Archive for the 'Age of Sail' Category

Oct 7

American Independence and the Naval Factor

Friday, October 7, 2016 4:08 PM

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A Royal Navy fleet bombards Fort Sullivan, near Charleston, South Carolina, on 28 June 1776. (Alamy)

It is now no longer necessary to bemoan a lack of maritime perspective on the American Revolution, and yet the naval war still does not receive the recognition that is its due. It is, without question, the largest and most significant naval war of the 18th century; a war that is crucial in helping us to understand the path of the 18th century and the nature of revolutions; and a war that enables us to question—and in many cases answer in some detail—the very nature of sea power and its relationship with history. Indeed, no other war in the entire… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 14

Salty Talk: The Blazer

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 9:57 PM

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HMS Blazer by Eric Smith

Uniforms for naval officers-their cut, color, and adornments specified by regulation-began appearing in the 18th century. Ordinary crew members had to wait about another century before they were similarly provided for, although navies were making available clothing of a simple, common pattern well before that. In every ship, one boat provided a captain’s personal means of transport. It was called a gig. Over time, captains-especially successful or rich ones-took to decorating their gigs to suit their personal tastes and to make them unique (rather like people today customizing their cars). They also took to outfitting their gigs’ crews with special… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 21

‘Subdue, Seize, and Take . . .’

Thursday, April 21, 2016 2:59 PM

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NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
Captain Thomas Truxtun set the precedent for a young U.S. Navy by capturing the French frigate L’INSURGENTE during the Quasi-War with France.

On 9 February 1799, the U.S. frigate CONSTELLATION was cruising in Caribbean waters when a lookout reported an unidentified ship just over the horizon. Captain Thomas Truxtun ordered his ship to come about, then went below to record in his log: “At noon saw a sail standing to westward, gave chase. I take her for a ship of war.” The pursuit continued for about an hour with the CONSTELLATION gradually gaining. Drawing closer, it became apparent that the other ship was a heavily armed frigate. A lesser captain with a lesser crew might have decided to look for an easier… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 20

Salty Talk: “Over a Barrel”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 12:01 AM

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"Kissing the Gunner's Daughter."

In previous “talks” we have mentioned the seagoing practice of flogging as the principal form of punishment, and how the recipients of such punishment usually were triced up in a spread-eagle position to receive it. Occasionally, some skippers of men-of-war preferred to have the men bent over a cannon to receive their lashes. This position was more commonly used, however, for the ships’ boys and young student officers (midshipmen) when they required discipline. Sometimes, they got the “cat,” but, at least in the U.S. Navy by the mid-19th century, a “boy’s cat” or “colt” — a somewhat less lethal device… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 8

Survey Results: What is The Greatest Warship of All Time?

Friday, April 8, 2016 12:01 AM

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USS Constitution is shown in a 1931 photograph shortly after her recommissioning in July of that year after an extensive restoration. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

This is cross-posted from USNI News. USNI News asked its readers, “What is the greatest warship of all time and why?” Though what makes a warship great is highly subjective, our readers offered their education and expertise to put forth their ideas as to what the answer to that question should be. And with nearly 900 reader-generated answers and more than 26,000 votes, the results are in.

 
Mar 25

Salty Talk: “Turning a Blind Eye”

Friday, March 25, 2016 12:01 AM

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"Turning a blind eye." Naval Institute Archives.

It is a rare occasion when the appearance of a word or phrase in a language can be dated with precision, but such is the case with one, which originated nearly 200 years ago. By the end of the 18th Century, one of England’s main sources of naval stores – mast timbers, pitch, hemp – were the Baltic states. With the resumption of war between Napoleonic France and England following the Peace of Amiens, the French dictator gained control of Denmark and, thereby, one side of the narrow Danish Straits, gateway to the Baltic. Endangering the future of her first line… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 14

The Navy’s ‘Smashers’

Monday, March 14, 2016 10:57 AM

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One of the 1826-pattern replica carronades on board the USS CONSTITUTION. When fired, the gun and its slide recoiled back along the stationary skid and against the breeching, the heavy rope through the carronade's loop. Side tackles were used to traverse or run out the gun. (USS CONSTITUION, Naval History and Heritage Command)

Introduced in the U.S. Navy at the beginning of the 19th century, the carronade saw extensive service in American warships during the War of 1812. The Carron Company in Scotland had produced a prototype of the weapon, designed for the protection of merchantmen, in 1776. The success of early carronades resulted in the Royal Navy placing large orders for the guns, and other naval powers soon copied the basic design. Henry Foxall, superintendent of the Eagle Foundry on the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, cast the first American versions, but probably not until 1799. Certainly he cast the majority of the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 18

‘A Very Disagreeable Affair’

Monday, January 18, 2016 12:01 AM

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In Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island colonists head for shore after setting HMS GASPEE ablaze. (Heroic Deeds of American Sailors)

When we reflect back at the early period of our naval history, Americans tends to look for battles out on the blue water to mark the beginning of our sea services. John Paul Jones and his battles against HMS Serapis and Drake capture the imagination because of the quotable exclamations of the captain, as well as because of a caricatured Mahanian view of the centrality of big decisive sea battles. Lost in that search for the Midway or Jutland of the distant past is the fact that many of the most important naval fights of the Revolutionary era occurred instead… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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