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 Alexander Kent's Favorite Phrase 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:34 am
Posts: 1471
Location: Virginia, USA
Post Re: Alexander Kent's Favorite Phrase
susan wrote:
Not fiction, and without the "bleeding to death" bit:

"At daybreak it cleared off a little, and we saw our French friend in-shore of us, greatly cut up, and marks of blood descending from each scupper hole."

This is from The Life and Services of Captain Philip Beaver, Late of His Majesty's Ship Nisus by William H. Smyth. It is part of Beaver's description of engagement between the Arethusa and Belle Poule.

Here is another reference in a first-hand account:

William Richardson* was the Gunner on the Ceasar (74) (Captain Richard "Mad Dick" Strachan) in August 1805 when shots were exchanged with shore batteries at Brest Roads. He writes: "Many shells fell around us, and some so near as to make the water splash against the ship. This was the first time I ever saw human blood run out of the scuppers."


* William Richardson’s "A Mariner of England: An Account of the Career of William Richardson from Cabin Boy in the Merchant Service to Warrant Officer in the Royal Navy [1780-1819] as told by himself" edited by Colonel Spencer Childers - page 211

Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:10 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:34 am
Posts: 1471
Location: Virginia, USA
I found an additional reference in a first hand account by midshipman William T. Skiddy which is printed in "A Gentlemanly and Honorable Profession" by Christopher McKee, page 147.

"He [HMS "Penquin"] now gave us the first broadside, and as soon as their guns flashed ours were in operation, and in five minutes I perceived the blood running from his scuppers a stream; and, as he almost stopped firing, our little captain [James Biddle] ordered us to cease."

Skiddy was aboard USS "Hornet" on March, 1815 during the capture of HMS "Penguin" when this occured.

Click Here for some information about Skiddy.

I was just looking back at this thread and, even if anyone thinks that Kent/Reeman uses this phase a little too much in his Bolitho series [which he probably does], enough references have been found in first-hand accounts to make it appear, at least to me, that this is a not unusual description in contemporary accounts of battle of that era. Certainly a chilling image to conjure up in the minds of today's readers and even more so for the real combatants. Maybe Kent/Reeman takes it a step too far when he adds a phrase like "as if the ship herself were bleeding." However, that is certainly the job of the writer; to evoke such a vivid picture.


Fri Jun 08, 2007 8:53 am
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