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"Gunnery notes" from William Rivers (*1755, †1817)


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As already mentioned in my build, I am looking for the sketch-/notebook from Mr. Rivers. He was gunner on the Vic from 1790 to 1812 and excerpts from this book have been already published in some literature.








I am looking for this source out of the Royal Naval Museum: William Rivers (1755-1817), gunner on HMS Victory: gunnery notes (Acc 1998/41)


Does anybody have any copies of that or know how to access it?
Edited by dafi
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Your post got me looking into it as it would be a great find.  I saw the 12 page article by Gareth Cole that was very interesting and he uses Rivers' information as part of his article. One of the most interesting charts Cole  gives are the age ranges for gunners on a number of specific ships.   I hope you find the source for River's writing and share.  If I find it, I will be sure to post it.  I sent an email  to the National Archives in the UK asking if was possible to get a copy. To get to the Cole paper, Google gunnery notes from William Rivers cole.pdf   



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The manuscript in question appears to be at the Royal Navy Museum Portsmouth, according to the Cole citation.  I have not yet been able to track it down any further.


Cole, Dr Gareth. 2009. “Royal Navy Gunners in the French Revolutionary and Naploeonic Wars.” The Mariner’s Mirror 95 (3): 284–95. doi:10.1080/00253359.2009.10657104.




Also see the following book by Cole where the Rivers manuscript is again mentioned somewhat prominently.


Cole, Gareth. 2012. Arming the Royal Navy, 1793-1815: The Office of Ordnance and the State. London; Brookfield, Vt.: Pickering & Chatto.


Of course, i should have clicked your links first - I would have realized you already had the link to the Mariner's Mirror article. 

Edited by trippwj


Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.

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These are the sketches so far that made me interested:



A carriage from Victory showing unusual bolt arrangments



List for the use of case shot


both shown in Napoleonic Naval Armament 1792-1815 from Ospry



His entry for the positions in the fleet on the way into the battle


from Victory First Rate, Eastland & Ballantyne


Also of interest are informations about Richard F. Roberts, midshipman on the Vic at Trafalgar, showing the setup of the hammocks.




Do I read the first 1,5 lines correct? And what are the XXX?

"The Victory had white hammock cloth spread loosely over the XXX and kept that (?) XXXX commenced (?) firing.





Edited by dafi
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That could very well be as in the book the picture caption describes that the "marines were hiding underneath white hammock cloth until they commenced firing"


Thank you.



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I think it says the canvas was "kept wet" until they commenced firing. I think the canvas and hammocks would represent the most likely fire hazard as the guns were constantly spitting fire just under them from fore to aft along the length of the ship. If wetted down they would be less flammable and also denser and thus able to absorb more energy from incoming munitions. There are many recorded instances of the cannon fire starting fires that day.




 Niagara USS Constitution 


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  • 1 year later...

Having had an actual discussion in our german forum we came to another interesting interpretation:

"The Victory had white hammock cloth spread loosely over the others and kept wet until they commenced firing."


The interpretation was that the hammocks were covered by a second layer of cloth to keep fire hazard down. Any opinions?

The other question concerns the Structure of the hammock cranes with the horizontal bars, also to be seen on some drawings. Any idea about this feature?


Are there any further informations about this drawing and Richard F. Roberts, midshipman on the Vic at Trafalgar? What is the source and the date of this drawing? Straight after the battle or a look back in later years?


And of course, still looking for a source of:

Royal Naval Museum: William Rivers (1755-1817), gunner on HMS Victory: gunnery notes (Acc 1998/41)





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