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I can't for the life of me figure out how the number of guns on a ship are counted. A 74 gun ship has many more than 74 guns. Victory, a 104 gun first rate, has many more than 104 guns. Which ones are not counted in the reckoning? I know bow and stern chasers are not included but that still doesn't balance things in my count.



Edited by Sailor1234567890
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Welcome to deciphering 17th, 18th and 19th century "ratings"! 


The number of guns was meant more as a guide than a fixed rule, in most cases, and reflected the nominal armament that a ship was designed to carry.  Captains, however, had some leeway in the actual arming of the ship.  As but one example, the frigate Constitution was "designed" by Humphreys to carry 44 guns as the main armament.  Various cruises over the years carried as many as 52 guns.  There are reports that some vessels were regrettably overarmed by the Captain, resulting in poor handling and stability. At best, use the number that the hull was pierced for along the sides as a guide for the intended number of guns, recognizing that there may have been more carried as chasers or lighter guns on the weather deck that increased the count.


Yep, not much help, I'm afraid!




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

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