Sailors of the High Shore

 

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.

In the Hundred Days, les Equipages were ordered to reform and regroup, but were not able to do so in time for Waterloo.

 

 


 

Les 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 well-paid.

Les 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 Devil’s Own.’

 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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