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Thursday, July 14, 2011

“I have not yet begun to fight” John Paul Jones

*Please note the photos in this post have been removed. I will update with new photos once I have more time. Thank you.*

In lieu of my newest release this month called the Wrong Kind of Paradise, which takes place just before the golden age of piracy, I’ve decided to do a few blogs revealing some of my research. I’ve also decided to start with the big guns because let’s be honest here...that’s what I like.
And size does matter...at least in cannon warfare. The history of missile throwing devices through history is fascinating to say the least but I plan to focus more on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries — as most of us research these eras more frequently. And cannon’s did not truly establish a foot hold aboard European ships until the Sixteenth century, two hundred years after its introduction in the armies on the continent. And the main reason was portability.
By the end of the sixteenth century Naval artillery had been born and the guns were mounted on two or four wheel carriages. And so launched a new era of naval warfare.
The main changes in the seventeenth century involved size and numbers. European ships were now carrying as many as a hundred guns on up to three decks. With this new technology came the creation of special shot. Artillery shots called barshot, chain shot, bundle shot, canister shot and grape shot were developed (which would serve as it’s very own blog post as the difference in each shot can be very complicated.)
The golden age of piracy was also the golden age of sail as ships were improved drastically. And with these improvements came better guns. Cast iron muzzle loaders ranging from the small six pounders to the large thirty-two pounder were the norm. Elevation was researched and developed more. And a general understanding of trajectory was better understood.
Naval artillery now had an unheard of range of about two thousand yards by this time, despite most engagements were fought with less than a thousand yards between them. The art of heated shot was discovered as well as explosive shells. Some of the cannons began to using a flintlock mechanism for firing instead of the flaming torch, which was more reliable and safer. The mechanism worked by pulling the lanyard instead of a trigger.
So why do we call cannons pounders? It refers to the size of a gun. A six pounder fired a solid shot of lead which weighed approximately six pounds. A thirty-two pounder fired a ball of lead which weighed approximately thirty-two pounds. You’re thinking to yourself but this says little about the weight of the cast iron gun. You’re right.
The weight of the cannon had to significantly increase as the size of the shot increased. Thanks to Blind Kat’s website I can show you this graph to understand. You can find more info here: http://blindkat.hegewisch.net/pirates/pirates.html
For Instance:
bore size
gun weight
shot weight
powder weight
2 pounder
2.5 in
600 lbs
2 lbs
3 1/2 lbs
6 pounder
1,000-1,500 lbs
6 lbs
6 lbs
24 pounder
4.5 in
3,000-4,000 lbs
24 lbs
14 lbs
32 pounder
5 in
4,000-5,000 lbs
32 lbs
18 lbs

Now onto some famous cannon battles. You can’t speak of naval battles and not mention the famous battle of Fort McHenry which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the American Star Spangled Banner. Beginning at dawn on September thirteenth, 1814, British warships continuously bombarded the fort for Twenty-five hours. The American defender’s had eighteen, twenty-four, and thirty-eight pound cannons with a maximum range of 1.5 miles. And the British had a range of two miles. And through it all the American flag was still there.
The Uss Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy and is the oldest commissioned naval vessel which launched in 1797.
The HMS Guerriere was sighted on August the nineteenth and opened fired upon entering range of the Constitution. But the Constitution held its guns in check until the two ships were a mere twenty-five yards apart and then ordered a full double-loaded broadside of grape and round shot.
 The two ships collided at one point and rotated together counter-clockwise while the Constitution continued firing. Guerreire’s bowsprit became entangled in the Constitution’s rigging. Once the two ships separated, the force sent shockwaves through the enemy’s rigging. Her foremast collapsed which took the main mast down shortly thereafter. Dismantled, and unmaneuverable, the British surrendered. A sailor reportedly exclaimed, “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron” which allotted her the nickname Old Ironsides.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships volume two by the U.S Navy department.
Btw, the picture at the top is the cannon believed to have been found off of Black Beard's flagship, The Queen Anne's Revenge. You can find more information here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6207766/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/cannon-found-blackbeard-wreckage/

I am giving away a free copy to one lucky commenter today. To register please enter your email address in your comment box.
Wrong Kind of Paradise
to be release July 2011
Even the Hell’s Angel needs a guardian and English Privateer Blac Barclay is unwillingly recruited for the job in this high seas adventure.

Now Blac must choose between revenge against the British Lieutenant who’d ruined his family or keeping his word to the pirate who’d saved his life. Escorting the pirate’s daughter to her grandfather’s care becomes impossible when the little wanton steals his ship. Ordered by the Lieutenant to retrieve the woman they call the Hell’s Angel, Blac is determined to honor his word to his friend and use the wayward wanton as bait. But will his plan cost him the only woman to ever steal his heart?

When Angel De’haviland’s father is imprisoned with charges of piracy, the pirate’s daughter commandeers a British privateer’s ship and plans to kidnap a high ranking official to ransom for her father’s release. But her attempted abduction is foiled by the very captain whose ship she’d stolen, and she becomes a captive herself. Now she must trust her handsome captor to free her father as he leads her right into the Wrong Kind of Paradise.


  1. I've always been fascinated with naval history so I loved reading this post! I never knew why they called them "pounders" but now I do. This was a great resource for me for future writing since I plan to include ship action in later works. Thanks for the great post and I definitely want to read Wrong Kind of Paradise!

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by Lauren and so glad it helped you out! I loved doing my research for this novel and plan to do many more placed on ships. What a fascinating time it was? Some day my plan is to retire and sail on the east coast. Some day looks really good right now lol.

    Just a head's up Cindy Vallor does an excellent age of sail class so you may want to check her out. Great info for anyone who wants to learn more about ships.

    And remember if you want to be eligible for the free copy leave your email address in the comment box. Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. What great information! I know I was so very happy when you helped me with my pirate story. Thanks for knowing so much about this era!!


  4. Can't wait to see how this one does :-)

  5. Suzie ~ You know I've always loved this story. I'm so glad it's finally being released. And I know that when I need help researching any naval-related, I plan on knocking on your door.

  6. Suzie,

    I always love it when you share your research. :)

  7. Don't stop there. Did you find the history of Commodore Perry and the Japanese? He introduced the cannon to the Empire in a not so welcoming mood. The Japanese never forgave him for the welcoming he provided. WWI and WWII introduced some of the largest most destrutive Artillery (cannons) guns of the era. "Big Bertha" and "Gustav."

    Excellent work! Keep it up.

  8. You know I like BIG guns & pirates & your writing! It makes it so much more interesting when you get the historical information behind the story. You truly are an inspiration to me. I can't wait for this book, or the next one, or the one after that! I'm am so very proud of you & all your accomplishments! Keep it up!

    evilgyrl79 : )

  9. Marie you guys know you can always hit me up with questions anytime and if I don't know it I have wonderful friends who do.

    Ranik you're a doll and thanks for showing so much suport for me! <3

    Ava you're the one of the people who kept me going when this story gave me fits and I owe you big time!

    Samatha, this story is dedicated to my wonderful crit partners. I truly couldn't have done it without you all.

  10. Jeff,
    I've stumbled across the research yes, but I thought I may be getting a bit too wordy lol. So I pared it way down. And WWI and WWII are a bit past my normal time period but I'll tell you what my husband loves it lol. I get more of the military channel than I care for. =D

    So glad you stopped by today and thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us.

  11. Christi, my favorite evil girl! Thanks for stopping by and you already get an advanced copy.

  12. Suzie, your research blogs are always fascinating! And I love this story. Can't wait to buy my copy. :) If I ever write something set on the seas, you know I'm going to be knocking down your door.

  13. Sandi ( Pirate Romance group At Goodreads)July 14, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Wow Suzie what great backround history! I never knew some of this stuff and I applaud you on the research you must have to do to write your book. It must be so satisfying when it all comes together..Ive always loved anything to do with Pirates,be it a swashbuckling hero,a feisty lady pirate,breathtaking battle scenes..Im looking forward to reading your book!

  14. Thanks Catherine! I think it really shows when you love something such as you ladies with your regencies. I probably couldn't do it justice but you ladies know all the intricate details. This just happens to be my forte so to speak. It's lots of fun.

    And Sandi I am so glad you stopped by! It truly is a blessing to able to carve a story out of a few ideas. What really amazing and I'm sure the other ladies here will agree is what doesn't go into a book. Only a few tidbits are actually used and the rest put into a binder for safe keeping until the next time we need a piece of information. I only hope you love the story as much as I loved to write it. It was truly the book of my heart and I hope it shows.

    Thanks for stopping in everyone!

  15. Sounds like a great book and thanks for the research! I'm right now writing a pirate story and had known much of this already, but it's exciting to hear it in someone else's words :-)

  16. Oh Sandra, you'll have to let me know when you release yours because pirates have a special place in my heart. One of the most fun time periods to research imho. Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Pirates and Knights my two favorites. Great job on the research, Suzie. Historicals are outside my wheelhouse to write but I love to read them.

    COngrats on the release! Your story sounds like fun.

  18. Caseamajor, thanks for stopping by. And thank you for the congrats, hope you'll stop in more often!

  19. And the winner of the free copy of Wrong Kind of Paradise is Lauren! Thanks for stopping by everyone!