Gardners This is the story of the Bellerophon - a ship of the line known to her crew as the Billy Ruffian - from her birth in a small shipyard on the river Medway in 1782, a few years before the French Revolution, to her death, after service as a prison hulk, in a breaker's yard 54 years later.
Blackwell North Amer This is the story of the Bellerophon, a 74-gun ship of the line known to her crew as the Billy Ruffian. She began life in a small shipyard near Rochester on the River Medway, and ended it as a prison hulk downriver at Sheerness. In the intervening years, as one of the fastest ships in the British fleet, the Bellerophon played a conspicuous part in three of the most famous of all sea battles: the battle of the Glorious First of June (1794), the opening action against Revolutionary France; the battle of the Nile (1798), which halted Napoleon's eastward expansion from Cairo; and the battle of Trafalgar (1805), which established British naval supremacy for 100 years and during which her captain was shot dead with a musket ball an hour before Nelson himself was mortally wounded. But her crowning glory came six weeks after the Battle of Waterloo, when Napoleon, hoping to escape to America but trapped in Rochefort, surrendered to the captain of the ship that had dogged his steps for more than twenty years. Illustrated with paintings, sketches, maps and battle plans, and drawing on a wealth of primary sources and contemporary literature, David Cordingly's portrait of the Billy Ruffian is an original work of popular history and a fascinating insight into the reality that lies behind C. S. Forester's and Patrick O'Brian's fictional ships and heroes.