The Carronade: The carronades fitted in the Victory fired a 68 lb. (30.6 kg) ball, using a powder charge of 6.5 lbs. (3 kg) from a barrel 5ft 2" (1.6 m) long, weighing 36 cwt. (1.8 tonnes). A gun crew of 5 men were required to service the gun.
The merits of the standard ship's gun by comparison to the carronade must be made of the use for which each was put. The gun was a high velocity weapon ideal for naval battles at long range. When it was used at close range the powder charge would be reduced to prevent the ball passing right through the hull of the enemy vessel. The carronade was a low velocity, low charge, short barrelled weapon firing a large ball at close range (approx. 400yds or 364 m). With low velocity the ball did not necessarily pass through the side of the enemy ship but the action of striking caused massive splinters to be dislodged from the inside walls which whirled around the decks causing death and horrific wounds to the guns' crews. The carronade earned the nickname of 'smasher' or 'devil gun'.
The design of the carronade was unlike the standard gun as it incorporated some novel features. The diameter of an ordinary round shot was such that it was a fairly loose fit in the bore. With the carronade the diameter of the round shot was much more accurately maintained during manufacture and fitted the bore better. If the windage was small the gun had better accuracy and range, also less powder charge was needed to push it out of the barrel for the same range.
The carronade was also the first gun to be fitted with a dispart sight. The ability to aim the gun was further improved by the fitting of an elevating screen to the rear of the gun so dispensing with the quoin or wedge.
The carronade carriage was a novel design. It was a simple block of timber (the sliding bed) with a pair of trunnion brackets at the front, a recoil pin and a plate to take the butt of the elevating screw. The underside of the carronade was fitted with a lug instead of side trunnions and a pin passed through both the trunnion brackets and the lug. The sliding bed sat on a training bed, which was fitted with a pivot pin fastened to a block of wood secured to the deck against the ship's bulwark. The rear of the training bed was supported on two wooden 5" trucks (wheels). A longitudinal slot in the centre of the training bed received the recoil pin from the sliding bed and allowed the carriage to recoil until stopped by the breeching line, which ran through the breeching loop, side rings of the carriage to the ship's side.
The first gun of the Victory to fire at Trafalgar was the larboard (port) carronade. It was loaded with a 6.5 lb. (3 kg) powder charge, a 68 1b. (30.6 kg) round shot and a keg of 500 musket balls and went into the stern of the French flagship Bucentaure. This was one of the main advantages of the weapon, its ability to deliver a massive weight of shot compared to a cannon of the same weight and barrel length.
Where guns and carronades were combined in the ship's armament they became a potent force but on their own they were ineffective against cannon which could out range them. The carronades were made by the Carron Company in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
Boarding weapons The seamen were normally armed with cutlasses, pikes and axes, the latter generally calledtomahawks. The cutlass of the period, 1790-1820 had a straight blade 26 ins. (66 cm) long, ending in a double spear point. The guard consisted of a steel figure of eight shell, one circle of the eight being round the blade and the other in the middle of the guard. The grip was a tube of sheet steel roughly hammer welded together and driven into the tang of the blade. In about 1804 the grip appears to have been of grooved cast iron driven into the tang. The blade was normally marked with a crown and GR (George Rex).
Pikes and axes: Comprised a pole about 7 ft 6 ins (2.3 m) long, tipped pointed triangular head. The boarding axe, or tomahawk, had a double head with a narrow curved edged blade on one side and an acute spike on the other. The handle was about 18 ins.(45.7 cm) long.