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Much of the American Revolution took place on the seas between a budding Continental Navy and the powerful British Royal Navy. Naval gunners on both sides fired a range of specialized projectiles from their cannons to disable or destroy enemy vessels. Solid iron “round shot” was used to pound and penetrate the heavy wooden planks that made up a ship’s hull. To destroy the rigging, masts, and sails of a ship, naval gunners used the deadly “bar shot” and “chain shot.” Either two cannonballs or two halves of a cannonball were attached to each other with a strong iron bar or chain and when fired created a spinning motion that would destroy anything in its path. Cramped together above and below decks, sailors suffered horrific wounds from the projectiles and the wooden splinters that erupted from their battered ships after impact. 

Object Details

  • Bar Shot, Chain Shot, and Cannonball
    Unidentified Maker
    Late 1700s
    Museum of the American Revolution, 2003.00.0940 and .0941, 2007.00.0335 (Benninghoff Collection)


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This image shows a French Naval Cutlass against a white background. The hilt of the cutlass is gold and on the left hand side of the image.

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