View Full Version : March Scenario: The Commodore's Dilemma: What Happened

07-16-2017, 16:09

March 7, 1801
Savannes Bay
As the USS United States and her escort, USS Congress entered Savannes Bay on the southeastern coast of the island of St. Lucia, Captain William Bainbridge saw a very unexpected sight. He had expected to find the French 3rd rated ship-of-the-line, Aquilon, making repairs. The waterman Simian Wethersfield had reported the distressed ship to the harbor master several days ago and said he thought the ship was the one that had taken several merchant ships over the last few months. What we saw was Aquilon fully repaired accompanied by a large frigate. They had evidentially captured the USS General Greene without much of a fight. The American ship had been transporting an American envoy to Havana, Cuba, but was now flying a French ensign and sporting very little if any damage. What could have gone wrong?

As the Americans entered the bay, the three French ships took a southeasterly heading in a line ahead formation. Aquilon and Gen. Greene raised sails as fast as they could, but Sibylle, the frigate, used backing sails to allow some distance between her and the other ships.


Aquilon put her bow into the wind and let it push her into a sharp portside tack. She was momently taken aback, but completed her turn.


The Frenchman was on course to intercept the United States. Bainbridge signaled Congress to recapture the American ship first, then attack the other Frenchman. Congress was ordered to aim high to minimize the damage Gen. Greene would take.


United States swung as sharply as she could to starboard as did Aquilon. The French privateer opened fire with her starboard side forward guns causing damage to the hull and crew alike. (4,2c,2c,0)


The ships altered course bringing them within musket shot. The American broadside crashed into its adversary and the rigging from both ships popped with musket fire. (U.S. c,c,0; Aquilon 4c,2c,2,2,c,0,0,0)


Aquilon's hull took damage and more sailors from both ships toppled to their decks. Boarders clashed, muskets fired, and more men were left sprawling, bleeding and dying.

The two sides parted long enough for the American broadside to wreck its toll. And Aquilon struck her colors. U.S. 0; Aquilon 3,2c,2,2,c,0)


By this time Sibylle and Gen. Greene had tacked to a northeasterly course and Congress had slipped between the Frenchmen and their captive. Congress’s broadside and Sibylle’s forward division caused unbelievable damage for so far away. Congress sprung a leak at the waterline and her rudder was jammed. Sibylle lost a mast and her sails were riddled with holes. (Congress 4L,2r; Sibylle 3m,1c,1,0)


Congress turned to port and fired on Sibylle, but missed. She took damage from both Sibylle and Gen. Greene. Then turned into the wind. (Congress 2,1c,0,0,0; Sibylle 0,0)


The two Frenchmen, sensing victory, made turns to port to come at Congress once again. They fired their portside forward guns crashing into the Americans. Congress returned fire on Gen. Greene causing quite some damage. (Congress 6,4L,4c,4; Greene 4,0)


The American bosun’s crew, having just finished repairing a leak rushed to another rupture. This was too much for Congress and Captain Sever called for the crew to abandon ship. Longboats were lowered and hatch gratings were thrown overboard for sailors to cling to. James Sever was last to step into his boat with his log tucked under his arm and the ship went down.

William Bainbridge found himself in a difficult position. He was out gunned, facing two ships to his one, with extensive damage, but with one ship captured with a diplomate and a second crew floating in the water surrounded by the enemy. Should he abandon those Americans still alive and save his ship or risk it all on one last gamble. He chose the latter.

Gen. Greene charged directly at United States.


Bainbridge turned his ship sharply to port, firing his starboard forward guns into the captured American. (3,3,0,0)


Gen. Greene responded with her broadside, barely missing the American captain. (4,1c)

United States continued her turn presenting her now reloaded starboard side to Greene. Bainbridge his rear division’s guns collapsing Gen. Greene’s top mizzenmast. The returning musket fire causing slight damage. (U.S. c,0; Greene 5m,2,0,0)


Capt. Bainbridge reversed his direction and opened fire on Sibylle as she began his turn. The French frigate lost her second mast of the day.

The American captain altered course to intercept Gen. Greene. As she past, United States leveled her still powerful broadside at Sibylle causing sails to be shredded and a gaping hole close to the waterline. The American’s sails were damage too by the guns of Sibylle and the captured Gen. Greene. (U.S. 2s,2c,2,2; Sibylle 4L,2s,c,0,0)


Bainbridge held his course, straight for Gen. Greene, determined to get her back under the American flag. The French crew of the captive let loose with a week, but lucky raking broadside causing damage to the bow of United States. (5,2,1)


As United States collided with General Greene, she fired her forward division across Gen. Greene’s deck and gun deck. Many of the French were taken out of action, but the return musket fire was too much for the Americas. The USS United States was added to the list of captives for Captain Houdart.


07-17-2017, 04:40
A very gallant effort Bob.
I like the rendition that you chose for the photographs.
Really bad luck with the outcome. I'm sure that the general greene with just a prize crew over performed.
Still a rip roaring tale nevertheless, and one well worthy of Rep.
I enjoyed it very much.

07-18-2017, 05:48

07-24-2017, 12:51
A very gallant effort Bob.
I like the rendition that you chose for the photographs.
Really bad luck with the outcome. I'm sure that the general greene with just a prize crew over performed.
Still a rip roaring tale nevertheless, and one well worthy of Rep.
I enjoyed it very much.

The prize crew was made up of 3 crew chits from each French ship. That filled 6 of the 8 possible boxes.

The tale is not over. Just wait.

07-24-2017, 12:57
Glad to hear it Bob.
I look forward to the retaliation from our American Cousins.