Shot in the Age of Sail!

Shot in the Age of Sail!

Shot in the Age of Sail!

Ah Yes! The Age of Sail. Tall ships, billowing canvas, wooden hulls cutting through the open water.  It’s enough to make one a little teary eyed imagining the wind rushing past as you close into your enemy.  Once you catch them what do you do? Turn your ship broadside and cut loose with your powerful cannons? Of course, but that old solid shot cannonball is only going to do so much damage. What you need is something, special…

In the picture above is an example of three different kinds of shot that would be fired from cannons during a naval engagement. Each would be used for a specific purpose against the enemy.

Bar Shot

On the far left is Bar Shot. This consisted of two halves of a regular solid cannonball connected by an iron bar. When fired it would tumble through the air and tear into the enemy ships rigging and sails. No ropes, they could not control the sails. Big holes in the sails, nothing to drive the ship forward. They would be sitting ducks.

Chain Shot

In the center is Chain Shot.  Like the Bar Shot it consisted of two halves of a ball but this time connected with a chain, sometimes as long a six feet! When fired the balls tumble and the chain becomes fully extended. It would tear into the rigging and sails and cause devastation.

Grape Shot

The far right has the real beauty. Grape Shot, or Cannister Shot. Usually wrapped in a canvas bag, or sometimes held in a metal canister, this shot effectively turned your cannon into a large shotgun. Not only could it tear through sails and ropes, but it was most effective against the personnel of the enemy.

These are not all the special tricks but used right they could take an enemy down before you even got close enough to board them. The end of the Age of Sail and the advent of armor sort of diminished their use over time.