Two centuries before the daring exploits of Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders captured the public imagination, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were already engaged in similarly perilous missions: raiding pirate camps, attacking enemy ships in the dark of night, and striking enemy facilities and resources on shore. Even John Paul Jones, father of the American navy, saw such irregular operations as critical to naval warfare. With Jones’s own experience as a starting point, Benjamin Armstrong sets out to take irregular naval warfare out of the shadow of the blue-water battles that dominate naval history. This book, the first historical study of its kind, makes a compelling case for raiding and irregular naval warfare as key elements in the story of American sea power.

Beginning with the Continental Navy, Small Boats and Daring Men traces maritime missions through the wars of the early republic, from the coast of modern-day Libya to the rivers and inlets of the Chesapeake Bay. At the same time, Armstrong examines the era’s conflicts with nonstate enemies and threats to American peacetime interests along Pacific and Caribbean shores. Armstrong brings a uniquely informed perspective to his subject; and his work—with reference to original naval operational reports, sailors’ memoirs and diaries, and officers’ correspondence—is at once an exciting narrative of danger and combat at sea and a thoroughgoing analysis of how these events fit into concepts of American sea power.

Offering a critical new look at the naval history of the Early American era, this book also raises fundamental questions for naval strategy in the twenty-first century.

About The Author
Benjamin Armstrong is Assistant Professor of War Studies and Naval History at the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the editor of 21st Century Mahan and 21st Century Sims and the author of numerous articles on naval history, national security, and strategy.

Reviews & Praise
“Armstrong provides readers with an innovative history of a form of naval strategy often neglected by historians and strategists who focus on big fleets and guerre de course. His pioneering scholarship here is not just interesting naval history but enters into the realm of naval theory and strategy.”—John T. Kuehn, author of America’s First General Staff

“Armstrong takes the reader on an action-packed journey from the War for Independence to the decades immediately following the War of 1812. In retelling little-known stories of raids, ambushes, and explosive devices, he recasts the U.S. Navy’s early history. Small Boats and Daring Men brings irregular operations to the forefront of naval history.”—Kevin D. McCranie, author of Utmost Gallantry: The U.S. and Royal Navies at Sea in the War of 1812

“In this provocative study, Benjamin Armstrong employs the concept of guerre de razzia in order to highlight the prevalence of American raiding operations during the Age of Sail. Through carefully chosen studies, he shows how U.S. Navy forces frequently employed what he calls “naval irregular warfare” to pursue national goals.” —Craig L. Symonds, Ernest J. King Professor, U.S. Naval War College and author of A Concise History of the U.S. Navy

Book Information
12 b&w illus., 1 map
280 Pages
Hardcover 978-0-8061-6282-9
Kindle 978-0-8061-6315-4
e-pub 978-0-8061-6316-1
Published April 2019
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