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Clothing | Food & Drink | Tools & Equipment | Miscellany Commerce & Trade | Working the Ship | Weaponry

weaponry title

A weapon is defined as an instrument used in combat. We have classified the weapons used in the 18th century under ordnances and small arms.


On the ships, the cannon was a very effective weapon. It could be used to do anything from rip up the sails of other ships, to making large holes in the hull.

picture of cannon

"A ship's cannon at gun position showing the heavy and recoiling cables, and the numerous iron fastenings on the carriage and ship."26

The main purpose of a cannon ball was to inflict heavy damage to a ship's hull. There were many different kinds of cannon shots ranging from round to star shaped-each serving a different purpose. The main purpose of the star, bar, and linked shots was to destroy the ship's rigging and render it immobile. Not only were the linked shots useless at long range, they were also inaccurate.

These anti-rigging projectiles had a very strange firing mechanism. First the anti-rigging projectile was loaded into a canvas bag. The bag would burn up upon firing and the anti-rigging projectile would be released to destroy the opposing ship's rigging.

canvas bag Star Shot
The star shot was placed in the bag and then fired. The bag would burn up in mid-air and send the star shot flying.

swivel cannon

"Weaponry from the Machault. An oblique and an overall view of the muzzle and bore of a swivel cannon." 27

Ordnances were the key to victory. How could you win a war without a cannon in 1760? But cannons weren't the only effective ordnances. The sailors also used swivel guns. These guns fired pellets that were aimed to kill the crew on other ships. The sailors would pack two bags of gun powder inside the swivel gun very close to the pellets. When the fuse was lit it created a spark which set off the gunpowder and sent the cannon ball flying in the enemy's direction.


An 18th century French soldier.

Small Arms Title
Some small arms found in the wreckage include:

  • muskets
  • swords
  • axes

"A French model 1733-34 cavalry or marine pistol." 28

Fusils grenadiers, the most common type of musket recovered from the Machault, share attributes with trade guns as well as French guns. A minimum of 11 fusil-grenadiers were recovered from the Machault. From piecing together the two most complete fusil-grenadiers found, it is estimated that these muskets were about 149cm in length, with 109cm long barrels.

Ten examples of pantet simple swords were recovered, and judging by their grips and blade design, they were the ships arsenal arms to be used as boarding sabers.

Boarding Axe
"One complete wrought-iron axe consisting of a head and shaft was recovered." 29

Also found were boarding axes, possibly used as a boarding weapon.

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Catherine Sullivan, Legacy of the Machault, (Ottawa, Environnement Canada/Parks Canada,1986)p.34




Douglas Bryce, Weaponry from the Machault,(Ottawa, Environnement Canada/Parks Canada,1984)p.22