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Thread: Age of Sail Warships

  1. #31
    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Alcohol was used to sedate? How?

    Did they force them to drink it or did they pour wine over the wound in order for the seaman to feel less pain? Wouldn't it be the other way around because of the alcohol?
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    The loblolly boys (surgeon assistants) would cram as much grog or undiluted rum into the sailor as they could while he waited for his turn under the knife. Knowing what was coming, the sailor did his best to absorb as much rum as possible. The goal was to get the sailor as close to "stone-blind, paralytic" drunk as possible in the available time. Remember, the common operations were cutting splinter wounds wider to pull out the timber and search around for loose bits of timber and/or cloth or amputations for badly injured limbs. That involved cutting the soft tissue with a knife and using a saw on the bone. Even ripped-to-the-teats drunk, the loblolly boys used to have to strap them down and then sit on them to immobilize them for the surgeon.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    On the topic of this - how did they discover that storing lime juice, sauerkraut and other vitamin C would help the sailors? Was it the Navy which discovered it or was it a surgeon/physician?

    I'm assuming the Navy.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    On the topic of this - how did they discover that storing lime juice, sauerkraut and other vitamin C would help the sailors? Was it the Navy which discovered it or was it a surgeon/physician?

    I'm assuming the Navy.
    They had zero clue about vitamins.

    Wiki on scurvy led me to james lind as well as stuff on scurvy

    Some parts of antiquity knew citrus fruit warded off scurvy -- Caesar spiked his water with lemon in season or vinegar when not for example. The knowledge was never widely used.

    Since the late 16th century in Europe various persons noted that fresh vegetables etc. seemed to minimize scurvy.

    First formal rec to use citrus was early 1600s by a british EIC surgeon.

    Physician James Lind did the first ever clinical trial in 1747 with a number of side by side cure efforts with scurvy patients. Results said citrus works, lemon juice takes navy by storm shortly thereafter.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

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  5. #35
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    The famous explorer James Cook was also instrumental in promoting a healthier diet by forcing crew and officers alike to add anti-scurbotics in their menu.
    Not all his experiments were successful, obviously, because as Seamus said, the positive contribution of citrus, lemon and orange was learned through the oldest method: Randomness->trials->experience->theory. Something like evolution.

    http://www.captaincooksociety.com/ho...stephen-r-2003

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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Thank you gentlemen for the info.

    Back to the topic of warships - I've looked at the fantastic animated video on warships and the guns part intrigues me. Having the heavier guns on the bottom makes sense in terms of weight, but wouldn't they use heavier guns topside too, or they kept it just small 8 pounders and those fearsome carronades?
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    Thank you gentlemen for the info.

    Back to the topic of warships - I've looked at the fantastic animated video on warships and the guns part intrigues me. Having the heavier guns on the bottom makes sense in terms of weight, but wouldn't they use heavier guns topside too, or they kept it just small 8 pounders and those fearsome carronades?
    The decks and everything else were made more lightly the further above the waterline that you went, otherwise they would be grossly top-heavy and prone to capsizing or sailing too far onto one beam. So professional navies always used lighter guns on the upper deck (or carronades) because repeated firing would damage the deck itself if the heavier guns were mounted higher, in addition to the weight and center of gravity thing.

    Some ersatz warships -- made by non professionals for the most part -- would mount heavier guns or more guns per feet of length then was wise. Gave them a fearsome broadside, but they would end up "hogging" the hull [bow and stern bending downwards from too much weight for too long] or guns too closely spaced [hampering crews which needed working room and/or over-stressing the deck timbers]. It always ruined the ship in the long run...and sometimes all too quickly.

    Remember, these were wooden hulls constantly absorbing strain from the press of the sails on the masts and the working of the water on the hull as it moved. They did NOT have the kind of "static" hull that a modern metal ship has. The RN, French, Yanks, and Dutch were, by 1750 or so, very well aware of the blending of these factors and how they came together -- enough canvas but not too much, enough gunpower but not overpowered, etc.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." -- J.K. Galbraith

    "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” -- J. H. Marx

  8. #38
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    I know almost nothing about early modern shipping or watercraft, but the story of the Swedish flagship Vasa, the one that sank almost immediately out of harbor and was recovered a few decades ago, is instructive with regard to many of the technical points raised here on construction and engineering.

    Cool museum too.
    Vitiate Man.

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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Would love to see it but not likely to happen sadly.

    The wiki on Vasa is a nice read. She was just a bit too shallow hulled and with the lower deck a bit too low to the waterline....and thus disaster. Ships of comparable weight and firepower from the Napoleonic era were hundreds of tons greater in displacement to allow for the needed seaworthiness.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." -- J.K. Galbraith

    "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” -- J. H. Marx

  10. #40
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Vasa kept getting changed on the kings orders. The original builder died during construction and finishing it fell to his wife. She was not the problem. It was the insisted upon changes that made it unstable. Of course the family was not going to get paid until the ship was finished...


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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    Vasa kept getting changed on the kings orders. The original builder died during construction and finishing it fell to his wife. She was not the problem. It was the insisted upon changes that made it unstable. Of course the family was not going to get paid until the ship was finished...
    Government contracting....oh the joy.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." -- J.K. Galbraith

    "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” -- J. H. Marx

  12. #42
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Pretty good summary on rigging types etc. Source
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." -- J.K. Galbraith

    "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” -- J. H. Marx

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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    As warships advanced, how did they figure out that heavy metal plating would be a good idea? Initially, it wasn't that useful to have an ironclad.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    As warships advanced, how did they figure out that heavy metal plating would be a good idea? Initially, it wasn't that useful to have an ironclad.
    Attempts at metal armor go back to ancient times.

    As a matter of practicality, it doesn't really work well for any form of sailing vessel. Too much metal above the waterline adds to the weight that must be moved, adds in difficulties with oxidation, increases the chance of being top-heavy, etc. Add to that the difficulty in shaping large plates and the quality of metallurgy and the reasons that armor was not used are pretty clear.

    After 1840 you had practical steam engines -- with all the machinery below the waterline helping top heavy characteristics -- that replace masts and the need for all that top-heavy weight. Metallurgy gets better as well, creating equal protection for less weight of meta (especially after face hardening is discovered in the later Victorian)l. Metal becomes much cheaper and can replace wood entirely. Metal hulled full rigged ships are the real rarity. Steam and steel do well together.

    Do not be so dismissive of the Ironclad however. The Monitor and the Virginia made it obvious that the era of the close blockade was dead. Even though their sea going qualities were limited at best, no sea-faring ship could survive the littoral when facing one. The presence of those ironclads in the ACW more or less jump-started the drive for the modern metal ship and all the rest.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Not dismissing the ironclad at all, it was an impressive piece of weaponry.

    Any known examples of metal armor, or attempts at it, in the ancient times?
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    Not dismissing the ironclad at all, it was an impressive piece of weaponry.

    Any known examples of metal armor, or attempts at it, in the ancient times?
    I don't have any better knowledge than this wiki piece.


    Prima facie, metallurgy led to metal armor led to attempts to armor many things. Our ancestors were not less intelligent or less creative -- else they would not have made the various advances which led to our modern advances that eventually harnessed these things. The limiting factors were always 1) cost/scarcity of metal and 2) mobility under practical considerations.
    "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." -- A. de Tocqueville

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." -- J.K. Galbraith

    "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” -- J. H. Marx

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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    The huge Syracusia, built by the Greek tyrant Hiero II of Syracuse around 240 BCE, featured bronze-clad mast-tops for marines and an iron palisade on its fighting deck against enemy boarding attempts.[5] Its hull was sheathed with lead plates fixed with bronze nails.[1] Roman naval cataphract warships were protected on their sides by a layer of tarred and lead sheathing. Although this does not provide much protection from ramming, it does provide protection from damage while at sea for lengthy periods of time.[6]
    Quite impressive. Basically they were ironclading these ships from the 3th century, way before any significant breakthroughs were made in metallurgy.
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by edyzmedieval View Post
    Quite impressive. Basically they were ironclading these ships from the 3th century, way before any significant breakthroughs were made in metallurgy.
    The ancients were not dummies. Cumulative knowledge had not reached a point where things could be done well and cheaply enough to use metal to the fullest.
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  19. #49
    Ja mata, TosaInu Moderator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age of Sail Warships

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    The ancients were not dummies. Cumulative knowledge had not reached a point where things could be done well and cheaply enough to use metal to the fullest.
    Clearly not, they had advanced knowledge. However, it's still surprising that even though the knowledge of metalurgy was not advanced enough, they still managed to do it. Then again, they did some things that we are not capable of replicating today.

    Something that Archimedes would do.
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