In the anthology More Than Honor (An anthology in the Honorverse, edited by David Weber), there is an author's note following A Grand Tour (By David Drake) claiming that the events are based on historical events. I will reproduce it below:

AUTHOR'S NOTE: readers may be amused to learn that both the climax of this story and the archaeological methods described therein are closely modeled on real events which took place in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1795.

This is confusingly placed at the beginning of A Whiff of Grapeshot, but I am confident that it is supposed to be related to A Grand Tour since it is the one with the archaeology. Additionally, when the author of A Grand Tour (David Drake) reprinted it in his anthology Other Than Peace, the author's note was still included.

I cannot for the life of me figure out which historical even he was referring to! I have searched and searched and the only ideas I have are that it might have something something to do with Ganteaume's expedition of 1795, but the Wikipedia article doesn't seem to say anything about archaeology at all, let alone with a cannon.

What also is crazy is I can't find anyone even talking about this author's note in my searches; the only references to the author's note I can turn up seem to be things like Google Books that are just returning the text of the book to the search engine.

Does anyone have any idea what this note was about, or where I might find more information?

A brief summary of the events of "A Grand Tour":

A noble and some of his entourage show up on a backwater planet with a small human population and the ruins of an ancient alien race. The noble is an archaeology/history enthusiast and is here to check out the ruins and try his hand at translating some of the alien records left behind, but finds that a corrupt captain of a 3rd rate navy is there using his poorly treated crew and repurposed naval weapons to try and destructively excavate one of the ruins. In the meantime the noble finds some spacers from his country's navy stranded on the planet, as they lost a battle against the series antagonist navy in a nearby system. The noble wins the right to borrow the corrupt captain's ship in a poker game, and then uses it to go fight the antagonist navy in the nearby (supposedly neutral) system. They win but only because the enemy ship has a mutiny. The noble returns to the backwater planet and his companions successfully make something out of the alien records.

  • Napoleon, probably.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 17:12
  • 1
    Could you edit you question to summarise the events in the climax of the story. That might help people suggest real events they could have been modeled on.
    – Blackwood
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 17:26
  • 2
    Hmm I checked out what Napoleon was doing in 1795 and it's weird because according to Wikipedia: "He ordered a young cavalry officer named Joachim Murat to seize large cannons and used them to repel the attackers on 5 October 1795—13 Vendémiaire An IV in the French Republican Calendar; 1,400 royalists died and the rest fled.[55] He had cleared the streets with "a whiff of grapeshot", according to 19th-century historian Thomas Carlyle in The French Revolution: A History.[56][57] " This implies that it is in fact related to the next story, "A Whiff of Grapeshot", but Paris=/=East Mediterranean
    – ORcoder
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 18:04

1 Answer 1


It looks like David Drake addressed this on his website:

For a setting I used a young nobleman making a grand tour with his tutor and personal servant. The action stemmed from real events in the Greek islands in 1795: a Russian nobleman determined to take a Greek temple back to St. Petersburg in the warship he borrowed from the Czar–and who bombarded it in fury when he couldn’t manage to dismantle it; and a French frigate whose crew murdered their officers in harbor when they were ordered to fight a (much smaller) British sloop.

FWIW, he credits the general story structure to the Aubrey-Maturin series:

I’d been thinking of doing a series of space operas based on Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, so I decided to use this novella as a chance to test the concept of two dissimilar friends as dual leads.


I was pleased with the way A Grand Tour worked out, but I felt it needed the length of a full novel to do the concept justice. I used a similar pairing (a young naval officer and a librarian) in With the Lightnings–not at all the same characters but the same sort of characters–and think the result is some of the best work I’ve ever done.

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