Pirate Ships > Naval Warfare
A Broadside was the process of aligning one ship with another and then firing the cannons to devastate the lower decks and possibly destroy the rigging and masts of the victims ship. Broadsides were devastating attacks that when aligned correctly could obliterate or cripple a ship. The fear of these devastating broadsides from massive frigates like Blackbeard's ship the Queen Anne's Revenge and Bartholomew Roberts' man of the war the Royal Fortune was enough to make most merchants surrender without firing a shot.
Cannons were especially dangerous in naval war for the collateral damage they inflicted on the wooden ship. In addition to the danger of a huge metal ball hit you with a great force the cannonballs would slam into the opponents ship and send out slivers of wood that would impale anyone near it. This would often cripple the entire side of a ship and kill the many men cramped below deck.
Pirates would often load any kind of material into cannons such as silverware, knives and grapeshot if they ran out of other ammunition. Several recent studies have proven this would have been highly effective in combat.