How to … win a 19th century navy battle

Step One: Take command of the weather 


Taking control of the weather was all important in sea battles fought with sailing ships. Make sure you position your ship so that you can quickly close in on your opponent but prevent them from swinging around on the wind and bearing down on you!

Step Two: Close in and present broadsides


Warships like HMS Victory and USS Constitution held the majority of their weapons on their sides. Position your ship to come alongside your opponent, close in for maximum effect and fire!

Step Three: Prepare boarding party


Boarding parties were essential for ending naval engagements quickly. Muster your best sailors, or marines if you have them, arm them with cutlasses and pistols and take the fight to the enemy.

Step Four: Wreck her wings


Make sure the enemy ship stays where it is by wrecking it’s rigging with chain-shot cannon. Fire your cannon into the enemy rigging and watch the chain-linked cannon balls wreck the vulnerable rigging and sails of the enemy ship.

Step Five: Demand surrender  


Proper form when engaging enemy vessels was for the senior officer of the winning ship to demand the surrender of the losing crew’s captain. Demand his sword and take the enemy ship as a prize.