Union Jack

2. A New Command.

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On arrival at Gibraltar Jack reported to the Naval Commanders office and handed over his report and the sealed pouch. Jack was dismissed and told to report back to the office in two days. Jack had a lot to organise. His ship, HMS Beagle was just about afloat, the Spanish prize only slightly better. There were few ships in port and he took the opportunity to visit some of the local drinking establishments. His crew were taking in the ‘sights’ too.

On the 2nd day, as ordered, Jack presented himself to the Admiral in command of the post at Gibraltar. The admirals secretary had told Jack to wait, and wait he duly did. It was some 4 hours since his arrival and there was much coming and going from the admirals office but not once was Jack spoken too nor even looked at by those hurrying in and out.

At long last the secretary bade Jack enter and he walked into the admirals office hat under right arm and left hand on sword hilt. Before he could do anything the admiral ushered him to a map on the desk. “Know what this is Union? Well this is the location of the fleet. Your dispatch caused much consternation and we’ve come up with a plan. Your ship, the Beagle is not sea worthy nor the Spanish prize, for which you will be handsomely rewarded with prize money no doubt. Now I need you to take dispatches to the Squadron under Sir Henry Boneville off Cadiz watching the Spanish ships at anchor there. In the harbour lies the 26 gun Frigate Beaver. Her crew is sadly depleted. With what remains of your crew from Beagle you would nearly be up to full strength."
"What became of her if I may be so bold sir?"
"She was set upon by 2 Spanish frigates, lost most of her officers and crew but managed to fight her way clear and make port here. So she will be your new command. She is being provisioned as we speak and will be ready to sail at dawn tomorrow. Report here 1 hour before sailing for your orders."
"Yes sir". With a nod and touch of finger to head Jack left the admirals office. He was surprised to see his old crew already mustered on the quay side, to their left a smaller contingent led by an officer.
"Mr Ellington I take it you've been briefed?"
"Yes Sir, these others are the remaining crew of HMS Beaver sir. I take it from what I've been told that they shall join us to crew our new ship".
"Yes, Mr Ellington but it is we who shall be joining them". Jack raised his voice for the last bit and he could see it had an effect on the men to his right. They seemed to grow in stature and straightened up. Their officer looked across at him and smiled.
"Now Mr Ellington if you would muster the crew on the main deck of our ship we shall get about it."
Mr Ellington shouted the orders and the gathered men trooped across the gangplank onto the the main deck of HMS Beaver.

1 day later after an uneventful voyage Jack approached the inshore squadron of Sir Henry Boneville and passed over the dispatches. On her arrival the 'All captains repair on board the flagship' had been hoisted. It was Jacks first meeting with Sir Henry and the other Captains of the Squadron. After reading the dispatches Sir Henry bade his Captains gather round the map table.
"First let me introduce Captain Union of the Beaver, he will be joining our gallant band. Now to work. This dispatch has informed me that a Spanish treasure galleon will be trying to run the blockade and enter port. I don't believe that Cadiz will be her captains only choice. To that end, Captains Harrison and Smythe you will stand to the north, Belfrey and um, yes, Union you will stand to the center approaches and Grant and Fisher you will cover the south. I will move the squadron further out to sea and hopefully the rabbit will make a bolt for the hole, eh?"

After a quick drink and some welcomes the Admiral gave leave for his Captains to rejoin their ships whilst the ponderous line of 3rd rates and the single first rate made ready to sail just over the horizon. Close enough to close on Cadiz should the Dons come out but far enough away to tempt the treasure ship to try Cadizas it's safe 'rabbit hole'!

With orders to intercept a known Spanish Galleon before it could enter the safety of Cadiz harbour Captain Jack Union commanding HMS Beaver and Captain George Belfrey commanding HMS Seahorse lay just off the port of Cadiz. They were the centre ships of a line of 6 frigates, the early warning line for the Inshore Squadron of Admiral Bonevillel.

HMS Beaver and HMS Seahorse tacked together on the Larboard tack and set sail for the approaching Spanish ship. For it could be none other than their quarry.

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There was a hint of a sea mist as they waited close reefed and nearly hove to. “Deck there. Strange sail off the larboard beam”. Jack Union quickly climbed the ratlines up to the top lookout. “Where away Smithers?” Using his arm he pointed out to sea. Jack lined up and sighted along the arm until he could just see the topsail of the strange ship. “Well done Smithers, an extra issue of grog for you tonight”. Smithers touched his forehead as his Captain quickly descended to the deck.
“Clear for action, beat to quarters. Mr Ellington signal the Seahorse. Strange sail in sight to the west”.
“Yes Sir”.

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The Minorca was nearly home. They had made good time from the America’s. Now one last leg and they would be home. The cry of sail ho, brought the captain and crew back to earth with a thump. Damn, a blockade.

For over an hour the three ships approached each other. Minorca would rely on her size and gunnery to push her way past the two British frigates. The British pair had already decided to divide and conquer by harrying the Spaniard on both quarters until she was theirs.

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Jack Union pulled across the Minorca, hoping a lucky shot would hit her masts. Unfortunately his guns were just out of range.

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Quickly reloading the Beaver turned to starboard as Minorca approached ever closer. With guns barely loaded, Jack could only watch as Minorca’s forward division guns cam to bare and fired a ragged broadside which slammed into HMS Beaver. Any more like that and Jack would be out of the battle.

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Seahorse approached from north and was caught by a full broadside. Not as timely as the British guns though it was the damage from the broadside to Seahorse was considerable.

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Weathering the hail of gunfire both British frigates turned and began to harry Minorca from the rear.

Jack now steered HMS Beaver to the windgauge and came under fire from Minorca again. As Seahorse tried to engage from the lee side.

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"We must get closer Mr Ellington", Jack shouted to his 1st Officer. Orders shouted to the crew the Beaver heeled over and closed with the larger Spaniard. Having closed the distance Jack now fired a weakened broadside into Minorca.

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Minorca had reloaded her guns but with only her after batteries in range she responded in kind at both ships.

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Again and again both British frigates, although outclassed by the larger Spanish ship, closed and fired to wear her down. "I think we have her measure now Mr Ellington, if we get the chance I'll cross her stern and rake her. That should even the odds a trifle". Without waiting for a reply Jack started shouting orders for the crew to take positions for a sudden change of course.

As Seahorse closed with Minorca, Jack saw his opportunity and turned to cross Minorca's vulnerable rear. "Now Mr Ellington, now. Men pull for all your worth, helm hard to starboard". Orders passed the Beaver heeled over on the starboard side and crossed the Spanish ships stern. "All guns fire as you bare". The timed broadside was weaker than Jack hoped but they did some damage.

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Seahorse now took advantage and crossed Minorca’s stern, pouring a full broadside the length of the Spanish galleon.

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The Spaniard made the fatal error in turning away from Seahorse she again showed her stern to HMS Beaver. Jack did not fail. Turning across the Minorca's stern he gave one last stern rake and the Spaniard hauled down her colours. The Captain had had enough. On boarding the Spaniard above and below decks was a scene of utter devastation. Her Captain had gone down to Seahorses stern rake the remaining officers to Beavers 2nd. The crew had had enough not the officers.

A jury rig was quickly sorted and the 2 frigates with their prize rejoined the Squadron shortly after.

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Updated 11-04-2015 at 08:07 by Union Jack

Captain Jack Union


  1. Union Jack's Avatar
    Updated 11-04-2015 at 10:48 by Union Jack
  2. Mabinogian's Avatar
    That is just plain excellent.... really rousing and utterly inspiring.