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On my 1815 American Revenue cutter (Artesania Latina Dallas), the plans show shot stored either side of a deck hatch just forward of the pivot gun.


post-12980-0-69382500-1427076926_thumb.png in cross-section post-12980-0-34389000-1427076925.png


In Chapelle's "The History of American Sailing Ships" there are no details of the hatch except for the outline.




I don't like the setup on the kit plans. It strikes me that it is both a trip hazard and a place for sea water to collect and rot the wood (and rust the shot). 


I think a better option (if they needed shot stored on deck), would be a rack on the end of the hatch. An example you can see on the USS Constitution:




Photo from: http://techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/pix/ussc/tour1.html


Any thoughts?






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Greetings Richard,


Was the storage of shot on deck typical, or only done when the ship was being prepared for battle? I don't know the answer, but if only during battle prep/battle, then your concerns would probably not apply. I would think that the shot was stored in designated lockers below decks until needed. Accordingly, you could locate storage racks practically any place in the vicinity of the guns and not be wrong.



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Thanks for the pictures. The cutter has no bulwarks to speak of so there's no room for the storage in photos 1, 2, and 4. The HMS Warrior racks are very similar to the Constitution's.


Wq 3296 (I hope that's not your real name  :)),

I don't think the storage on deck would be permanent, especially during any rough weather, but other than that I don't know either.


Since no one is telling me it's stupid, I'm going to go for it.





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Shot was held securely in the racks by netting, otherwise even the slightest sea motion would send all the balls flying. The USS Wasp plans of 1806 has the carronade shot all stored around the hatchways, while the USS Scourge wreck of 1813 has them in troughs at the bulwarks.


The advantages seem to be with the Wasp's storage, as the balls are closer to the centerline of the hull and less likely to break loose by rolling motion of the ship. Shot that was stowed by the bulwarks was also prone to scattering amongst the friendly gun crews if was hit by an enemy's shot from the outside. If the enemy's shot struck a hatchways' shot rack, then the balls would be scattered to the unengaged side of the vessel where there are presumably fewer people to be hurt. The advantage of having the shot by the bulwarks is that it was closer to the muzzle, and thus quicker to reload.


The deck plan of the USS United States, drawn by Charles Ware of the Boston Navy Yard circa 1820, shows two types of shot storage. Shot was stored around most hatchways on the gun and spar decks of the frigate, and the upper deck chase guns and carronades were supplemented by portable shot boxes, each holding nine shot, (three rows of three in square),  placed just forward of each forecastle gun, and just aft of each quarterdeck gun. They were movable and were placed about two-thirds the way out from the bulwarks to the end of the gun carriages or carronade slides. No shot boxes are shown on her gun-deck.


The perfectly preserved 1813 wreck of the USS Hamilton, laying 300 feet from the USS Scourge in Lake Ontario, and capsized in the same squall, had no solid bulwarks, and no shot garlands at all for her carronades or her single pivot gun. So she must have used portable shot boxes exclusively. That two schooners of the same squadron would each have different methods of shot storage shows that there was no universal standard at that time. 

Edited by uss frolick
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Thanks for the information uss frolick.


I hadn't thought about the results of enemy fire hitting the bulwark where the shot was stored - nasty.


It makes sense that they'd have portable shot boxes - you wouldn't want to carry them from below deck one at a time. You'd also be able to move them around the deck as needed. It's always good when you learn something new that makes perfect sense :)



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  • 5 months later...

It was thought that keeping the shot closer to the centerline would make for greater stability, so the bulwarks storage was probably earlier.  As bulwarks became planked up, which was the tendency, I wonder if they wouldn't have used racks there instead of chests.

And please, nobody mention brass monkeys.  That old tale has been exploded.

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  • 1 month later...

I tend to agree with wq. Shot would be better stored below deck as low as possible for extra ballast. When readied for battle the shot would be brought up and stored in the rack.

What strikes me as odd in a couple of the pictures shown above is that two different sizes of shot are in the same rack.

Talk about mass confusion when loading the barrel during the heat of battle!!!

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Have had several Captains that as soon as we were at sea, would put the ship in the trough and slow to steerage way only and let her clang, bang, crash and let the loose gear slide around until the crew had their lessons relearned. After that good rolling we would get underway and up out of the trough. The Captain would then get on the 1MC and order, "Secure for Sea”. Before we singled up the Ready for Sea Reports had been submitted by each department head. The Captains seemed to know when the crew needed a refresher course in what securing for sea ment. Shot in shot Garlands look nice but would be a danger to all at sea, even during battle. I would not be surprised to find out that the shot was kept below except for the ready service shot, that was probably kept in secure boxes near the guns. Were I in command, the Shot Garlands would only be used for show in port and would slowly disappear from my decks over time while the inventory of secure ready service shot lockers increased.


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