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Thread: A Glorious Tumult

  1. #1

    Default A Glorious Tumult

    Here's my personal AAR from the Glorious First of June battle (http://sailsofglory.org/showthread.p...-great-success) written from the vantage point of the rear division of the British fleet.

    Many of the pictures are courtesy of the French rear division commander, Cole, who is a much better photographer than me--thanks!!

    Again a big shout-out to Dave, Tess, Jason, Cole, Dean and Mike, thanks for having us!!

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    Vice-Admiral Fred had met with his commanders in his cabin aboard HMS Royal George before the battle to brief them. The admiral had charge of the rear division of the British fleet—seven mighty ships of the line and three auxiliaries. Within that division, Commodore Riley would command the first squadron, consisting of HMS Ramillies (74) and HMS Alfred (74), and Commodore Gene would lead the third squadron, the three-deck HMS Glory(98) and HMS Thunderer (74). In-between, the admiral himself would retain control of the second squadron, HMS Montagu (74), HMS Royal George (100) and HMS Majestic (74).

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    (Edit: in the maps Galithee is marked as a 74, but it is actually a 34 gun frigate)

    The plan developed by Fleet-Admiral Jason was for each ship to approach its opposite number in the French line, and then cut behind it, firing raking broadsides to port and starboard. Admiral Fred assured his commodores that when they made their first move toward the enemy, they would still be out of range, and would have time to attain a favorable firing angle against the enemy before the battle commenced in earnest.

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    Now the conflict was finally at hand. Seeing the order to attack unfurl on board the fleet-admiral's flagship, Fred relayed the order to his own commanders. As they began to turn toward the French, gunfire flashed out on board the enemy ships nearly a mile to starboard. "Those fools should be saving their powder, they're still out of range" thought the admiral, when suddenly cannonballs began to rain down on his ships. "Preposterous!" thought Fred, "the game is only in the first turn—so to speak—and already the plan has gone to hell in a handbasket!"

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    Looking aft, he saw that HMS Glory and HMS Thunderer were, as intended, still out of range. It was clear, however, that the leading five line-of-battle ships must have drifted closer to the enemy than planned, and consequently were taking fire they couldn't return effectively. He tried to signal Commodore Riley in the first squadron to abandon the plan and proceed at his own discretion, but he was unsure whether the message had been received. Turning to his own ships, he gave orders that they pivot toward the French and engage them more rapidly.

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    The division flagship, HMS Royal George began running directly toward the French line. Its counterpart, the imposing first-rate Republican (110) began to pull ahead, eliminating the risk of French raking shots, and allowing Royal George to bring a portion of both her broadsides to bear, smiting Republican to port and Sans Periel (80) to starboard. Far ahead, the admiral saw flags at the masthead of HMS Queen in the British main division:
    "Ensign, they're making our number, what does it say?"
    "Well adm'ral, 't says 'balls to th' wall--go get 'em!'"
    "Very well, ensign, signal our acknowledgment."

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    Looking around, the admiral realized that HMS Montagu and HMS Majestic had failed to follow his aggressive lead. Apparently their captains had no intention of cutting the French line, and were contenting themselves with long-range gunnery. Majestic was just taking on replacement crew from the cutter HMNV Rattler to replace losses taken so far in the desultory cannonade; the admiral watched as Rattler collided with Majestic and broke a spar. He shook his head in chagrin at the pitiful seamanship of the ships in his own squadron, before ordering Rattler to rendezvous with the hospital ship, HMS Charon, for more men.

    Behind Royal George, he saw that HMS Glory and HMS Thunderer were now within gunnery range, and closing steadily with their French counterparts at the very end of both fleets, exactly according to plan. Meanwhile, ahead, HMS Ramillies and HMS Alfred remained locked in an unfavorable approach angle, and taking murderous raking fire from Jemmapes and Neptune. Knowing they would not stand such fire for long, Fred dispatched HMS Phaeton (32) to take position to aid them should they be disabled.

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    Now he saw the 80-gun Sans Periel looming out of the gunsmoke just in front of his flagship. For a moment it appeared Royal George would sail clear, but then Sans Periel's bowsprit plowed into Royal George's starboard bow. The admiral realized that from this advantageous angle all of the flagship's guns could bear, against only a fraction of her adversary's.

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    Time and again cannon shots from both ships boomed out, while waves of musket fire swept their decks. At one point a sudden shower of cannonballs impacted Royal George's forecastle from an unexpected quarter. Turning, the admiral saw that the French signal frigate Galathee was taking the opportunity to rake the bow of his immobilized ship. The admiral cursed as he realized he could make no immediate response to this affront. "Those French have no honor," he muttered to himself. Then he winced again as he saw his own signal ship, HMS Aquilon (36) blunder into HMS Majestic. Clearly the admiral's squadron needed some navigational help.

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    The British marine company aboard Royal George organized a boarding party, but their efforts to grapple Sans Periel and draw the ships close enough to jump across came to naught. Meanwhile, aft of Sans Periel, the trailing French ships, Scipion (80) and Pelltier (74), veered out of line to avoid the entangled ships. Glory and Thunderer turned sharply to starboard to follow them, blasting out damaging broadsides as they did so. As Royal George's guns played on Sans Periel's forecastle, Glory passed aft and blazed out a punishing stern rake. The disordered Scipion and Pelltier also suffered from the disciplined British gunnery.

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    Ahead the admiral could see Commodore Riley making a brave attempt to break the French line. Unfortunately HMS Ramillies was unable to clear the French 74 Neptune, and instead suffered another shattering broadside on her bow, forcing her to strike colors. The admiral ordered frigate Phaeton on to her assistance. HMS Alfred did rather better, cutting between Jemmapes (74) and Trent-et un Mai (74). British crews throughout the rear division raised a cheer as they saw her fire simultaneous raking broadsides to port and starboard against the two French ships.

    Alfred's success was short lived, however. As she passed beyond the enemy line, the French ships opened up a withering fire from their previously unengaged starboard guns, and Alfred soon brought down her colors. Even the French tow frigate had joined in the carnage. "That's it!" snarled Admiral Fred, "We're done holding back our frigates. Signal HMS Aquilon to engage the enemy!" She turned to approach the fight, and the admiral was heartened to see smoke burst forth as her forward guns began lobbing shots at both Sans Periel and Republican at long range.

    Somehow Sans Periel was still in the fight despite the tremendous pounding she had taken, and now she finally began to drift away from Royal George. The hulks circled each other in clockwise fashion, with Sans Periel firing a weak volley at the British division flagship. Royal George, however, reserved her much heftier broadside for the oncoming Scipion.

    The admiral had at first believed Commodore Riley had been captured along with his flagship Ramillies, but now the commodore could be distinguished emerging from a bank of smoke in a jolly-boat that defiantly flew his broad pennant. Fred ordered him to take command of HMS Phaeton and HMS Montagu. Riley sent Phaeton in among the victorious French to take Ramillies in tow, hoping to save her from loss. Meanwhile Montagu traded deadly gunfire with the still defiant Trent-et un Mai.

    Next, Admiral Fred tried to shame the captain of HMS Majestic into action, raising the flags to spell out "engage the enemy more closely." This seemed to have the intended effect as HMS Majestic cut across the stern of the massive Republican, firing a full broadside. Republican could return fire with only half her guns, but it still formed an effective riposte.

    At the end of the line the British were now tasting success. Poignantly it was at this moment that Commodore Gene was lost aboard HMS Glory. His affecting last words were "Sorry, I've gotta take off now." As a parting salute, Glory spewed fire with both broadsides. The doughty Sans Periel was at last forced to bring down her colors, while on the other side Pelltier shuddered, near defeat. Meanwhile the booming guns of the still lightly-damaged HMS Thunderer made their mark on Scipion, which also could fight no longer and struck.

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    In the brief respite that followed, Fred scanned the horizon and planned his next moves. One more concerted attack from Royal George and Aquilon would inevitably force Pelltier into surrender. But after that, what next? The admiral could see that his flagship was decimated, with barely enough men left to sail. He was cheered, however, that he had annihilated the French rear, captured three prizes, and held the weather gauge. He could reform a battle line with Thunderer, Glory, Majestic and Aquilon and attempt to pick off the next French ship, the mighty but bloodied Republican.

    Further off, however, he could see Commodore Riley continuing to struggle as the fading Montagu dueled several French battleships, and Phaeton tried to take off Ramillies. Across the rest of the battlefield it was clear that many ships had fallen on both sides, but that the balance seemed to be tilting toward his French foes. The admiral longed to continue the fight, but he had to admit that the wiser course might be to retire with his surviving ships and prizes, and ready them to fight another day...
    Last edited by fredmiracle; 05-27-2015 at 14:46.

  2. #2
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    Very good read!

  3. #3

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    Wow! What a battle and great AAR! Photos were fantastic and the two maps especially nice to see so one could visualize the final positions and status. Thanks to you Vice-Admiral Fred for a job well done!

  4. #4

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    Thanks a lot for the great report!!!

  5. #5
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    Fred,

    An outstanding write up and photo presentation of the action! It gives those of us who weren't there a sense of being table side at least by proxy!!

    Congratulations on presenting an excellent game for those who took part!
    "War is the greatest game Man can play!" BG George B. McClellan

  6. #6

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    Great AAR and nice visualized.

    Thank you for this rear division action.

    HMS Ramillies & HMS Alfred didn't make it through the French line in a good condition. At the point where you're 1st rate lead the breakthrough, you crushed the French line.

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    Fred,

    How many game mats did it take to make up the playing area?
    "War is the greatest game Man can play!" BG George B. McClellan

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    Fantastic job! Very good log keeping, and pics.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Paul View Post
    How many game mats did it take to make up the playing area?
    I believe the fleets covered 7 mats, and then we had a couple of more at the front to give some sailing room. The organizer Dave had rigged up a conveyor belt system where the mats lay on top of a tarp, and could be shifted down as the ships moved, so we could have sailed all day (edit: oh we did sail all day... well we could have sailed all WEEK!). Anyway, at it was we really only had time to move a mat-and-a-half or so.

    No one ended up close to going off map laterally, the action stayed pretty concentrated in the middle. Again partially a function of time, as well as the fact that the wind was moving straight along the line of ships. If the wind had been perpendicular, there would have been a natural tendency to gravitate toward the map edge

    Quote Originally Posted by Comte de Brueys View Post
    HMS Ramillies & HMS Alfred didn't make it through the French line in a good condition. At the point where you're 1st rate lead the breakthrough, you crushed the French line.
    Yes, Royal George had a particularly fun and exciting narrative in the battle. In her case breaking the line and throwing the French into disorder worked out just as hoped. Entanglement under those circumstances was better than simply raking and proceeding to cross.

    Royal George had a better result than Alfred partly because of size, partly because of entangling at a good angle instead of passing through, partly because of good luck on chit draws, and partly because I had played the game before (the other player had not) so had a better sense of how to maneuver to maximize my odds

  10. #10
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    Wow fred! Well written and well done. I must get my little fleets battling. Time for a game!

  11. #11
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    The conveyor system is a good idea for games involving ships! One reason the "ocean" material I use on my table has an extra two yards added on to allow the surface to slide along with the action as the table edge is reached!
    "War is the greatest game Man can play!" BG George B. McClellan

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    Fred is right. The ships sat on 7 mats. I planned on table space for 8 to allow for a mat to move on to and worked out the conveyor belt tarp system. (Tarps were cut in half, then edged with tape so it wouldn't fray and then taped together into a long belt. The tarp was about 2 inches short on both sides of the game mats laid width-wise so it didn't show but still pulled without upsetting the mat.) Turned out our group owned a total of 10 play mats so we just added a set of tables. We didn't actually need to but we moved the tarp once for the length of one play mat. Moving the mat actually helped by realigning the ships to their ship logs.

  13. #13
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    A very impressive battle gentlemen.
    I liked every aspect of it from Fred's illustrated action to the rolling seascape idea.
    Thank you for a most enjoyable read, and well done for handling so many ships so well.
    Rob.

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    Great battle and thanks for posting the pics Fred!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bogert View Post
    Great battle and thanks for posting the pics Fred!
    Agreed.

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