Monthly Archives: March 2009

A King’s Trade

The the aftermath of the mission covered in The Captain’s Vengeance, Dewey Lambdin’s naval hero, Alan Lewrie had returned to Jamaica to general acclaim. His seizure of the Spanish treasure ship had made himself and his superiors wealthy men and the piracy ring had been suppressed thereby demonstrating the long reach of the British navy. But his triumph was to be short-lived. In a private dinner with the deputy to the commander of the Jamaica Station, Lewrie finds that while the squadron is planning an exciting, and possibly profitable, mission against Spanish shipping, Lewrie will not be involved. Instead, he is being sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Major spoilers follow.

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The Blomefield Pattern Cannon

Once John Armstrong had finished his basic design for British artillery in 1725, there were only marginal changes to the template over the next 70 years.

That changed In 1780, when a 36 year old artillery captain was appointed as Inspector of Artillery and Superintendent of the Royal Brass Foundry.

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The Armstrong Pattern Cannon

NPG 5318, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough; John Armstrong
Rabinet, serpentine, falconet, falcon, minion, saker, demiculverin, basilisk, culverin, pedrero, demicannon, bastard cannon, cannon serpentine, cannon, and cannon royal.

None of these terms mean much to us today but in the army and navy of the late 17th century they were important. They were types of cannon. While there may be virtues to biodiversity, the same isn’t true of weaponry. Successful militaries have generally been characterized by a standardization of their weaponry and organization. Different classes of cannon had different weights, ranges, and projectile size. The characteristics within the class also varied with the armory where they were produced.
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Manton Pistols

We’ve discussed some of the esoteric armaments that have come in the possession of Dewey Lambdin’s naval character, Alan Lewrie. In The French Admiral he acquired a Ferguson rifle. In The Captain’s Vengenace he picked up a Girandoni air rifle. At least since The Captain’s Vengeance, though possibly as early as Havoc’s Sword, he has been in possession of a pair of double barrel dueling pistols by gunmaking legend Joseph Manton.

We’re not sure of the provenance of these pistols but these pistols were the pinnacle of the gunmaker’s art in the late 18th century.

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Characters and Ships from The Captain’s Vengeance

The list of ships, characters, and cultural references from Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novel, The Captain’s Vengeance is available at scribd.com.

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Grand Terre Island

grand-terre
The climatic action in Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novel, The Captain’s Vengeance, takes place on Grand Terre Island.

Grand Terre, at the top of the above image (for orientation Barataria Bay is to the left and the Gulf of Mexico to the right), was a longtime haunt of pirates and privateersmen. Barataria Bay was virtually impossible to find unless you were looking for it.

Jean Lafitte, who has a cameo role in Lambdin’s novel, used Grand Terre as his base of operations until about 1814 when the US Navy became concerned with protecting commerce to its newly acquired Gulf ports. By 1815 the fact that New Orleans was under military government made Grand Terre and Barataria Bay unsuitable for pirates. Many of them decamped to Cuba and to Galveston, TX.

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Girandoni Air Rifle


Dewey Lambdin’s naval hero, Alan Lewrie, has a way of collecting unique weapons. He owns a pair of double barrelled Manton dueling pistols and a Ferguson rifle.

In The Captain’s Vengeance, he adds yet another. The Girandoni air rifle.
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