Since we talked at length about working a cannon this week, I thought we’d close her out with the use of the ubiquitous word powder aboard us. Powder, up until about 150 odd years ago, meant black powder, the unstable and unpredictable forerunner of gunpowder. Now, of course, it is simply short for gunpowder.
To powder means, surprisingly, to salt meat or fish. You would think it might mean to prime a gun. A powdering tub is a large basin, often of copper, used for pickling meat.
A powder bag is a leather sack which can hold up to 40 pounds of powder. These took the place of the metal petard (as in “hoisted on his own”) during the Napoleonic Wars. Petards were less reliable and more prone to catching a spark and exploding. The Royal Navy grants Captain Thomas Lord Cochrane the honor of having first made the switch.
A powder magazine is the space, usually an enclosed cabinet or pantry, used for storing powder aboard ship. During wartime a powder vessel might be employed. This is a naval ship used as a floating magazine. A powder-hoy, however, is a boat specifically fitted out to supply ships at anchor with black powder stored on land. Almost universally the powder-hoy will fly a red flag and puts up a call of “fires out” when she comes along side. Even the galley stove must be extinguished before powder can be brought aboard and stowed in the magazine.
Finally, a powder monkey is the young boy who runs canisters of powder from the magazine to his assigned gun. He is part of a gun crew and his speed and agility are much valued by his mates.
I’m off to a puppet show (I am not making that up) with my dear friend and Triple P supporter Blue Flamingo this evening. Hope you fair as well, Brethren. I’ll spy ye in the week ahead.
Header: Cannon aboard HMS Victory via markcoggins.com. I will link to Mark's post on Thursday. You'll know why then.