That tremendous and sustained vigilance which reached its utmost tension in the years preceding Trafalgar. . .They were dull, weary, eventless months, those months of watching and waiting of big ships before the French arsenals. Purposeless they surely seemed to many, but they saved England. The world has never seen a more impressive demonstration of the influence of sea power upon its history. Those distant, storm-beaten ships, upon which the Grand Army never looked, stood between it and the dominion of the world.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
From Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power on the French Revolution and Empire (1892), vol 2 at 118, writing about the Royal Navy's early 19th century blockade of France: