Mutiny was probably the potential disaster that was most feared in navies during the Age of Sail. Storms and uncharted rocks claimed many more ships but fear of mutiny, more than danger of shipwreck, colored the daily routine of a British man o’war. Shipwreck was part of the cost of business, so to speak, for the Sea Service. Mutiny, on the other hand, was preventable. Marines billeted separate from sailors. A marine sentry watching over arms lockers and the captain’s stateroom. Many ships required officers to make checks of areas such as the orlop deck and cable tier during the night watches.
We’ll be looking at mutinies, famous and obscure, during the Age of Sail starting with the Great Mutiny at Spithead and the Nore in 1797 in a series of posts over the weekend.