Charles Stephenson introduces a plan for chemical warfare in the Napoleonic navy, devised by Thomas Cochrane, Lord Dundonald, the model for Patrick O’Brien’s Jack Aubrey.
Many accounts of the origins of chemical warfare claim that the practice was evolved in antiquity, usually citing references from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Later examples of where the method was applied often include the siege of Constantinople in 1453, and attempts to foil Cromwell’s miners at Edinburgh Castle in 1650. More modern attempts are rather better documented: for example, the Playfair proposal to utilize ‘cyanide of cacodyl’ during the Crimean War, various schemes put forward during the American Civil War, threats to utilize ‘grand chemical agents of wholesale destruction’ during the 1870-71 investment of Paris, and the Japanese use of burning material ‘soaked in arsenic’ at the siege of Port Arthur.
This article is available to History Today online subscribers only. If you are a subscriber, please log in.
Please choose one of these options to access this article:
- Purchase an online subscription
- Purchase a print and online subscription
- If you are already a print subscriber, purchase the online archive upgrade
Call our Subscriptions department on +44 (0)20 3219 7813 for more information.
If you are logged in but still cannot access the article, please contact us
- Middle East
- North America
- South America
- Central America
- Early Modern
- 20th Century
- Economic History
- Environmental History
- Food & Drink
- Historical Memory
- Science & Technology