During the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy was the largest in the world. It maintained its numbers of sailors primarily through impressment, which was the act of forcing men into the navy without their permission. Of the 134,000 men in the Royal Navy in 1804, how many had been ‘recruited’ in this way?

Answer: Three quarters; around 100,000 men. This included many foreign sailors, in particular Americans, who were often impressed from captured merchant vessels.

Source: The Longman Companion to Napoleonic Europe by Clive Emsley

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