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There was an account I read about a formal evening party thrown on the deck of the new frigate USS Potomac in 1828 while fitting out in Washington. They covered the spar deck with canvass and created a candelabra on the capstan by ringing it with muskets with bayonets fixed. There was a candle placed in each muzzle and this illuminated  the spar deck ...

 

 

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The British Schooner of War Dominica mounted a 4-pounder brass swivel/cohorn on her capstan when she fought the privateer Decatur in 1813.

 

The Frigate Constitution mounted a seven-barreled swivel Chambers Gun on her capstan when she fought the Cyane and Levant in 1815, for defense against enemy boarders, in addition to additional Chambers guns in her tops.

 

The Privateer Fair American, of the Revolutionary War fame, mounted a large swivel on her capstan, according to the memoirs of one of her crewmen, (Jacob Nagel - who would later sail to Australia in the 'First Fleet) that was used to good effect in defeating an enemy's nighttime boat attack.

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I don’t understand the advantage of mounting the swivel gun atop the capstan.  Maybe as an anti personnel weapon if boarded?

 

On the other hand it was a custom at the time to use small arms as decorations.  Many British large country homes have arrays of muskets, pistols, and swords on the walls.

 

Roger

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I don't recall now where I have seen it, but I remember seeing a picture/drawing showing muskets stowed around the capstan. My guess is that they were placed there before an action for ready access when boarding an enemy ship. They wouldn't normally be stowed there but would be below in the armory.

 

I can see having a swivel gun mount on the capstan. The capstan mount was very strong and could take the force of recoil of the gun. If the ship was being boarded the capstan would give a good field of fire for sweeping the decks of boarders with grapeshot/shrapnel. The gun could also be fired at men in the tops of an enemy ship at close range.

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