- On the question of seamen's shoes, all are likely aware that the image of the seaman ashore with his short, 'roundabout' jacket with seams edged with ribbon, waistcoat, white or blue 'trowzers', white hose and small shoes with 'pinchbeck' buckles (few could afford more), and the accoutrements of a beribboned hat, stout cudgel and Polly on his arm was very much a shore-going image, and that the seaman afloat presented a very different picture. The recent thread about sailor's clothing made up from duck laid out on deck and marked crudely points in the direction of how rough seamen looked in their working environment. I would suggest caution in considering that small 'pumps' were worn by seamen at sea, as in all but severly inclement weather it was common for the men to be barefooted---seamen were known to have splayed, hard-soled feet that fit with difficulty into any shoe---or to wear a very sturdy shoe of standard pattern if they could afford them and could get them when ashore or from the 'bumboat' men when at anchor. The 'pumps' would have been treasured possessions kept for excursions ashore, and not worn at sea, where they would disintegrate after a few hours. If your representation is that of a Tar going ashore, then the white hose and pumps are certainly on---but not if you want to look like Jack in his working element.
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You are dead on the mark. Even with the daily grinding of holystones
and swabbing, the tar seams were a great bother in the Carribean and
Mediterranean Seas. With the sunlight from directly overhead and
temperatures ranging from a "cool" 100 degrees F. through 130 degrees
F., shoes were known to stick and be pulled off (I assume the buckled
variety) just as they were known to fall from the yardarms. Some
officers and definitely all midshipmen were sent aloft.
Apparently there was no article of war to protect sailors from being
struck by the officers' shoes although the reverse would earn the
sailor a visit to see the Bosun's pet cat "Scourge".
Alternately, the swelling ridges and stickiness of the tar (and cord)
caulking would provide improved traction.
From: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com [mailto:WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com] On
Behalf Of Dale Kidd
Sent: August 18, 2008 7:25 PM
Subject: 1812 Re: Seamen's Shoes
--- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Colin" <usmarine1814@...> wrote:
so How was this done in 1812? Different shoe construction? DIfferent
> materials.. Was sand on the deck more often than just in battle?
Certainly not sand. The daily swabbing of the deck each morning was
concluded with the decks being flogged (mopped) dry and clean.
A thought, though... The decks of period ships were caulked with tar,
which must have been fairly sticky in it's own right. I wonder if the
caulking strips between the deckboards provided some traction?