Sailing Ships in the 1800s


Marine History is dubbed with various tags that characterized the use of the ships and/or the style. The mid-1800s to early the 1900s was dubbed with some affection as the golden age of sailing or the golden age of sailing ships. The sailing ships in the 1800s plowed all seven seas in the world to transport cargo. Also the rigs of the 1800 ships are divided into two categories. The two categories are:

The fore-and-aft-rig

The square rig

For each of these categories there were certain styles of sailing ships in the 1800s. The styles of ship referred to as the “fore-and-aft-rig” are:

The Sloop

Grand Bank Fishing Schooner

Two Masted Fishing Schooner

Square Topsail Schooner

Coastal Schooner


Four Masted Schooner

Tern Schooner

The second style of ship is the “square rig” these are the styles:




Barque or Bark

Full Rigged Ship

The fore-and-aft-rig style ships are generally of a schooners style. Schooners have been know to out-number square riggers in America, generally. The schooners can sail closer to the wind and they could also be sailed with a smaller crew, thus the reason for their popularity.

Schooners are versatile because they can carry every conceivable type of cargo. The schooners are also used for coastal work, ocean voyages on inland waterways and in the open seas. In the late 1800’s, there could be up to 2000 schooners on the Great Lakes for the purpose of hauling a great variety of cargo and actually for pleasure as well or for the purpose of fishing.

Ships, through the history of our country and before have had a great influence on countries and peoples. They have promoted trade and been a basic form of transportation through the decades of many centuries. So from the 1600’s to the 1800’s, the big sailing ships were called East Indiamen and they carried silks, spices, and other riches from the Far East to Europe. However, during the mid-1800’s, steam-powered ships began to replace these sailing vessels.

The sailing ships in the 1800s participated in the wars of that century. In 1805 there was a battle fought on July 20 by the famous name of Battle of Cape Finisterre. This battle was one of the Napoleonic wars fought between two fleets of two famous admirals by the name of Vice Admiral Robert Calder and Vice Admiral Pierre Villeneuve.

In the War of 1812, the USS Constitution defeated the HMS Guerriere. This battle was the first one in a series of single-ship victories for the US Navy over the Royal Navy in the early days of the War of 1812.

In the years of the civil war, there were many battles fought with the sailing ships in the 1800 ships over the inland waterways. Some of the were the capture of New Orleans, The Battle of Memphis and when the H.L. Hunley sank the USS Housatonic.


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