View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:54 pm



Reply to topic  [ 28 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2
 Heated Shot aboard ship 
Author Message
Commander

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Australia
Post 
Jurien de la Graviere obtained the information as to firing intervals from the work of the famous engineer Pierre-Alexandre-Laurent Forfait (1752-1807).

The use by the French of incendiary projectiles was, apparently, common practice in accordance with the instructions of the Convention. De la Graviere quotes extracts from the reports of:

1. Vice Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse after the action of 23rd June, 1795 (known variously as the “Action off Groix”, the “Action off L’Orient” and “Lord Bridport’s Action”): “The enemy did not appear to me to have suffered, though I presume that all our ships used shells and carcases as I not only made signal to do so but sent a verbal order by one of the frigates.”

2. Rear Admiral Martin after the action of 13th July, 1795 (known as the Action off Hyeres): “I made the signal to prepare red hot shot……At six o’clock the fleet anchored off Frejus; the shot furnaces were extinguished, and the hammocks stowed”.

We certainly need to know the drill in use for firing RHS as this must account for the firing intervals


Last edited by IONIA on Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:11 am
Profile
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:34 am
Posts: 1471
Location: Virginia, USA
Post 
IONIA wrote:
Jurien de la Graviere obtained the information as to firing intervals from the work of the famous engineer Pierre-Alexandre-Laurent Forfait (1752-1807).
Thanks for clearing that up as I assumed, incorrectly it seems, that Graviere was speaking from personal experience

IONIA wrote:
We certainly need to know the drill in use for firing RHS as this must account for the firing intervals
Finding the French gun drill for heated shot might answer a lot of questions. Do you think that the earlier work by Forfait might contain it? Was it ever published? Translated?

Don


Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:40 am
Profile
Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:02 am
Posts: 2747
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Post 


I should be in Toulon two weeks today, so will see if I can find anything out.

_________________
- Mil -
aka Mary ....


Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:00 am
Profile YIM
Commander

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Australia
Post 
Quote:
Finding the French gun drill for heated shot might answer a lot of questions. Do you think that the earlier work by Forfait might contain it? Was it ever published? Translated?



De la Graviere states that the figures are from "an unpublished memoir of the celebrated engineer Forfait who conducted the experiments".

There might be more chance of finding something in relation to the drill used in fortresses. e.g. http://www.nps.gov/history/history/onli ... ol2-2d.htm

I can find nothing helpful in accounts of the Seige of Gibraltar.


Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:29 pm
Profile
Lieutenant

Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:49 pm
Posts: 63
Location: England
Post 
The link to the 1858 Instructions for the use of red hot shot in Her Majesty's Ships in my earlier post, although British and from a later late, probably gives a good indication of the factors that account for the firing intervals. These seem to be (1) the use of additional wads - powder, dry wad, then wet wad, then shot, then wet grummet wad, (2) the use of wet wads, which swell and may be more difficult to force home, and (3) the difficulty of handling (or rather not handling!) heated shot when loading.

There seems to be no question of using guns with an oversized bore, but because heated shot expand (by one 65th), the windage is reduced and therefore the charge is reduced for safety, and some types of gun could not be used because their windage was too small.

I know nothing about gunnery, so I hope the above makes sense!

Admiral Jurien de la Graviere probably also acquired much information from his father, Admiral Pierre Roche Jurien de la Graviere, whose memoirs he published, and who served throughout the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars - although he was a prisoner for a while after the frigate La Franchise, which he was commanding, was taken by the Minotaur (Captain Mansfield) at the outbreak of war in 1803.

_________________
Tony


Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:19 pm
Profile WWW
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:34 am
Posts: 1471
Location: Virginia, USA
Post 
Tony wrote:
The link to the 1858 Instructions for the use of red hot shot in Her Majesty's Ships in my earlier post, although British and from a later late, probably gives a good indication of the factors that account for the firing intervals. These seem to be (1) the use of additional wads - powder, dry wad, then wet wad, then shot, then wet grummet wad, (2) the use of wet wads, which swell and may be more difficult to force home, and (3) the difficulty of handling (or rather not handling!) heated shot when loading.

Tony, what you say makes some sense but a well trained (British) gun crew should be able to fire two cold shot in three minutes (I think I have read that in several places). A poorly trained crew might have taken longer but adding several additional wads and handling the hot shot with more care doesn't, in my mind, extend the time interval to 5-8 minutes between heated shot. I do not doubt the accounts posted here so the problem must exist in my inability to wrap my mind around the difficulties of such a procedure by the French at the Glorious First of June battle.

Graviere seems to think that such an interval was excessive himself. It is a shame that he didn't mention the cause or a possible cure. Oh, well.

I'm just starting t read "Adventures in the Revolution and Under the Consulate" by Moreau De Jonnes. Maybe there is a clue there, if I am lucky.

Don


Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:45 pm
Profile
Lieutenant

Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:49 pm
Posts: 63
Location: England
Post 
Reliable information on typical rates of fire achieved by either the French or British navies seems hard to come by. Also comparisons can only be meaningful if measured over the same time period - the rate of fire achieved in the first 10 minutes could not be maintained for a number of hours. Accuracy would also be a factor - the rate of fire would be higher in a close engagement with ships almost touching than it would in a long range engagement where accuracy was important. As well as the time spent aiming, with a ship pitching, rolling or yawing, accuracy required precise timing. Perhaps the British placed more importance on the rate of fire because of their preference for a close engagement to bring a swift result.

The figure I have seen most often quoted is from Newnham Collingwood on Collingwood's gunnery training in the Dreadnought: "the crew of which had been so constantly practised in the exercise of the great guns, under his daily superintendence, that few ships' companies could equal them in rapidity and precision of firing. He was accustomed to tell them, that if they could fire three well-directed broadsides in five minutes no vessel could resist them; and, from constant practice, they were enabled to do so in three minutes and a half." This, of course, was exceptional, but Rodger in "The Command of the Ocean" also makes the point that this rate of fire was achieved for the first three broadsides only, and was not expected to be maintained for longer periods.

Rodger quotes a couple of other figures:

The Hampton Court, 70, in 1739 fired 400 rounds in 25 minutes (on one side) - approx one round every two minutes per gun, which he suggests is an upper limit to any ship's performance at that time.

The French Guerrier, 74, in 1756 fired 659 rounds (on one side) in 3.5 hours (a much longer period) - approx 5.5 rounds per hour per gun or one round every 11 minutes.

Another French ship at the Saintes in 1782 fired 1,300 rounds in six hours - about 6 rounds per hour per gun, or one round every 10 minutes.

I think my only conclusion is that without more information, comparisons are meaningless!

Wikipedia says of the French Revolution's effect on their navy: "The National Convention dissolved the Fleet Gunners Corps, which effectively put a halt to the training in gunnery, abysmally degrading the rate of fire of batteries..." Can anyone expand on that?

Several books make various bold assertions that the French rate of fire in the Napoleonic War was one half to one quarter of the British rate of fire, but do not quote any evidence.

_________________
Tony


Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:43 pm
Profile WWW
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:34 am
Posts: 1471
Location: Virginia, USA
Post 
Tony wrote:
Reliable information on typical rates of fire achieved by either the French or British navies seems hard to come by.... I think my only conclusion is that without more information, comparisons are meaningless!

I quite agree. The only thing that is certain is that Graviere was displeased with the slow rate of heated shot. Ionia posted "“the greatest evil of using red-hot shot was not the danger to the ship using them; it was the loss of precious time, as the interval between the shots was usually six or eight minutes.”

The only true comparison would be the rate of cold shot that he might have listed in his work or such from Forfait's unpublished work. I would assume that the rate of heated shot is "significantly" (not slightly) longer than cold shot, else Graviere would not be making the point as strongly as he does. But such terms as "slow" and "longer" are meaningless terms without data.

Since Ionia posted Graviere's comment, maybe she has access to the book still and could supply any data listed by Graviere for cold shot? Please!

I looked for a copy but the only one I could find was beyond pricy (over 1600 USD) but I am tempted to try an ILL since a see a number of copies available in my area.

This illustrates, again, to me that certain base information known by the general naval establishment is assumed for the period audience. When an author writes to this audience, he assumes this base knowledge. However, for readers of the period several hundred years later, we do not have such base knowledge and questions arise. Sad, really... but keeps things interesting on discussion groups like this one.

Don


Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:00 pm
Profile
Commander

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Australia
Post 
There is no information in de la Graviere’s book about rates of fire with cold shot. We are all familiar with the various claims that have been made for well-drilled gun-crews but we must remember that the very fast times which are quoted from time to time were obtained with double gun crews (e.g. 14 or 15 to a 32pdr rather than the 7 men actually required to work the gun) and these speeds fell off dramatically if the ship was engaged on both sides, even in the early stages of an action. Any ship that could average 1 rpg at 2 minute intervals in the initial stages of an action on one side would have been doing remarkably well. But de la Graviere obviously thought that a 5 minute interval for an 18pdr was much too slow..

I certainly agree with Tony’s comments on gunnery generally. Drill was everything, since orders could not be heard on the gundecks when the ship was engaged; in fact, men became temporarily deaf. “Cultural” differences between navies also played a part e.g. in the RN the bodies of the slain were thrown overboard immediately: in the French and Spanish navies they were stacked behind the guns and became a hindrance, particularly if the ship was engaged on both sides, and must have had an effect on morale.

The 1858 Instructions instanced by Tony provide no obvious reason for a much slower firing. Perhaps this was due to the entire procedure taking place in “slow motion” due to the care necessary in handling RHS and the general feeling that they were a clear and present danger to the firing vessel.

With respect to the seaman-gunners of the French Navy, E.H. Jenkins in his “History of the French Navy” has the following:

”(In 1793) Jean-Bon St. Andre persuaded the Convention to pass a decree abolishing the corps of seaman-gunners. It was, said he, to create an aristocracy of the sea that a man should serve only aboard ship: gunners from the land artillery, under their officers, could man and fight the batteries”.


Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:18 am
Profile
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:34 am
Posts: 1471
Location: Virginia, USA
Post 
IONIA wrote:
There is no information in de la Graviere’s book about rates of fire with cold shot.
That is a shame. I have already put in an ILL request. Do you think this book has other things of interest worthy of reading?

IONIA wrote:
... very fast times which are quoted from time to time were obtained with double gun crews (e.g. 14 or 15 to a 32pdr rather than the 7 men actually required to work the gun)...
I've never heard of double gun crews before. I would love to learn more about this. Can you make a recommendation for further reading? I am especially interested in how the work was distributed among the larger group. Is there a gun drill procedure written down for a double gun crew?

IONIA wrote:
...these speeds fell off dramatically if the ship was engaged on both sides....
There has been previous discussions here about fighting both sides simultaneously with the thought that this was rare. If rare, does it mean that it was normal to have double gun crews or do you feel that fighting both sides was more common?

Don


Wed Oct 31, 2007 7:48 am
Profile
Lieutenant

Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:49 pm
Posts: 63
Location: England
Post 
timoneer wrote:
I've never heard of double gun crews before. I would love to learn more about this. Can you make a recommendation for further reading? I am especially interested in how the work was distributed among the larger group. Is there a gun drill procedure written down for a double gun crew?

There is great detail about this in the 1858 Instructions, including diagrams, and including how 14 men gun crews are redistributed as 7 men crews when manning both sides.

An extract of the summary of the procedure for a 14 man crew is as follows:

EXERCISE WITH 14 MEN TO A LOWER, MIDDLE, OR MAIN DECK GUN.

No. 1. The Captain; commands, attends the breeching, primes, points, fires, and stops the vent.
2. The 2nd Captain; assists 1, runs out, attends handspike, coin, and lock.
3. Loads, rams home, runs out, and trains.
4. Worms, sponges, rams home, runs out, and trains.
5. Gives shot and wad to 3, runs out, trains, and spans the breeching.
6. Gives sponge, rammer, and worm to 4, runs out, trains, and spans the breeching.
7 and 8. Run out, and train.
9 and 10. Run out, and attend handspikes.
11. Runs out, and attends handspike.
12. Runs out, and trains.
13. Runs out, trains, and brings up shell.
14. Attends train-tackle.

NOTE.—With more or less than 14 men, the Exercise will be the same as above, except that the proper handspikemen will take the duties of 9 and 10, the assistant handspikemen, those of 11 and 2, and the rearmen, those of 13 and 14.

The Captain of the gun is responsible that all stores and necessary gear are at the gun, and that throughout the exercise all the Nos. perform their duties correctly.

_________________
Tony


Wed Oct 31, 2007 1:06 pm
Profile WWW
Commander

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Australia
Post 
De la Graviere’s “Sketches” is worth reading because it gives a French naval officer’s view of the major actions of the Great War – and his view of Nelson as a commander. Better to borrow it than to pay an outrageous price for it.

The established gun-crew for a 32pdr was 7. As you will be aware, the Quarters Bill normally allocated fifteen men to a pair of guns, one on each side – two 7 man crews and a powderman (or monkey). If only one side was engaged (the usual situation), they doubled up. The end result, of course, was a fifteen man gun crew and faster drill.

In general, any fleet action could result in a melee – in which case a ship could well be obliged to fight both sides. Two good examples of battles in which melees developed were the Glorious First of June and Trafalgar. In both battles some ships were engaged on both sides (and I do not include the cases of ships firing from both sides as they passed through the opponent’s line). You are, of course, correct is implying that it was not an everyday event! It was also not unknown for ships to move some complete double crews across to the disengaged side, if it became suddenly necessary to fire on both sides. I imagine that this would be a sensible alternative if the ship had been firing for some time and the men tired.


Wed Oct 31, 2007 1:10 pm
Profile
Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:02 am
Posts: 2747
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Post 


The Times, October 12th, 1798:

" ..... In some of the last French Papers, a charge is made against the English as having used red-hot balls in the late enagement of Bequieres; and to this day, they say, is to be attributed the conflagration of the L'Orient and another vessel. It is scarcely necessary to say that furnaces for heating balls are unknown on board our ships of war. They have no heat but what they derive from the warmth of the action.. ..... "


_________________
- Mil -
aka Mary ....


Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:29 pm
Profile YIM
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 28 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF.