Few subjects have been more misunderstood than the diet of ratings and their officers on board Royal Navy vessels during the ‘long eighteenth century’ from 1688 until 1815. It makes a good story, particularly from the onset of the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, when British warships remained on station for unprecedented durations, both to enforce the blockade of France and its continental possessions, and to fight its fleets in the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas.
I’m not a foodie, but military rations of all sorts intrigue me.
While the Heart of Oak and the spirit of the Jack Tar were key to the incredible string of victories of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era, those victories were enabled by the ability of the RN to remain at sea for incredibly long stretches. The system of docks and yards established, first at home, then worldwide throughout the Empire’s colonies, was a military management revolution. And a significant part of that shoreside establishment was the victualing of the fleet.
And I’m tempted to try the lobscouse recipe.