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By definition Artillery would include the large guns, cannon, ordnance, etc used on the ship. For the purpose of this site, Artillery will include the cannons, swivel guns, and the ordinance used with the guns.

In the movies, we often see the pirate ship engaging other ships in enormous ship to ship battles swapping broadsides, blowing great holes in the sides of ships, knocking out sails, etc. In reality, pirates tried to avoid such confrontations. Some reasons why pirates would avoid prolonged cannon fire are:

  • Such gun battles could leave both ships in such bad repair as to make it impossible for the pirate to escape.
  • Pirates preferred not to trade broadsides was because they were often out-gunned.
  • The merchant ship was of such a sturdy build that the pirate's cannon fire would virtually bounce of the hull.
  • They were shooting up their potential prize.

With this in mind, pirates often used their cannons as a last resort in when attacking or being attacked.

Profile picture for user Tobias Gibson

The only author and editor of all pages on the site. Most of what I write about is based on years of book reading on the topic. My first web page was published back in 1994.

Updated: 04 September 2022