In 1714, 2 gunships fought for 14 hours, before one ran out of ammunition. The captain messaged his opponent, thanking him for a fine duel, and asking for more ammunition, so that the fight could continue. His opponent refused, but they then agreed to sail away in opposite directions.

When Scandinavia’s gutsiest Admiral ran out of ammo, he asked his enemy for more

During the Romantic Age of Seafaring in the early 18 Century Peter Tordenskjold became the embodiment of naval heroism and derring-do. He was a daredevil combination of dashing warrior and gentleman adventurer whose exploits whilst serving in the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy turned him into the Scandinavian equivalent of Admiral Nelson.

The future Tordenskjold was born Peter Jansen Wessel in 1690 to a wealthy merchant family in Trondheim, Norway. He was the 14th of 18 children and as a youth he was reputedly uncontrollable and was involved in many fights. Eventually he ran away to sea with hopes of becoming an officer in the Danish navy. Denmark and Norway had been united since 1524 with Denmark being the dominant country.

At that time… Continue Reading (6 minute read)

12 thoughts on “In 1714, 2 gunships fought for 14 hours, before one ran out of ammunition. The captain messaged his opponent, thanking him for a fine duel, and asking for more ammunition, so that the fight could continue. His opponent refused, but they then agreed to sail away in opposite directions.”

  1. RuinedSplendour

    >During 26-27 July 1714 Wessel’s ship Lovendals Gallej fought a Swedish frigate called De Olbing Galley. The Olbing was disguised by an English flag and commanded by an Englishman called Bactmann. Wessel himself was flying under a Dutch flag and when the two ships realised their true colours they opened fire and fought for over 14 hours.

    >Eventually, after taking much damage, Wessel ran out of ammunition and messaged his situation to Bactmann. He thanked him for a fine duel and boldly requested the Englishman for more ammunition so that the fight could continue. Bactmann declined but the two ships came together and both crews cheered and drank to each other’s health. The captains then agreed to sail away in opposite directions. Wessel was consequently court-martialled for this gentlemanly fight but he was acquitted and then promoted to Captain.

  2. Kamon0253

    “Good sport old chap. Have you any shot to spare?”

    “I haven’t but shall we part as equals?”

    “Indeed and good day”

  3. Hugh_Stewart

    One hears about similar amusing gentlemanly truces in history quite a few times. One interpretation is that people used to have a more polite code of conduct, but I think it’s more a representation of how the majority of participants in wars have very little personal desire to fight in them and will take any excuse they can to strive towards peace – not just to protect their own lives, but also because most people want to avoid taking another’s life whenever possible.

  4. diogenesofthemidwest

    The Norwegian navy had barcodes on their ships so they could Scandinavian.

  5. existentialism91342

    This reminds me of when skeleton ships were first added to sea of thieves. We didn’t realize we’d be fighting wave after wave of them. We began running out of cannonballs and planks for repairs. So we get boarding their ships, stealing as much as we could and then using it to repair our ship and shoot at them. Plus, we found that we’d do tons of damage by ramming them. So planks were kind of worth more than cannonballs. With one guy constantly bailing, one guy driving and manning the sails and the other two fighting/repairint/stealing, we downed what felt like a dozen enemy vessels. It was one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had in a videogame.

  6. NoeticQuality

    This might be a dumb question but how would he have messaged him?

  7. DeltaCharlie45

    This reminds me of those stories about Union and Confederate soldiers sending coffee to each other.

  8. BankOfSchrute

    He even promised them that he’d return the Ammo as soon as possible.

  9. littlemonkeyfella89

    Another great fact from no such thing as a fish! Learning this is superb!

  10. fiendishrabbit

    If you get into the sources (primarily swedish and danish) you find out:

    1. The english captain was named Blackman, not Bactmann. De Olbing was also of english make and english crew but had a Swedish letter of marque (and had been purchased just before by Jonas Alsnäs and was on its way to Sweden to be refurbished as a privateer. It would later complete that refurbishment and be renamed “Princessan Ulrica Eleonora”). In 1716 the ship would be transferred to and commanded by the infamous Lars Gathenhielm (“Lasse i gatan”), swedens most infamous privateer, and renamed “Le navigateur suédois d’Islande” (Den svenske islandsfararen/The swedish voyager to Iceland). Between 1716 and 1717 Le navigateur suédois d’Islande would establish itself as one of the most feared privateers of the Greath Northern war, taking several prizes.
    2. It wasn’t a sustained 14 hour gunduel. In the late afternoon Blackman ambushed Wessels ship, they fought a three hour gun duel, until the sun started to set and Blackman decided to withdraw (with severely damaged rigging). Wessels conducted repairs and pursued. Some two hours before midnight Wessels caught up, they fought a two hour gunduel until again the ships separated. Blackman had lost his main mast, but Lövendals Gallej had severe hull damage and had to retreat to avoid sinking. At six in the morning Wessels decided to once again engage Blackman and another three hour gunduel commenced until the ships once again hade to separate to repair damages, and at this time both ships had such damages that neither were willing to continue the engagement until repairs had been conducted. At one past midday the ships once again clashed for a fourth and final engagement. After one hour De Olbing was in pretty bad condition, but as Wessels was about to go in for the final push his supply officer reported that they were almost out of powder. At which point Wessels sent his message, thanking Blackman for a fine duel and asking for more powder. Which Blackman declined.
    3. Their decision to salute each others health and depart was less due to gentlemanny behavior and more because De Olbing Galley was in no shape for a duel, the Lövendals Gallej was out of ammo and the weather was such that it did not permit boarding (with quite fierce waves).
    4. The court martial was not about the agreement. Wessels was courtmartialled for revealing vital military intelligence (his lack of gunpowder) and for engaging a larger enemy vessel without direct orders (Danish naval policy at this time was to only engage equal and inferior enemies, or else try to escape).

  11. battleship_hussar

    Something similar happened as recently as WWII during the Battle off Samar from a Japanese destroyer passing by the sinking USS Johnston

    >At 1010, she rolled over and began to sink by the bow. “We all watched as our home for the past year slowly slid below the surface”, recall survivor Bill Mercer. As the ship was sinking, a Japanese destroyer sailed extremely close. As the survivors braced for a raking by machine gun, they were surprised to see that Japanese sailors stood at attention and saluted at the sinking ship. Survivor Clint Carter saw that a “smartly dressed officer… on the wing of the bridge” saluting as well, possibly the captain of the Japanese destroyer.

    They respected their courage and sacrifice for being a small destroyer force going toe-to-toe with battleships and heavy cruisers.

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