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A Sea-fight With Small Ships And A Fire-ship

Having procured four or five small ships, of two or three feet in

length, make a number of small reports, which are to serve for guns.

Of these range as many as you please on each side of the upper decks;

then at the head and stern of each ship fix a two-ounce case, eight

inches long, filled with a slow port-fire composition; but take care

to place it in such a manner that the fire may fall in the water, and

not burn t
e rigging; in these cases bore holes at unequal distances

from one another, but make as many in each case as half the number of

reports, so that one case may fire the guns on one side, and the other

those on the opposite. The method of firing the guns is, by carrying a

leader from the holes in the cases to the reports on the decks; you

must make these leaders very small, and be careful in calculating the

burning of the slow fire in the regulating cases, that more than two

guns be not fired at a time. When you would have a broadside given,

let a leader be carried to a cracker placed on the outside of the

ship; which cracker must be tied loose, or the reports will be too

slow: in all the ships put artificial guns at the port-holes. Reports

for these and similar occasions are made by filling small cartridges

with grained powder, pinching them close at each end, and, when used,

boring a hole in the side, to which is placed a match or leader for

firing them.

Having filled and bored holes in two port-fires, for regulating the

guns in one ship, make all the rest exactly the same; then, when you

begin the engagement, light one ship first, and set it a sailing, and

so on with the rest, sending them out singly, which will make them

fire regularly, at different times, without confusion; for the time

between the firing of each gun will be equal to that of lighting the

slow fires.

The fire-ship may be of any size, and need not be very good, for it is

always lost in the action. To prepare a ship for this purpose, make a

port-fire equal in size with those in the other ships, and place it at

the stern; in every port place a larger port-fire, filled with a very

strong composition, and painted in imitation of a gun, and let them

all be fired at once by a leader from the slow fire, within two or

three diameters of its bottom; all along both sides, on the top of the

upper deck, lay star-composition about half an inch thick and one

broad, which must be wetted with thin size, then primed with

meal-powder, and secured from fire by pasting paper over it; in the

place where you lay this composition, drive some little tacks with

flat heads, to hold it fast to the deck; this must be fired just after

the sham guns, and when burning will show a flame all round the ship:

at the head take up the decks, and put in a tin mortar loaded with

crackers, which mortar must be fired by a pipe from the end of the

slow fire: the firing of this mortar will sink the ship, and make a

pretty conclusion. The regulating port-fire of this ship must be

lighted at the same time with the first fighting ship.

Having prepared all the ships for fighting, we shall next proceed with

the management of them when on the water. At one end of the pond, just

under the surface of the water, fit two running blocks, at what

distance you choose the ships should fight; and at the other end of

the pond, opposite to each of these blocks, under the water, fix a

double block; then on the land, by each of the double blocks, place

two small windlasses; round one of them turn one end of a small cord,

and put the other end through one of the blocks; then carry it through

the single one at the opposite end of the pond, and bring it back

through the double block again, and round the other windlass: to this

cord, near the double block, tie as many small strings as half the

number of the ships, at any distance; but these strings must not be

more than two feet long each: make fast the loose end of each to a

ship, just under her bowsprit; for if tied to the keel, or too near

the water, it will overset the ship. Half the ships being thus

prepared, near the other double block fix two more windlasses, to

which fasten a cord, and to it tie the other half of the ships as

before: when you fire the ships, pull in the cord with one of the

windlasses, to get all the ships together; and when you have set fire

to the first, turn that windlass which draws them out, and so on with

the rest, till they are all out in the middle of the pond; then, by

turning the other windlass, you will draw them back again; by which

method you may make them change sides, and tack about backwards and

forwards at pleasure. For the fire-ship fix the blocks and windlasses

between the others, so that when she sails out she will be between the

other ships: you must not let this ship advance till the guns at her

ports take fire.