Congreve Rocket System


This engraving from William Congreve’s A Treatise on the General Principles, Powers, and Facility of Application of the Congreve Rocket System (1827) depicts the arrangement for firing rockets from ships’ barges. At right, a rocket is loaded into the firing frame, and at left the rocket is fired by means of a lanyard, with a wet sail to shield the crew from the ignition. The angle of the frame determines the trajectory of the rocket. The image also suggests the flexibility of the barges, which could be rowed or sailed, could accommodate a force of Royal Marines, and which proved their value in the “petit guerre” on Long Island Sound. (Nimitz Library, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland)