The Dawn Of Global Conflict 1739-63
Despite the human cost, Havana was a masterpiece of amphibious warfare in the age of sail, and built on the experience of earlier, less fortunate, campaigns. On the other side of the world, a combined Royal Navy and East India Company operation captured and ransomed Manila, another outpost of the Spanish empIre.
Perhaps the most remarkable achievement of the British war effort had been manning the fleet. An estimated 184,893 seamen and marines served in the Royal Navy during the Seven Years War; 1,512 men were killed in action or died of their wounds, about 40,000 deserted, 34,000 were demobilized, and almost 60,000 died of disease or were discharged as unfit for service. To replace this steady drain of human resources required a conscious effort, ruthless determination and a very strong maritime labour market. France and Spain combined could not equal this performance. They could not find 184,000 sailors, even allowing for a large degree of skill dilution in the crews of large ships, and lacked the finances to retain as many men as the British.
The Peace of Paris in 1763 reflected the fact that Britain, with her chain of imperial, colonial and commercial bases, had become a true world power. Britain took Canada, Florida and Senegal, handing back Havana, Manila, the French sugar islands and Belle-lIe. Spain evacuated Portugal. France and Spain had paid a high price for defeat, high enough to make revenge a powerful factor in the post-war policy, but not so high as to make their recovery impossible.
More significantly, by removing the Bourbon threat from the North American colonies, Britain’s relationship with the colonists was transformed. Where the events of 1755 and 1756 had led many colonists to fear an invasion by the French and their Indian allies, the peace led many to question the need to pay for any security forces, and they resented the British commercial legislation that raised the necessary funds for their protection. Seapower and effective coalitions had given Britain mastery of the colonial world, and a powerful voice in Europe. Her power was now so ubiquitous as to annoy the whole of Europe, together with many of her own colonists.