Introducing the Carronade: The Debut Under Fire

The Navy Board began introducing the carronade to the fleet in 1779. It is thought that the first engagement involving the carronade occurred on August 11, 1780 between the HMS Flora (36) and Nymphe (32).

The Nymphe was overmatched by the Flora carrying 26 long 12-pounders and 6 long 6-pounders against Flora’s 26 long 18-pounders, 10 long 9-pounders, and 6 18-pound carronades.

Flora sighted Nymphe around 4:30 pm and cleared for action. At 5:15 she received Nymphe’s first broadside at a distance of two cables, about 1/4 statute mile. Flora opened fire at one cable and they exchanged broadsides until 6:15 when her tiller-ropes and wheel was shot away. Nymphe attempted to board, but Flora devastated her boarding party, boarded the Nymphe in turn, and took her. Nymphe lost 60 dead and 71 wounded, including her captain. Flora’s losses were 9 dead and 17 wounded.

The extant accounts give Flora’s captain, Captain A. Peere Williams, credit for training his crew in gunnery. I seems that much more was due to the British tactic of shooting at the hull rather than the rigging of a the enemy as little gunnery is involved when the range is 200 yards or less.

Many captains had resisted accepting carronades but this battle essentially made the carronade’s bones. During the heat of battle the bosun and one ship’s boy crewed one of the carronades by themselves, a feat that would have been utterly impossible with a long gun.

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2 Comments

Filed under Age of Sail, Naval Equipment, Naval Gunnery, Naval Weapons, single ship actions

2 responses to “Introducing the Carronade: The Debut Under Fire

  1. Pingback: Introducing the Carronade: All Carronades All the Time « Age Of Sail

  2. Pingback: Captain Conway Shipley « Age Of Sail

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