Archive for the 'Age of Sail' Category

Feb 5

What to do when your commander burns his own perfectly good fleet?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 12:01 AM

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If you ever find yourself in command of an invading army, and surrounded by a numerically superior enemy hell-bent on your destruction, it is probably not a good idea to intentionally eliminate your only means of retreat. Yet that is what the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés did in 1519 when he sunk his own naval fleet to keep his men from deserting during his campaign to conquer the Aztec Empire. It was one of the biggest gambles in military history. He conquered the Aztec two years later, but things could have easily gone the other way. If Cortés had been defeated,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 31

Naval Superstitions – A Sailor’s Antiquated Guide to Avoiding Bad Luck

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 9:55 AM

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It’s that time of year once again! Where children and adults alike dress up, go to fun parties, and probably eat far too much candy. It’s also a time of spooky stories and superstitions, which is what I decided to research for my dive into naval history this month. Growing up in Wisconsin, sailors and maritime life was not something familiar to me. Most of my impressions of sailors came from movies, television, and books, and one theme always stuck out more than any other: they were just a little bit spooky! There always seemed to be an air of… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 5

On This Day-September 5th

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 12:01 AM

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On this day in 1776 the Navy adopts uniforms for officers. Enjoy this look back through naval history and the evolution of the uniform.                                            

 
Aug 14

Today in Naval History: The Capture of the U.S. Brig Argus by H.M Brig Pelican

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 10:15 AM

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Kimball Argus Burning commerce

Two hundred and five years ago today, on 14 August 1813, the U.S. Brig Argus, under command of Captain William H. Allen, fought her final battle with the HMS Pelican off the coast of England during the War of 1812. During the early-morning battle, Allen’s right leg was shot off, but he remained on station until fainting from a loss of blood. As Pelican‘s men boarded, Argus struck her colors. Allen died four days later. Writing about the incident in the May 1939 issue of Proceedings, Prof. Wilbur E. Apgar gave a thorough summary of the events. His summary is excerpted here. The amazing lack of concern… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 7

Ticonderoga: The Almost-First Steam-Powered Warship

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 12:01 AM

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Demologos, later renamed Fulton after its creator Robert Fulton, was the first steam-powered vessel in the U.S. Navy in 1815. The unique floating battery almost did not receive that distinction. Only a matter of months earlier, Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough almost brought a steam-powered warship to the most decisive battle of the War of 1812. The United States and Great Britain had been at war since June 1812, and Napoleon’s defeat in April 1814 brought thousands of experienced soldiers to Canada. The war of 1812 began as a sideshow to the British government, but now had their military’s undivided attention…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 31

Today in Naval History: The Four Ships Named USS Intrepid

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 1:43 PM

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On this day in 1874, the USS Intrepid, second ship of her name, was commissioned by the U.S. Navy. The name Intrepid means fearless or adventurous, both things this mighty ship was not. Despite the cutting edge technology and new designs used to create the massive ship, she proved merely experimental. The Intrepid was the Navy’s first ship equipped with self-propelled torpedoes and led the way for future ships of more efficient and useful designs. Her predecessor, the USS Intrepid (1798) has a peculiar and distinguished history. Captured from the Tripolitan Navy several months after the USS Philadelphia ran aground, the first Intrepid was converted to a… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 20

The USS Essex From Mutiny to F-35s

Friday, July 20, 2018 12:01 AM

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As reported by USNI News, the USS Essex quietly deployed last Tuesday, 10 July. [Essex Amphibious Ready Group Quietly Deployed on Tuesday with Marine F-35s] The lack of “fanfare” was for “reasons of operational security”, according to USNI sources. The USS Essex is carrying the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and their F-35s. However, this isn’t the first time a US Navy ship named USS Essex made headlines. There were five ships named USS Essex in U.S. Navy history, starting with the 32-gun sailing frigate commissioned in 1799. On 9 December 1813, the sailors of USS Essex staged a mutiny. Luckily, CAPT Porter… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 17

Earn Your Ink: Celebrate National Tattoo Day!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 12:01 AM

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Getting “inked” is a tradition which spans back to the age of sail before the U.S. established its own navy. Many of the same tattoos from centuries ago are still found on sailors today. Sailors wear tattoos that depict their naval service. 1. Swallow Legend has it tattoos began when seven sailors from the ship “The Swallow” tattooed a swallow on their chests to mark their mutiny [1]. However, it is generally used measure how far a sailor travels. Originally a swallow was earned every 5,000 nautical miles. Due to the enhanced capabilities of today’s ships a sailor earns a… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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