Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Capt. Broke's Sword (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=26955)

CutlassCollector 12th May 2021 10:47 AM

Capt. Broke's Sword
 
Sim Comfort has produced a presentation on Capt. Broke's sword and the frigate battle between HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake.

Worth a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5I6xj8clfU

Victrix 12th May 2021 11:33 AM

Excellent! Well worth watching.:)

CSinTX 12th May 2021 01:44 PM

Thanks for sharing! I subscribed.

David R 12th May 2021 10:49 PM

Does anyone have a link to a good image of Capt. Broke's sword.

M ELEY 14th May 2021 08:09 AM

Excellent post, CC! Mr. Comfort really catches the tension of this amazing sea battle. It is incredible how long it often took for two ships to get into 'battle' position, all while fighting the weather gage. It would certainly try one's nerves!

CutlassCollector 14th May 2021 04:19 PM

Hi Mark, yes these sea battles are fascinating and some are well documented. Check out my favorite HMS Ambuscade v. Bayonaisse. The small French corvette with half the number of guns and a much smaller crew took on and captured the British frigate!

Hi David R. Yes the internet is sadly lacking on any further pictures. The only ones I know of are in Vol 1 of Comfort's 'Naval Swords and Dirks' but they are the same as in the video.

CC

Jim McDougall 14th May 2021 11:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M ELEY (Post 262567)
Excellent post, CC! Mr. Comfort really catches the tension of this amazing sea battle. It is incredible how long it often took for two ships to get into 'battle' position, all while fighting the weather gage. It would certainly try one's nerves!


Well noted Capn!
It is amazing how much gentleman's courtesy was observed in the communications between these two captains, and as you mention, there was a great deal of maneuvering by both ships to get into place. This had all the elements of a personal duel, with all the protocol and panache of such arrangements.

It sounds like at one point Broke virtually had the 'weather gage' but restrained any raking or fire, and was considered valiant action for this. Actually it seems he was brilliant at gunnery and training his men, and had a distinct battle plan with his shots carefully preplanned, needing his ship to be in proper position to be carried out.

It is hard to imagine, as you note, the anticipation of all hands as these maneuvers carried out, knowing at the final position it would be intense combat. It would be hardest at the waiting point as only fear and anxiety would preside, and no adrenalin would extinquish those until the chaos of combat ensued.

I agree with your observation that this is likely a Scottish broadsword blade heirloom, and refitted on a stirrup hilt in the style of turn of the century naval officers swords by Francis Thurkle in London (as per Mr. Comfort).

Mr. Comfort mentions in his presentation that at some point someone had suggested a Toledo blade, while he notes there is a misconception with the obvious ANDREA FERARA marking, clearly from Solingen. I think that Toledo suggestion may well derive from the notions in 19th century that Ferara had for some time been in Toledo. This has been thoroughly proven incorrect many years ago.

Thank you CC for posting this fascinating item.

M ELEY 16th May 2021 06:01 AM

Hello CC. Is the ship battle you mention on the page you posted? I'll definitely give it a look! These ingagements at sea were always one-of-a-kind, with often little unforseen factors tipping the balance of who won. I'm reminded of the fellow up in the rigging of John Paul Jones' ship tossing grenades onto the British enemy off of Flamborough Head. That one concise factor made all the difference in the outcome...

Jim, I knew you'd appreciate this site that CC was so gracious to post! Ships of the day were often thought of as nothing more that nautical moving platforms to stack cannons on, in a sense! Of course, shear size and amount of cannons weren't everything. The continually changing factors of weather, ship angle, possible boarding opportunities, damage done, etc, kept the 'chess board' alive and one had to have strategy to know when and where to attack. Very exciting stuff!

Jim McDougall 16th May 2021 02:31 PM

Hi Capn,
Very good analogies! Nautical battles were indeed very much like chess, and the strategies and tactics very different than warfare on terra firma. Your description of these vessels as virtual fortresses is also spot on.

In much research on the firepower of vessels in 'the age of sail' there is so much fascinating attention the the 'guns', and things like the markings on them with weights and positioning on decks in addition to the foundry marks.
Positioning these guns was considerably based on weights in addition to strategic firing locations.
Capt. Broke was a brilliant tactician in the use of nautical firepower.

As the 'Bon Homme Richard' was mentioned, I hope I may bring up some information on that famed ship in this context without too much digression from this discourse.

With positioning of the ships, the Bon Homme Richard, in the Battle of Flamborough Head (off the coast of Yorkshire) on Sept. 23, 1779 was finally lashed to the British Serapis, a much larger and heavily armed ship of the line. While obviously this was to facilitate boarding, it also likely to relieve the heavy barrage of cannon fire.

At heavy cost of lives on both sides, Serapis finally surrendered. It was a Pyrrhic victory as the Bon Homme Richard was heavily damaged and on fire. John Paul Jones, aboard the captured Serapis (also heavily damaged) tried for 36 hours to save the Bon Homme Richard, but it finally sank.

The reason the final resting place of the 'Richard' remains unknown is because it is unclear how far these ships drifted from the battle location as the struggle to save them ensued. It seems the wreck may bed situated as far as 25 to 30 miles out, and the fishing vessels which often snag bits of debris or such clues typically are closer, so that often helpful option is not at hand.

CutlassCollector 16th May 2021 07:56 PM

3 Attachment(s)
You're right Jim - the experience and skill needed to navigate, maneuver and fight a sailing warship was exceptional. One of the reasons for the decline of the French navy after the revolution was the loss of these skills with the decimation of the officer class.

But of course once it came down to boarding then it was all down to messy hand to hand combat.

In 1798 Napoleon was so pleased with the capture of the HMS Ambuscade that he ordered a painting of the battle. It was completed in 1801 - so practically a photograph! It depicts all the weapons of a boarding action - pistols, muskets (both ends), cutlasses, pikes and a goodly number of axes. The French crew can be clearly seen holding the ships together with grappling irons.

Jim McDougall 16th May 2021 11:36 PM

Thank you CC, great artwork!!
It seems reasonable that the strategy in gunnery would be keyed toward the masts and rigging of the opposing ship, thus disabling her from any tactical maneuvering. It has not seemed to me that the objective was to sink the opposing vessel (except perhaps in larger pitched battles to remove firepower) so disabling would be primary.

The boarding and close contact were of course the defining moments in the final conflict, and it seems there were often Marines and other musket men on board to open fire on the other ranks on the opposing vessel. The physical contact in boarding melee must have been ghastly.

Bob A 17th May 2021 01:56 AM

Sharpshooters in crow's nests did for Admiral Nelson, and many others as well. Deck cannons loaded with grapeshot did great slaughter to boarding parties.

In addition to the desperate fight to survive, the winning crews of these battles were awarded prize money, based on the value of the capture, which was shared by the crew, and was a strong disincentive to sink the enemy, and a strong motivator to do battle. A morning's hard work at close quarters could fetch a far fatter purse than a sailor would receive from His Majesty's exchequer per diem.

Those of you who might be interested in the Napoleonic Wars from a naval perspective might want to read Patrick O'Brian's wonderful historical novels covering the period. They have been called the greatest historical novels ever written - in English at any rate. Highly recommended. The first in the series is entitled Master and Commander.

Rick 17th May 2021 04:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim McDougall (Post 262649)
Thank you CC, great artwork!!
It seems reasonable that the strategy in gunnery would be keyed toward the masts and rigging of the opposing ship, thus disabling her from any tactical maneuvering. It has not seemed to me that the objective was to sink the opposing vessel (except perhaps in larger pitched battles to remove firepower) so disabling would be primary.

The boarding and close contact were of course the defining moments in the final conflict, and it seems there were often Marines and other musket men on board to open fire on the other ranks on the opposing vessel. The physical contact in boarding melee must have been ghastly.

Broke won the contest with Chesapeake by clearing her decks with grape. It was written that when Chesapeake was boarded the waist and quarterdeck were virtually cleared of men. By that time Lawrence and all four of his lieutenants were out of action with no one of rank in command. I believe that also by that time Chesapeake's helm had been shot away and her rudder had been disabled. Aiming high to disable rig was one approach; another is to sweep the decks and knock out the guns, crew and officers.

Rick 17th May 2021 05:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob A (Post 262652)
Sharpshooters in crow's nests did for Admiral Nelson, and many others as well. Deck cannons loaded with grapeshot did great slaughter to boarding parties.

In addition to the desperate fight to survive, the winning crews of these battles were awarded prize money, based on the value of the capture, which was shared by the crew, and was a strong disincentive to sink the enemy, and a strong motivator to do battle. A morning's hard work at close quarters could fetch a far fatter purse than a sailor would receive from His Majesty's exchequer per diem.

Those of you who might be interested in the Napoleonic Wars from a naval perspective might want to read Patrick O'Brian's wonderful historical novels covering the period. They have been called the greatest historical novels ever written - in English at any rate. Highly recommended. The first in the series is entitled Master and Commander.

Bob, I shed real tears when I learned of O'Brian's death. I have read all his novels and his research was impeccable. No one so far has come near to reaching his level of talent in this genre. The battle of Shannon and Chesapeake is described near the end of The Fortune of War.

Jim McDougall 17th May 2021 05:17 AM

Bob and Rick, thank you so much for these insights. I am admittedly not very well versed in naval warfare and history, but it is truly fascinating to see these perspectives. I think I see another facet to my obsessions with history brewing :)

M ELEY 17th May 2021 05:14 PM

Very much agreed! The sweeping of the deck with cannons was also a maneuver that pirates used in desparation (as opposed to just getting their prey to surrender). When the Rover was attacked by Blackbeard's crew, they 'scrafed' the deck with shot. This time, however, Lt. Maynard played Teach's game and hid his remaining crew below beck. When Blackbeard's vessel approached, he saw the carnage and no resistance, so cried out for his crew to board the supposedly defeated ship. Once the sea dogs were on deck, Maynard's soldiers and sailors swarmed out of the hold to confront the pirate menace hand-to-hand. The rest, as they say, is history...;)

David R 17th May 2021 10:44 PM

Great days, great Commanders and wonderful stories. A quote I once heard from a knowledgeable friend, as coming from the French, was that the British "built their warships by the mile and cut them off as needed".
On another note, one third of the British warships at Trafalgar were built in India and the crews were in proportion. Our secret weapon was Indian manufacturers and finance, without them we may have lost!

Rick 17th May 2021 11:47 PM

Also, a fair amount of captured vessels from France and Spain ended up being bought into the RN; Chesapeake was also bought into the RN after her capture.

Jim McDougall 18th May 2021 12:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by David R (Post 262676)
Great days, great Commanders and wonderful stories. A quote I once heard from a knowledgeable friend, as coming from the French, was that the British "built their warships by the mile and cut them off as needed".
On another note, one third of the British warships at Trafalgar were built in India and the crews were in proportion. Our secret weapon was Indian manufacturers and finance, without them we may have lost!


Wow! David, now thats interesting!!! I had no idea that India built those, but they did seem to have some pretty amazing vessels.
These were from the Malabar coast in India right? Mahrattas?

Jim McDougall 18th May 2021 12:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M ELEY (Post 262667)
Very much agreed! The sweeping of the deck with cannons was also a maneuver that pirates used in desparation (as opposed to just getting their prey to surrender). When the Rover was attacked by Blackbeard's crew, they 'scrafed' the deck with shot. This time, however, Lt. Maynard played Teach's game and hid his remaining crew below beck. When Blackbeard's vessel approached, he saw the carnage and no resistance, so cried out for his crew to board the supposedly defeated ship. Once the sea dogs were on deck, Maynard's soldiers and sailors swarmed out of the hold to confront the pirate menace hand-to-hand. The rest, as they say, is history...;)


Indeed it was! a great ploy!!! enter as well the Highlander and his basket hilt, who ended the great Blackbeard !
I always wondered if certain gun crews and guns were designated to grape shot and if others were to the rigging shots.......was this kind of selective tactics in place in an aligned battle between vessels?

Bob A 18th May 2021 06:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim McDougall (Post 262687)
Indeed it was! a great ploy!!! enter as well the Highlander and his basket hilt, who ended the great Blackbeard !
I always wondered if certain gun crews and guns were designated to grape shot and if others were to the rigging shots.......was this kind of selective tactics in place in an aligned battle between vessels?

I would hazard a guess that chain and bar shot would have been used to incapacitate an opponents vessel through wrecking the rigging; loading grape would make sense as the boarding vessel approached, as last-ditch anti-personnel weaponry.

Not having been there, I'm just winging it here. There would be sufficient standardisation of bore to facilitate this.

If I recall correctly, not having read O'brian in a decade or so, carronades were used in various conformations in close-contact inter-ship action.

Here's a Wiki link to carronade:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carronade

Since O'Brian is on the table, here's a link to a site mapping the various voyages in the saga:
http://www.cannonade.net/

David R 19th May 2021 10:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim McDougall (Post 262686)
Wow! David, now thats interesting!!! I had no idea that India built those, but they did seem to have some pretty amazing vessels.
These were from the Malabar coast in India right? Mahrattas?

They were one to one copies of the standard British warships. The story goes that the RN sailed a three decker into one of the main shipbuilding centres and invited quotes. After a thorough investigation that quote was less than half what it would cost to build in Britain, and the deal was on!

https://2ndlook.wordpress.com/2010/1...-british-navy/


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