In Coffins of the Brave: Lake Shipwrecks of the War of 1812, archaeologist Kevin J. Crisman and his fellow contributors examine sixteen different examples of 1812-era naval and commercial shipbuilding. They range from four small prewar vessels to four 16- or 20-gun brigs, three warships of much greater size, a steamboat hull converted into an armed schooner, two gunboats, and two postwar schooners. Despite their differing degrees of preservation and archaeological study, each vessel reveals something about how its creators sought the best balance of strength, durability, capacity, stability, speed, weatherliness, and seaworthiness for the anticipated naval struggle on the lakes along the US-Canadian border.
The underwater archaeology reported here has guided a new approach to understanding the events of 1812–15, one that blends the evidence in contemporary documents and images with a wealth of details derived from objects lost, discarded, and otherwise left behind.
This heavily illustrated volume balances scholarly findings with lively writing, interjecting the adventure of working on shipwrecks and archaeological finds into the investigation and interpretation of a war that continues to attract interest two centuries after it was fought.
What Readers Are Saying:
" . . . a beautifully illustrated and well crafted collection of chapters . . . well blended by the editor, Dr. Kevin Crisman. . . Coffins of the Brave is a masterful work weaving naval history with underwater archaeology to illustrate the mutual relevance of both for interpreting the past. . . undoubtedly will become a classic for future underwater archaeologists. The book is skillfully edited and superbly illustrated."--INA Quarterly
“…an excellent introduction to the naval aspects of the War of 1812 on the Great Lakes. The book is also fabulously illustrated. If I were allowed only one book on the War of 1812 on the Great lakes, I would choose Coffins of the Brave. It contains a mix of technical detail and history that appeals to both serous students of War of 1812 ships and those only casually interested, seeking an introduction to the subject. Crisman and his colleagues have created an outstanding work, worth a place on the bookshelf for anyone interested in historic naval architecture.” — Nautical Research Journal
“After many years of research in nautical archaeology, Kevin J. Crisman has compiled and edited a well-illustrated volume that combines academic research with well-written narratives that bring to life fascinating stories about this naval conflict by piecing together both the history and archaeology of shipwrecks studied over many years. . .presents an unrivalled accounting of the naval war on the interior waterway between Canada and the U.S.. . .a welcome addition to my own library, and I heartily recommend it to everybody looking for a great read in naval history and nautical archaeology.”—Vermont Historical Society
". . .Crisman has assembled a multinational crew of writers and researchers who are able to bring the stories of these wrecks to life, even when mere fragments of the vessels survive. . .beautifully produced by Texas A&M University Press, Coffins of the Brave casts a whole new light onto the War of 1812 and the ships and men who waged the naval struggle on the lakes. It is scholarly but lightly written, accessible to both the general reader and academics. It would be a valuable addition to the bookshelves of anyone interested in the War of 1812, period ship building or underwater archaeology."—International Journal of Maritime History
“Coffins of the Brave is an impressive study of naval power on the Great Lakes between 1812 and 1815. Relying on comprehensive study of archival and secondary sources, complemented by archaeological data, this important work on the origins, design, construction, fitting out and manning, operational history and fate of 16 vessels from the inland naval War of 1812 is a must for scholars and enthusiasts of this period.”—The Mariner’s Mirror