Thursday, September 17, 2009

Breechloaders and chambers

One issue that I see writers frequently misunderstand is to count the chambers associated with breechloading guns as some sort of gun. For example, Dutch ships in the 17th Century, specially prior to 1648, carried "steenstukken" (literally, stone guns). The Roode Leeuw, in 1629, carried 8 steenstukken and had 16 chambers for them. That allowed the breech loading guns to have a higher rate of fire, so that while one chamber was being loaded, the other could be in the gun, ready to fire. The English ships in the 16th and early 17th Century carried port pieces and fowlers, which originally fired stone shot. They were breech loaders, as were the early steenstukken. Often, lists in the late 16th Century would show that a ship carried so many fowlers and twice that number of chambers for them. Some of the summary lists of English ships would add the chambers to the overall numbers of guns carried, which is obviously a mistake. Archibald's book about wooden English warships had some of these lists from the period of 1590 to 1620. These are generally pulled from Charles Derrick's classic book from the early 19th Century.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rotterdam and Amsterdam last measurements

I am going back over the Staat van Orlog te Water for the year 1629. The Rotterdam ships (it calls the admiralty the Admiraliteit tot Rotterdam, not the Admiraliteit van de Maze). This list does not give dimensions, only the size in lasts. My theory is that the last measurements of Rotterdam ships is based on the dimensions in Maas feet (about 308mm), not Amsterdam feet (283mm). The basis for my theory is a list of Rotterdam ships from 1642. I have dimensions for most of those ships and can tell how the last figures were calculated. The small frigates Utrecht, Overijssel, and Gelderland are all listed as being of 90 lasts. Their dimensions in Maas feet are
100ft x 23ft x 8ft
. The calculation then is
90 = 100 x 23 x 8 / 207
. The usual way is round to the closest ten lasts. Of course, we are used to dimensions written in Amsterdam feet. The dimensions in Amsterdam feet are
109ft x 25ft x 8ft-8in
. The size in lasts, calculated from Amsterdam feet is
120 lasts = 109ft x 25ft x 8.727273/207
. You can see that the size in what I call "Amsterdam lasts" is about 1.3 times greater than the size in "Rotterdam lasts".

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I was doing a literature search in Google Books

I had decided to look in Google Books to see what was currently available for 17th Century naval history and naval history generally. What had gotten my attention is that several books are available that I had not expected to find, such as the biography of Richard Badiley, among others. After I had downloaded 33 volumes, Google Books freaked out and blocked any further searches, as they were concerned that this was an automated search and download. I suppose that was because I was so consistently on topic.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A 30-gun Dutch warship in 1616

The second ship in the list of guns on Dutch warships in the year 1616, on page 750 of Vol.I of Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewezen is one that I cannot name. This is a ship armed with 2-24pdr, 16-18pdr, 2-12pdr, 2-6pdr, and 8-5pdr guns. I thought that I had pretty complete information for Dutch warships in service in 1616, but this one is not a ship that I can name. I have no ship for this period armed with 16-18pdr guns.

Vol.I of Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewezen is finally available in Google Books

Google Books has finally made Volume One of the classic Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewezen available. For a long time, it was the only volume that could not be downloaded.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dutch warship inventories after the Battle of the Kentish Knock

I believe that I have already mentioned that Witte de With asked the captains in his fleet to compile inventories of their ships and to report damage following the Battle of the Kentish Knock. I am reviewing the inventories compiled after the Battle of the Gabbard in 1653. They are often very interesting and useful, so the same would probably be true of the inventories from October 1652. They would be useful to precisely define the ships present at the battle and to give details that might not be found elsewhere.

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