"Whereas upon a General Consultation, it has been agreed to go from this Place through the Streights of Magellan, for the coast of Brazil, in our way for England: We do, notwithstanding, find the People separating into Parties, which must consequently end in the Destruction of the whole Body; and as also there have been great robberies committed on the Stores and every Thing is now at a Stand; therefore, to prevent all future Frauds and Animosoties, we are unanimously agreed to proceed as above-mentioned." - John Bulkley, gunner on the HMS Wager
"I cannot suppose the Captain will refuse the signing of it; but he is so self-willed, the best step we can take, is to put him under arrest for the killing of Mr. Cozens. In this case I will, with your approbation, assume command. Then our affairs will be concluded to the satisfaction of the whole company, without being any longer liable to the obstruction they now meet from the Captain's perverseness and chicanery." - Lieutenant Robert Baynes, second-in-command on the HMS Wager
Mention the 18th century Royal Navy and visions come to mind of swashbuckling sailors swinging from rope to rope while a red-faced captain in an even redder coat and a powdered wig shouts order and pitches fits. Such visions, largely shaped by Hollywood pictures such as the popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, naturally fail to do full justice to a group of men who functioned, with little direction and even less support, on the seas for years at a time. Disney may enjoy portraying them sitting down to sumptuous feasts or cavorting with scantily clad native girls, but the opposite was true.
©2016 Charles River Editors (P)2016 Charles River Editors