View Full Version : Deck sweepers

06-09-2009, 07:56 PM
OK, I have a question which I'm sure has been addressed in the past here, but being kinda new here and not finding out much on my own, I think it would be fantastic of you veterans and experts to help enlighten me and others about deck sweepers.. were they like a pirate's molotov cocktail? Are there actual specimens or is it just a myth? And the persian saddle flasks?? Wutchoo talkin bout, Willis?

06-09-2009, 08:00 PM
Here's a link to a previous discussion on this issue:



06-09-2009, 08:41 PM
dont open that can of worms

06-09-2009, 08:47 PM
I mean w/o all the ebay junk.. I don't care if there's fakes out there, I just want to know what they are..?? Can't some kind soul lay down an informed, authoritative paragraph about deck sweepers.. for dummies? [;)]

06-09-2009, 09:38 PM
I did some extensive research on the items back when sirmark was in his prime, and the best I could find was a reference to early hand grenade, which was a hollow iron ball, fitted with a wick and filled with gunpowder and shot. At some point these were refereed to as a deck sweepers. Its possible that period bottles were also used, but no NO! glass vessel was ever specifically made for use as a deck sweeper or hand grenade...

06-09-2009, 11:02 PM
Tigue is right, it is a hand grenade. They also loaded chain and nails in cannon and called that deck sweeper shot when fired low across the deck. Chain was also used to cut and fowl the rigging of the other ship. They also used bottles and jugs like molotov cocktail.

Small glass ball shaped hand grenades were used by Napolean at least once against the Russians. They had a fuse and were filled with a combustable liquid and thrown into the Russian troops setting many on fire. That is the only time I know of that purpose made glass balls were used for a grenade, at least the military historians think they were. They may have been christmas ornaments for all I know.

06-09-2009, 11:16 PM
That's all well and good but can we agree that there is no bottle specifically designed as a deck sweeper?!

06-09-2009, 11:22 PM
There are definately accounts of improvised cannon rounds being used as grenades.
In the Civil War some actual manufactured grenades were tried.
I find it unlikely that a glass contaner would ever make an effect grenade, its just not strong enough, not made for fusing , and would just shatter when it hits before it explodes. A hollow iron projectile is much better.
Now if you are talking flaming cocktails thats another story...

06-09-2009, 11:29 PM
ORIGINAL: kungfufighter

That's all well and good but can we agree that there is no bottle specifically designed as a deck sweeper?!

You have my vote, Jeff! There must have been plenty of bottles on board to improvise with..

06-10-2009, 10:28 AM
anyone ever hear of star shot? For fowling rigging? Some nasty stuff.... It was an iron ring with a bunch of long iron bars attached to the ring. It would be folded and put in the cannon, and when shot it opened up like a star... would tear through rigging, masts, sailors.... I can think of a million places Id rather be then on a wooded ship in the late 18th century about to be broadsided from 30 yards away with 20 cannon!

06-10-2009, 11:37 AM
Rather be on an enemy ship back then. Now days you get a harpoon missile shot at you.
Fired from 100 miles away you wont even know its coming and with 400 lbs of high explosives all that will be left is a smoking hole in the water.

06-10-2009, 03:13 PM

here are some civil war 'deck sweepers'

06-10-2009, 08:08 PM
shoot Id rather go in a vaporized puff then in slow agony with a 12 inch oak splinter up my but and some guy tearing through my pulverized limb with a hack saw...

06-10-2009, 08:15 PM
I'm with Tigue all the way there.. specially after watching "Master and Commander" a few too many times.. it's my life-long wish to die so suddenly, I never even saw it coming!!