Jump to content

Lost voices from HMS Guerriere: Court Martial testimony.

uss frolick

Recommended Posts

  • 4 years later...
On 8/30/2016 at 1:11 PM, uss frolick said:

What is interesting is Captain Dacres's observation that the Guerriere's larboard side had been struck with a whopping thirty round shot, total, including some that were five sheets of copper down. The Constitution mounted 54 broadside guns, or 27 guns per side. Let's say that the initial broadside to broadside stage lasted, for sake of argument, about thirty minutes, and let's further say that the Constitution's gunners were able to fire one shot every three minutes, a respectable, realistic rate. (Patrick O'Brian's much quoted 'three shots every five minutes' is just fiction!) That means that, even if only loaded with a single round shot at each discharge, the Constitution should have fired about 270 times individually during that half hour, yet only about one shot in ten, hit her hull, according to Dacres's observation. Yet we know that the Constitution fired multiple round shot from each discharge for most of the engagement, according to her master gunner, yet only 30 shot hit her hull, not counting grape? Yes, I know that the Constitution's gunners were aiming at the masts for much of the time, but come on! Thirty hits only, on a hull that was 160 feet long, in broad daylight at pistol shot range? This speaks volumes about the accuracy of early nineteenth century sea gunnery!

As with most other contexts of firing practice I believe that the standard is 3 shots *in* five minutes, from loaded and pointed to an unloaded state. (i.e. discharge to discharge) That is a rate of fire sustained of around 2.5 minutes between rounds, which gives the number of shots alluded to in the Vade Mecum for the first 20-25 minutes, before heating forces the rate of fire to drop to one in 5 minutes for the next hour. (roughly - 10 rounds in the first period, 20 rounds in the first 90 minutes).

Musketry also starts the infantry platoon exercises with a loaded musket, and standards require 3 shots in the minute, rather than a rate of fire of 3 rounds per minute sustained or from an empty gun.

Pistol shot, according to the footnote by Admiral Lord Rodney in "Essay on Naval Tactics" by John Clerk is 400yds, so 'half pistol shot' is 200 yds - though falling on board indicates that manoeuvring took out that range from time to time.
Different conditions of the gun will result in different point blank (levelled) ranges - barely sufficient to reach to 200yds with carronades or double shot from guns, but ample to range past that with single shot and standard or distance charges.

The line of metal range (1 degree elevation for guns, 3 degrees for carronades) is going to be throwing shot rather high this close, suited to firing single shot to 600-700 yds.

Working between these ranges is awkward for pointing consistently, especially if ranges are changing rapidly during a manoeuvring battle. Carronades pointed by their metal have a tendency to range high/long rather than falling short for most close engagement, with much of their firing taking place in rigging unless aimed very low on the target hull, below the water. Dispart sights had been added to carronades in RN use from 1780, but their use and practice seems to not always have been actively trained by the paucity of information on carronade sights in action before Broke and others popularised gunlocks and dispart sights on their long guns as well.

Edited by Lieste
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While no plans survive of HMS Guerriere, either in French or English archives we do have an idea what she looked likeLa Guerierre was built at Cherbourg to a design of an engineer named La Fosse.  We do know that she was begun as a Romaine Class frigate, a smaller 24-pounder type, but lengthened into a standard 18-pounder ship on the stocks. Nine were built and completed to the original design. We know what the original class looked like, because the original French builders draught survives, and two of the class were taken, L'Immortalite and La Desiree', and their draughts survive in the NMM. They all have a very round midship section, required because the initial draught called for a 10" mortar amidships, and a full midship reduces the recoil downward into the water! At length, all were rearmed with twenty-four 24-pounders on the main deck. The last ships of the class were converted by lengthening them by about 15 feet. Plans for two of these survive, HMS Pique, 36, which has an ironic Constitution connection in 1814 under Captain Stewart, and HMS La Furieuse, 38. A coulee others were altered on the stocks later as well.


La Furieuse was fitted out "en flute" when captured in 1806, and was used by the French as an armed troop transport mounting twenty heavy guns. She was taken by the 20-gun sloop of war HMS Bonne Citoyenne in an epic day-long battle. Here are her plans. This reflects her as fitted as a transport, without forecastle barricades. Note the beak-head bulkhead which Guerriere did not have. Note also the nine windows across her stern, a large number shared by Pique, Desire, L'Immortalite, and a Roux painting of sister L'Incorruptable. Note the round midship:






So if anyone wanted to build La Guerriere, one option would be to start with La Furieuse, add forecastle bulwarks and an armed bridle-port, and put thirty long 18-pounders on the main deck.


La Guerriere taken by HMS Blanche in 1806:



Edited by uss frolick
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

FYI Update, Connie fans.


I just received my copy of the epic, coffee-table catalog book, "Glasgow Museum: The Ship Models", and there are several color photographs of a French prisoner of war bone-model of the Frigate "La Guerriere". It was reportedly made by the crew members whilst in a British prison. 


It seems correct, with enough main deck gun-ports for thirty long eighteen pounders - a unique feature of Gurrierre - a full figurehead, a five windowed stern with detailed, period-appropriate carvings and the name under her windows.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...