|Les Equipages de Haut-Bord
After the Battle of Trafalgar, France set about a system of naval
re-building and reform that was never to be fully realized. Part
of this reform was to turn sailors into proper soldiers by issuing
uniforms, weapons, and training. Unfortunately, due to Britain's
command of the ocean, most of these men were turned into proper soldiers
and transferred to the army where they fought in many campaigns until
the battle for Paris that ended in Napoleon's exile to Elba.
Hundred Days, les Equipages were ordered to reform and regroup, but were
not able to do so in time for Waterloo.
Equipages de Haut-Bord in the United Republics of South America
Les Equipages de Haut-Bord were instrumental in Napoleon's rescue from
Saint Helena and his investiture as President of South America's former
Spanish colonies. The Battle of Callao, which secured Lima and the
Viceroy's Treasury for Bonaparte, was fought by les equipages de haut-bord.
These men were part of an ex-patriot Louisiana contingent assembled by
Admiral Henri Ceurôtte II and were all veterans of the Grand Army.
After the Battle of Callao, Admiral Ceurôtte and Colonel William Miller
directed a programme by which volunteer sailors could receive training
as a marine. The actual training programmes were overseen by
Colonel William Miller. To qualify for the training, the volunteer
must already be rated as at least an ordinary seaman. Successful
completion of the training meant that the sailor could draw pay
equivalent to one grade above his already established rating and could
do so for the remainder of his career. So, for each rating he
earned, les equipages were paid as if they were the rating above.
Initially, the programme was met with resistance from Napoleon's
British, North American, and Chilean officers. However, Ceurôtte &
Miller's results could not be disputed. It was a great success and
Napoleon’s South American sailors became professional, uniformed, and
Equipage de Haut-Bord are distinguished from other sailors by a cord
sewn to the shoulder. They tend to wear this cord whether in
proper uniform or not. For each rank over ordinary seaman, a knot
is tied in the cord, i.e. an able seaman is one knot, junior petty
officers are two knots, senior petty officers, three.
Cazadores de Armada
The sailors of the United Republics,
equipages and regular seamen alike, were organized collectively as the
Cazadores de Armada. The Cazadores are organized in Battalions under
the model of the First French Empire. Roughly one Battalion mans a ship
of the line or two frigates, so there could be many Battalions per
fleet. Generally, depending on the officer, Battalions stay together
and follow their Captain, Commodore, or Admiral from ship to ship and
Fleet to Fleet.
The Devil’s Own
Cochrane and Bronsan both favoured the
rocket. While the cylinders were too small to carry enough powder to
truly damage a ship, they could be loaded with grape shot that could rip
through crews, tatter and burn sail and rigging, and generally play
merry havoc. For a navy limited in resources, subterfuge, fear, and
terror was the thing. Coming close to an enemy ship and firing a
barrage of screaming, fiery Congreve rockets was the trick.
Field Marshal Wittgenstein
remarked of the Congreve's rocket, ‘They look as if they were made in
Hell, and surely are the devil’s own artillery.’ Those sailors of the
High Shore that were trained in both gunnery and rocketry were ‘The
As in the First Empire, les
equipages de haut bord were often called upon to serve as land
soldiers. Some in fact never set foot ship board. When serving in such
a capacity, the Devil’s Own acted as artillery regiments.
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