War of 1812 - Artefact of the Week - August 31, 2012

British Naval Boarding Axe

This British naval boarding axe was used in hand-to-hand combat by sailors serving in the British Royal Navy during the War of 1812. The boarding axe is an interesting weapon of choice – it was originally intended for labour on ships! During the war it was used primarily when boarding enemy ships on the high seas.

In 1812 the British Royal Navy was the largest in the world, holding over 600 commissioned vessels. While the Royal Navy was indeed present on the Great Lakes, the British naval forces in Halifax, Nova Scotia, bore the brunt of the war at sea. For more stories about the navy during the War of 1812, read
HMS Shannon Defeats and Captures USS Chesapeake in the This Week in History archives.

At least 15 wrecks of ships from the War of 1812 have been discovered. The most impressive shipwreck discovery occurred in 1973 when a Canadian government research vessel uncovered the US schooners the Hamilton and Scourge, 88 meters below the surface of Lake Ontario. Today they are a National Historic Site and you can read The Sinking of the USS Hamilton and Scourge in the This Week in History archives to learn more.

British Naval Boarding Axe British Naval Boarding Axe
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