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George E. Buker

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Commander George E. Buker, USN (ret.), a professor emeritus of history at Jacksonville University and the author of: Environment, the third E: A history of the Jacksonville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1975-1998; Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands: Civil War on Florida’s Gulf Coast, 1861-1865; Swamp Sailors in the Second Seminole War; The Metal Life Car: The Inventor, the Imposter, and the Business of Lifesaving; and, The Penobscot Expedition: Commodore Saltonstall and the Massachusetts Conspiracy of 1779.  Commander George E. Buker is also the co-author of Oldest City: St. Augustine, Saga of Survival.

 

According to the book description Swamp Sailors in the Second Seminole War, “The Indian Removal Act of 1830 led to the Second Seminole War, fought by the United States to evict the Seminoles from the Florida Territory. When the last surviving Seminoles sought refuge in the Everglades and resorted to guerrilla-style tactics, however, the U.S. Navy found its standard strategies of guerre de course and gunboat coastal defense useless.

 

For the first time in its history, the American Navy was forced to operate in a non-maritime environment. In Swamp Sailors, George Buker describes how Navy junior officers outshone their commanders, proving themselves less resistant to change and more ready to implement novel strategies, including joint combat operations and maneuvers designed specifically for a riverine environment.

 

By 1842, when the Second Seminole War was halted, Lt. John McLaughlin’s "Mosquito Fleet" exemplified the Navy’s new expertise by making use of canoes and flat-bottomed boats and by putting together small, specially trained joint combat teams of Army and Navy personnel for sustained land-sea operations.

 

Originally published in 1975 and now in paperback for the first time, Buker’s Swamp Sailors is the story of the U.S. Navy’s coming of age, sure to be of interest to military history enthusiasts, to students of Florida history, and to armchair sailors everywhere”

 

The Journal of American History said of Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands: Civil War on Florida’s Gulf Coast, 1861-1865, “[Buker] argues that the presence of Union sailors and their extensive contacts ashore did serious damage to home-front morale and retarded Florida's value as a component of the rebel war machine. Since the state's long coastlines made it a ready target for a naval cordon, its commercial life suffered beginning in 1861 and deteriorated even further as the war progressed despite the efforts of blockade runners. Florida Unionists, antiwar natives, and runaway slaves flocked to these Federal warships to seek protection and quickly became a source of manpower for their crews as well as for land forces." - Journal of Southern History; "The proliferation of publications concerning the American Civil War occasionally produces one that really contributes to our understanding of that conflict. George E. Buker's Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands is such a book.”

 

According to the book description of The Metal Life Car: The Inventor, the Imposter, and the Business of Lifesaving, “This title presents the fascinating story of American ingenuity and its struggle against bureaucracy and chicanery. For centuries sailing vessels crept along the coastline, ready to flee ashore in case of danger or trouble; this worked well until weather or poor sailing drove these ships against an unforgiving coast. Saviors and salvors (often the same people) struggled to rescue both humans and cargo, often with results as tragic for them as for the sailors and passengers. Joseph Francis (b. Boston, Massachusetts, 1801) was an inventor who also had the ability to organize a business to produce his inventions and the salesmanship to sell his products. His metal lifeboats, first used in survey expeditions in Asia Minor and Central America, came into demand among the world's merchant marine, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Revenue Service. His corrugated "life car" was the keystone to development of the U.S. Life-Saving Service. The metal boats played an important role in the Third Seminole War in Florida. Francis' metal pontoon army wagons served in the trans-Mississippi campaigns against the Indians. In Europe, he was acclaimed as a genius and sold patent rights to shipyards in Liverpool and the Woolwich Arsenal in England, Le Havre seaport in France, in the free city of Hamburg, and in the Russian Empire. But while Francis was busy in Europe, Captain Douglass Ottinger, U.S. Revenue Marine Service, claimed to be the inventor of Francis' life car and obtained support in the U.S. Congress and the Patent Office for his claim. Francis had to battle for decades to prove his rights, and Americans remained generally unfamiliar with his devices, thereby condemning Civil War armies to inferior copies while Europe was using, and acclaiming, his inventions.”


The Penobscot Expedition: Commodore Saltonstall and the Massachusetts Conspiracy of 1779
George E. Buker  More Info

Swamp Sailors in the Second Seminole War (Florida Sand Dollar Books)
GEORGE E. BUKER  More Info

Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands: Civil War on Florida'S Gulf Coast, 1861-1865
George E. Buker  More Info

The Metal Life Car: The Inventor, the Imposter, and the Business of Lifesaving
George E. Buker  More Info

Oldest City: St. Augustine, Saga of Survival
George E. Buker  More Info
The Steamboat Era in Florida, Proceedings of a Conference, Silver Springs, Florida, March 24, 1984
Edward A. Mueller  More Info
Environment, the third E: A history of the Jacksonville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1975-1998
George E Buker  More Info
Sun, sand and water: A history of the Jacksonville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1821-1975
George E Buker  More Info

According to the book description of The Penobscot Expedition: Commodore Saltonstall and the Massachusetts Conspiracy of 1779, “as the largest American naval fleet assembled during the Revolutionary War, the vessels comprising the Penobscot expedition were expected to swiftly defeat the British at Fort George on Maine's Penobscot Bay. During the ensuing battle, however, the armada took a dramatic turn toward the disastrous and some forty ships were lost. The result was a defeat the magnitude of which would not be seen again until Pearl Harbor. Blame was placed on the suspected cowardice of Commodore Dudley Saltonstall.

 

But was Saltonstall to blame? In his defense George Buker bypasses historical speculation and gives a detailed analysis of concrete factors that may have caused the defeat, including the limitations of square-rigged ships in restricted waters, geography, and the British defensive alignment. In the only such study to date, his conclusions are startling: There was a Massachusetts conspiracy against the commodore and the Massachusetts committee of inquiry and general court interfered with the proper proceedings of Saltonstall's court-martial. Buker is both thorough in his research and convincing in his arguments, making this a work of historical significance as well as a true and compelling mystery.”

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