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Truxtun, Thomas. 1998. A short account of the several general duties of officers, of ships of war; from an admiral, down to the most inferior officer: placed on the books of the navy, according to the British regulations; arranged with additions, &c. Washington, D.C.: Naval History and Heritage Command.

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A Short Account of the Several General Duties of Officers, of Ships of War

From an Admiral, Down to the Most Inferior Officer.


By the act of Congress for providing a Naval Armament, there are neither quarter-masters, a boatswain's yeoman, nor several other petty officers (absolutely necessary) mentioned; which, if not provided by an amendment of the said act, should be made out of the different ships' crews, to act nominally.

In the establishment of our young navy, the most skilful and experienced among us must acknowledge, that recourse for precedents and examples, to some maritime European nation, in very many points, will be found highly necessary, to secure a good organization of it; and as our customs and manners in the sea service are very familiar to those of the English, under whom many of us received our nautical education, I have selected from their system the general outlines of duty for all descriptions of officers, in a ship of war, with such additions and alterations as I found necessary to make: And notwithstanding the prejudice that exists in our nation against the British government, for their spoilations and many unprovoked cruelties exhibited on our citizens, yet I think none can be so much so, as not to acknowledge them, at this time, the first maritime power on the globe, with respect to naval tactics, discipline, and the general management of ships of war; they are therefore a proper example for us to imitate in our infancy, in all those points of duty and regulation, in which precedents are wanting: and by a steady attention to their general naval system, we shall very early have our ships of war and marine affairs in good order, and our internal government on board the different ships, in the navy (of the United States of America) similar to each other, which must be very desirable to every officer; but what from the distance we are from each other in conferring, building, and equipping, cannot without some pains be reasonably expected.


ADMIRAL, (amiral, Fr.) an officer of the first rank and command in the fleet, and who is distinguished by a flag displayed at his main-top-mast-head. Also an officer who superintends the naval forces of a nation, and who is authorized to determine in all maritime causes.

The origin and denomination of this important office, which seems to have been established in most countries that border on the sea, have given rise to a great variety of opinions. Some have borrowed them from the Greek, others from the Arabic, while a third sort, with greater probability, derive both the title and dignity from the Saracens. But since no certain conclusions have been deduced from these elaborate researches, and as it rather appears the province of this work to give the reader an idea of the office and duty of an admiral at sea, than to furnish an historical or chronological detail of the rank and power with which admirals have been invested in different nations, we shall contentedly resign this talk to the ingenious lexicographers, who have so repeatedly entertained us with such critical investigations.

The ADMIRAL,, or commander in chief of a squadron, being frequently invested with a great charge, on which the fate of a nation may depend, ought certainly to be possessed of abilities equal to so important a station, and so extensive a command. His squadron is unavoidably exposed to a variety of perplexing situations in a precarious element. A train of dangerous incidents necessarily arise from those situations. The health, order, and discipline of his people are not less the objects of his consideration, than the condition and qualities of his ships. A sudden change of climate, a rand and infectious air, a scarcity or unwholesomeness of provisions may be as pernicious as the former, as tempestuous weather or dangerous navigation to the latter. A lee-shore, and injudicious engagement with an enemy greatly superior, may be equally fatal to both. He ought to have sufficient experience to anticipate all the probable events that may happen to his squadron during an expedition or cruise, and, by consequence, to provide against them. His skill should be able to counteract the various disasters which his squadron may suffer from different causes. His vigilance and presence of mind are necessary to seize every favourable opportunity that his situation may offer to prosecute his principal design; to extricate himself from any difficulty or distress; to check unfortunate events in the beginning, and retard the progress of any great calamity. He should be endued with resolution and fortitude to animate his officers by force of example, and promote a sense of emulation in those who are under his command, as well to improve any advantage, as to frustrate or defeat the efforts of his ill fortune.

The most essential part of his duty, however, appears to be military conduct. As soon as the squadron under his command shall put to sea, he is to form it into the proper order of battle, called the LINE. In this arrangement his is to make a judicious distribution of strength from the van to the rear, throwing the principal force into the centre, to resist the impression of the enemy's fleet; which might otherwise, at some favourable opportunity, break through his line, and throw the van and rear into confusion.

A competent knowledge of the seas, weather, and reigning winds, of the coast or region where he is stationed, is also requisite, as it will greatly facilitate his plans on the enemy. It will enable him to avoid being improperly embayed, where he might be surprised in a disadvantageous situation; and to judge whether it will be most expedient to attack his adversary, or lie prepared to receive his assault. When his squadron is forced by stress of weather, or otherwise, to take shelter in a road or bay, it will likewise suggest the necessary conduct of keeping a sufficient number of cruisers at sea, to bring him early intelligence, that he may be ready to cut or slip the cables when they shall be too much hurried to weigh their anchors.

As the forming a complete, strong, and uniform line is a very material article in naval war, the admiral ought frequently to arrange the squadron under his command into this order, that the inferior officers may observe to bring their ships, with great dexterity and alertness, into their several stations, and maintain the regularity of the line when they tack, veer, or sail abreast.

When the admiral intends a descent on an enemy's coast, or other attack which may be attended with complicated and unforeseen incidents, his orders should be delivered or drawn up with the greatest accuracy and precision: they should be simple, perspicuous, direct, and comprehensive; they should collect a number of objects into one point of view, and foreseeing the effects of success or defeat, appoint the proper measures to be adopted in either event. History and experience confirm the necessity of this observation, and present us with a variety of disasters that have happened on such occasions, merely by a deficiency in this material article. In the commanding officer, inattention, barrenness of expedient or a circumscribed view of the necessary effects of his enterprize, may be equally pernicious. And general orders ought to be utterly free from pedantry and perplexity, which always betray a false start and confused imagination, besides the probability of producing many fatal consequences.

When an admiral shall conquer in battle, he should endeavour to improve his victory, by pushing the acquired advantages as far as prudence directs; a conduct that merits his attention as much as any in the action! When he shall be defeated, he ought to embrace every opportunity of saving as many of his ships as possible, and endeavour principally to assist those which have been disabled. In short, it is his duty to avail himself of every practicable expedient rather than sink under his misfortune, and suffer himself to become an easy prey to an enemy.

He should be sufficiently acquainted with civil law, to judge with propriety of the proceedings of courts-martial, and to correct the errors, and restrain the abuses which may happen therein by mistake, ignorance, or inattention.

As secret treaties, propositions, or schemes of the enemy, may occasionally be submitted to his inspection, or fall into his possession by capture; and which it might be improper to discover to any person near him, he ought to have a competent knowledge of the modern languages, or at least those of the countries against whom his military operations are directed, to be able to comprehend with facility the full scope and purport of such papers.

He ought to be well versed in geometry, so as to be capable of ordering proper and correct surveys of unknown coasts, roads, or harbours to be made, and to judge of their accuracy, and detect their errors. To ascertain the situation and longitude of different places, he should be also sufficiently skilled in astronomy and the method of taking observations, which indeed is essentially necessary to the profession of a sea-officer, although too much neglected.

By his instructions the admiral is likewise to assist at all councils of war that relate to naval affairs: to visit, as often as convenient, the other ships of his squadron: to enquire particularly into their condition, and observe the men mustered, taking care that no supernumeraries are born on the books. He is directed to acquaint the secretary of the marine with all his proceedings relative to the service; and to attend him, on his return home, with an account of his voyage or expedition, and to deliver a copy of his journal.

Much more might be observed on this occasion. It appears however by the general outline which we have sketched, that the office and duty of an admiral requires greater skill and more comprehensive abilities that is generally supposed necessary to the command of a naval armament. And that he ought to be duly qualified to assist the councils of government, and enter into the enlarged system of protecting his country from an invasion by sea, or of mediating a descent on an enemy's coast; as well as to improve navigation, and open new channels of commerce.

Vice-ADMIRAL, (vice-amiral, Fr.) the officer next in rank and command to the admiral; his flag is displayed at the fore-top-mast-head.

Rear-ADMIRAL, (contre- amiral, lieutenant general des armees navales, Fr.) the officer next in rank and command to the vice-admiral, and who carries his flag at the mizen-top-mast-head.


COMMODORE, (chef d'escadre, Fr.) a general officer in the marine, invested with the command of a detachment of ship's of war destined on any particular enterprise; during which time he bears the rank of brigadier-general in the army, and is distinguished from the inferior ships of his squadron by a broad pendant tapering towards the outer end, and sometimes forked. The word is corrupted from the Spanish comendador.

COMMODORE is also a name given to some select ship in a fleet of merchantmen, who leads the van in time of war, and carries a light in her top, to conduct the rest and keep them together.


CAPTAIN of a ship of war, (captaine du haut bord, Fr.) the officer who commands a ship of the line of battle, or a frigate carrying twenty or more cannon. The charge of a captain is very comprehensive, inasmuch as he is not only answerable for any bad conduct in the military government, navigation, and equipment of the ship he commands; but also for any neglect of duty, or ill management in his inferior officers, whose several charges he is appointed to superintend and regulate.

On his first receiving information of the condition and quality of the ship he is appointed to command, he must attend her constantly, and hasten the necessary preparations to fit her for sea. So strict indeed are the injunctions laid on him, that he is forbid to lie out of his ship, from his arrival on board, till the day of his discharge, unless by particular leave from the head of the marine department, or his commander in chief.

He is enjoined to show a laudable example of honor and virtue to the officers and men, and to discountenance all dissolute, immoral, and disorderly practices, and such as are contrary to the rules of discipline and subordination, as well as to correct those who are guilty of such offenses, as are punishable according to the usage of the sea.

He is ordered particularly to survey all the military stores which are sent on board, and to return whatever is deemed unfit for service. His diligence and application are required to procure his complement of men; observing carefully to enter only such as are fit for the necessary duty, that the government may not be put to improper expence. When his ship is fully manned, he is expected to keep the established number of men complete, and superintend the muster himself, if there is not clerk at the port.

When his ship is employed on a cruising station, he is expected to keep the sea the whole length of time previously appointed; but if he is compelled by some unexpected accident to return to port sooner than the limited time, he ought to be very cautious in the choice of a good situation for anchoring, ordering the master, or other careful officers, to found, and discover the depth of water, and dangers of the coast.

Previous to the possibility of an engagement with an enemy, he is to quarter the officers and men to the necessary stations according to their office or abilities, and to exercise them in the management of the artillery, &c. that they may be more expert in the time of battle.

His station in an engagement is on the quarter-deck; at which time he is expected to take all opportunities of annoying his enemy, and improving every advantage over him; to exhibit an example of courage and fortitude to his officers and crew, and to place his ship opposite to his adversary, or in such a position, according to circumstances, as that every cannon shall do effectual execution.

At the time of his arrival in port after his return from abroad, he is to assemble his officers, and draw up a detail of the observations that have been made during the voyage; of the qualities of the ship, as to her trim, ballast, stowage, and manner of sailing, for the information and direction of those who may succeed in command: and this account is to be signed by himself and officers, and to be returned to the secretary of the marine, or principal officer under the secretary, at the port where the ship in discharged.


LIEUTENANT of a ship of war, the officer next in rank and power to the captain, in whose absence he is accordingly charged with the command of the ship; as also the execution of whatever orders he may have received from the commander relating to the service.

The lieutenant, who commands the watch at sea, keeps a list of all the officers and men thereto belonging, in order to muster them, when he judges it expedient, and report to the captain the names of those who are absent from their duty. During the night- watch, he occasionally visits the lower decks, or send thither a careful officer, to see that the proper centinels are at their duty, and that there is no disorder amongst the men; no tobacco smoaked between decks, nor any fire or candles burning there, except the lights which are in lanthorns, under the care of a proper watch, for particular purposes. He is expected to be always upon deck in his watch, as well to give the necessary orders, with regard to trimming the sails and superintending the navigation, as to prevent any noise or confusion; but he is never to change the ship's course without the captain's directions, unless to avoid an immediate danger.

The lieutenants, in time of battle, is particularly to see that all the men are present at their quarters, where they have been previously stationed according to the regulations made by the captain. He orders and exhorts them every where to perform their duty, and acquaints the captain at all other times of the misbehaviour of any persons in the ship, and of whatever else concerns the service or discipline.


MASTER of a ship of war, (maitre, Fr.) is an officer to assist in fitting, and take charge of the navigating and conducting a ship from port to port, under the direction of the captain, or other his superior officer. The management and disposition of the sails, the working of the ship into her station in the order of battle, and the direction of her movements in the time of action, and in the other circumstances of danger, are also more particularly under his inspection. He is to be careful that the rigging, sails, and stores, also be duly preserved: to see that the log and log-book be regularly and correctly kept: accurately to observe the appearances of coasts, rocks, and shoals, with their depths of water and bearings, noting them in his journal and log book. He is to keep the hause clear when the ship is at anchor, and to attend her constantly. He is to provide himself with the proper instruments, maps, and books of navigation. It is likewise his duty to examine the provisions, and accordingly to admit none into the ship but such as are found, sweet, and wholesome. He is moreover charged with the stowage, or disposition of these materials in the ship's hold. And when she shall be laid-up, he is to deposit a copy of the log-book and journal with the commissioners of the navy. And to enable him the better to perform these services, he is allowed several assistants, who are properly termed mates and quarter-masters.

MASTER of a merchant-ship, the commanding officer, who is appointed by the merchants to manage the navigation and every thing relating to her cargo, voyage, sailors, &c.


The principal marine officer on board a ship of war is to train the marines to the use of firearms, to discipline and frequently exercise them: his office in time of battle is chiefly to direct and attend them, and at all times to have a due regard to the preservation of the small-arms, accoutrements, &c. thereto belonging, that they be not lost, embezzled, or injured; but kept safe, clean, and in good condition for service. It is also his duty to have the centinels placed, agreeable to the regulations of the ship: and as his duty oftentimes call him with the marines on shore, he should make himself well acquainted with military service. This officer has under his direction, besides the marines, the sergeants, corporals, drum and fife, and occasionally the armourer, &c.


MIDSHIPMAN, a sort of naval cadet, appointed to second the orders of the superior officers, and assist in the necessary business of the vessel, either aboard or on shore.

The number of midshipmen, like that of several other officers, is always in proportion to the size of the ship to which they belong. Thus a first-rate man of war has twenty-four, and the inferior rates a suitable number in proportion. No person can be appointed lieutenant, without having previously served two years in the navy in this capacity, or in that of mate, besides having been at least four years in actual service at sea, either in merchant-ships, or in the navy.

Midshipman is accordingly the station in which a young volunteer is trained in the several exercises, necessary to attain a sufficient knowledge of the machinery, discipline, movements, and military operations of a ship, to qualify him for a sea-officer.

As the chief object of our attention has been to facilitate the acquisition of intelligence, we have endeavoured to treat those subjects at large, in the different parts of this work, according to their importance. We have also sketched the general outlines of the respective charges of all the superior officers, which, in conformity to the plan of this work, become previous to this article. Thus the duties of the admiral, the captain, the lieutenant, and the master, are already explained in their proper places; and whatever intelligence appears necessary to discharge those offices, is also, in a high degree, essential to the midshipman. Those officers indeed, as well as many others, are furnished with suitable instructions to regulate their conduct; but the midshipman, being invested with no particular charge from the government, is by consequence omitted in those official regulations. In a work of this kind, however, the importance of the subject is not always determined by the superiority of rank or station. If our province is to communicate instruction, those who are the least informed are certainly the principal objects thereof, and to them our presence is more peculiarly directed. Hence the extent of our design comprehends many circumstances which would be immaterial in general orders and regulations; and hence abundance of particular directions to respective officers, inserted in those general regulations, are rejected here as foreign to our purpose. Averse as we are, on other occasions, to offend the rigid nicety of a critic, by introducing moral reflections in a performance dedicated to scientifical description, we must for once be indulged with a short deviation from the plan hitherto invariably followed. Happy! if our efforts may in any degree operate to produce the effects for which they were calculated.

On first entrance into a ship of war, every midshipman has several disadvantages occasioned by the nature of the sea-service, and partly by the mistaken prejudices of people in general, respecting naval discipline, and the genius of sailors and their officers. No character, in their opinion, is more excellent than that of the common sailor, whom they generally suppose to be treated with great severity by his officers, drawing a comparison between them not very advantageous to the latter. The midshipman usually comes aboard tinctured with these prejudices, especially if his education has been amongst the higher rank of people; and if the officers happen to answer his opinion, he conceives an early disgust to the service, from a very partial and incompetent view of its operations. Blinded by these prepossessions, he is thrown off his guard, and very soon suprised to find, amongst these honest sailors, a crew of abandoned miscreants, ripe for any mischief or villainy. Perhaps, after a little observation, many of them will appear to him equally destitute of gratitude, shame, or justice, and only deterred from the commission of any crimes by the terror of severe punishment. He will discover, that the pernicious example of a few of the vilest in a ship of war is too often apt to poison the principles of the greatest number, especially if the reins of discipline are too much relaxed, so as to foster that idleness and dissipation, which engender sloth, diseases, and an utter profligacy of manners. If the midshipman, on many occasions, is obliged to mix with these, particularly in the exercise of extending or reducing the sails in the tops, he ought resolutely to guard against this contagion, with which the morals of his inferiors may be infected. He should however avail himself of their knowledge, and acquire their expertness in managing and fixing the sails and rigging, and never suffer himself to be excelled by an inferior. He will probably find a virtue in almost every private sailor, which is entirely unknown to many of his officers: that virtue is emulation, which is not indeed mentioned amongst their qualities by the gentlemen of terra firma, by whom their characters are often copiously described with very little judgement. There is hardly a common tar who is not envious of superior skill in his fellows, and jealous on all occasions to be outdone in what he considers as a branch of his duty! Nor is he more afraid of the dreadful consequences of whistling in a storm, than of being stigmatized with the opprobrious epithet of lubber. Fortified against this scandal by a thorough knowledge of his business, the sailor will sometimes sneer in private, at the execution of orders, which to him appear awkward, improper, or unlike a seaman. Nay, he will perhaps be malicious enough to suppress his own judgement, and by a punctual obedience to command, execute whatever is to be performed, in a manner which he knows to be improper, in order to expose the person commanding to disgrace and ridicule. Little skilled in the method of the schools, he considers the officer who cons his lesson by rote as very ill qualified for his station, because particular situations might render it necessary for the said officer to assist at putting his own orders in practice. An ignorance in this practical knowledge will therefore necessarily be thought an unpardonable deficiency by those who are to follow his directions. Hence the midshipman, who associates with these sailors in the tops, till he has acquired a competent skill in the service of extending or reducing the sails, &c. will be often entertained with a number of scurrilous jests, at the expense of his superiors. Hence also he will learn, that a timely application to those exercises can only prevent him from appearing in the same despicable point of view, which must certainly be a cruel mortification to a man of the smallest sensibility.

If the midshipman is not employed in these services, which are undoubtedly necessary to give him a clearer idea of the different parts of his occupation, a variety of other objects present themselves to his attention. Without presuming to dictate the studies which are most essential to his improvement, we could wish to recommend such as are most suitable to the bent of his inclination. Astronomy, geometry, and mechanics, which are in the first rank of science, are the materials which form the skilful pilot, and the superior mariner. The theory of navigation is entirely derived from the two former, and all the machinery and movements of a ship are founded upon the latter. The action of the wind upon the sails, and the resistance of the water at the stem, naturally dictate an enquiry into the property of solids and fluids: and the state of the ship, floating on the water, seems to direct his application to the study of hydrostatics and the effects of gravity. A proficiency in these branches of science will equally enlarge his views, with regard to the operations of naval war, as directed by the efforts of powder, and the knowledge of projectiles. The most essential method to excite his application to those studies is, perhaps, by looking round the navy, to observe the characters of individuals. By this enquiry he will probably discover, that the officer, who is eminently skilled in the sciences, will command universal respect and approbation; and that whoever is satisfied with the despicable ambition of shining the hero of an assembly, will be the object of universal contempt. The attention of the former will be engaged in those studies, which are highly useful to himself in particular, and to the service in general. The employment of the latter is to acquire those superficial accomplishments, that unbend the mind from every useful science, emasculate the judgement, and render the hero infinitely more dexterous at falling into his station in the dance, than in the line of battle.

Unless the midshipman has an unconquerable aversion to the acquisition of those qualifications, which are so essential to his improvement, he will very rarely want opportunities of making a progress therein. Every step he advances in those meritorious employments will facilitate his accession to the next in order. If the dunces, who are his officers or mess-mates, are rattling the dice, roaring bad verses, hissing on the flute, or scraping discord from the fiddle, his attention to more noble studies will sweeten the hours of relaxation. He should recollect that no example from fools ought to influence his conduct, or seduce him from that laudable ambition which his honour and advantage are equally concerned to pursue.


MATE of a ship of war, an officer under the direction of the master, by whose choice he is usually appointed, to assist him in the several branches of his duty. Accordingly he is to be particularly attentive to the navigation in his watch, &c. to keep the log regularly, and examine the line and glasses by which the ship's course is measured, and the adjust the sails to the wind in the fore-part of the ship. He is also to have a diligent attention to the cables, seeing that they are will coiled and kept clean when laid in the tier, and sufficiently served when employed to ride the ship. Finally, he is to superintend and assist at the stowage of the hold, taking especial care that all the ballast and provisions are properly stowed therein.

MATE of a merchant-ship, the officer who commands in the absence of the master thereof, and shares the duty with him at sea; being charged with every thing that regards the internal management of the ship, the government of her crew, the directing her course, &c. under the master's orders.


CHAPLAIN of a ship of war; his particular duty is to show a good example of religion, morality, and virtue, at all times and places: to discountenance vice and immorality; to teach, and read prayers, agreeable to such regulations as may be made for the navy; to visit and administer comfort to the sick; and to attend the burial of the dead, with the usual christian ceremonies,& c.


SURGEON of a ship of war, is the officer whose particular business is to receive on board, and account for, all drugs, medicines, and instruments; carefully and constantly to superintend the health of the crew; to visit and serve out medicine to the sick, keep a register of their different ailments and disorders; perform amputations where it is necessary; dress and attend the wounded; observe whether the provisions given to the crew be sound and wholesome; examine the vessels provided for cooking, and cause them to be kept clean, sweet, and free from verdigrease, &c. It is his business also to make returns to the captain of the health of the ship, a state of the sick and wounded, and of all other matters within the line of his duty, as often as may be desired; and in performing his duty, he is assisted by one or more mates, which are under his direction; and such other aid as circumstances may require.


PURSER of a ship of war, is an officer to receive, examine, and account for all provisions, &c. and to see that they are carefully distributed to the officers and crew, according to such instructions as he may receive for that purpose.


SECRETARY AND CLERK of an admiral or commodore, and the clerk of a single ship of war, is to keep a particular account of all transactions and things that may be ordered by their chief commanding officer to be written or recorded, &c.


BOATSWAIN, (contre-maitre, Fr.) the officer who has the boats, rigging, colours, anchors, and cables committed to his charge.

It is the duty of the boatswain particularly to direct whatever relates to the rigging of a ship, after she is equipped from a dock-yard. Thus he is to observe that the masts are properly supported by their shrouds, stays, and back-stays, so that each of those ropes may sustain a proportional effort when the mast is strained by the violence of the wind, or the agitation of the ship. He ought also to take care that the blocks and running-ropes and regularly placed, so as to answer the purposes for which they are intended; and that the sails are properly fitted to their yards and stays, and well furled or reefed when occasion requires.

It is likewise his office to summon the crew to their duty; to assist with his mates in the necessary business of the ship; and to relieve the watch when it expires. He ought frequently to examine the condition of the masts, sails, and rigging, and remove whatever may be judged unfit for service, or supply what is deficient: and he is ordered by his instructions to perform this duty with as little noise as possible.

The BOATSWAIN'S Mate is to assist the boatswain in all and every part of his duty; and he is an officer whose business it is to be vigilant in turning up the watch, or the crew generally, when all hands are called or ordered out; he is, as well as the boatswain, to carry and wind a call on proper occasions, agreeable to the usage and custom of the naval service. It is the boatswain's mate whose duty it is to flog such as may be seized up for that purpose, by the quarter-masters, under the captain's orders; and he is, as well as the boatswain, to carry a rattan, which is only to be used when absolutely necessary, in keeping good order, and carrying on the duty of the ship, &c.

The BOATSWAIN'S Yeoman's particular duty is the stowage, account, and distribution of the stores of that department, under the boatswain's orders.


GUNNER of a ship of war, (cannonier de vaisseau, Fr.) an officer appointed to take charge of the artillery and ammunition aboard; to observe that the former are always kept in order, and properly fitted with tackles and other furniture, and to teach the sailors the exercise of the cannon.

The GUNNER'S Mate is to assist the gunner in every part of his business; he is an officer who should be as well acquainted with gunnery, and every thing respecting the ordnance and military stores, as the gunner himself: his particular business under the gunner is to have every thing ready for action in a moment's warning; he should never be as a loss to know where to lay his hands upon any article belonging to the gunner's department; he should be expert in preparing port and false fires, match stuff, grenadoes, and every sort of combustible used in war; and in a word, in doing every part of a gunner's duty on board a ship of war.

The GUNNER'S Yeoman's particular business is the stowage of the magazine, filling the store-rooms, &c. account, care, and distribution of all the stores of that department, under the gunner's orders.

Quarter- GUNNER, an inferior officer under the direction of a ship of war, whom he is to assist in every branch of his duty; as keeping the guns and carriages in proper order, and duly furnished with whatever is necessary; filling the powder into cartridges, scaling the guns, and keeping them always in a condition for service. The number of quarter-gunners in any ship is always in proportion to the number of her artillery, one quarter-gunner being allowed to every four cannon.


CARPENTER of a ship (charpentier, Fr.) an officer appointed to examine and keep in order the frame of the ship, together with her masts, yards, boats, and all other wooden machinery, and stores committed to him by indenture from the surveyor of the dock- yard.

It is his duty in particular to keep the ship tight; for which purpose he ought frequently to review the decks and sides, and to caulk them when it is found necessary. In the time of battle he is to examine up and down, with all possible attention, in the lower apartments of the ship, to stop any holes that may have been made in the sides by shot, with wooden plugs provided, os several sizes, for that purpose.

The CARPENTER'S Mate is to assist the carpenter in every part of his business; to attend particularly to the stowage and distribution of the stores of that department; to sound and keep the pumps and pump geer in good order; and to have the ship pumped dry as often as it may be found necessary; to prepare lead to nail over, and plugs to stop shot holes; to examine frequently the spars of every sort; to fish and repair those that require it; make new ones; and to have every thing, for which the carpenter is accountable, or that comes within the line of that department, ready when called for, or done when ordered, without the smallest delay whatever.

The CAULKERS belong to the carpenter's department, and are under his particular orders: their business is to have at all times a quantity of oakum spun, and the caulking apparatus, pitch, rosin, &c. ready at the shortest notice, to do the things needful in their line.


MASTER at arms, an officer appointed by warrant from the board of admiralty, to teach the officers and crew of a ship of war the exercise of small arms; to confine and plant centinels over the prisoners, and superintend whatever relates to them during their confinement. He is also, as soon as the evening gun shall be fired, to see all the fires and lights extinguished, except such as shall be permitted by proper authority, or under the inspection of centinels. It is likewise his duty to attend the gangway, when any boats arrive aboard, and search them carefully, together with their rowers, that no spirituous liquors may be conveyed into the ship, unless by permission of the commanding officer. He is to see that the small arms be kept in proper order. He is to visit all vessels coming to or going from the ship, and prevent the crew from going from the ship without leave. He is also to acquaint the officer of the watch with all irregularities in the ship which shall come to his knowledge. In these several duties he is assisted with proper attendants, called his corporals, who also relieve the centinels, and one another, at proper periods.

CORPORAL of a ship of war, an officer under the master at arms, employed to teach the sailors the exercise of small arms, or musketry; to attend at the gang-way, or entering-ports, and observe that no spirituous liquors are brought into the ship, unless by particular leave from the officers. He is also to extinguish the fire and candles at eight o'clock in winter, and nine in summer, when the evening gun is fired; and to walk frequently down into the lower decks in his watch, to see that there are no lights but such as are under the charge of proper centinels, which he is to see placed, &c.


SERJEANT on board of a ship of war, is an officer whose particular business it is to execute the commands of the principal marine officer, in the line of that duty, and to have every thing in the marine department ready for service at a moment's notice,& c. &c.


The ARMOURER of a ship of war, is an officer whose business is to keep in repair all guns and other implements of war, muskets, pistols, cutlasses, hand-cuffs, locks, &c. and to make such things in his department as may be found wanting, from time to time, for the use of the navy, and to receive, account for, and take particular care of, all the tools in his department. The armourer's business is chiefly in this way, and under the marine officer, gunner, master at arms, &c.


SAIL-MAKER of a ship of war, is to keep an account, and carefully stow away in the sail room, and deliver out when ordered by the commanding officer or master, all sails, twine, canvass, needles, bolt-rope, cringle thimbles, &c. which he may have received, belonging to his department: he is to cut out, make, and repair the sails, as may be found necessary; tarpawlings, mast-coats and other cloths, &c. for painting or other purposes: his mate is to assist in all this sort of business; and is, as well as the sail-maker himself, to be particularly careful that nothing belonging to their department is wasted, or left lying about, or out of its proper place.


COOPER of a ship of war, is an officer employed in making and repairing water and other casks, buckets, kids, &c; his business also is to attend the purser and steward in broaching, heading up, securing, and overhauling the different sorts of provisions, water, and other stores, &c. for which purpose he has the tools necessary for that department put under his charge and care, for which he must account.


STEWARD (maitre-valet, Fr.) an officer in a ship of war, appointed by the purser, to distribute the different species of provisions to the officers and crew; for which purpose he is furnished with a mate and proper assistants.


The COOK of a ship of war (with his mate) is to receive, properly soak, and see finally delivered, such provisions as are served out, and put in charge to be cooked for the officers and ship's company. He is to be at all times careful of the fire, and attend particularly to the orders respecting fire; he is also to be very careful in putting by the slush, so that no grease is thrown about the decks, and that there is no want of that article for the use of the service: and in the line of his business, he should be as accommodating and obliging to every one who has his kettle to boil, &c. as is consistent with his general duty.


COCKSWAIN, or COXEN, the officer who manages and steers a boat, and has the command of the boat's crew. It is evidently compounded of the works cock and swain, the former of which was anciently used for yawl or small boat, as appears by several authors; but it has now become obsolete, and is never used by our mariners.


QUARTER-MASTER, an inferior officer appointed by the master of a ship of war to assist the mates in their several duties; as stowing the ballast and provisions in the hold, coiling the cables on their platform, overlooking the steerage of a ship, keeping the time by the watch-glasses, &c.


The DRUM and FIFE, though they generally act together, are notwithstanding used separately in performing various duties: their general business, however, is connected with the marine officer's department, and are consequently under his principal direction.

N. B. The outlines of service here laid down are sufficient to instruct and put each officer in the way of doing his duty generally; after which his particular duty, with a little practice and attention, will become familiar and easy: but it must be remembered, that little more than the introduction to service is here laid down, that being thought sufficient for the intended purpose. The first thing to be done, when a ship in our infant navy is receiving on board her stores and crew is, for the captain to inform every officer where his store-rooms, lodgings, mess, &c. are to be; what duty is expected of him, the manner in which they are to receive and account for the stores of their respective departments, &c. &c. and so soon as the complement of men is complete, a quarter-bill must be made out and entered in the log book, and another pasted on a board, and hung up at the bulk head, under the quarter-deck, or in some other more conspicuous part of the ship: this quarter-bill must have the station of every one on board marked against his name, whither he is to repair in an instant on the drum beating (or the call given) to quarters; and annexed to this quarter-bill should be the regulations of the navy generally, and of the ship particularly; all of which must be attended to, under pain of the punishments inflicted according to the common usage of the sea service, or courts-martial.

T. T. [Thomas Truxtun]

The text is reproduced here exactly as in the original, following the original use of capitalization and italics.


Published: Tue Oct 31 11:57:28 EDT 2017