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A Powder Monkey manned naval artillery guns as a member of a warship's crew, primarily during the age of sail. His chief role was to ferry gunpowder from the powder magazine in the ships hold to the artillery pieces, either in bulk or as cartridges. The function was fulfilled by boy seamen 12 to 14 years of age. Powder monkeys were usually boys or young teens selected for the job for their speed and height. They were short and would be hidden behind the ship's gunwale, keeping them from being shot by enemy ship's sharp shooters.
Photo: Powder Monkey sailor boy, USS New Hampshire, Civil War.
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