Cutlass

Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Location
Orlando FL
A cutlass is a short, broad sabre or slashing sword, with a straight or slightly curved blade dull cutting edge, and a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or basket shaped guard. They were used on bord ship so they would not cut in to the wood and get stuck during combat.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
On the inland rivers, navy cutlasses were often replaced by artillery-type short swords (for instance, the gunboat Cairo was equipped with artillery short swords).
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
Not ordinarily, but it was not unheard of. Any boarding of a blockade runner had the potential of trouble, and there were "cutting out" expeditions conducted by both sides, notably the boarding of the Confederate privateer Judah at Pensacola, and capture of the USS Underwriter by a force of Confederate sailors and Marines led by Cmdr. John Taylor Wood.
 

ExNavyPilot

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2010
Location
Chesapeake, VA
Any idea what edged weapons the sailors used when attacking Fort Fisher? Would any of them have been armed with the artillery short swords, or more likely cutlasses?
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
Porter's orders for the naval column at Fort Fisher (second attempt) specified cutlasses and revolvers; since it was the blue-water fleet, I'm sure they had cutlasses, rather than Army short swords.
 

ExNavyPilot

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2010
Location
Chesapeake, VA
Porter's orders for the naval column at Fort Fisher (second attempt) specified cutlasses and revolvers; since it was the blue-water fleet, I'm sure they had cutlasses, rather than Army short swords.

That's one heck of a way to storm a fort, figuring the effective range of a .36 cal Navy revolver is no more than a hundred yards, and the effective range of a cutlass just over arm's length. Can't imagine running over a couple hundred yards of sand, with musket balls and canister rounds whizzing by, and not being able to shoot back effectively.

Shipboard is a whole 'nuther story....
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
Yeah. They didn't do too well. Typically, in his reporting and 'historical' writing, Porter blamed the Marines, though it seems pretty clear that the sailors weren't armed appropriately for the occasion.
 

ExNavyPilot

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2010
Location
Chesapeake, VA
Typical naval force SNAFU: Sailors blame the Marines ("Those dang jarhead snipers should have kept the dang rebels' heads down") while the Marines blame the Sailors ("Those worthless Sailors just wouldn't keep moving forward. They dug their heads in the sand like ostriches.")
 
Top