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PRINCE DE NEUFCHATEL THREAD @ RCGROUPS

MONTGOMERY MODEL BOAT CLUB (MMBC)

SC&H MANUFACTURER OF THE PRINCE

WAR OF 1812 PRIVATEERS

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Her Weapons

The Prince de Neufchatel was a purpose built, "state of the art", commerce raider. She was sleek, as fast as anything afloat, and because of her unusual sail arrangement (hermaphrodite) was able to out maneuver and out run the ships she preyed upon . She was considered to be over canvased, and it was said she could sail straight into the wind. She was heavily armed for her size. She made use of the latest in light weight weaponry, the carronade. This was a very powerful, short range weapon, but it was not much use at longer ranges.


A ship armed with a main battery of cannon could stand off, outside Princes' effective carronade range, and deliver devastating destruction. She was no match for most of the British ships of war, but she out-gunned the ships she raided. The Royal Navy employed the use of smaller, faster ships for the same purpose, and both sides converted captured vessels of all sorts for their own use.

I searched for all available information on the Prince de Neufchatel, and the conclusion I reached after analyzing the data about her weapon system is that she was, at some point, fitted with 18 guns, comprised of sixteen 12 lb or 18 lb carronades and two 6 lb long guns. She set sail for France almost completely unarmed. It was not unheard of to go to sea in this manner and not the only time an American ship (Paul Jones) mislead the enemy about her strength in order to gain an advantage. I doubt she would have been fitted with American ordnance in a French port. It is also doubtful America even produced the carronade in sufficient numbers at this time to supply all the Privateers and US Navy ships. A colleague has suggested that it may have been possible to procure the ships arms from chandlers dealing in captured British merchandise, but I tend to think she probably went to sea sporting French made carronades on her first raiding venture and possibly refitted upon return to America. I would also venture she had some form of protection on her Trans Atlantic voyage, perhaps a chase gun or two, since she reported the capture of a vessel loaded with beer on the way over to France. There is no indication that she made use of any of the captured British guns from any of her prizes although the accounts detail some of the other goods taken. The account given in the Baltimore Patriot dated October 24, 1814, from the ships' log, stated she was a ship of 310 tons with 17 guns. The HMS Leander's log states she was a ship of 18 guns at the time of her capture.

The Prince de Neufchatel's evaluation, following her capture by the British, recommends that any ships copied from her design be fitted with 12 lb carronade and 6 lb cannon. This lends support to the armorment theory, but it was also common to change these sorts of things at the behest of the Captain, and she may have sported several different gun arrangements during her short lifespan.

What about the "chase "gun... just what is a chase gun? The chase long gun or cannon was usually mounted on a four wheeled carriage to allow for freedom of movement to the needed position on deck. That may be aft, in a position to fire at ships that are giving chase to you or forward to fire at the ship you are chasing. It could also be employed at one of the available gun ports either port or starboard. In all accounts it seems the Prince de Neufchatel was fitted with two 6 lb chase guns.


This discussion would be incomplete without the mention of the all important "swivel gun". This was usually a small caliber cannon or short barreled musket, mounted on some sort of swivel, and used mostly as a anti- personnel weapon. They were mounted on the ships rails and bulwarks mostly fore and aft and sometimes up in the masts or rigging to provide raking fire down upon the enemy. They fired various types of projectiles, as did all cannons, but were most effective against flesh when loaded with shot.


Various "small arms" were also used by the crew. For a look at these as well as the other aspects of life on a period ship, check out this excellent link. (http://www.nelsonsnavy.co.uk/broadside2.html)


 
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