Admiral Linois was no Horatio Nelson. While the hero of Trafalgar was kissing Hardy, the Frenchman was rounding the Cape with his ‘battle fleet’; after spending three years sailing the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean he had failed to capture a single vessel, or win a single battle – even against merchant ships. When Linois himself was captured, the disgusted Napoleon refused a prisoner exchange, and left him gaoled. The British retraced his steps, and swiftly took both Mauritius and Java, then overcame a spirited French fightback. In the West Indies, they methodically hoovered up all French colonies, ending with Guadeloupe, snatching the possessions of their annexed Danish and Dutch allies for good measure. The Americans in the War of 1812 proved sterner opponents, winning the critical Battle of Lake Erie. But Britain’s naval blockade was effective, and bad for business; once Napoleon fell, peace swiftly proved mutually expedient.
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