The Need for Sailors
British merchant vessels, like those depicted here, carried the commercial cargos that generated much of the wealth to finance the war with France, along with troops and supplies for military operations. With only a small army, Britain relied upon naval power, financial support for European allies, and economic blockade to wage war on Napoleon’s empire. Constantly short of sailors for the Royal Navy, Britain resorted to impressing individuals it claimed as British subjects off American merchant ships and warships.
Painting by Thomas Luny, 1802 National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, United Kingdom, BHC 3251