Battlewagon Wednesday – 04 Feb 2009

This post went live a bit earlier but was incomplete. I pulled it until I could get more battlewagons into it. My apologies.

Battlewagon Wednesday at Murdoc Online

A previous edition of Battlewagon Wednesday linked to a skateboarding event held aboard USS North Carolina (BB 55). It seems that not everyone thought that the event was appropriate: Battleship skaters an outrage

Here’s an example:

The history of the USS North Carolina shows that many a brave soul lost his life in the defense of our Country on the decks of that ship. Would you have skateboarding amongst the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Common sense dictates that there is a time and place for everything.

To be honest, I guess I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it at all. What do you guys think?

Battlewagon Wednesday at Murdoc Online
Diving on Maine\'s wreck - U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Diving on Maine's wreck - U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Remembering Mainers on board the USS Maine

What the history books don’t give us is much information about the crew. Where were they from? USS Maine’s company of 350 men were from 23 states and 15 countries. Twenty-two sailors were African Americans.

Who were the casualties from Maine? The Bath Daily Times informs us there were two “Boys from Bath” on the doomed ship, John Sweeney and Frank Talbot. Sweeney worked in the boiler shop at the Bath Iron works for ten years and left in 1897 to join the ship. For some reason he was not listed on the ship’s roster and thus was not initially reported as dead. A third casualty, Clarence Lowell, was born in Bath, but moved to Augusta.

A very well-researched article by Harry Gratwick.

Battlewagon Wednesday at Murdoc Online

Sunken Battleship Found After 264 Years

Odyssey said the 31 brass cannons and other evidence on the wreck allowed definitive identification of the HMS Victory, 175-foot sailing ship that was separated from its fleet during a storm and sank in the English Channel on Oct. 4, 1744, with at least 900 men aboard. The ship was the largest and, with 110 brass cannons, the most heavily armed vessel of its day. It was the inspiration for the HMS Victory famously commanded by Adm. Horatio Nelson decades later.

Odyssey was searching for other valuable shipwrecks in the English Channel when it came across the Victory. Stemm wouldn’t say exactly where the ship was found for fear of attracting plunderers, though he said it wasn’t close to where it was expected to be.

Battlewagon Wednesday at Murdoc Online

Battleship X: U.S.S. South Dakota

Photographer: Richard E. Miller Taken: July 2003

Photographer: Richard E. Miller Taken: July 2003

From the Historical Marker Database. Years ago, a young Murdoc visited the USS South Dakota Memorial in Sioux Falls.

The site editor is looking for a readable photo of the memorial marker’s front side. See the page if you can help.

Battlewagon Wednesday at Murdoc Online

You Sank My Battleship

Print and T-Shirt. I can’t decide if I think that’s funny or not.

Battlewagon Wednesday at Murdoc Online


  1. Lost with (at least) 900 men? Holy cow. The Indianapolis lost about 880 when all was said and done.

    An 18th century vessel with a crew as large as a “modern” warship must have been something to see.

  2. Sailing men-of-war needed crews that size to work the sails and fight the guns. Each gun had a crew of at least 5, so to fully crew the guns that’s 550 tars right there.

  3. Geek, generaly they DID have big crews. The difference is that, unlike modern ships, there was no “crew’s quarters” or crew amenities; a sailor had his seabag and his hammock (which he slung wherever there was room, generally on the gundeck) and when he wasn’t actually sleeping the hammock was rolled up and stowed. The heads were simple holes through a board and were outdoors on most ships (one reason that the bilges reeked so badly was that during very bad weather sailors wouldn’t bother going out to the heads… think it through); there were no showers or mess area (the cook served on deck and you ate on deck or on the gundeck, with your own utensils which you cleaned afterwards); the sickbay and doctor’s offices were miniscule, where present at all (many smaller ships didn’t have the room) and combat aid was performed in the same tiny room the midshipmen had their berth (one room with bunks for all of them). The other officers had their own bunkroom (where the Marine officers also bunked), The Captain had had his own living space, doubling as his office an office (doubling as the officer’s dining room, and also housing guns in the smaller ships) in all but the ships of the line…

    The USS Constitution, a big example of a frigate (one gundeck), had a full complememnt of 450 men and boys in a space 204 feet by 43 feet… The Victory was a Ship of the Line. It was much bigger.
    “Wooden ships and iron men”…

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