In a previous post, I mentioned the book Two Years Before The Mast telling of a sailor who fell overboard and couldn't swim. The ship was under sail, and they stopped as quickly as possible, yet they were unable to rescue the sailor...
Afterwards, an auction was held to dispose of his belongings. The money was collected to give to his family.
Life In Wellington's Army tells of the many auctions held after a battle to dispose of the soldier's gear. Sometimes the bidding became boisterous and competitive. The good-natured spirit of the bidders is better understood when you realize they were taking their joy where they could find it. They knew that the next auction could be to dispose of their goods.
A meal kit purchased after one battle could be auctioned again after the next.
While it seemed strange to me—it is little different than an estate auction in modern times.