Broadside by the French Pirate LaBouse 1717

Admiralty Report

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The Broadside

The most devastating effect of naval warfare was the broadside. This was rarely used by pirates because they did not want to damage a potential prize, but they had no hesitation in firing a broadside if they needed to blast a victim into submission even if it meant sinking them.

Captain John Frost was chased for twelve hours by a pirate ship in July 1717. It was nine o’clock in the evening when the pirates drew alongside. The pirate ship which was commanded by the
Frenchman Captain La Bouse, had twenty guns and a crew of 170. She fired a broadside of “double round and partridges, and a volly of small shot,” which meant that each of the ten guns on one side of the ship was loaded with two round cannonballs and a bag of partridge shot. This would have been a lethal combination at close range, and it was accompanied by a volley of fire from the muskets and pistols. The bombardment beat the men off the deck and so shattered the hull, rigging, and sails of Captain Frost’s ship that he surrendered without a fight.