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or fancied slight, until their arms were tired. The sergeant of marines was similarly provided, but his attentions were confined to his own department. He had no power over the bluejackets, except in fifth and sixth rates. Besides all these petty tyrants there were the lesser bullies, the midshipmen, who took delight in torturing the seamen in many ways.
The old-fashioned punishments of ducking from the yard-arm, and keel-hauling, were not practised in our fleet. They had fallen out of use during the eighteenth century, though the French still practised them. Captain Glascock saw a Frenchman keel-hauled early in the last century. Instead of them, there were other punishments, such as a disciplinarian could invent on the spot. Spitting on the decks was discouraged by fastening buckets round the offender's neck, and causing the man to walk the lower deck, as a sort of peripatetic cuspidor. Minor offences were punished by stoppage of grog, or of some part of it; by the infliction of dirty or harassing duty; or by riding a man on a gun with his feet tied together beneath the piece.
Capital offences were expiated at the yard-arm. The man was taken to the cathead, a yellow flag was flown at the masthead, a gun was fired, and all the bad characters of the ship manned the yard-rope, and ran the victim up to the end of the yard.
At the first sight of a suspicious ship, all hands were called, and the drummer of the marines beat to quarters. The roll to quarters was short, quick, and determined, being the tune of the song "Hearts of Oak.” Directly the drumming ceased the sailors sprang to their tasks. They knew their posts, and the work allotted to them. The ship was cleared quickly and quietly, each man of the hundreds aboard going at once to his place to fit it for battle. The carpenter with his mates, and a number of allotted assistants, repaired aft to the officers' cabins, to unship the wooden bulkheads. The light wooden screens were easily knocked from their grooves, and hurried down into the hold. The captain's furniture, generally no more than a table, settee, and a few chairs, was handed down to the same place, and secured by a rope or two. If the ship had to be cleared in a hurry these things were tossed overboard. The French seem to have left them standing, trusting to fortune to keep the splinters from doing any hurt. Men from each mess went to the lower-deck, to the berth, to clear away the crockery, kit-bags, sea chests, etc., and to run them down out of the way into the wings. The topmen securely "stopped” the top-sail sheets, rove preventer-lifts, slung their lower-yards with chain, prepared their muskets, swivel-guns, pistols and hand-grenades, and got up a few coils of rope and some spare blocks ready for emergencies. If it were dark, or likely to be dark before the fight had been brought to a conclusion, the pursuer issued “pursuer's glims,” in heavy battle lanterns, one of which was secured to the ship's side by each gun. As the lanterns were liable to be shaken from their places by the concussion of the firing they were secured very tightly. They gave little light; but by the help of the moon, if any shone, and by instinct, and the knowledge of what was to be done, the sailors managed very well. Few actions were fought in the dark, as the risk was too great. It was always well to have a good look at the enemy before engaging.
The hammocks, which ran all around the upper or spar deck, made a good protection to the men engaged upon the gangways. Before going into action, a number of hammocks were taken from the nettings and lashed to the lower rigging, over the dead-eyes and lanyards. A few hammocks were sometimes whipped into the tops, to protect the topmast-rigging in the same way. Strong rope nettings were hung over the upper-deck under the masts, to catch any wreck or men falling from above. Some buckets of water were sent aloft and poured over the sails. Sometimes the engine was rigged, and placed upon the poop, so that the hose played upon the courses. The booms and boats were liberally drenched. The buckets hanging on the quarter-deck were filled, and fire hoses were laid along each deck. Buckets of water were placed in the chains and head. The pumps were rigged in case the ship started to leak. Wet swabs were laid by all the hatchways, ready for use. A bucket of fresh water, a tub of salt water, and a swab, were placed behind each gun, for the refreshment of the men, and in case of fire. Wet sand was sprinkled over every deck, to make the planking moist, so as to lessen the risk of fire, and to give surety to the footing of the men. The match tubs were half filled with water. Wet canvas cloths were rolled along the orlop to the mouths of the magazines. Wet frieze screens were then nailed round the magazine hatches, so that no spark could possibly penetrate to them. Wetted blankets were hung round each hatchway.
While the appointed men were doing these things, the captains of the guns went to the gunner's store
rooms to get their cartouche boxes, or square leather cases, filled with the powder tubes or quills, for insertion in the touch-holes of the guns. They also received the flinted gun-locks with which to fire the guns. The men told off to the cannon cast their guns loose from their lashings, struck their ports open, cleared away the sidetackles, preventer-tackles, and breechings, took out the tompions, cast off the leaden aprons, made ready the crows and handspikes, and laid the sponge ready for use. They got the cheeses of wads ready, and placed "garlands," or rope-rings containing round shot, between the guns. Those of the gun's crews who were told off as boarders put a couple of loaded pistols, and a ship's cutlass in their belts. The gun-captains hung up their powder horns, full of priming powder, above their pieces, and struck their priming-irons into their belts ready for use. The powder-boys brought up their "salt-boxes" full of cartridges for the first broadsides. The marines, , or at any rate some of their number, fell in upon the poop quarter-deck and forecastle, with their muskets and sidearms. They were expected to shoot the enemy's topmen, and to pick off the musketeers and the sail-trimmers on the poop and quarter-deck of the opposing ship. Some of their number helped to work the heavy carronades of the upper after-batteries. The drummers and fifers of the company, who were generally little fellows, younger than the ship's boys, were employed to keep them supplied with powder and ball-cartridge.
Any animals below decks were generally hoisted up and slung overboard, so that the pens in which they lived might be demolished. Hen-coops generally went over the side in the same way.
If they were stowed in the boats on the booms, they were allowed to remain. We
read of a cock which was liberated by a round shot in time to cheer the ship's company by crowing from the stump of a mast. If there were pigs in the manger, which was a very powerful barricade, little likely to be destroyed, they were suffered to stay there.
It took but a few minutes to clear a ship for action. The guns were cast loose, the lumber cleared away, yards slung, sheets stopped, and the galley-fire extinguished in much less time than a landsman would think possible. As soon as the men had taken their places the lieutenants walked round the gun-decks, to see that all was ready, at the same time giving orders that the guns should be loaded and run out. All this work was done silently: there was no singing out or loud talking. Down below the gun-decks the gunner was busy in his magazines, handing out cartridges to the powder-boys, who put them in the wooden or leathern cases, and carried them to the guns. His mates were kept employed filling fresh cartridges to replace those discharged. The surgeon, with his assistants, prepared the cockpit for the wounded, making ready a number of tourniquets and pledgets for first intentions. A number of tourniquets were distributed about the gun-decks for use by the men who carried down the wounded. As a final preparation, the ship's hatches were tripped up, so that the men could not run below to the security of the orlop-deck. The small fore and after hatches were left standing, to allow the powder-boys and messengers to pass down. They were, however, guarded by marines, who had orders to allow no one save powder-boys and midshipmen to go down by them. Those hatches which led from the gundeck to the orlop were guarded by midshipmen with pistols, who had orders to shoot any man trying to escape