Marines stand firm in the face of enemy fire

The marines on board ship were expected to stand firm in the face of enemy fire and stop any enemy from boarding. They had to keep up continuous musket fire on the open deck, with only rolled up and packed hammocks to protect them.

The flint lock musket

The marines’ main weapon was a flint lock musket. Muskets were difficult to load so the men would form two lines, one firing and the other reloading, to make sure there was no break in continuous fire.

The marine’s kit was very similar to the army regiments who were passengers on board Invincible, so archaeologists can’t tell their equipment apart. Both services needed lots of ammunition to deliver continuous fire.

Archaeologists found well over 6,000 musket balls and some small wooden pegs used as formers (shapers) to make paper cartridges. Each cartridge contained one musket ball and some gunpowder. To prepare to fire, a marine would bite off the musket ball in the top of the cartridge, pour the gunpowder into the flintlock pan and into the musket, then ram the ball down the muzzle.

A marine’s job

The marines didn’t just protect the ship from the enemy. There were over 600 men on Invincible – that’s a lot of men working and living in a cramped space. Inevitably some men would get into fights or get drunk. The Captain relied on the marines to keep the men in line and to punish any disobedience.