A Treatise on Naval Gunnery.
Douglas, Sir Howard.
John Murray, ( 1860), London
22.5 cm. xii, 668, 32 (adverts) pp. b/w frontispiece, folding plates, ills. in text.
Fifth edition, revised, of a classic and influential text first published in 1820. It is an exhaustive work, covering theoretical, practical and tactical aspects of gunnery. Douglas was a prolific writer and his ideas were of such importance that the gunnery training ship “Excellent”was established in part as a result of this book. (See DNB). Douglas was sensitive to technological changes and this fifth edition takes into account improvements in the manufacture of gunpowder and the existence of steam powered vessels in naval warfare. All well and good. But the most attractive aspect of this book is its powerful association. It is signed twice – on the front pastedown and the front blank – by James D. Bulloch, dated August 1861. This is a particularly significant date, because a contract was made between British ship builders John Laird Sons & Co., and Captain James D. Bulloch on August 1, 1861, for the construction of a Confederate raider for 47,500. Bulloch, a former US Navy officer was, at that time, the Confederacy’s chief foreign agent in Great Britain. As such, he operated blockade runners and commerce raiders that provided the Confederacy with its only source of hard currency. He arranged for the purchase by British merchants of Confederate cotton, the dispatch of armaments and other war supplies to the South, and the construction and acquisition of a number of other warships and blockade runners for the Confederacy, including the notorious Confederate raider “CSS Alabama,” the vessel implicated here. On the verso of the front blank is the further inscription, “from the Alabama,” and on the next blank are two paragraphs of notes relating to specific aspects of gunnery related in the text. Inside the book are dozens of marginal linings, many with manicules (pointy finger symbols) highlighting important sections of Douglas’s work. The book is bound as issued in publisher’s ribbed blue cloth, but it has seen hard use. The inner front hinge is nearly cracked through, leaving the text block on the verge of seperating from its covers. An old newspaper clipping has been taped to the front blank, and two crude celotape repairs mar the appearance of the binding. An important book, in need of repairs.