AAR: Duty and Daring - Danger and Determination

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Captain Frederick Wentworth had been lucky. He had managed to take Océan, a 120 gun, first rate ship of the line with his heavy frigate HMS Indefatigable. Sure, the battery he took with the extra detachment marines did lend him a most valuable hand, and the leeward shore had made the enemy vessels maneuvering very limited, but he had done it. He had done the impossible.

But now his luck had changed. After sending the carpenter and his mate to see to the price, his own ship had still some damage from the battle unattended. The price on the other hand, was still in a much worse state. There had been fires aboard her that had to be repaired at a well stocked port. Several guns had been not only dismounted, but knocked around so much they could not be fired with any safety and a few had exploded in the fires. The sails and rigging had been hastily repaired to allow the ship to be taken out to sea, not an easy task as evident by the good try Contre-amiral Alphonse Bissette had given it. To top it all off, as he headed for the nearest friendly port, a storm had approached from sea. To avoid the brute of it Wentworth had decided to lay a course closer to the shore, but the hard winds still made the price loose not only her main- and foremasts but her damaged rudder gave too. The weather had eased up, but the Océan was drifting towards the leeway shore. Without her boats, which had been used by French sailors to easily reach the nearby land at the time of capture, she was helpless.

Set up.

- "Mon dieu! My ship! My dear Océan!" Bissette exclaimed as he came out onto the quarter deck to see Captain Wentworth. She's not yours anymore, my good admiral, Wentworth thought to himself, and I will lose her too if I don't act quickly.

- "Set sail for the Océan! Ready a tow cable and a trowing rope." he commanded into his speaking trumpet. "We will have to catch up." he added to himself.
- "What was zat?" asked Bissette caressing his bandaged arm but standing steady from years of experience in the heavy sea.
- "Nothing, sir! I was just trying to make out how quickly she runs. It must be at least four knots. That hull acts as if a sail itself. It's a good thing we're closer to the shore than her and not that far behind. This way we can catch up and pull her to safety."

Turn 1. No enemy.

- "Catch her as we pass on the leeward side!" Wentworth ordered Midshipman Robert Martin.
- "Ay, ay, captain." he answered and left for the forecastle.

Turn 2. No enemy.

- "Throw the rope!"
- "Pull in the cable!"

Towing cable successfully attached.

- "Secure the cable!"

Turn 3. Still no enemy.

- "Close-haul us, Mr Weston." Wentwort said to the master but continuing to his guest he offered "Now that she's secured in tow we can go below and have some tea, if you please, sir."
- "Zat would be a delight, monsieur."
Wentworth could not help feeling a warmth for the middle-aged French admiral. He was a caring man and an inspiring leader and that made him the worst kind of enemy; the kind you don't want to fight.

Turn 4. Enemy appeared. As I was using Indie, although slightly wounded, I decided to upgrade the 74 a little.
I used the "experimental" stats for a Tonnant-Class 80 gun ship.

- "Sail ahoy!" came from the top.
- "Where about?" Wentworth asked, but seeing the ship well hull up he didn't wait for an answer;
- "Beat to quarters!" adding "Dashwood, take down the name of the look out." before remembering that lieutenant Dashwood was on the Océan now behind him.
- "It's Dick Musgrove, sir" he heard Mr. Martin, who had returned to the quarter deck, say behind him.
- "I'm not interested in his name. Write it down for later." he answered but shouted "Ready the larboard guns. Fire as you bare. I want to get windward of that ship."
- "It's a Tonnant-class but I don't know her name. Are you familiar, sir?" Wentworth said offering his glass to the contre-amiral.
- "It is ze Alexandre, I believe, sir." he answered without taking the glass. "Her Capitaine de vaisseau, Charles-Leon Babineaux est un très bon ami à moi." he continued with excitement adding a "Excusez-moi. I got carried away. 'E was supposed to meet up wiz me."
- "De rien." Wentworth answered "I'm sorry to say we will have to fight him. You are welcome to stay on deck as long as you don't interfere in any way, sir, but you will be safer below deck."

Turn 5.

- "She turns! She turns into the wind! She's tacking! We'll be able to rake her." Mr Martin could not hide his excitement.
- "We should be so lucky." Wentworth said doubtingly "Fire as you bare!"

Turn 5. Firing.

- "I sure would like to keep her at a distance," Wentworth muttered "but we will have to get some speed and then we will have to ease off."
- "Two point to larboard." he shouted.

Turn 6.

- "She failed her tack, sir!" Mr Martin said excitedly.
- "She was under fire, which we will be in any second now. Are you sure you want to stay, sir?" he asked Bissette.
- "Yes. Do not worry for my security. It will be worse coming home to France, monsieur."

Turn 6. Firing. The tow held. French damage is 3, 2, 2 Crew, Crew, 0

As the French ship turned from her failed tack, her side lit up and was covered in smoke. She fired at Indefatigable, but as French gunners often do she fired high. There was still some damage and from the scream at least one man seriously hurt.
- "The Océan, sir. She's firing!"
- "Good man, Dashwood!" Wentworth exclaimed "Give her a good thrashing with those big guns."

- "Hard larboard! We will show that good old Indefatigable have heavier guns than ordinary frigates."

Turn 7. The lower veer of the Tonnant-class came into effect as she should have gone from 7 to 2.
The insert shows chosen manoeuvre and previous manoeuvre.

- "We are circling each other at long range like two boxers new to the ring. If I only didn't have this huge..." Wentworth glanced at Bissette and regretted the sentence before it was ended. "At least our firepower is more than doubled."

Turn 7. Firing. French damage is 2, 2, 0, 0.

- "No!" Wentworth exclaimed, adding a little more controlled "Aim your guns. Don't just set them off. We're at a range now. It calls for aiming."
- "Is zat a common mistake?" contre-admiral Bissette asked.
- "Not really, but they are more used to closer actions. We do like to follow in Jervis's and Nelson's steps, sir."
- "I see. We teach to fire at range, but we do not have long time to train gunners. Zey are not often at sea."
- "Ease up on the rudder!" Wentworth commanded.

Turn 8.

Lieutenant Dashwood was sweaty from running between decks and giving a helping hand where needed, but now he was ready to fire.
- "FIRE!" he shouted at all his might and the guns roared and recoiled. Peering out an unoccupied gun port he could hardly see anything through the smoke. He returned to the quarterdeck and tried to see the effect when the enemy broadside hit the ship.
- "Not the price." he muttered. He felt her suddenly loose speed and turn and he realized the cable had been hit. Running all the way to the stem he was panting when he caught sight of Wentworth's tall figure, full of activity on the poop deck of the Indefatigable, slowly getting away.

Turn 8. Firing. Tow cable shot off!

Wentworth was shouting orders organizing for a new tow cable. Did Indefatigable even have another one strong enough?
- "Keep turning larboard. We don't have time to reef and set sail. We'll have to do it on the run." he ordered.
- "We have a cable! Throw us a rope!" he heard Dashwood's strong voice from the Océan.
- "Throw the rope!"

Turn 9. Reattach

The rope was thrown and caught. It was attached to the mooring that had lost its anchor in the previous battle. Men on Indefatigable worked hard heaving. At the same time the Alexandre used the lull in the fight to tack.

Turn 10.

The french ship was taken back. It wasn't a well done tack but now the long ship was gaining speed quickly. The men on Indefatigable were still working on the tow cable. She turned in front of the Océan. The distance to the enemy had increased while she tacked but it was now decreasing rapidly.

Turn 11. Movement and firing. New tow cable held.

The tow finally attached and heading straight for the shore Wentworth still hesitated at turning away. He wanted to fire both his and Océans broadsides before turning. He noted that the Alexandre turned back into the wind. Babineaux wants to bring his broadside to bare, too. Alexandre has 40 guns to a broadside, or had at the outset at least, but Indefatigable has 22 counting the carronades and the Ocean had 60 with perhaps half working and crew for even less. Still, he counted on having the upper hand.

Mon dieu! Capitaine de vaisseau Charles-Leon Babineaux, exclaimed when both broadsides hammered his Alexandre.

- "Helm hard starboard!" Wentworth commanded in a calm voice.

Turn 12.

- "Captain, we're clear of the coast, sir."
- "Continue turn, if you please. With our combined broadsides we can beat this..." glancing at Bissette he continued "...noble adversary."

Turn 13.

- "Ease up a little. We're going to close the range."

Turn 14.

- "FIRE!"

Turn 14. Firing. Both captains wounded, but French has "Iron Captain".

The Indefatigable couldn't get many guns to bare, but fired a few with good effect. The broadside from Alexandre, though much lessened still tore into the side of the frigate. Splinters showered the crew and several shrieked out in pain. Wentworth shuddered. A dark spot on his dark blue uniform appeared at the shoulder and spread downward. Blood started dripping from his left hand. He swayed and fell to a knee.
- "Mon dieu! Le capitaine est blessé!" Bissette shouted.
Mr. Martin steadied him and the second lieutenant Carter, a short, fat, and reckless man took command.
- "I will not be moved from the quarter deck until this action is over." Wentworth said with a voice much stronger than he looked.
The French captain simultaneously barely avoided being wounded by a cannonball who's wind blast took his hat out to sea.

Enough is enough, thought the French captain and kept his heading steady for home.

Turn 15.

- "Hard starboard!" shouted Carter.
- "But that's into the wind, sir." commented Mr. Weston, the master. "We're towing a great weight. I wouldn't want to be taken aback now, sir."
- "I don't care. I want the larboard guns to fire at that damn French monstrosity."
- "Language, if you please." Wentworth said weakly, but high enough to be heard by both the lieutenant and the contre-admiral.
- "Yes, sir."

Turn 15. Firing. The player has kind of exited the map, but not with his ship.
I played the turn to finish and knew that the French ship would exit the next turn anyway.

- "Ha, ha! See the French dog run!" lieutenant Carter said, but Wentworth didn't hear as he was already being helped below accompanied by Mr Martin and Bissette, he himself wounded. The surgeon tried to calm their fears by telling them that the captain will be completely recovered as long as he doesn't get infected.

I used Indefatigable from the previous scenario even though it's better than the ship I was supposed to use. I used it with the damage from the last game as it was very lightly damaged but it made it more like the supposed 40 gun frigate. It still has burden 5 in my version.

Interestingly the first rate had taken half it's damage from fire which is the only damage that can't be repaired so I just used it as it would have been if you could repair it better out of combat, which I would think. It ought to have been well stocked just leaving harbour.

I also used a Tonnant-class 80 gun ship as adversary as I wanted to try out the new miniature and to test the stats that are being discussed. It was very much like a 74, which is pretty much what it should be in my mind. The lower veer did come into play, but I don't think it was necessarily a worse move that the AI would have used if it had been an ordinary Téméraire. The firepower is about the same as the most powerful Téméraires, HMS Impetueux and Redoutable.

In the end the Alexandre were very close to surrender, but was able to leave.

Captain Frederick Wentworth (P) / Returned to Port, lightly wounded - miss 1 game / Victory
Capitaine de vaisseau Charles-Leon Babineaux (AI) / Returned to Port / Lost

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Updated 06-24-2015 at 10:38 by TexaS