Reply To: Cartridge Size at the Battle of the Nile, 1798

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Cartridge Size at the Battle of the Nile, 1798 Reply To: Cartridge Size at the Battle of the Nile, 1798

Gareth Cole

    Hi Sam,

    Can’t really add much more to Aldo’s comments but the following may be useful. Before 1801 there was no fixed amount for the weight of powder vs shot due to the varying quality of the powder. However, in April 1801 it was standardised at 1/3 weight of shot (for a single shot). Before that I would imagine that 1/3 is a good approximation for the heavier cannon.

    In terms of muzzle flash, some of the experiments carried out on Vasa replica cannon are on YouTube which may give you an idea. See and for examples. The second video perhaps shows it best from various angles. Note this is a 24pdr.

    In terms of recoil etc. in tests in November 1813 with a service charge (i.e. 1/3 weight of shot) a 32pdr recoiled 12′ 6″ at point blank firing on its first round and 17′ 7″ by its 11th round. In contrast, the 10th round fired at an 8 degree elevation had a recoil of 11′ 11″. (ADM 1/4021)

    To get an idea of the size of the cartridge a standard powder barrel held 90lbs of powder so each barrel held ~8.4 firings worth of powder for a 32pdr. I haven’t been down there for a while but I imagine Portsmouth have some on show on Victory? The calibre of a 32pdr was said to be 6.41″ so the cartridge couldn’t have been wider than that in diameter.