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Old 6th June 2022, 02:05 AM   #31
M ELEY
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Awesome comments, folks! This really gets the adventure rolling in me when I think about the excited and brutal battles at sea! I knew when ships got in a tight squeeze, just about anything might be put down a cannon's barrel to wreck havoc. If the ship were on the defensive and fleeing a predator, often they would throw all of the heavy goods over to lighten the load. This included armament and shot! (On a side note, marching armies did this as well to keep the troops on track. Cornwallis' army dumped loads of stuff in his pursuit of Nathanial Greene's army, especially while crossing the 'shallow ford' of the Yadkin River not far from my home. I have a small cannon ball retrieved from that very river bank!). If the fleeing ship decided to make a final stand, any type of shrapnel/lagrage might be used. But silver coins!!!? At least the guy hit by it could say 'Hey, I might be full of shot, but at least I'll die a wealthy man!'

Hot shot was another deadly maritime weapon. While most were not used between ships except on exceptionally rare occasions, coastal forts made good used of them against attacking marauders. It is one of the reasons that boarding axes took on the shape they had. Early spike axes or 'tomnahawks' as they were referred to in ship stores, had that wicked spike which made them a good weapon, great rigging clearance tool (see Gilkerson's excellent sketches of sailors using spike axes to drag fallen cordage off the deck), but also great pick axes! When coastal forts fired up a cannonball to furnace-red hot (a hotshot), they used small powder and a higher tragectory to essentially 'lob' the shot up and onto the deck of the enemy ship! This deadly shot could not be extinguished with simple buckets of sea water and its fearsome heat would smoulder and char the deck, threatening to set the whole vessel ablaze! (remember these wooden vessels were also covered in tar/pitch ropes, wood spars, cloth sails, etc. It's why fire was a sailor's worst nightmare!). Thus, we have a long-handled pickax to gouge away and pull out the near-molten shot and kick it over the side!!

Thanks for posting these amazing pics and for the information on the Benerson Little book. I'll definitely pick up a copy!

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Old 6th June 2022, 03:41 PM   #32
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This is incredible! and takes the use of 'langrange' to a new level!
I am not familiar with 'Pacific raider' term, though of course it suggests Dutch by your note. I know there were English pirates who traversed the Isthmus of Darien to operate in the Pacific theater.
I can try to track down who wrote about the encounter. I have some 20 volumes from the Linschoten Vereiniging (I read Dutch), but it has to be the Pacific...

Naval ammunition illustration is a classic. You have it already at 1539 Alonso de Chavez, but I could not find a picture over the net.

https://traslaultimafrontera.com/wp-...0/image-11.png

I can take a shot later from the facsimil.

I believe Furttenbach has also a print.

Another is the Album del Marques de la Victoria (c1730). Poor quality, it seems they want to sell the facsimile.

https://armada.defensa.gob.es/museon...ues-victoria/#
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Old 7th June 2022, 11:49 AM   #33
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From an authentic profusion of these chain shot devices that i found in a Spanish blog, i will save you from uploading the vast number of pictures depicting the said device variants and will only show the first image with the more current examples and another with the discussed 'angels' with its support text, as viewed by the blogger.
The engine translation reads:

A variant of the enfolded bullets were the angelotes or angels, which were also joined by two bars, although by means of two rings placed at the end of each of them so that, instead of unfolding, they extended. This allowed, if necessary, to use balls instead of semi-spheres as we saw in the case of arbors, although the usual morphology was the one we see in the example on the left, which we can see folded and unfolded. What we see on the right is made up of two cylinders with much shorter bars. Angels were a widely used ammunition in the Spanish navy due to their terrible effectiveness against enemy masts, which could rip off large chunks by the roots. As for its peculiar name, it apparently comes from its hypothetical resemblance to the wings of angels when they unfold,
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Old 7th June 2022, 03:55 PM   #34
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Great pics of the incredible variations in these items! I seriously had no idea so mary types existed! I had never seen that example with the two square ends with chain. Considering the vast differences in type and the use of these expanding over close to 3 centuries, I'm assuming they must have been quite effective to still be present up until the mid/late 19th century. Thank you for posting these and it has definitely expanding my knowledge. Now I want to go out and find more!
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Old 7th June 2022, 04:50 PM   #35
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Alright, i will upload a few more; the bizarre example.


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Old 7th June 2022, 04:53 PM   #36
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From a reliable source I have been told that the French were notable users of chain shot in 17th century, naturally along with other powers. Notes of a French 5th rate ship of the line says that 100 of these were carried vs. 1500 round shot, and also 200 'double head'. By about 1700 the French had abandoned chain for the double head type. This was easier to produce apparently.
Also effective against rigging and of course personnel was 'matraille' (Fr. = hail shot) which was made up of small shot and I believe in degree 'burr shot' (sprues from cast round shot). '

From what I have understood small shot, even volume of musket fire could wreak havoc in the rigging and yard arms etc. though the chain was certainly much dreaded and dramatic. It is very seldom mentioned in specific in most maritime and pirate literature despite its clearly recorded presence in many of the ordnance references in illustrations.

It seems reasonable that there were many variations of all types of these as well as shot in general deviating from round, but preference and general availability always favored simple round shot. As these types of items were produced by so many small independent forges and blacksmiths the scope of variation would seem remarkably broad. Along with items like the breech loading swivel deck guns, which were of notable variation, and often produced by anchor makers and comparable local forge workers, one can only imagine the numbers of such.
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Old 7th June 2022, 06:11 PM   #37
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Went to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam today. Did not see any chainshot, but noticed some grapeshot models, antique grenades and wire-linked musket balls that seem relevant-ish to this thread.

Also added a picture of a hippo(?) cannon, because who wouldn't?
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Old 7th June 2022, 06:58 PM   #38
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Derar Jim, i guess mitraille (metralha over here) belongs in a different typology, within a range that comprehends canister, grape shot, even shrapnel and the like. Being an ammunition that covers both sea and (mainly ?) land purposes, if differs from chain shot, which purpose fundamentaly contemplates navy warfare.
If i am wrong, please don't tie me to whipping post .
As a footnote, the term mitraille, in fact of French origin, has with them a few different meanings, although with a similar 'dimensional' attribution, like (money) small change and (chicken) giblets.
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Old 7th June 2022, 07:10 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by M ELEY View Post
When coastal forts fired up a cannonball to furnace-red hot (a hotshot), they used small powder and a higher tragectory to essentially 'lob' the shot up and onto the deck of the enemy ship! This deadly shot could not be extinguished with simple buckets of sea water and its fearsome heat would smoulder and char the deck, threatening to set the whole vessel ablaze!...!
Mark, you would have certainly seen this contemporary aquatint of the 1782 Franco-Spanish attack on Gibraltar. A Spanish Floating battery is shown exploding after the British defenders set it on fire with heated shot.


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Old 8th June 2022, 12:59 AM   #40
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Actually, I hadn't seen this amazing scene! I had read of it, but hadn't thought to look up any artwork associated with that battle. Again, thank you for that table of various specialty shot, particularly post#35, which shows some of my favorites, like the 'doorknob' type and wedge shape types.

Jim, I'm assuming that shot you mentioned was similar to the so-called partridge shot I've read about, basically small shot wrapped in cloth rather like a shotgun cartridge for cannons! This type of shot was popular to use in swivel/murderers for sweeping the deck-

Werecow, great pics! I think that first shot on the left is half a bar shot? They often broke when they impacked against a mast-
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Old 8th June 2022, 02:00 AM   #41
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Something about it made me think that it was a wooden plug or something along those lines while I was there, but actually, looking at the picture now you might be right! I must confess I did not study it in great detail as there wasn't much time left before closing by the time I got to it.
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Old 8th June 2022, 04:42 AM   #42
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I've seen other bar shot recovered with just the one ball and a 'spoke', if you will, of the remains of a bar.

Here's a wedge-shot (what I call them) that also proved these were deadly anti-personnel weapons as well-

https://ltwilliammowett.tumblr.com/p...isima-trinidad
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Old 8th June 2022, 06:11 AM   #43
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I have often heard that French warships fired high during an engagement so as to disable the rig and save the hull for prize whereas the Brits tended to fire at the vessel's hull; I'm sure this needs a grain or two of salt to digest.

Still, I think the majority of injuries and death (pre boarding) were from the resulting splinters caused by the impact of the projectiles. Hence the gun deck(s) were referred to as the slaughterhouse. Imagine a raking broadside to the stern of the foe; the rounds went the entire length of the enemy vessel turning it into essentially an abattoir bowling alley with human pins.

Here's a 18th century engraving of the encounter between HMS Pearl and the French frigate L'Esperance; you'll notice that her mizzen has been shot off, possibly as a result of bar or chain shot we have been discussing.
Found in the wilds of Maine and presented here just for grins, and possibly as an illustration of the effectiveness of projectiles used to disable the rigging.

A description of the action in 1780:
The action of 30 September 1780 was a minor naval engagement off the Bermudas, where HMS Pearl captured Espérance, a French frigate of 32 guns launched in 1779.[1]

HMS Pearl under the command of George Montagu was sent out to North America, and on 30 September 1780, soon encountered a frigate off the Bermudas. As Pearl closed Montagu cleared for action and engaged close for two hours, then maintained a running fight for a further two hours and more when the frigate struck.[2][3]

The prize turned out to be the French frigate Espérance of about 850 tons of thirty-two guns consisting of twelve- and six-pounders, nearly 200 men and with a valuable cargo heading from Cape Francois to Bordeaux. Espérance lost 20 killed and 24 wounded as well as the crew and marines captured, while Pearl's losses were six killed and ten wounded. The captured French frigate was put into Royal Naval service and renamed HMS Clinton.
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Old 8th June 2022, 09:48 AM   #44
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Ho my ... Rick !
The HMS Pearl looks like a colander !!!



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Old 8th June 2022, 10:12 AM   #45
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Default Irony ...

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... Here's a wedge-shot (what I call them) that also proved these were deadly anti-personnel weapons as well-
https://ltwilliammowett.tumblr.com/p...isima-trinidad
According to the Spanish blog, that version (as 'D' in post #35) was originaly used by the British and, in such case, they were simple prisms or cones joined by a thick bar. This type was apparently the most accurate when it comes to 'palanquetas', so the Spanish navy ended up using them.
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Old 8th June 2022, 06:41 PM   #46
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Capn, it seems I had heard the term partridge shot, it seems more toward shotguns' ammo, clearly for gaming . Most of the entries I have seen use the term 'hail shot' (perhaps a French term as translated?) This was small shot as well as often added 'burr' from the sprues of casting from round shot.

This was indeed most popularly used on the swivel guns on deck, and it seems was found in the breech block of one of those found on QAR. It seems these guns typically are not found in shipwreck sites as they are typically taken away in initial salvage (quickly accessed being on upper decks). It seems the sling type (as opposed to the shorter, stubby 'murderer' was more prevalent, especially later into 18th c.

Rick I totally agree that the primary purpose of destroying rigging and mast structure was to render the vessel stationary for boarding before the main engagements . Shooting high seems well placed, as that damage would literally bring down considerable and notably heavy spars etc on crew causing initial carnage as well as damage. I suppose that the objective in a battle would be of consideration.....with pirates and privateers the objective was plunder....where in the case of a naval situation, destroying the mark and taking it out of the equation strategically would be key.
Great analogy on the 'bowling alley' thing!!!
Thats exactly what these low velocity round shot were as they slowly traveled through the air, and bounced and rolled as they made contact (pretty much like MY bowling rolls before they found the gutter
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Old 8th June 2022, 06:48 PM   #47
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Default Bagged small shot in artillery

A transcript of written accounts of this amunition in my neck of the woods ... in the 1600's.

... For shorter distances, a hollow load filled with musket balls was used: the small-bullet bags. Quite effective against cavalry, as reported by Mateus Rodrigues, still on the subject of Telena's campaign in 1645:
(…) Soon the enemy came with all the cavalry, carrying us with great force and bringing two pieces between the same cavalry, with six mules each piece, who ran with them like the same cavalry, and as soon as they arrived at fire, they charged with them which did a lot of damage, because all our people were on a pinecone and couldn't help but kill many people, because due to the shot at close range.
Twenty years later, in the battle of Montes Claros, the use of hollow-load projectiles by Portuguese artillery is recorded:
(…) And the Count of S. João and the artillery general (…) ordered the artillery pieces, which were loaded with bags of small bullets, not to give the first charge, until the enemy was in the distance of fifty steps (…); and the damage they suffered was so remarkable that the battalions of the right flank, forced by fear, turned the half bodies of the horses with the appearance of wanting to flee (…).
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Old 9th June 2022, 05:15 AM   #48
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Capn, it seems I had heard the term partridge shot, it seems more toward shotguns' ammo, clearly for gaming . Most of the entries I have seen use the term 'hail shot' (perhaps a French term as translated?) This was small shot as well as often added 'burr' from the sprues of casting from round shot.

This was indeed most popularly used on the swivel guns on deck, and it seems was found in the breech block of one of those found on QAR. It seems these guns typically are not found in shipwreck sites as they are typically taken away in initial salvage (quickly accessed being on upper decks). It seems the sling type (as opposed to the shorter, stubby 'murderer' was more prevalent, especially later into 18th c.

Rick I totally agree that the primary purpose of destroying rigging and mast structure was to render the vessel stationary for boarding before the main engagements . Shooting high seems well placed, as that damage would literally bring down considerable and notably heavy spars etc on crew causing initial carnage as well as damage. I suppose that the objective in a battle would be of consideration.....with pirates and privateers the objective was plunder....where in the case of a naval situation, destroying the mark and taking it out of the equation strategically would be key.
Great analogy on the 'bowling alley' thing!!!
Thats exactly what these low velocity round shot were as they slowly traveled through the air, and bounced and rolled as they made contact (pretty much like MY bowling rolls before they found the gutter
Taking an enemy vessel as prize was a priority during the Age of Fighting Sail.
When one considers the astronomical amount of prime timber needed for a strong vessel of war it was much preferred to capture one extant warship to refit, rename and put into service against the foe rather than to destroy it if at all avoidable. After all, sinking an enemy vessel would cost the victor prize, gun and head money which takes us back to the subject of projectiles for disabling the rigging.

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Old 9th June 2022, 06:43 AM   #49
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Taking an enemy vessel as prize was a priority during the Age of Fighting Sail.
When one considers the astronomical amount of prime timber needed for a strong vessel of war it was much preferred to capture one extant warship to refit, rename and put into service against the foe rather than to destroy it if at all avoidable. After all, sinking an enemy vessel would cost the victor prize, gun and head money which takes us back to the subject of projectiles for disabling the rigging.

Excellent points Rick, well explained. That does make sense, so the less destructive (to the hull) chain or double shot would seem to have been far more useful than all that round shot which seems to have been the most common supply on board. I believe I was thinking more of some of the larger engagements where there were considerable ships from opposing sides involved and the artistic renderings with numbers of ships on fire, but then of course there was likely a great deal of artistic license involved.
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Old 11th June 2022, 04:23 PM   #50
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I too have also read that the British tended to aim at the hull, or more accurately at the deck - not to sink the ship but to damage the guns and kill as many crew as possible prior to boarding, while the French aimed at the rigging to disable the ship to enable boarding.

The variety of anti rigging shot in this thread is amazing. If the aiming strategy is correct then I wonder if the majority of this type of shot was of French/European manufacture rather than British.

It is also surprising that there is not more evidence of the use of fire projectiles to burn sails and rigging. There are some drawings of 'frisbees' and fire arrows launched from small arms but not much else. Does anyone know anything more about fire projectiles?

Remember that it was very hard to sink a wooden ship with the weapons of the day. There was nothing that could penetrate below the water and any shot coming through at the waterline could be plugged with wood and canvas and warships carried ready made plugs of the diameter of common sizes of shot. This probably only applied to smaller ships anyway. The Victory had sides two foot thick of solid oak and the USS Constitution was nicknamed 'old ironsides' for good reason.

At the Battle of Trafalgar the British captured 20 ships but of the 73 ships involved in the battle only two were sunk and these by fire and explosion. Interestingly nature is not so limited as many ships that had been damaged in the battle were sunk in a storm a few days later.

As early as 1807 Robert Fulton was testing, not very successfully, the first experimental torpedoes at the Washington Navy Yard.
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Old 11th June 2022, 07:27 PM   #51
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... It is also surprising that there is not more evidence of the use of fire projectiles to burn sails and rigging. There are some drawings of 'frisbees' and fire arrows launched from small arms but not much else. Does anyone know anything more about fire projectiles ...
You can imagine there was quite a paraphernalia of burning devices. Listen to this episode that took place in Malaca in 1513:

The Malay junks, copied from the Chinese, were excellent ships that in terms of strength and maneuverability were in no way inferior to European ships, on the contrary. Their weak point was that they had practically no artillery, being limited to launching arrows before boarding. On the contrary, the Portuguese ships, in addition to the medium-caliber cannons that fired through the portholes on the side, had "berços", small-caliber pieces, with a high rate of fire, mounted on the rail, numerous rifles, fire spears and gunpowder pots (a kind of incendiary bombs) that sailors threw from the yards into enemy ships in order to set them on fire.


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... Remember that it was very hard to sink a wooden ship with the weapons of the day. There was nothing that could penetrate below the water and any shot coming through at the waterline could be plugged with wood and canvas and warships carried ready made plugs of the diameter of common sizes of shot...
Maybe in another time and context; one of the tricks used in the 1500's by the Portuguese was the water tight portholes below deck (read John F. Guilmartin, Jr.), enabling mid gross artillery to fire skipping over the waterline; it did work, according to chronicles. Whether the preference was not to sink the enemy's ship for own use, that would happen in different episodes ... and whether circumstances so favoured.


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Old 12th June 2022, 02:08 PM   #52
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... Does anyone know anything more about fire projectiles?...
Remember Matchlock ... and the Mary Rose ?. Look at this link.
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Old 12th June 2022, 02:47 PM   #53
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It makes sense that aiming for the deck and gun ports would be a most effective way of stabilizing the threat and opposition from an enemy ship without actually sinking it. The destruction of rigging and masts etc. would render the vessel immobile not only to remove its ability to maneuver or to run.

The gun decks must have been a virtual hell, with all the smoke, threat of explosions from cannon being fired in accidents as well as being targeted by fire from the other vessel. Any hits of course would unleash the horrifying barrage of splintered wood projectiles which were like lances or arrows, which terribly wounded.
As I have understood, often gun deck interiors were painted red, to lessen the garish effect of the bloody results. While this seems sort of a superficial remedy it does illustrate the character of these areas of a vessel in battle.

Fernando,
Thank you for the link to one of Michaels valuable entries, how I wish he were still here. His knowledge and insights remain thankfully in his legacy.
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Old 12th June 2022, 06:01 PM   #54
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Thanks for the link Fernando - that led me to more of his fire arrow entries as well.

Also very interesting about the early Portuguese low level watertight gun ports, designed to facilitate aiming at the opponents waterline!

Jim, yes red gun decks - makes sense.
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Old 12th June 2022, 10:37 PM   #55
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Thanks for the link Fernando - that led me to more of his fire arrow entries as well.

Also very interesting about the early Portuguese low level watertight gun ports, designed to facilitate aiming at the opponents waterline!

Jim, yes red gun decks - makes sense.

Here is the article on the gun decks I have long recalled, from a 'Campaigns' magazine from 1977 (horrifying to realize this was 45 years ago and I'd been at it already over a decade). This was a great magazine for military miniature enthusiasts, but had great research.
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Old 13th June 2022, 10:55 AM   #56
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... As I have understood, often gun deck interiors were painted red, to lessen the garish effect of the bloody results. While this seems sort of a superficial remedy it does illustrate the character of these areas of a vessel in battle...
Still in the XIX century this kind of procedure was adopted. In the Portuguese frigate Dom Fernando e Gloria, launched in 1843, one of the last sailing war ships, having sailed the India route during 33 years and set fire after its retirement in the Lisbon harbour, having later been faithfully restored upon its survived hull, not the deck but all gun carriages, were painted red for the mentioned purposes, as noted by its present officer in charge.


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Old 19th June 2022, 06:12 PM   #57
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Still in the XIX century this kind of procedure was adopted. In the Portuguese frigate Dom Fernando e Gloria, launched in 1843, one of the last sailing war ships, having sailed the India route during 33 years and set fire after its retirement in the Lisbon harbour, having later been faithfully restored upon its survived hull, not the deck but all gun carriages, were painted red for the mentioned purposes, as noted by its present officer in charge.


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Fernando, I am remiss in not thanking you for this great entry on the painting of gun carraiges red in honor of this practice/tradition. I am wondering if any form of this remained vestigially after the age of sail in modern naval vessels.

I know that often these kinds of things in military parlance remain in practice as certain traditional recognition and remembrance.
With the British cavalry for example, in the Battle of Aliwal (1846) the 16th lancers charged against a huge force of Sikh's, and while victorious, they lost 144 of 300 men. In action, the lance pennon is furled, and in the grim aftermath, it was discovered that the pennons were crimped by dried blood.
It became a 16th Lancers tradition to always crimp their pennons in honor of that costly victory.

While the analogy is off topic, it goes to the question of these sometimes ambiguous traditions in many instances which harken to circumstances or events in the past which are held in high importance.
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Old 20th June 2022, 10:08 AM   #58
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Jim, i do beleive that navy (as other services) do keep certain traditions becoming later fetishes, resulted from earlier practical procedures, though i realize that the red paint vs blood resource would not fit in modern context, as vessels and their artillery equipment are so much different (material wise) nowadays.
On the other hand, the habit of the red paint in early days is often mentioned, only that is easier to locate them in the web than in written chronicles, where you don't have the search button to locate the required paragraph among so many book pages. Reason why sources for specific episodes are hardly transcribed from my books with writings from period chronicles.
So ... what i can show you is a part in an exhaustively detailed fictious novel, Sharpe's Trafalgar, which i expect you find interesting ...

The midshipman showed Sharpe the store where the anchor tether was housed, the two leather-draped ammunition stores protected by red-coated marines, the liquor store, the infirmary where the walls were painted red for the blood not to stand out, the pharmacy, and the cabins of the guardsmen, little more spacious than doghouses.

Hereunder three of my books covering all Portuguese navy battles from 1139 to 1579.


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Last edited by fernando; 20th June 2022 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 22nd June 2022, 04:53 AM   #59
Jim McDougall
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Thanks Fernando, and you're right, finding things these days is a lot easier with the 'magic box'. Its a good thing as my mountains of notes, files, index cards, books of decades are hopelessly disheveled.

The Sharpe's stories by Bernard Cornwell from 1981+ though historical fiction, are (in my opinion) wonderful chronicles full of intriguing snippets like this, which seem to typically have basis in fact.
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