James Henderson’s book, Frigates, Sloops & Brigs (ISBN 978-1-84884-526-8, eISBN 9781844682690) covers period of interest, from 1973 to 1815. While book is not really related to wargaming, it does provide valuable insight to the purpose and use of smaller, often forgotten vessels. Quite big chunk of the book is dedicated to the frigates, the eyes and ears of the fleet, their armaments, captains and actions they took part in. Second part of the book concentrates on Sloops & Brigs and is by no means less interesting, or informative as first part.
Author takes a very comprehensive look at the ships, their design and evolution. Good part has been dedicated to the men who manned the them, their daily lives and perils of sea. Book also contains good account of English navy organization, role of Admiralty and system of prize money that was created with intention to motivate sailors.
Frigates, Sloops & Brigs has well written accounts from number of actions, some individual, few ships against few and several where entire squadrons are engaged. Not only are the actions described in decent detail – some with maps and relative positions, but author has also included armaments of each ship taking part in the action, casualty figures and account of the material losses. Casual reader might not be interested to read tedious minutiae of sailing ships, but prose is actually entertaining and accounts lively.
Of course Frigates, Sloops & Brigs is English account and therefore success stories of English ships are not so for their opponents. English use of the smaller vessels differed somewhat from Spanish and French counterparts and latter are described more as a prey to English than competent sailors.
Many interesting small scale actions are described in the book and it would be relatively easy to convert at least some of then to viable scenarios for Signal Close Action or other Age of Sail game. Frigates, Sloops & Brigs is pleasant read to anyone interested in Age of Sail and excellent source material for naval wargamer attempting to understand fighting at sea.