Despite the apparent dominance of gunnery, in the age of sail sea fights were often concluded by boarding actions - desperate and bloody hand-to-hand melees where edged weapons rather than firearms were the deciding factor. The particular needs of naval close-quarter combat produced distinctive versions of axes, pikes and cutlasses (not to mention the great variety of officers' fighting, presentation and dress swords) and this book surveys in full detail the whole gamut of such weapons as used in the Royal Navy and the new naval service of the United States. It concentrates on development from the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775 to the end of the US Civil War in 1865, the apogee and decline of fighting sail, revealing how British weapons were initially a major source of inspiration for the American navy, an influence which eventually declined as the United States developed its own arms industry. Using surviving examples, artifacts recovered by archaeology, and documentary sources, the book devotes individual chapters to shipboard axes, pikes and other polearms, and both officers' and enlisted men's swords and cutlasses. It also looks at the decoration of swords and the significance of the motifs used, concluding with a section on process of manufacturing and the organizations involved. Heavily illustrated with examples from Europe and America, Naval Edged Weapons is an accessible introduction for the general reader, but also provides a useful overview for the specialist.