A Sea Grammar

Chap. XIII.

How to manage a fight at Sea, with the proper tearmes in a fight largely expressed, and the ordering of a Nauy at Sea.

Many bookes of the Art of War for the land, none for the sea. For this master peece of this worke, I confesse I might doe better to leaue it to eury particular mans conceit as it is, or those of longer practice or more experience, yet because I haue seene many bookes of the Art of Warre byland, and neuer any for the Sea, seeing all men so silent in this most difficult service, and there are so many young Captaines, and others that desire to be Captains, who know very little, or nothing at all to any purpose, fo their better vnderstanding I haue proceeded thus farre; now for this that followes, what I haue seene, done, and conceiued by my small experience, I referre me to their friendly constructions, and well aduised considerations.

A saile, how beares she or stands shee, to wind-ward or lee-ward, set him by the Compasse; he stands right ahead, or on the weather-Bow, or lee-Bow, let flie your colours if you haue a consort, else not. Out with all your sailes, a steady man to the helme, sit close to keepe her steady, giue him chase or fetch him vp;

To giuve chase. hee holds his owne, no, we gather on him. Captaine, out goes his flag and pendants, also his waste clothes and top armings,
Wast clothes. Top armings. which is a long red cloth about three quarters of a yard broad, edged on each side with Calico or white linnen cloth, that goeth round about the ship on the out sides of all her vpper workes fore and aft, and before the cubbridge heads, also about the fore and [page J2:60] maine tops, as well for the countenance and grace of the ship, as to couer men from being seene, hee furles and slings his maine yard, in goes his spret-saile.
Fighting sailes. To hale a ship. Thus they vse to strip themselues into their short sailes, or fighting sailes, which is onely the fore saile, the maine and fore top sailes, because the rest should not be fired nor spoiled; besides they would be troublesome to handle, hinder our fights and the vsing our armes; he makes ready his close fights fore and aft.
How to begin a fight. Master how stands the chase? Right on head I say; Well we shall reach him by and by; What's all ready, Yea, yea, euery man to his charge, dowse your top-saile to salute him for the Sea, hale him with a noise of trumpets; Whence is your ship? Of Spaine; Whence is yours? Of England; Are you a Merchant, or a man of War? We are of the Sea; He waues vs to lee-ward with his drawne sword, cals amaine for the King of Spaine, and springs his louse, giue him a chase peece with your broad side, and run a good berth ahead of him; Done, done, We haue the wind of him, and he tackes about, tacke you about also and keepe your louse, be yare at the helme, edge in with him, giue him a volley of small shot, also your prow and broad side as before, and keepe your louse; Hee payes vs shot for shor; Well, wee shall require him; What are you ready againe, Yea, yea. Try him once more as before, Done, done; Keepe your louse and loge your ordnance againe; Is all ready? Yea, yea; edge in in [sic] with him againe, begin with your bow peeces, proceed with your broad side, & let her fall off with the wind, to giue her also your full chase, your weather broad side, and bring her round that the sterne may also discharge, and your tackes close aboord againe; Done, done, the wind veeres, the Sea goes too high to boord her, and wee are shot thorow and thorow, and betweene wind and water. Try the pump, beare vp the helme, Master let vs breathe and refresh a little, and sling a man ouer boord to stop the leakes;
How to sling a man ouer boord. that is to trusse him vp about the middle in a peece of canuas, and a rope to keepe him from sinking, and his armes at liberty, with a malet in the one hand, & a plug lapped in Oakum, and [page I3:61] well tarred in a tarpawling clout in the other, which he will quickly beat into the hole or holes the bullets made; What cheere mates, is all well? All well, all well, all well; Then make ready to beare vp with him againe, and withall your great and small shot charge him, and in the smoke boord him twart the hawse, on the bow, mid ships, or rather then saile, on his quarter, or make fast your graplings if you can to his close fights and sheare off. Captaine we are fowle on each other, and the ship is on fire, cut any thing to get cleare, and smother the fire with wet cloathes. In such a case they will presently be such friends, as to help one the other all they can to get cleare, lest they both should burne together and sinke; and if they be generous, the fire quenched, drinke kindley one to another; heaue their cans ouer boord, and then begin againe as before.
A consultation & direction in a sea fight, & how they bury their dead. Well Master, the day spent, the night drawes on, let vs consult. Chirurgion looke to the wounded, and winde vp the slaine, with each a weight or bullet at their heads and feet to make them sinke, and giue them three gunnes for their funerals, Swabber make cleane the ship, Purser record their Names, Watch be vigliant to keepe your berth to wind ward that we lose him not in the night, Gunners spunge your Ordnance, Souldiers scowre your peeces, Carpenters about your leakes, Boatswaine and the rest repaire the sailes and shrouds, and Cooke see you obserue your directions against the morning watch, Boy, Holla Master Holla, is the kettle boiled, yea, yea, Boatswaine call vp the men to prayer and breake fast.
A preparation for a fresh charge Boy fetch my cellar of bottles, a health to you all fore and aft, courage my hearts for a fresh charge, Gunners beat open the ports, and out with your lower tire, and bring me from the weather side to the lee, so many peeces as we haue ports to beare vpon him, Master lay him aboord louse for louse, midships men see the tops and yards well manned, with stones, fire pots, and brasse bailes, to throw amongst them before we enter, or if we be put off, charge them with all your great and small shot, in the smoke let vs enter [page I3:62] them in the shrouds, and eury squadron at his best aduantage, so sound Drums and Trumpets, and Saint George for England.
How a prise doth yeeld, and how to entertaine him Sea-man like. They hang out a flag of truce, hale him a maine, a base, or take in his flag, strike their sailes and come aboord with their Captaine, Purser and Gunner, with ther commission, cocket, or bils of lading. Out goes the boat, they are lanched from the ship side, entertaine tthem with a generall cry, God saue the Captaine and all the company with the Trumpets sounding, examine them in particular, and then conclude your conditions, with feasting, freedome, or punishment, as you finde occasion; but alwayes haue as much care to their wounded as your owne, and if there be either young women or aged men, vse them nobly, which is euer the nature of a generous disposition. To conclude, if you surprize him, or enter perforce, you may stow the men, rifle, pillage, or sacke, and cry a prize.
How to call a Councell of War, and order a Nauy at Seat. To call a Councell of Warre to manage all businesses of import, and the common Councell for matters of small moment, when they would haue a meeting, where the Admirall doth appoint it; if in the Admirall, they hang out a flag in the maine shrouds; if in the Vice Admirall, in the fore shrouds; if in the Reare Admirall, in the mizen; If there bee many squadrons, the Admirall of each squadron vpon sundry occasions doth carry in their maine tops, flags of sundry colours, or else they are distinguished by seuerall pendants from the yards armes; euery night or morning they are to come vnder the Lee of the Admirall to salute him and know his pleasure, but no Admirall of any sqnadron [sic] is to beare his flag in the maine top, in the presence of the Admirall generall, except the Admirall come aboard of hime to Councell, to dinner, or collation, and so any ship else where he so resideth during that time, is to weare his flag in the maine top. they vse to martiall or order those squadrons in rankes like Manaples, which is foure square, if the wind and Sea permits, a good berth or distance from [page I:63] each other, that they becalme not one another, nor come not fowle of each other; the Generall commonly in the middest, his Vice Admirall in the front, and his Reare Admirall in the Reare; or otherwise like a halfe Moone, which is two squadrons like two triangles for the two hornes, and so the rest of the squadrons behind each other a good distance, and the Generall in the middest of the half circle, from whence he seeth all his fleet, and sendeth his directions, as he findes occasion to whom he pleaseth.
Stratagems for Sea-men. Now betweene two Nauies they vse often, especially in a harbour or road where they are at anchor, to fill old Barkes with pitch, tar, traine oile, lincet oile, brimstone, rosen, reeds, with dry wood, and such combustible things, sometimes they linke three or foure together in the night, and puts them adrift as they finde occasion. To passe a fort some will make both ship and sailes all black, but if the fort keepe but a fire on the other side, and all the pieces point blanke with the fire, if they discharge what is betwixt them and the fire, the shot will hit if the rule bee truly obserued; for when a ship is betwixt the fire and you, shee doth keeepe [sic] you from seeing it till shee bee past it. To conclude, there is as many stratagems, aduantages, and intuentions to be vsed as you finde occasions, and therefore experience must be the best Tutor.

John Smith: A Sea Grammar, with the Plaine Exposition of Smiths Accidence for young Sea-men, enlarged. Diuided into fifteene Chapters: what they are you may partly conceiue by the Contents. Written by Captaine Iohn Smith, sometimes Gouernour of Virginia, and Admirall of Nevv-England.
Iohn Haviland, London, 1627. 8vo, 16.5×.10.5 cm, (12), 76 pp.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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