Chapter 44 Notes

A 31 inch cable strung across Aix-Roads. Thomas sees this cable during his first recon mission, but the cable’s dimension refers to the rope’s circumference. Rope over a certain size was labeled by its circumference, not its diameter. In other words, below this size a rope’s specification was its diameter, above this size, its circumference. I think the dividing size is 9 inches, but if anyone knows, I’d be grateful of the real number. In his autobiography Thomas reflects that he did not think the Royal Navy had a cable of such dimensions, this one being the largest he had seen.

The Battle of Aix Roads. In case you’re thinking that the battle exaggerates Thomas and Impérieuse’s role or accomplishments, 6 ships of the line and 2 frigates were severely damaged, and four ships were sunk. While it’s true that the ships were sunk by the additional ships which eventually came to Impérieuse’s aid, the opportunity was entirely engineered by Thomas.

His “explosive torpedoes“, his phrase for a boat packed with barrels of gunpowder and debris, were his own invention and were first used at this battle. Thomas also invented the use of smoke screens as a tactical weapon, and barbed wire which he used while holding a fort in Spain against superior odds.

The idea of aiming all of the guns at one spot (as Thomas does in a later battle) was sparked by Thomas’s autobiography, in which he said that he learned to concentrate Speedy’s fire, to give her small guns more bite.

Click here for more on the battle.