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In 1801 the newly forged United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland commenced life at war with France and her allies and remained so until 1815. After 1812 she had to shoulder the extra burden of a war against the United States of America. With conflict on multiple fronts, hardships continued to be inflicted at home. Trade was made precarious. People became bone-weary of hostilities and the threat of invasion ran high.
Napoléon Bonaparte was no ordinary opponent, and the United States navy showed the world the worth of her ships, but what stood in their way was the Royal Navy. Despite notable losses, after the victory of Trafalgar in 1805 she dominated the seas. Although not the only means, her warships were the nation’s first line of defence that helped keep British shores safe.
As the era ended it was obvious the navy had to change. Steam began to alter perspectives with new opportunities. From the vantage point of later decades it could be seen what the Royal Navy had once been and still was. A naval superpower. Britain’s oldest continual military force. The senior service.
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