by John Wetherell
A brief review by Tony Gerard
In 1803 John Weatherall was pressed off a merchant ship into the British naval frigate Hussar. The Hussar’s captain was Philip Wilkinson, a man of less than genteel birth. Wetherall HATED Wilkinson, though probably with just reason. The first fourth or so of the book is Wetherall’s account of his time on the Hussar, which is largely a litany of the wrongs done to Wetherall and the rest of the crew by Wilkinson and his officers. Wetherall apparently wrote quite a bit of rhyming verse about it, most of which was (thankfully) omitted by the editors of my edition.
In Janurary of 1804 the Hussar is wrecked on an island off the French coast, and Wilkinson is subsequently taken prisoner. He spends the next eleven years as a French prisoner in Givet. The majority of the book concerns his walk across France to reach the prison, his years in prison, and his later walk back across France to freedom. His time in prison is definitely not what I would have pictured. Though not a fast paced page turner I would definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in British tars held prisoner by the French during our time period.