Our view of the war (and of British naval strategy within it) has been distorted not merely by its retrospective significance for the British and American national stories, but also by the relative invisibility of naval power. As a result, the war has been seen not only as an American parochial episode, but also as a British naval as well as military defeat. The strategic record of the British Royal Navy between 1775 and 1783, however, was one of improvement facilitated by progressive enhancement of its order of battle. This culminated in a major victory in the West Indies, the battle of the Saints in 1782, and in renewed British diplomatic prestige based upon naval power. A further factor contributing to this general historical distortion may be the culture of the Royal Navy, which has never partaken of the British tradition of dealing with defeat by romanticizing it. The Royal Navy is interested in victory, and has never seen the war of 1775-83 as a whole as one of its finest hours. This war, however, is a remarkable – if complex – case study in naval strategy. It exhibits a host of strategic factors that characterize war at sea. It was, first of all, global, and indicative of the way naval planners draw comprehensive strategic maps. It was also, second, a diplomatic exercise, as naval strategy almost invariably is, and intimately bound up with the British imperial policy and great power politics of the period. Third, the war is a study in sea power as strategy. No conflict has ever made clearer the inherently strategic significance of major warships, nor have outcomes ever been more dependent upon the disposition and use of such ships, both in victory and defeat. Above all, however, the conflict illustrates the key concepts outlined by Sir Julian Corbett, that great thinker on warfare at sea, a century ago.3 This war was maritime, rather than strictly naval, in two senses. Its outcome was very much conditioned by the availability of shipping for military transport, as well as by the flow of seaborne trade. Virtually all theaters of the war, moreover, lent themselves to joint maritime campaigns, not just at the operational but at the strategic level. In a sense, the war can be read as a series of episodes in amphibious power projection, some successful, such as the British attack on New York in 1776, some not, such as the Franco-Spanish plan for an invasion of Britain in 1779. In short, the war can be defined as one fought within a maritime strategic environment. The war demonstrates two other cardinal principles of Corbett’s theory. As a maritime strategic struggle it revolved, typically, around sea lines of communication, particularly those across the Atlantic. The outcomes of its campaigns were also critically dependent upon local command of the sea – upon one side’s ability to use the sea and deny it to the other at particular times and places. The most dramatic example was the inability of the Royal Navy to relieve General Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.