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 Julian Stockwin: Quarterdeck 
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Post Julian Stockwin: Quarterdeck
SPOILER!!
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I am unfamiliar with the US Navy at the time of Kydd, but how plausible/realistic was the story of Kydd working with the Constellation?

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Last edited by Mil Goose on Sat Aug 13, 2005 5:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Sat Aug 13, 2005 12:47 pm
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Post Re: Quarterdeck
I haven't read Quarterdeck and don't know if I will soon, but if Kydd was in the Caribbean in the late 1790's he might have come across the Constellation. The ship under Thomas Truxtun was in the Caribbean as part of the US Navy fleet in the Quasi-War (1798-1801) and noted for the capture of the French frigate L'Insurgente. Constellation used the port Bassterre in St. Kitts as a base.
For further information see:
Truxtun of the Constellation - Ferguson
Stoddert's War - Palmer
Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France - ed. Knox, vols. I-III, especially

There is also a contemporary account of the Constellation's activity in the Caribbean by John Hoxse, but I've yet to get my hands on the volume.
Regards,
PT


Sat Aug 13, 2005 1:48 pm
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Post Re: POSSIBLE SPOILER - "Quarterdeck"
Mil Goose wrote:
SPOILER!! I am unfamiliar with the US Navy at the time of Kydd, but how plausible/realistic was the story of Kydd working with the Constellation?

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Mary, a number of things struck me as unrealistic about the events leading up to the capture of the French privateer and beyond. I mean it was an enjoyable read, but definitely more fiction than historical in my opinion. Crippling the steering was kind of James Bondish to me. (Will make a good movie scene if they ever take Kydd into the theaters.) This very strange event created the "friendship" between Lt. Grindler and Kydd which triggered Kydd being invited aboard the Constitution. I think Stockwin paints a good political picture as to how it could have happened, but to me it was pure fiction. If any British naval officer would have been really invited on board the fastest, most heavily armed warship in the new American navy, it would not have been a lowly 5th lieutenant. Even though Britain and the US were not at war, it certainly was a very uneasy peace so I don't think a RN officer of any rank would have been invited aboard.

I vote unrealistic. Don


Sat Aug 13, 2005 4:29 pm
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Post 
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Possible Spoiler!
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Mary, what did you think of the guns "hidden" behind hinged sides of the French privateer? How unrealistic was that!
Don


Sat Aug 13, 2005 4:59 pm
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timoneer wrote:
Possible Spoiler!
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Mary, what did you think of the guns "hidden" behind hinged sides of the French privateer?
How unrealistic was that! Don


After reading about hidden guns in "The Fox and the Faith" by Dan Parkinson (see Hidden Gundecks and Bombards thread), I thought it best to add the specific information about hidden guns that appears in Quarterdeck for comparison.

On pages 245 of the UK version, there appears the following description of a French privateer under repair in an American port:

His attention was caught by the peculiar break in the line of bulwarks with their small gunports. A whole section amidships had been lowered on hinges – inside Kydd glimpsed the astonishing sight of the black bulk of a long gun, mounted on some sort of pivot, another barely visible trained to the other side of the ship. But no ordinary gun; it was a twenty-four pounder at least. The armament of a ship-of-the-line on a near frigate-sized vessel.

Don


Mon Oct 03, 2005 6:48 pm
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timoneer wrote:
His attention was caught by the peculiar break in the line of bulwarks with their small gunports. A whole section amidships had been lowered on hinges – inside Kydd glimpsed the astonishing sight of the black bulk of a long gun, mounted on some sort of pivot, another barely visible trained to the other side of the ship. But no ordinary gun; it was a twenty-four pounder at least. The armament of a ship-of-the-line on a near frigate-sized vessel.


I wrote an email to Julian Stockwin to see if his account above was purely fiction or had some historical basis. I am pleased to report that he had an actual historical source for his hidden guns. JS changed some details to suit his novel but at least the germ of the incident was true. Hidden guns did exist.

Part of his email to me is reproduced below.


Re the hidden long guns - I got the idea from the privateer "Genii",
which operated out of Guadeloupe in Kydd's period.

The details came from a report from a Falmouth packet who was
surprised by this vessel's hidden armament of an eighteen pounder
fixed to a swivel in the centre of the main deck behind flaps

Regards
Julian Stockwin


Here is one novelist who did his research!

Don


Last edited by timoneer on Tue Oct 04, 2005 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Oct 04, 2005 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Pivot Guns
Pivot guns were not unknown in the American Navy in this period. According to Howard Chapelle's History of the American Sailing Navy
Quote:
The period between 1801 and 1815 produced few changes in naval guns... the long gun on a pivot had now reached its height in professional popularity..."


Chapelle goes on to describe the working of these guns in the rest of the paragraph (pgs. 238-239 in my edition) following this quote.

PT


Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:43 pm
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Post Re: Pivot Guns
PT wrote:
Chapelle goes on to describe the working of these guns in the rest of the paragraph (pgs. 238-239 in my edition) following this quote.

PT, thanks for the info. I must have the same edition as you. Very interesting reading about a forerunner of turret mounts. I could imagine the shock of an opposing vessel discovering a gun mounted this way.

Don


Tue Oct 04, 2005 7:06 pm
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Post Re: Pivot Guns
America used pivot guns on her gunboat navy as well as on some of the ships used on the Great Lakes during the War of 1812. On the Lakes some of the schooners carried up to 32-pounder guns this way. Chapelle also describes some of the American privateers as carrying pivots in his book The Baltimore Clipper
PT


Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:12 pm
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I finally finished Quarterdeck this morning and found it disappointing. I agree with Timoneer that there are some improbable events in the book. The disabling of the French privateer was one and it's not probable that a junior lieutenant would have been given a berth on the Constellation either. Worse, I really don't think the work has much coherence. One incident doesn't really lead to the next; they are a series of scenes only connected by the main character and their cumulative impact is muted. There's a lot to like in Stockwin's work but this is not his best, IMHO.
PT


Tue Oct 10, 2006 5:22 pm
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Thanks to both of you for your input. As I've said before I know little of the US navy at that time so anything you could throw in is appreciated. The whole scenario just did not sit right with me; it all seemed too contrived.

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Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:12 am
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