the East.
Officers in both the Navy and the Army, usually bought their way into a commission. Second and third sons of noble houses made up most of the officer positions. However, if you were considered a good leader, you would be promoted within the ranks.
Both the Navy and Army had certain "other" occupations that I learned. In no particular order, function, or ranking-- a basic list of gentlemen's jobs within the service.
Boatswain (Bo'sun) Hussar
Powder Room Foot Soldier (infantry)
Surgeon Home Guard
Master Gunner Calvary
Master of the Sheets Dragoons
Master of the Sails Royals (King's Own
First Mate Queen's Own,
(all of the above) Prince's Own)
(all of the above)
I confess, I do know more about the Navy rather than the Army. In THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE I wanted Richard Gaines to be an authentic hero. I watched Russell Crowe in Master and Commander Far Side of the Universe a lot while I wrote that book. It's mind-blowing to realize over 400 men lived on boats like that for months at a time.
I took a virtual tour of the U.S.S. Constitution, to get some ideas on how big a Ship of the Line actually was. I also spent a lot of time emailing a sailing aficionado on the other side of the world. I researched gun powder, how to load a canon, different types of canon shot, how to sail. I do know the basics of sailing, however, these are huge vessels sailing in huge waters. It really is a whole other world entirely. I think the research was well worth it.
Doing research should never be boring. I love watching period films and are always eager to see new adaptations of old classics. I get a feel for the clothing, accents, and affectations of the characters especially if the film is a true historical drama. I've been known to take notes.
"Peninsular War Map 1808–14"
by Derivative work: Marcus British Relief Map of Spain.
I've always loved maps and find them extremely important in every aspect of historical fiction. I don't think you can write historical without some kind of map. If only to give you a point of reference, and a working timeline. Your hero really can't come home from the Battle of Prussia unless you know it's already been fought.
Very soon, I'll begin another phase into the research I need for the Army. Henry Wade is going to be an interesting character.
For those of you who write -- Do you do a lot of research, do you wing-it, or are you somewhere in the middle?
For those of you who read -- Do you appreciate a writer who's done the research, or do you tend to skip over those parts of the book?
Anne Gallagher (c) 2015