All the Braves fellows is the 5th novel in the Revolution at
Sea Series. Written by Maine based Author James L. Nelson, the series
depicts the experiences of American Naval Captain Isaac Biddlecomb in
the American Revolutionary war.
The essence of this book is the struggle of Isaac, a ship
captain, to get to his new ship, The Falmouth. However, by this point
in the war the British Navy had a heavy blockading presence. An
unfortunate encounter with a Royal Navy ship forces Biddlecomb to beach
his previous command, the Charlemagne. From this point on it’s
Biddlecomb, his crew, and his new family struggling to get to
Philadelphia and the Falmouth.
While Biddlecomb struggles to the Falmouth, the Falmouth needs
to not be captured by the British. A rag tag and unruly bunch of Army
deserters and the Falmouth’s builder manage to keep her out of British
Once again, Nelson puts a unique spin on historical naval
fiction. Essentially he takes a ship captain and leaves him without a
ship to command for most of the book. To naval fiction a story without
a quarterdeck from which to issue orders from is like a Holmes mystery
without a rural english setting. This issue of being a captain without
a ship is not improbable in light of the performance record of the
fledgling American Navy.
Another issue Nelson raises is the way personal honor can
intercede in war. In this stories case it is the honor of British
officer John Smeaton, who Biddlecomb tangled with back in the first
book of this Revolution at Sea series. Smeaton pursues a duel,
aka ‘an affair of honor’ with Biddlecomb throughout the book. Smeaton
goes to the point of dereliction of duty to try and bring his affair
of honor with Biddlecomb to an end. Nelson’s characterization of
Smeaton and Biddlecomb’s feelings for each other is more personal that
normal. However, considering that early American naval hero Stephen
Decatur died in a duel, the theme of dueling and personal honor is
historically accurate as honor was a primary concept to Naval officers
of the time that Nelson writes of.
By the end of the book Biddlecomb is close to again being a
Captain with a ship.
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