What a Stinkpot!

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I love Roman perioid armor…I just do


The days of fighting sail

A stinkpot was usually a fire pot made of clay and thus easily breakable, which was dipped in pitch and equipped with one or more igniters. The pot itself could be filled with easily flammable material as well as very considerable smelling substances (sulfur, black powder, pitch, tallow, feces, asafoetida, various putrefaction products, arsenic methyl and cacodyl, which ignites itself in the air, etc.) and after activating the individual detonators it was hurled, shot, thrown, catapulted or dropped from the yards towards the enemy ship’s deck. These stink bombs were used to disorientate and confuse the enemy.

British Admiral Sir William Robert Kennedy described the use of the stinkpot in 1856 during the Second Opium War in his book Hurrah for the Life of a Sailor – Fifty Years in the Royal Navy.

The stinkpot is an earthen vessel filled with powder, sulfur etc. Every junk had cages at the head of the mast, manned in action by one or more men, whose business it was to throw these stink-pots on the enemy’s decks, or into boats trying to get on board; and woe betide the unfortunate boat that got one of these missiles off: The crew was sure to jump overboard or suffocate.

One man climbs the foremast and one the mizzenmast, all going all the way up and staying on the highest yard. Two men stand at the foot of each mast and pull up the baskets with the skunk pots using a pulley. Each basket contains ten or more stink pots, and each pot has 4-pound rolls enclosed in cotton sleeves. These are pulled up briskly and then lit by the men at the masthead with matches, which are then immediately discharged. When one basket is emptied, another is pulled up, ensuring an uninterrupted supply on board the barbarian ship.

It is not known exactly when the stinkpot emerged. Some sources claim that this weapon was only introduced in the 19th century, but there are drawings from the 18th century that show stinkpots on ships.


War Cutter with Stink Pot on the Bowsprit (French here: pot á feu (A), illustration from Ozanne’s Marine Militaire of 1762. The stinkpot was simply dropped from the bowsprit onto smaller ships. 

Therefore, it can be assumed that the stinkpot was used much earlier, whether by pirates or various navies.


As to the captioned photo of FJB, I couldn’t help but combine it with the discussion of stinkpots as weapons. You understand, don’t you?


Frankincense – fighting stink and making people happy at church for a very long time.


Photo of the Day

French Resistance Fighter Simone Segouin was photographed wielding an MP40 on the streets of Southern France. She received the Croix de Guerre and became a pediatric nurse after the war. Now 96, she lives in Courville-sur-Eure. Simone Segouin has been featured on VM previously, but she has lived quite a life, worth mentioning twice.


The Tadpole Galaxy

The Tadpole Galaxy from a Hubble Image – The Tadpole Galaxy is a disrupted barred spiral galaxy located 420 million light-years from Earth in the northern constellation Draco.

Its most dramatic feature is a trail of stars about 280,000 light-years long. Its size has been attributed to a merger with a smaller galaxy that is believed to have occurred about 100 million years ago. It is filled with bright blue star clusters. This galaxy is the largest disrupted spiral galaxy of its sort.


Bullet Points

* “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” – 1984  Orwell didn’t intend the novel to be aspirational in the way that it would seem to be to the democrat party.

* The following is an excerpt from The Hill. “Almost 2 million students stopped attending public schools between 2020 and 2021, enrollment data shows.   In a recent poll from Education Next, district-operated schools lost 4 percent of their students during those two years, with those children enrolling in other types of schooling.”

Arizona now offers complete school choice. Parents are overwhelmingly working to get their children enrolled in charter schools and other options as they are available. The cited article above is only the beginning of a nationwide trend.

19 thoughts on “What a Stinkpot!

  1. Stinkpot – at first I was thinking that you were referring to the Ferocious Filler of Diapers…

    1. He who carries a heavy load in his depends? Yes, that’s where the mind is drawn. Sorry for the click bait, but not really.

  2. We need more Simone’s.

    Stinkpot Joe & his Stinkpot Democrats (who constantly project that we are a Constitutional Republic and not a Democracy). It is a perfect descriptor, dropping their bucket of stench into America’s lap while telling us it’s actually Frankincense.

    That metalwork!…amazing what people did with a few handtools and fire.

    1. Ok, I need to quit hitting send before re-reading after a cut-n-paste…

      “who constantly project we are a Democracy and not a Constitutional Republic”.

      More coffee please.

        1. If this next election goes like the last one did in 20 years no one will have ever heard of the Greatest Generation.

  3. The armor is amazing, don’t know how practical it would be since it obstructs vision quite a bit but it certainly is a work of art that demonstrates the skill of the person/people that made it without any power tools in sight.

    Simone Segouin: True heroine and agree with PaulM: we need more of them.

    Hubble: I confess that I sometimes go to their website and just look at the pictures, truly spectacular. Don’t even know enough to be dangerous as far as astronomy is concerned but truly spectacular what Hubble has accomplished over the years.

    Kudos to Arizona for their stance on school choice. That needs to spread to all 50 states.

    1. A facemask like that, if worn in combat, is used in the front-ranks for the initial rush. Just like European closed-helms and helms that hat a facemask that was removable/movable.

      Charge into sharp pointy objects like spears and lances, then toss/lift the face plate away for general fighting.

      Though the ornateness of the helmet/facemask would tend to indicate that is parade/ceremonial armor and though it may be usable in battle, isn’t meant for that. Same with a lot of that fancy armor that still is around that has all the chase-work and engraving and inlay, meant to make you look great but of limited usefulness in actual battle.

      Close-helms and visored helms are really interesting to fight in. It’s actually surprising how much one sees, due to the distance from the eye to the eyeslot. That’s one of the reasons Roman helms evolved to have cheek plates that protected the cheeks and side of the face, while leaving the eyes very uncovered.

      Now this also goes into my previous ramblings about helmets and head armor from 1066. The Normans and some Saxons wore a full hauberk with ‘hoodie’ that had a ventail, a mailled flap, that would cover the face from below the eyes, while the helmet had a nasal ridge that covered the nose. In combination, it left the eyes only exposed. Which is why in one panel of the Bayeaux (not) Tapestry (it’s an embroidery) it shows William lifting up his helmet and opening his ventail to show his troops that the rumors of his demise were very premature.

      And, well, if you’re fighting a static line fight where you only need to see 2-3 persons to the left and right of the person immediately in front of you, having an open facemask isn’t necessary. What is important is being able to breathe and communicate, so back to that excellent Roman helmet design with movable cheek plates.

      Now, those heavy helms you see appearing in around 1150ish? They evolve into a closed helm worn over a lesser helm that just covered the top of the head, and that over a padded coif. So that you do your initial lance charges and farting around with the closed helm, then when you need to suck air, you toss or carefully remove the outer closed helm and now you can breathe and not have to worry much about lance charges and such which are what the closed helm protects you from. Liftable or removable or complex-mechanically-sprung helmet designs come after.

      1. The Roman face plates are as you suggest, ornamental, worn by officers. In combat, they tended to keep their faces uncovered so that they could communicate and could breathe. Some of them tilted up (later models) like a helmet visor. We have VERY FEW of the old original helmets to study when compared with the volume that were in service. There are a lot of Norman helmets around but it was 1400 years later. As Beans (and I) have pointed out quite a bit, the armor was reused both by the winners of battles who would harvest it and repair it if necessary and by successive generations. The Romans were successful primarily because they developed an organized system (particularly after Marian Reforms) of combined arms and armor. They incorporated successful systems and foreign levies as cavalry and archers where they could. The bulk of the army was articulated infantry that fought in a very systematic way usually. There were times when the big formations were not used (Teutoberg Forest) and it didn’t work out well for them.

  4. Talking to a priest has about or better of a success rate in treating most things one goes to a shrink for, and it’s free, which is why so many shrinks are against religion.

    Love the smell of frankinsence and myrrh. The only incenses I’ve ever really liked.

  5. I love incense in the liturgy, though my people hate it. They say they’re allergic to it.

    Commonality? All x baptist or methodee.

    Incense, for them, reeks of the whore of Babylon. Ahem, look in your wallet to find the idol.

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