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  • T2, R1, Prng 32: American Brig & Sloop vs Barbary Xebec & Polacca


    In your opinion, which of these two warship types was most significant, influential and/or effective?
    Feel free to apply those criteria as you please, along with any others you think appropriate.
    Note: Suggestions for some additional criteria are at the foot of this post.

    According to the criteria as you see and apply them, please vote for your preferred candidate in the attached poll.
    If your chosen criteria are significantly different from those suggested, telling us what they are and why you used them would be helpful.





    The history of the United States Navy began with the creation of the Continental Navy on 13 October 1775; and having been thus named, this fledgling naval force served through to the end of the American Revolutionary War (War of Independence) which had begun in April of that year. The conflict ended in September 1783 with the Treaty of Paris and British acknowledgement of the United States as an independent sovereign nation.

    Under President George Washington, there was official recognition that the "Barbary Pirates" - naval forces of the Barbary States of North Africa - were a serious threat to American shipping and commerce. This in turn helped to bring about the Naval Act of 1794 and with it, the formal creation of a permanent standing U.S. Navy. Over the next 20 years, the Navy fought the French in the Quasi War (1798-99) and the Barbary States in the First and Second Barbary Wars (1801-05 and 1815); as well as the British again in the War of 1812 (1812-15).

    Although it would be quite some time yet before the United States could seriously rival the World's leading navies on a global scale, these early conflicts were the forge in which the Americans began to assert themselves as a naval power to be respected.
    It is in this setting and context that warships of the United States are introduced to our series of Tournaments.




    33: American Brig & Sloop 1775-1815


    A sailing brig is a relatively small vessel with two masts. Usually, both masts are square-rigged. That is, the main driving sails are suspended from horizonal yards (spars) attached to the masts. These spars are set square to the keel of the ship but their method of attachment to the mast, combined with their rigging, allows the horizontal angle to be varied considerably for best advantage from the wind.
    Sailing brigs were fast and maneuverable, being designed and employed both as merchant vessels and as warships. They reached their height of popularity in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

    The American Continental Congress acquired the brig Andrew Doria in November 1775. Her usual armament was 14 x 4-pounder guns and she had a crew of 112 officers and men.
    Andrew Doria fought well in a number of engagements but in particular, has the following distinctions to her name:
    • Participation in the Battle of Nassau; the first amphibious engagement by the Continental Navy and Marines.
    • The first United States vessel to receive a salute from a foreign power.

    Brig Andrew Doria receiving a return salute from the Dutch at Fort Oranje, Ternate Island, Indonesia, November 1776

    Brig Andrew Doria 1776 .jpg



    The sailing sloop was another type of small ship. Over the centuries in which they were used and from one nation to another, their configuration could vary somewhat and they could have one, two or three masts. However, in the period we are considering here they more often had at least two; three being common.
    Sloops were generally square-rigged and those that had two masts were sometimes called "brig sloops", given that their appearance was quite similar to that of a brig. As we might expect, in common with brigs, sloops also were fast and highly maneuverable; especially when compared to many of the larger warship types. Sloops built for combat were often referred to as "sloops of war", for obvious reasons.

    More than one American ship has borne the name "Ranger" but the first USS Ranger was a sloop of war in the Continental Navy, launched in May 1777.
    She was captured by the British almost exactly three years later but during the interval, rendered some outstanding service.
    Her achievements under command of Captain John Paul Jones were considerable. On his first voyage, he captured at least four British prize ships. A month or two later, he carried out a very daring raid on the British port of Whitehaven in April 1778; he and his crew spiking the guns of the fortress and burning the ships in the harbor.
    Not long afterwards, near Carrickfergus in Ireland, he engaged and defeated the British sloop HMS Drake. In terms of size and gun-power, the two ships were close to equal and the fight lasted for about an hour but eventually, Drake had gotten the worst of it and her captain struck his colors.
    USS Ranger was handed over to Jones' first officer, Lieutenant Simpson, in August 1778. From then and through 1779, Ranger continued to have success; capturing numerous enemy prizes. Eventually, however, her luck ran out and she was captured by the British on the Cooper River near Charleston, in May 1780. The British used her for a year or so (under the name HMS Halifax) and then she was decommissioned.


    USS Ranger (left) vs British sloop HMS Drake, Irish Sea, April 1778

    Sloop Ranger 1777 vs conv merch Drake p35.jpg



    The USS Hornet referred to next, was the third American ship to bear this name and was originally launched in 1805, having been built as a brig (with two masts). Later, in 1811, she was rebuilt with three masts and re-classified as a sloop. This improved her performance.
    Hornet normally carried 20 guns; 18 x 32pdr carronades and 2 x 12pdr long guns.
    She fought in the War of 1812 and was the first US Navy ship to capture a British vessel during that conflict.
    Hornet participated in numerous actions including the harassment of British shipping. One of her most notable encounters was her defeat of the brig-sloop HMS Peacock, near Demerary in Guyana. During the fight, casualties on the British ship became quite heavy (8 killed and 27 wounded) and included the loss of her commander, Captain Peake. Peacock's position became hopeless and she struck. However, she was so badly damaged that she sank soon afterwards and 19 British seamen - unable to be saved - drowned; but Hornet managed to rescue the remainder.
    On a subsequent raiding voyage in the South Atlantic, Hornet captured the brig-sloop HMS Penguin near Tristan da Cunha in March 1815. The following month, however, her crew somehow managed to mistake HMS Cornwallis - an almost brand new 74-gun ship of the line - for a merchant vessel. Massively out-gunned, Hornet and her crew had little option other than to beat a hasty retreat. They resorted to throwing a lot of equipment, including boats and guns, overboard; thus lightening their ship for a quick getaway!


    USS Hornet engaging British brig-sloop HMS Peacock (closest to viewer) off the coast of Guyana, February 1813

    Sloop Hornet 1805 v Peacock 1.jpeg




    42: Barbary Xebec & Polacca 1601-1815


    The xebec (also zebec, chebec etc; spelling varies) was a small vessel developed in the Mediterranean region; usually powered both by oars and sails and originally intended for trade and commerce.
    Typically, they would have three masts and all lateen sails. The combination of a very effective sail plan and improvements in hull design made the xebec fast and highly maneuverable as well as being somewhat less dependent on oar power in a moderate to low wind; compared to a typical galley.
    Over time, xebecs began to carry more armament for self-defence and some either became de-facto warships or were built as such to start with.
    Xebecs were widely employed throughout the region but were a particular favourite of the Barbary Corsairs, who found them very handy for raiding and attacks on merchant shipping.


    Here, we see a nice picture of a smaller Barbary xebec of this general period, armed with 10 main guns and at least 2 swivel guns

    Xebec Barbary 17thC p41 oe213.jpg



    In this picture, a well detailed model of a larger xebec that carried 24 main guns. The exceptionally sleek and clean lines of the hull are shown to good advantage from this angle.

    Xebec Barbary 3.jpg



    The Polacca was another of the smaller types of this period. In common with xebecs, they were built both as merchant ship and warships.
    Polaccas were an important type, widely used both in the Mediterranean region and elsewhere.
    The sail plans could vary and some (such as the one shown below) had a combination lateen and square rig. These are sometimes called polacca-xebecs; having characteristics of both types combined. However, other polaccas - such as the Greek examples we'll see in another pairing - were all square rigged.
    Indeed, there is considerable "overlap" of the characteristics of these two types. Different nations tended to use differing systems of classification at various times; so when distinguishing between the visual aspects of these vessels, the line can become a bit "blurred".


    Armed polacca of the period, with a square-rigged main and a lateen-rigged foremast.

    Polacca Barbary 17thC p37 oe213.jpg





    Time to decide:
    Will you vote for the American or the Barbary vessels?


    Suggested additional criteria you might wish to consider, along with any others you deem appropriate.
    (Note: Some of these could be considered already covered by Significant, Influential and Effective)

    Which warship type ...
    • was the best?
    • was the greatest?
    • was the most widely used?
    • had the greatest longevity in service?
    • was the most versatile?
    • represented the best value for the cost/effort invested ("bang for the buck" in today's language)?
    • was the easiest to operate?
    Any other criteria you have applied (please tell us what they were).
    17
    American Brig & Sloop 1775-1815
    82.35%
    14
    Barbary Xebec & Polacca 1601-1815
    17.65%
    3
    Last edited by panther3485; 27 Aug 18, 08:23.
    "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

  • #2
    Got to vote for the USS Hornet and USS Ranger.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

    Comment


    • #3
      A sloop is single masted, a brig has two. The confusion arises because RN brigs were referred to officially as sloops (actually. as sloops of war) although everyone knew that they were brigs. The new US Navy followed suit. The reason appears to have been to enable a senior lieutenant appointed as Master and Commander to command them rather than a Post Captain (which would have cost the Admiralty more). Perhaps the most famous Sloop of War was HMS Speedy captained by Thomas Cochrane which out fought and captured a vastly superior Spanish Frigate. Her activities constitute most of Patrick O'Brian's first naval novel Master and Commander (ignore the terrible film) and Jack Aubery is largely based on Cochrane (as to a lesser extent is Hornblower).

      Sometime in the early 19th century the need to define post captaincy by the type of vessel changed and the vessels were properly referred to as brigs this has resulted in some of the older ones appearing in early accounts as sloops and later as brigs resulting in the erroneous designation by some historians as brig/sloop.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

      Comment


      • #4
        I think the model of the 24 gun Xebec may actually be a small Xebec-Frigate. These could switch from a lateen rig to square rig as need arose, carrying alternative spars. The task of lowering the lateen and raising yards and bending new sails rapidly required a large number of men so that such vessels usually carried a big crew which made them formidable in boarding engagements but restricted the time they could spend away from port. 40 gun Xebec-Frigates were not unusual. The Spanish, Venetian and Turkish navies used them.
        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

        Comment


        • #5
          Is this one official or another "test run"? It's impossible to tell anymore.
          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
            Is this one official or another "test run"? It's impossible to tell anymore.
            It's "official". There were only three test pairings and I have deleted them. So it's all official from here on.
            That means it's now going towards a campaign ribbon award.
            This will be in the form of a list (roll of honour) of all members who have participated in enough polls to get the ribbon; with an image of the ribbon at the head of the list.

            These are the first 8 pairings. There are another three sets of 8 to be added, for a total of 32 pairings for Round 1.
            At the moment, the remaining 24 are being worked on; mainly to finish off the text and make final adjustments as the majority of them are not all that far from being done. It's down to how much time I can squeeze for this in my average day, which is a lot more hectic than it ever used to be.
            My aim is to have an additional group of 8 completed and up each couple of days (or thereabouts); hopefully so that all 32 will be in place before the end of the coming weekend.
            Thanks for your patience, guys. There's been a lot of pressure going on for me in recent months and I'm doing my best here.
            Last edited by panther3485; 28 Aug 18, 10:01.
            "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

            Comment


            • #7
              On the matter of sloops, brigs and other names for ship types:
              During my research I found a large amount of seemingly contradictory material. It appears to vary not only from one naval force to the next (sometimes) but also from one era or period to the next.
              Furthermore, dictionary definitions can vary too. For instance:

              1. a one-masted sailing boat with a mainsail and jib rigged fore and aft.
                • historical
                  a small square-rigged sailing warship with two or three masts.
                  noun: sloop of war; plural noun: sloops of war
                • historical
                  a small anti-submarine warship used for convoy escort in the Second World War.
              Of course, I'm not relying just on these. Aside from a range of online sources from wiki to topic specific sites, I've been tapping into a variety of books. A lot of them are Ospreys (which IMO are far from all bad anyway - I would describe their quality as "variable") but I also have a small number of high-calibre "heavyweight" books from publishers such as Seaforth in the UK. One example is a hard-bound 288-page volume called, "The Sloop of War", by Ian McLaughlan and published in 2014, which I acquired some months ago and have read about half of. He writes of standard sloops (with 1 mast); brig-rigged sloops (2 masts) and ship-rigged sloops with 3 masts. This is in the introductory part of his book (Introduction and Definition, pages 9-12).

              Now, in the strictest sense Mark V may be completely correct (so far as I can recall, you just about always are, my friend )

              ... but with all due respect, if authors of Ian Mclaughlan's calibre are prepared to accept a 2 or 3 masted vessel being called a sloop (or at least, at some stage in the course of history, accepted as or called a sloop by those who used it - regardless of why they did) then I think that's going to be good enough for me. .... At least, until I see a more compelling argument to think otherwise.

              Having said the above, I am still very much open to suggestions for improvement or correction ... from anyone who cares to help. I am very new to the study of warships, having virtually ignored them and learned very little about them at all until the last year or two. I'm only at the beginning of my learning curve and still have a long way to go. My experience is that Mark V's information is, pretty much without exception, of good quality. I have thanked him for his input elsewhere in these - and other - poll threads and I hope and anticipate that this is likely to continue.
              Thanks again for your help over the years, Mark V.
              Last edited by panther3485; 28 Aug 18, 04:18.
              "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

              Comment


              • #8
                The Navy Board Ordinance of 1719 specified the following ships 1st rate, 2nd rate, 3rd rate, 4th rate, 5th rate and 6th rate depending on tonnage, number of decks and number of guns, 1st to 3rd rate were ships of the line, 4th to 6th were frigates. However the 4th rate was a two decker but was neither powerful enough to fight in line of battle nor swift and nimble enough to act as a scout and a cruiser. Some were used as convoy escorts but the 4th rate was soon dropped from the building programmes. All ships from 1st to 6th were commanded by a post captain. Smaller vessels large enough to warrant command by a Master and Commander were classed by the ordinance as sloops (of war) regardless of their rig, number of masts etc, Vessels commanded by a lieutenant were referred to as brigs again regardless of number of masts or rig unless they were bombs. The Admiralty designation of sloop or brig was entirely dependant on size and the rank of its commander.. Thus it was possible to have a sloop that was brig rigged and a brig that was sloop rigged (confusing isn't it?) However it is unlikely that there would be a sloop rigged vessel large enough to warrant a Master and Commander so all sloops of war would be either brigs or ships. The US Navy adopted the same classifications. It must have needed a special kind of mind to be a Civil Servant dealing in naval matters in those days
                Last edited by MarkV; 28 Aug 18, 08:37.
                Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yep, thanks Mark V.
                  I do remember reading most if not all of that, among the sources I've stumbled through over the last several months.
                  In the early stages of my research, it sometimes seemed like reading more just added to the initial confusion I was feeling but over time, it started to make at least some sort of sense to me.

                  ... Not that I've reconciled all of the details yet by any means; far from it but I think I'm beginning to get a very rough, basic grasp.
                  Lots more work ahead for this learner.
                  "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just as an illustration a story of a fictional vessel

                    Don Alfonzo a wealthy Spanish merchant has a brig built for trading to and from Genoa. His son inherits it and decides that privateering would be more profitable so has a broad side of 6 four pounders a side fitted. She remains a brig. She is then captured by a British frigate and the prize court condemns her she remains a brig. She is bought into the British Navy and young Lieutenant Henry Harplayer is promoted to Master and Commander and becomes her captain - she instantly becomes a sloop of war. Some time later she is captured by the French and sold to a Ragusa merchant for trading with Barcelona - she is a brig once more.

                    This is more or less what happened with the real HMS Speedy except in her case there were more twists and turns as she was captured and recaptured several times.
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yep, I get that and I seem to recall one or two instances of something similar happening with other real examples. (Can't remember which ones but it definitely rings a bell). More for the unwary.
                      "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                        Yep, I get that and I seem to recall one or two instances of something similar happening with other real examples. (Can't remember which ones but it definitely rings a bell). More for the unwary.
                        Possibly HMS Vincejo formerly the Spanish brig Vincejo a sister ship of HMS Speedy (vincejo means Swift) later captured by the French when supporting French royalists at Quiberon. Later again recaptured by the RN and sold to a commercial user
                        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          That would certainly be an example; though it's not the one I've been trying to recall. Might come back to me at a random moment when I'm NOT trying to remember it but I've really got more important stuff to get on with. .....
                          Anyway, yeah. Sometimes when country A captured a vessel from country B, it wasn't just the name that changed (and occasionally didn't IIRC - just the prefix); the "classification" could get changed too. A rose by any other name?
                          "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just as a side note, you might enjoy the Windjammers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOc0w7dR_dM
                            Credo quia absurdum.


                            Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As much as I like the lateen rigs style ships more, I don't think they had as big of an impact as the American brigs and sloops.
                              The Europa Barbarorum II team [M2TW] needs YOUR HELP NOW HERE!

                              Comment

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