Chris Scott Wilson Writer
(Discharged Dead), they departed sewn into a hammock, the last needle stitch passed through the nose to deter shamming, the shroud weighted with shot to ensure they would join Davy Jones when pushed out through a gun port or heaved over a gunwale.
However, it must be said that once in action, sweating over thundering cannon in the stench of burnt powder, the narrow space ‘tween decks fogged by gunsmoke, these pressed men were the bravest in the world. Surrounded by screaming, mutilated and dying men, threatened by huge flying splinters, whistling ball or scything chain shot and spattered with blood, these luckless sailors were capable of tasks almost beyond endurance. Then, deafened by the howling hell of battle, when powder and shot were exhausted, they would snatch up hanger and cutlass to have at the enemy.
In 1755 England was rapidly moving toward war against France. The Austrians had formed an alliance with France while Britain had allied herself with Prussia in what would become the Seven Years War. While matters in Europe were coming to head, a campaign had already begun in North America. France had already established a claim on a great swathe of land running from Louisiana northward to the Canadian border west of the Mississippi River which included the present day Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, plus parts of Minnesota, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas. This was to become known collectively as The Louisiana Purchase when 50 years later Napoleon, desperately short of gold to arm and pay his troops during the Napoleonic wars, sold this land to the United States government in 1803 for $15 million, which equates to a fire sale, a few cents per acre.
In 1755 the vast majority of this land was unorganised or unsettled, but the French wanted to link their Louisiana colony with their Canadian colony via the Ohio valley which meant taking control of territories east of the Mississippi – through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. If they succeeded, England’s colonies, collectively known as New England, ranging down the eastern seaboard of America would be boxed in, any expansion westward effectively blocked. England was, of course, determined to prevent this, and while the first move was unsuccessfully attempted on land in the Ohio Valley by George Washington leading he Virginians, at sea the first step was to hinder any attempt by the French to reinforce or supply their Canadian colony. The best place to stop this was at
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A Cat-o-nine tails, used on board ship for punishment. When not in use, the cat was stored in a small drawstring sack. This led to the expression when someone had done something wrong that they'd "let the cat out of the bag."