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 Sentries 
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Lieutenant
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Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:27 am
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Location: East of everywhere, Canada
Post Sentries
Wow, there is SO much information here... I've been browsing for ages. Clearly some of you have read WAY more period material than I will ever have time to tackle! So here's my first dumb question... I tried "search" & didn't find any posts on the subject...
Where were the sentries stationed aboard ship? Some places are obvious & often mentioned, like the captain's cabin... & I've seen references to "some store rooms", but no specifics. The spirit room would also seem obvious; maybe the magazine?; I think I saw something somewhere about the hold, to make sure people didn't use it as a toilet?... but how many of the other areas of the ship would require a sentry, & if it was a smaller ship, say a 6th rate, would there be just a couple belowdecks where they could keep an eye on several storeroom doors at once, or...?
And, when they went into battle, the "sentries on the hatches"... just on the hatches to the lower decks, or on the hatches to the weather deck as well?
I am sure such information is out there, somewhere... but I haven't found anything stating specifically where they were to be stationed.
Anyone?

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Alison

...life on land is DRY :(


Last edited by Alison on Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:37 am
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Post Re: Sentries
Alison wrote:
Where were the sentries stationed aboard ship?

Welcome Alison. You posed an interesting question as I don't believe a specific list exists here in the Forum. What might help your search is that such duties were handled by the Marines ("Royal" Marines after 1802). Your preliminary list was pretty accurate. As you noted, Marines were stationed at the Captain's quarters as well as guarding spirits, weapons, and gunpowder. They would be stationed at any entrance to the hold to guard food, water, and other normal supplies. They would guard those being confined for punishment as well as enemy prisoners.

During battle action, Marines were stationed at the hatches so sailors could not go below (hide). Sailors would be passed only to assist the wounded to the orlop to see the surgeon. In time of water rationing, a Marine might be stationed at the scuttle butt. Maybe one of the more important stations would just be the fact that they were berthed between the seamen and the officers and acted as a buffer. I'm sure more stations can and will be added by other Forum members.

Of course, the Marines had fighting and parade (for example, honors to visiting officers) duties. One of my favorite books is "A Social History of the Navy 1793-1815" by Michael Lewis. The role of the Marines is covered as well as a wealth of other information on the Royal Navy.

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Don Campbell
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Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:37 am
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Location: East of everywhere, Canada
Post Re: Sentries
Thanks Don! I've read Michael Lewis's book, but don't think he gave the specifics about stations... I'd probably have noted that... Unfortunately it was a library book & is not handy for reference; just the pages of notes I have left!
It seems to be one of those things that were just routine or taken for granted aboard ship so you don't see it mentioned in people's journals or wherever.
Quote:
During battle action, Marines were stationed at the hatches...

Right... so just on the hatches to the hold/orlop? I was wondering about the upper hatches, because people might be running back & forth with messages to the gun deck or something... & would they all have to be cleared by sentries too?
It's funny how much time you can spend on some little detail that's going to get, like, one line in your writing... :roll:

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Alison

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Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:48 pm
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Post Re: Sentries
Alison wrote:
I've read Michael Lewis's book, but don't think he gave the specifics about stations...
Alison, you are correct that no list is included in Lewis' book. I even double-checked before my first response. I just mentioned it for the general duties of the Marines and the fact that it is very informative of the Royal Navy in general.

Quote:
During battle action, Marines were stationed at the hatches...
The hatches being guarded would vary depending on the size of the ship. Let's say all the action on a smaller ship was confined to the weather deck where the only guns are located. Any hatch leading below would be guarded. On a larger ship where the action is happening on the upper (weather) gun deck and a second gun deck, the marines would be stationed to keep someone from leaving the second gun deck and hiding below. The intent would be to keep anyone from escaping the battle. Since the second gun deck would be cleared for action, there would not be a place to hide and the officers and gun captains on that deck would know who was and was not supposed to be present.

Therefore there would be no problem having mids or others running messages from the captain to any deck having guns. The same for any of the larger ships with even more gun decks.

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Don Campbell
"Whoever is strongest at sea, make him your friend."
Corcyraeans to the Athenians, 433 BC


Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:07 pm
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I believe Marines were stationed: Outside the Captain's cabin, outside the wardroom/gunroom (where the Lieutenant, Master and Marine officer lived; whichever of the two titles/descriptions is relevant depends on the class of ship), the companionways to the quarterdeck, the spirit room, powder magazines, bosun's and carpenter's storerooms.

During battle, there were sentries placed at the companionways to prevent men running below, which presumably meant all companionways as the object was to stop men deserting their station, and they could want to go up on deck just as well as wanting to go below the waterline. Fear takes men in many different ways, after all.

The case of having men stationed at the hatchways to the hold was, as far as I remember, a specific case where the captain was under the necessity of preventing the men relieving themselves there.

Keri


Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:56 am
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