Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Couple More Books

As I've mentioned elsewhere, the main focus for my gaming is the smaller battles of the War of 1812 and the battles against the Barbary Pirates. It seems that I talked Mark Waddington into scratch-building the opposing War of 1812 fleets from Lake Ontario (who knew I could be so persuasive!) in 1/600 scale. Now that he has finished up the ships (I hope to share some pictures of his ships soon), we've been talking about the rules for playing out the battles. But since I've been busy with other stuff, I'm trying to re-focus on the project by going back through some of the books on the battles on the Great Lakes. I thought I share my thoughts on a couple of books I've been going through to get back up to speed. Both books were written by Robert Malcomson.

Warships of the Great Lakes 1754-1834: This book is a lighter history of the warships and battles on the Great Lakes, including Lake Champlain and Lake George. Even though it is s relatively short book, only 160 pages, it still does a good job covering of the different ships. There are lots of tables giving information about the ships and some nice illustrations. There are more detailed books out there about specific battles, but I can't think of any others that cover all of the battle on all the lakes during the three wars of this period (French and Indian War, American Revolution, and War of 1812). It is a nice book to have if you are interested in the lake battles and is a good supplement to some of the other books on the lake battles.

Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814: This is probably the best book I've read about Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. The book does a get job of setting the stage for the action on the lake, talking about the major characters involved, and then following through with not just how things happened, but why. The book does a good job of describing the hardships each commander faced with building a fleet in what was essentially a wilderness. It also covers the interaction between naval and land forces around Lake Ontario and in other theaters. This makes it a lot easier to understand the different strategies employed by each side during the different stages of the war. The appendices have a breakdown of the ships available throughout the conflict and those that were present at the different battles.

Lords of the Lake is a pretty easy read (even at over 400 pages), has some good maps and illustrations, and extensive endnotes. Malcomson even includes a glossary, so you can make sure you understand the various nautical terms used in the book (such as the differences between a schooner, sloop and snow). I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in the naval battles on the Great Lakes during the War of 1812.


  1. Dave

    I'll second your comments on Lords of the Lake - very good book with lots of scenario ideas.


  2. Both of those are great books, have you read or own another of Malcomson's books called "HMS Detroit: The Battle for Lake Erie"? I have that in my collection as well.


  3. I don't have any of Malcomson's other books, although there are several that sound interesting. Right now the only book I have that specifically covers Lake Erie is "A Signal Victory, The Lake Erie Campaign 1812-1813" by David Skaggs.