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AAR: Our ships were British oak, and hearts of oak our men - and nerves of iron.

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The squadron

The signal "All captains come aboard" had been hoisted from the mizzen mast of the first rate ship of the line, HMS Queen Charlotte and a course of action had been decided and delegated. It was followed by a dinner that had reached the desserts. Commodore Croft, the host of the evening, turned to Harrington.
- "Your capture did save us a lot of trouble, Harrington! Now we have an idea of what the french is up to. Pity Castor has that infernal leak. You have to make sure to get it repaired properly. You never know when that can come back to haunt you. And congratulations on your price. I'm sure the navy will take her into service and pay you handsomely." He laughed heartily, thinking of how it would provide himself with a nice sum.
- "I will, sir, but I'm afraid it's hard to do out of port. We were holed below the waterline, but the carpenter assures me he can repair it. He has done wonders before. Just give me a few days and she will be ship shape again, sir."
- "Well, we will have to act now. As you cannot join in I will have to ask for your marines. The harbours from where the french fleet will set sail will get a ship of the line and some the support of a frigate but sadly we'll run out of ships of the line before harbours. This makes me send Captain Wentworth alone as you have both in your Indefatigable." he chuckled to himself before continuing "It's a minor harbour with a tricky inlet and I expect no big trouble there and the marines will come in handy to you as there's a battery you could make good use of, if you take it."
- "I'm infinitely obliged, sir!" Wentworth said "I will fill your expectations, sir."
- "Gentlemen. Remember that we can't let those ships gather. Now, let's take control of this port." Croft said reaching for the bottle.

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I chose my HMS Indefatigable as the ship to play.

- "I hear the captain wrecked his previous ship, the small sloop HMS Asp, in a useless attack. No survivors." said seaman Richard Musgrove, or Dick as he was known.
- "That can't be! He hasn't done anything like that during these last good six months he's held this command." his friend complained.
- "He's just waiting for the chance. Why do you think there's all those marines in the boats heading for us?"
- "Stowe that chattering!", the Lieutenant's booming voice cried over the crowd. The seamen all straightened, and soon strained to see the captain returning from commodores ship with the new orders. Climbing up the side and onto the deck Wentworth's appearance revealed nothing. They all saluted him as he headed for his cabin with a "Lieutenants with me".

They stood looking at the charts on the table between them. Pointing to a small island in the inlet to the harbour, Wentworth said:
- "If we could take this battery by a night action, we could surprise any enemy ship trying to leave. We could lay the Indefatigable behind the island out of sight. When the battery opens up on any french ship trying to leave, we use the confusion and set sail for a furious attack."


Boat in the water

I chose to only use the 2 complimentary marines.

It was a dark, cloudy night, but no fog as there had been . A few men of the crew and the marines worked hard at the oars. Straining his eyes Wentworth could just make out the battery. There was no light! Perhaps they were all asleep? If he was right this would be an easy assault he thought, checking his pistol for the ninth time. His seamen were in the water pulling on the boat before the thud of the bottom hitting the sand. They were joined by marines and they all went ashore. Wentworth checked his pistol again and motioned for the marines to follow him, while the seamen stayed with the boats.


Landing party attacking

I rolled a 6 and the landing party was successful.

He had been right. The battery had only one guard and he was asleep with an empty wine bottle beside him next to the guns. It was not long before marines had secured the gun crews and were checking the stores. A furnace! The possibility for heated shot pleased him considerably. Wentworth ordered the furnaces be lit and their first shot should be heated shot, but as soon as the action started they should use ordinary ball. He felt that reloading times were very important and knew of the catastrophic consequences of crews not used to heated shot being careless in the heat of battle.


Initial positions. I ended up moving the french ship a little further out.

I had hoped for a 74 and a 32 or two 32s with the possibility to perhaps catch both, but met a single 120.

The word spread aboard, there's a signal from the battery. The french are trying to break out.
- "Captain, sir, a signal from the fort. A ship of the line, if I've read it right, sir." said lieutenant John Dashwood.
- "Very well! Prepare to set sails. Raise anchor! Do we know which way she's coming?"
- "Not yet, sir."


The three decker visible beyond the island.

The Indie started with no sails, setting backing sails straight ahead, unsure of which way the french ship would go.

- "I can see sails past the island. It's the southern side, sir."
- "Set a course for east-southeast."
- "Ay, ay, sir. East-southeast it is, sir."
The sails seen beyond the island were huge, the masts appeared taller than on HMS Queen Charlottte. Wentworth hurried up to the bow as the Indefatigable slowly filled its sails. He raised his glass to his eye, studying the appearing three decker that was majestically moving as close to the wind as she could. He felt a chill down his spine. He lowered the glass, there were no need for it. It was an ocean-class, and it was closer than he'd ever seen an enemy first rate. The Océan, if he wasn't mistaken, not easy to be when there's only three known to have been built and the other two lost, Orient exploding at the Nile and Commerce de Marseille captured in Toulon. He knew that even though his frigate had thicker hull sides than any other frigate, it was still only a frigate. "I cannot flee without a fight, but I have no chance to win broadside to broadside." he thought to himself. Quickly evaluating his options a plan started forming in his head. "She is sailing against the wind in a tight space and she have to pass in front of the battery. If she caught fire from the heated shot and if I could rake her... then perhaps I could make her turn back." He knew he had to try.



Turn 1, French do a red turn out of the wind. I decide to ignore the risk of running aground near the coast. Indie turns and sets battle sails.

- "Set full sails!" he said loudly on returning to the quarterdeck. "As soon as we have cleared the island come to east southeast by east and make sure the larboard guns are ready to fire."
- "Are you going to attack a 120 gun first rate ship of the line with a frigate?" Dashwood asked in disbelief.
- "Look, she turns into the wind, just to fall off again as if a failed attempt at tacking. See how heavily she sails. There's our chance. She have to fight against the wind infront of a leeway shore and we can combine our fire with the battery's. We carry 24 pounders, not the light guns of ordinary frigates."
- "If you say so, sir."



Turn 3, Fire between battery and the first rate. The french ship had to turn into red and back to avoid running on ground.

The battery fired it's first salvo and the heated shot struck home. Wentworth could see a faint glow in the huge ship.
- "That's the way to do it!" he shouted "Now let's see what we can contribute. Prepare to tack immediately after the broadside!"
Wentworth heard the command "Run out your guns!" and prepared to give the order.
- "Fire!" It wasn't a raking broadside, but he had to turn around before the coast and he didn't want to get too close to the giant.
- "Hard starboard!" Wentworth shouted as soon as the last gun had fired. As the wind blew the smoke from the guns away he noted that the broadside didn't have much effect on the large ship.



Turn 5, Not having a correct battery made it able to fire at the ship, but the range too far to fire back. Not very good, but I thought it wouldn't matter as the first rate would leave the arc for the rest of the game anyway.

HMS Indefatigable turned nimbly into the wind and completed her tack without incident. The crew rushed to the starboard battery as fast fast they could.


Both ships tacking.

Turning hard away from the enemy into the wind.

- "Ready starboard broadside!" Wentworth roared as the ship turned. "FIRE"
It was too early for a massed fire and only the rear most guns could be brought to bear.


Firing.

Turn 6, Rear arc for Player and fore arc for AI. According to rules It shouldn't fire hoping for a better position.

- "Continue starboard turn. I want the whole broadside to bear!"


Watching the effect of his broadside from the quarterdeck.

The smoke obscured his view, but as it drifted off in the wind he could see a few holes in the thick sides of the Océan. "Even at this range..." he thought to himself, content.


Racing alongside each other Indefatigable presses past and moves to get in front. Fire!

Turn 8, Full broadside for Indie and forward arc for the french. AI reached half crew, and turns to round the island and return to port. Captain unhurt.

- "Endeavour to keep us ahead of her broadsides, Mr Dashwood, if you please." Wentworth said to his lieutenant, waiting for his next broadside to be ready "...and continue starboard."
- "FIRE!" Wentworth cried out as loud as he could just as Océan aligned with his ship.
- "That last broadside made big gaping holes in her side, sir"
- "I told you our 24 pounders would have effect. If we only can keep out of her full broadside we can still prevail." Wentworth said confidently.
- "She's firing at our sails." Lt. Dashwood remarked "That could be our undoing, sir."
- "She turns! She turns." came from the crew.


Although being faster, Indefatigable moves a longer distance loosing her advantage.

Turn 10, Firing outside the arcs of the french ship. That rudder damage would have made leaving the harbour impossible early in the game. Now it made no difference and wasn't even repaired.

- "Make the turn tighter still." Wentworth said to Dashwood "I want us out of the broadside. Even though I believe we have unmounted many of their guns and jammed some gunports, there's still bite in it for sure."



Turn 11, Still out of the fore arc.

- "Tighter still. I want us to rake her."



Turn 12, A good firing opportunity. Shouldn't have been played as a rake as it's only the rear arc. Musketry from the first rate.

- "Quickly now with the guns. As they bear, fire into her bow!"
The smoke was blown back into their faces, partially hiding them from the musket fire from the french marines. How he wished he hadn't sent nearly all the muskets with the landing party.


View from the top.

- "She's on fire! She's burning!" came from the top, them having a better view of Océan. A cheer rose from the crew of the Indefatigable.



Turn 13, Return fire from the first rate fore arc just barely touching the base (shouldn't have been a rake) but its weak due to all damage.

The cheer was cut short when the foremost guns of the Océan fired into the stern.
- "We're being raked, sir." Dashwood said stepping in front of Wentworth as if to shield him with his body. It wasn't needed and wouldn't make any difference but Wentworth noted the gesture.


Indie getting fired at by a partial broadside from a very worn down first rate.

- "We must turn harder to starboard as soon as we don't risk running aground on the island. That would undo us."



Turn 14, Fire from the Indefatigable and the battery. I don't have the shore battery pack so I might have played it wrong. It had taken damage and was played as being reduced from FP 3 to 2.

Passing the island the Indefatigable turned hard starboard yet again. She managed to get a few guns to bear to great effect starting yet another fire aboard the Océan.



Turn 17, Just barely in range a broadside doing just barely enough damage together with the fire to fill the last box and the french strikes a move or two from returning to harbour.

Easing up on the rudder, striking sail and making another tack Indefatigable fired a final broadside into Océan making her strike her colours.


Final broadside that made the first rate strike to a frigate.

A great cheer rose from the Indefatigable and Wentworth smiled to Dashwood.
- "Lighten sails and take possession, Mr Dashwood. And pick upp the marines off the island, if you please."
"I wonder what Mr. Haggerston will say to this." Wentworth though concerning his man of business. This must fetch a good sum.

Climbing aboard the Océan Wentworth met Contre-amiral Alphonse Bissette on the quarter deck. There were dead bodies lying on the deck, moved to the sides and parts of rigging laying around. The Contre-admiral was steadied by another officer and looked pale. He had an arm in a bandage. He had been hurt, but he would live. He was still lucky to survive this slaughter, thought Wentworth to himself. The admiral handed Wentworth his sword with his unhurt arm. Taking it and admiring it Wentworth thought of how humiliating this defeat must be. How wounded his pride would be. A first rate striking to a frigate, although aided by two batteries and winds themselves. He handed it back to him.
- "You may keep your sword, sir." he said and added "What is your name, sir?"
- "Contre-amiral Alphonse Bissette" was the answer in a tired, broken English.
- "Je vous attends à dîner." Wentworth said, feeling tired and hungry.


The final damage to the ships. Castor represents the battery.



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Updated 04-23-2015 at 05:20 by TexaS

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