In the earliest years of this country, the waters surrounding this young country were extremely vulnerable to foreign invasion, principally by the British Navy. During this time a small fleet of vessels struggled to deter British aggression, however in most history books this struggle remains anonymous.

“When I first started researching 15 years ago, I was surprised to discover almost nothing had been written about the early years of the Navy,” historian and author George C. Daughan told the Gazette this week. “The Naval aspects of the history of our country were given short shrift. Or, the story wasn’t properly told.”

Mr. Daughan has written three books about this subject, his most recent being 1812: The Navy’s War. On Wednesday, March 11, Mr. Daughan will be the featured speaker at the Sail MV dinner lecture held at the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven, beginning at 6 p.m. This is the third dinner lecture held this season and sponsored by Sail MV.

Book explores unknown Naval aspects of American history.

Mr. Daughan’s books cover a span of years from 1775 to 1815 and bring new light to a big piece of this country’s maritime legacy. His two earlier books are If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy — from the Revolution to the War of 1812, published in 2008 and The Shining Sea: David Porter and the Epic Voyage of the U.S.S. Essex during the War of 1812, published in 2013. If By Sea won the prestigious Samuel Eliot Morison Award, and his most recent book won the gold medal in the history division of the Independent Publisher Book Awards and also the George Pendleton Prize.

During the American Revolution, the Continental Navy was severely under powered, Mr. Daughan said. “There were very few ships. There was no effective defense against the British Navy,” he said. His books reveal how a small David overcame a formidable Goliath on the seas.

Mr. Daughan will also share insights on Martha’s Vineyard’s place in the Revolutionary War, when General Charles Grey of the British Army brought his war ships to the Vineyard to steal provisions for the troops in New York.

“The general took all the food he could from the Vineyard. He took sheep, cows and pigs,” Mr. Daughan said. That invasion of the Vineyard from Sept. 10 to Sept. 15, 1778 is known as Grey’s Raid. Of General Grey, Mr. Daughan said: “He was a scary guy.”

Mr. Daughan said that in the previous year, General Grey led British forces in a battle that killed 400 American patriots in Paoli, Pa. This will be Mr. Daughan’s first visit to the Vineyard. He lives in Nashua, N.H., and grew up sailing in Marblehead. Mr. Daughan was scheduled to give his talk a year ago, but it was canceled because of bad weather.

Mr. Daughan received a Ph.D. in American history and government from Harvard University. He served in the U.S. Air Force for three years during the Vietnam War. He has been a professor at Connecticut College, taught at the University of Colorado, the University of New Hampshire and Wesleyan University.

Hope Callen, administrator for Sail MV, said these dinner programs have run for four years with much success.

“In the winter, we try to do one a month,” Mrs. Callen said. “It is always a pleasant community gathering of like-minded people in a comfortable setting. It is a nice thing to do on a cold winter night, to have a good dinner and be with friends.”

The next dinner lecture at the Black Dog Tavern will take place on Wednesday, April 8. The speaker will be Rachael Z. Miller, co-founder of the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean. She will talk about her organization’s efforts to find and remove ocean debris from the sea floor. Tickets for the dinner and lecture for this and future programs, $25 a person, are available by calling Sail MV’s office at 508-696-7644.