A Glossary of Military Terminology, Jargon, and Slang
compiled and edited by Jeff Crowell

Weights and Measures Appendix

Volumetric Measures

4 gills = a pint
2 pints = a quart
2 quarts = a pottle
2 pottles = a gallon
8 gallons = a firkin (1/4 barrel)
2 firkin = a kilderkin
2 kilderkin = a barrel (31.5 gallons)
2 barrels = a hogshead (63 gallons)
2 hogsheads = a pipe (126 gallons)
2 pipes or
3 puncheons
= a tun (252 gallons)
In brief, then, a gill is a quarter of a pint, where a Pint is 20 fluid ounces in the UK (an "imperial pint") and 16 fl. oz. in the USA. The stated ratios apply for both imperial measure and U.S. measure. The imperial gallon still consists of 8 pints, but they are 20 fl. oz. pints. An imperial gallon consists of 160 fluid ounces (8 X 20 oz.), while a U.S. gallon consists of 128 fluid ounces (8 X 16 oz.).

Distance Measures

a fathom = 6 feet
a rod = 16.5 feet
(also called a pole or perch)
a chain = 4 rods
(or 66 feet)
a furlong = 10 chains
(or 660 feet, 1/8th of a statute mile)
a cable = on land: 120 fathoms (or 720 feet)
at sea: 101 fathoms (or 606 feet, or 1/10th of a nautical mile)
a shot
(also called a league)
= on land: 3 statute miles
at sea: 3 nautical miles
in the US Navy, anchor chain is also measured in 'shots,' but these shots are 15 fathoms in length (90 feet per shot). The basic unit of measure for a length of anchor chain in UK service is referred to as a 'shackle,' which is also 90 feet long.

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