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Thread: AAR September "Disaster in the Fog"

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    Default AAR September "Disaster in the Fog"

    Please excuse the quality of the pictures in the following After Action Report. There just wasn’t enough sunshine for good photography.
    Bob

    Rules are rough approximations of what you think I might do!

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    The After Action Report


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    September 8, 1800

    To: William Bainbridge: Captain; USS United States
    Thomas Truxton: Captain; USS Constellation
    Stephen Decatur Sr.: Captain; USS Philadelphia
    Richard Valentine Morris: Captain; USS Boston
    Edwin Preble Captain; USS Essex
    From: Samuel Nicholson, Commodore, Caribbean Squadron

    Gentlemen:
    Our squadron has been ordered to cruise the Lesser Antilles in search of a French Squadron reported to be in the area. The enemy squadron is fairly large and has reportedly already captured several merchant ships.

    We will sail in three days and will be gone at least a month. Prepare for a dangerous outing.

    My apologies Mr. Morris, USS Boston is the only frigate available in the fleet. She is smaller than you are used to, but it will have to do.

    Samuel Nicholson
    Commodore
    Caribbean Squadron

    ___________________ . ___________________

    USS Constitution: Squadron Log
    1800
    Samuel Nicholson, Commodore
    September 11: USS Constitution, USS United States, USS Constellation, USS Philadelphia, USS Essex, and USS Boston set sail from our base in Havana on the morning tide heading for Montserrat. We are looking for a large squadron harassing American commerce.

    September 18: Having found no sign of the French squadron in the vicinity of Montserrat, the squadron will skirt the eastern shores of Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Martinique before heading for resupply in Bridgetown, Barbados.

    September 23: The French squadron has been sighted by USS United States. They appear to be two third rated ships-of-the-line and four frigates in support. I have signaled Captain Bainbridge to pursue the French and we will form a line of battle on his ship. The wind is from the East.

    September 24: We are closing in on the French and should be able to bring them to battle today. A blanket of fog is closing in on us from the North. I signaled all ships to close to within two ship lengths and place hooded stern lanterns for ships to follow. I also warned that any ship leaving formation was endanger of being mistaken for enemy combatants.

    ___________________ . ___________________

    It is evening, the fog has lifted, the French are nowhere to be seen and USS United States and USS Constitution are alone on a course headed for Barbados. We should reach Bridgeport on the 29th, God willing. We looked for survivors and found a lone whaleboat whose crew was all that was left of Constellation. Flotsam from at least four other ships was found scattered across the ocean.

    Our squadron entered the fog this morning at 8:47. We were barely able to see Bainbridge’s stern lantern at the prescribed distance of separation I had ordered.

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    We had a fleeting glimpse of a ship-of-the-line three points off our starboard bow heading southeasterly. Five minutes later another ship-of-the-line appeared six points off the starboard bow heading to the southwest, then it too vanished.

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    A heavy frigate, appearing to be the Carmagnole, was sited heading directly for United States. Bainbridge let loose with his rear division on the Frenchman causing a major fire to light up the sky. There seemed to be no need for us to add our cannons for she was sinking fast.

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    The glow from the burning Carmagnole revealed another heavy frigate five points off our port stern. Dryade was moving due west, then turned into the wind and faded into the mist.

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    A smaller frigate, Hermione, was sighted off the starboard beam heading northwest, presumably for Constellation or to pickup survivors from Carmagnole.

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    She turned into the wind shortening the distance between our two ships, but still out of range of our double-shotted guns. Constellation used her forward starboard guns bringing down Hermione’s forward mast and shredding her main topgallant.

    Hermione’s move toward Constellation must have been the opening of an ambush set by the French squadron. I have no direct understanding what occurred to the ships behind Constitution, except to say that the flash and booming of cannons erupted all along the line. Constitution, with United States in front of her, could do nothing but sail forward. Should we have turned to aid our comrades we would have been mistaken for the enemy and been unable to tell friend from foe, perhaps firing on our own ships by mistake. So on we sailed.

    Midshipman Josiah Williams of the USS Constellation was in command of the only surviving whaleboat from that doomed ship. What follows is from his report to me.

    The French frigate Hermione tacked sharply to port, filling her sails, picking up speed and delivering a very effective broadside into Constitution. She must have been double-shotted and well primed. Our deck was splattered with splinters the size of handspikes and we started to leak. Captain Truxton ordered us to sail on and follow the lantern of the Constitution.

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    I could see muzzle flashes coming from Philadelphia’s port guns and the answering report from a ship-of–the-line. Philadelphia’s foremast toppled into the sea. I could feel the force of the barrage from as faraway away as I was. The carnage must have been terrible.

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    A second Ship-of-the-line, Genereux, appeared off our starboard bow and emptied her full broadside at us. Our mainmast was severed and fire erupted below decks in two places. We were going down. My father Lieutenant Isaiah Williams handed me the ship’s log and ordered fourteen sailors to accompany me in the ship’s whaleboat. He gave us his compass and sent us east-by-southeast away from the fight.

    Those of us that were in that whaleboat watched both Constellation and Philadelphia go under the waves. Fighting continued behind us for a short while then all was silent. I split the crew into two watches and we struck out for Barbados.

    Josiah Williams, Midshipman, USS Constellation

    To continue,

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    Constitution’s starboard, rear division attacked Genereux causing her foremast to fall and a fire to start on her mail deck. A smaller frigate came into view, but wisely stayed out of range. Cannon fire continued for the next half-hour then it was quiet.

    United States and Constitution continued on our course until we were out of the fog then began our search for survivors.

    September 28: USS Boston was sighted on the horizon. Constitution and United States shortened sails to allow Boston to join us before nightfall. Captain Morris’s report on fate of Essex follows:

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    Essex, Philadelphia and a French heavy frigate collided in the fog. Essex and the frigate exchanged fire. It was evident that Essex had sustained a great deal of damage. She broke formation and turned into the wind and we followed.

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    Water was pouring from Essex’s pumps when the French ship-of-the-line fired her rear division guns into her. Essex began to burn. Boats were lowered and the crew abandoned ship.

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    We turned to windward in time to receive the starboard broadside from the frigate.

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    We manned our pumps and presented our beam to our adversary. Our broadside tore into her hull causing smoke to billow from gaping holes at her waterline. I don’t know if we sunk the Frenchman because the fog obscured our view, but I think we may have.

    Richard Valentine Morris
    Captain; USS Boston

    The failure of the mission is my responsibility. The loss of the three ships and their crews is, of course, my fault. The squadron will resupply and take on new hands here in Bridgeport and sail for Havana in a week’s time.

    Samuel Nicholson
    Commodore, Caribbean Squadron
    Last edited by Bos'n; 12-07-2016 at 13:13.
    Bob

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    Butcher's Bill

    American Squadron:

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    French Squadron:

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    Last edited by Bos'n; 12-07-2016 at 13:09.
    Bob

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    Letter From Washington


    December 3, 1800

    To: Samuel Nicholson, Commodore: Caribbean Squadron
    From: Benjamin Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy: United States of America

    Sir:
    I have read your report for the action on September 28, 1800 and have found your actions regrettable on several accounts.
    1. Order of Battle: By lining your ships with all of your strength in the front you exposed your lesser ships to unreasonable harm.
    2. Order Not to Deviate Course During Battle: Your smaller ships greatest advantage during battle is their speed and maneuverability. Your order took that advantage away from them and left them vulnerable to larger, slower, less maneuverable ships.
    3. Cowardice in the Face of the Enemy: By not turning to support your smaller ships, you doomed three frigates and their crews to destruction.

    You are ordered to join your squadron with that of Commodore Isaac Hull Commodore: Lesser Antilles Squadron. You will then turn command of USS Constitution over to 1st Lieutenant Ezekiel Fulbryte and return to Washington to face charges in a court of inquiry.

    Benjamin Stoddert
    Secretary of the Navy
    United States of America
    Bob

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    That is an appalling loss Bob.
    I never expected anything like that when writing the Brief.
    I am very sorry for your losses to the French. They must have had more ships than you thought.
    Bligh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    That is an appalling loss Bob.
    I never expected anything like that when writing the Brief.
    I am very sorry for your losses to the French. They must have had more ships than you thought.
    Bligh.
    Did you read the letter from Washington?
    Bob

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    No it crossed over with my writing my post Bob.
    Rob.

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    Well he can get off the Court Martial on one count, as I said in the Admiralty orders that in the event of Fog it would be better for ships to sail in LOB. As for the order of sailing, I expect it was laid down somewhere in the standing orders. Not turning to face the enemy was, however, questionable.
    Bligh.

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    Is very enjoyable aar!

    It would appear that even the superior American heavy frigates are in for a rough time against the finch ships of the line.

    A single defeat teaches more than 10 victories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hjl View Post
    Is very enjoyable aar!

    It would appear that even the superior American heavy frigates are in for a rough time against the finch ships of the line.

    A single defeat teaches more than 10 victories.

    Hugh,

    The American frigates Constitution, United States, and President were the three most powerful ships in the navy at the time of the Quasi War with France, but they were not expected to go toe to toe with ships-of-the-line. Congress ask for these ships to be able to beat any foreign frigate and be fast enough to out run any SOL.

    In this scenario the American frigates like USS Constitution were matched with French third rated SOLs like Genereux. Constitution's fist three hull boxes are 464,454,353 while Genereux's is 474,474,464. Genereux has the advantage with respect to strength of armament. Constitution uses the L deck while Generous uses the B deck. Card 5 straight full sail, green arrow for the L deck is 45mm long while the B deck is only 38mm long. Constitution is faster. The L deck can use a 9 card every other turn while the B deck's highest card is an 8. Constitution is slightly more maneuverable. Constitution was built to out run, but not out shoot Genereux.

    I wonder how Constitution will stand up to the new 4th rated ships coming out in the new wave from Ares?
    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    Well he can get off the Court Martial on one count, as I said in the Admiralty orders that in the event of Fog it would be better for ships to sail in LOB. As for the order of sailing, I expect it was laid down somewhere in the standing orders. Not turning to face the enemy was, however, questionable.
    Bligh.
    Rob,

    If you were Commodore Samuel Nicholson's advocate how would you defend him to keep these accusations from making it to a full court martial? Put on your lawyer's hat and save this man. What you come up with could determine if he returns in 2017 and in what capacity. Plead his case, my man!

    Can't wait to hear from you.
    Bob

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    Great AAR. The pictures just make it more real for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos'n View Post
    Rob,

    If you were Commodore Samuel Nicholson's advocate how would you defend him to keep these accusations from making it to a full court martial? Put on your lawyer's hat and save this man. What you come up with could determine if he returns in 2017 and in what capacity. Plead his case, my man!

    Can't wait to hear from you.
    I have looked at his case Bob, and whilst I can defend him on the two first actions, in no way can he be defended on the statement that he included in his battle dispatches to the Admiralty:-

    "I have no direct understanding what occurred to the ships behind Constitution, except to say that the flash and booming of cannons erupted all along the line. Constitution, with United States in front of her, could do nothing but sail forward. Should we have turned to aid our comrades we would have been mistaken for the enemy and been unable to tell friend from foe, perhaps firing on our own ships by mistake. So on we sailed."

    I am not sure what the Articles of War for the United States of America say, but it is quite clear in the British ones, that his clear duty in such circumstances is to come about, and regardless of all hazard, succor his nearest friendly vessel. The penalties for failure in this respect are also quite clear.
    The damage returns for the Constitution and United States, would also be looked upon with a jaundiced eye by any Court martial, as by English standards of the time, the greater the Butchers' Bill the greater the victory.

    To the end of saving your Commodore, I,therefore, humbly submit that you need a much more experienced advocate than myself to conduct his defence.
    Bligh.

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    Interesting stuff. I think I'll send my junior officers who are available to follow the court martial. Perhaps they might learn a lesson in the responsibilities of command.

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    Articles of War 1757 as pertains t the Royal Navy:

    In chief article 10: States:
    Every flag officer, captain and commander in the fleet, who, upon signal or order of fight, or sight of any ship or ships which it may be his duty to engage, or who, upon likelihood of engagement, shall not make the necessary preparations for fight, and shall not in his own person, and according to his place, encourage the inferior officers and men to fight courageously, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as from the nature and degree of the offence a court martial shall deem him to deserve; and if any person in the fleet shall treacherously or cowardly yield or cry for quarter, every person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

    However this does seem to be contradicted by article 11:
    Every person in the fleet, who shall not duly observe the orders of the admiral, flag officer, commander of any squadron or division, or other his superior officer, for assailing, joining battle with, or making defense against any fleet, squadron, or ship, or shall not obey the orders of his superior officer as aforesaid in the time of action, to the best of his power, or shall not use all possible endeavours to put the same effectually into execution, every person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as from the nature and degree of the offence a court martial shall deem him to deserve.

    Article 11 would exclude the commander of the 2nd ship, following the flag, from prosecution.

    However article 12 damns the Commodore:
    Every person in the fleet, who through cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall in time of action withdraw or keep back, or not come into the fight or engagement, or shall not do his utmost to take or destroy every ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of His Majesty's ships, or those of his allies, which it shall be his duty to assist and relieve, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

    And article 13, (unlucky for some), is the icing on the cake:
    Every person in the fleet, who though cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall forbear to pursue the chase of any enemy, pirate or rebel, beaten or flying; or shall not relieve or assist a known friend in view to the utmost of his power; being convicted of any such offense by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

    'and hereby by His own inaction is hoiste by His own petard'. M'Laud I rest my case.

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    Articles of War (1806) as pertains to the armed forces of the United States:

    Art. 52. Any officer or soldier who shall misbehave himself before the enemy, run away, or shamefully abandon any fort, post, or guard which he or they may be commanded to defend, or speak words inducing others to do the like, or shall cast away his arms or ammunition, or who shall quit his post or colors to plunder and pillage, every such offended, being duly convicted thereof, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a general court martial.

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    Pretty conclusive then Neil.
    Glad I declined the defence.
    Rob.

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    It is amazing that anyone survived battle in the Royal Navy... They seem to value suicidal charges over preservation of the ship every time!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hjl View Post
    It is amazing that anyone survived battle in the Royal Navy... They seem to value suicidal charges over preservation of the ship every time!
    I think the Cavalier attitude to sea warfare went back to the days of Drake, Frobisher, and Hawkins Hugh. With little to lose but their skins and everything to gain from Spanish gold, they threw caution to the winds and there is no surprise that Drake received the Spanish epithet El Draco.
    Rob.

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    I think this poem reflects the out and out bloody mindedness of the Elizabethan Captains Hugh.


    The Revenge

    A Ballad of The Fleet


    At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay,
    And a pinnace, like a flutter'd bird, came flying from far away.
    ‘Spanish ships of war at sea! We have sighted fifty three!'
    Then sware [Lord Thomas Howard]: ‘'fore God I am no coward;
    But I cannot meet them here, for my ships are out of gear,
    And half my men are sick. I must fly, but follow quick.
    We are six ships of the line; can we fight with fifty three?'

    Then spake Sir Richard Grenville: ‘I know you are no coward;
    You fly them for a moment to fight with them again.
    But I've ninety men and more that are lying sick ashore.
    I should count myself the coward if I left them, my Lord Howard,
    To those Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain.
    So Lord Howard passed away with five ships of war that day,
    Till he melted like a cloud in the silent summer heaven;
    But Sir Richard bore in hand all his sick men from the land
    Very carefully and slow,
    Men of Bideford in Devon
    And we laid them on the ballast down below;
    For we brought them all aboard,
    And they blest him in their pain, that they were not left to Spain,
    To the thumbscrew and the stake, for the glory of the Lord.

    He had only a hundred seamen to work the ship and to fight,
    And he sailed away from Flores till the Spaniard came in sight,
    With his huge sea-castles heaving upon the weather bow.
    ‘Shall we fight or shall we fly?
    Good Sir Richard, tell us now,
    For to fight is but to die!
    There'll be little of us left by the time this sun be set.'
    And Sir Richard said again: ‘We be all good English men,
    Let us bang these dogs of Seville, the children of the devil,
    For I never turned my back on Don or devil yet.'
    Sir Richard spoke and he laughed, and we roared a hurrah, and so
    The little Revenge ran on, sheer into the heart of the foe,
    With her hundred fighters on deck, and her ninety sick below;
    For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left were seen,
    And the little Revenge ran on thro' the long sea-lane between.

    Thousands of their soldiers looked down from their decks and laughed,
    Thousands of their seamen made mock at the mad little craft
    Running on and on, till delayed
    By their mountain-like San Philip that, of fifteen hundred tons,
    And up-shadowing high above us with her yawning tiers of guns,
    Took the breath from our sails, and we stayed.
    And while now the great San Philip hung above us like a cloud
    Whence the thunderbolt will fall
    Long and loud,
    Four galleons drew away
    From the Spanish fleet that day,
    And two upon the larboard and two upon the starboard lay,
    And the battle-thunder broke from them all.
    But anon the great San Philip, she bethought herself and went
    Having that within her womb that had left her ill content;
    And the rest they came aboard us, and they fought us hand to hand,
    For a dozen times they came with their pikes and their musketeers,
    And a dozen time we shook ‘em off as a dog that shakes its ears
    When he leaps from the water to the land.
    And the sun went down, and the stars came out far over the summer seas,
    But never a moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty three.
    Ship after ship, the whole night long, their high-built galleons came,
    Ship after ship, the whole night long, with her battle-thunder and flame;
    Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew back with her dead and her shame.
    For some were sunk and many were shatter'd, and so could fight us no more -
    God of battles, was ever a battle like this in the world before?
    For he said ‘Fight on! Fight on!'
    Tho' his vessel was all but a wreck;
    And it chanced that, when half of the short summer night was gone,
    With a grisly wound to be dressed he had left the deck,
    But a bullet struck him that was dressing it suddenly dead,
    And himself he was wounded again in the side and the head,
    And he said ‘Fight on! Fight on!'
    And the night went down, and the sun smiled out from over the summer sea,
    And the Spanish fleet with broken sides lay around us all in a ring;
    But they dared not touch us again, for thewy feared that we still could sting,
    So they watched what the end would be.
    And we had not fought them in vain,
    But in perilous plight were we,
    Seeing forty of our poor hundred were slain,
    And half of the rest of us maimed for life
    In the crash of the cannonades and the desperate strife.
    And the sick men down in the hold were most of them stark and cold,
    And the pikes were all broken or bent, and the powder was all of it spent;
    And the masts and the rigging were lying over the side.
    But Sir Richard cried in his English pride:
    ‘We have fought such a fight for a day and a night
    As may never be fought again!
    We have won great glory my men!
    And a day less or more
    At sea or ashore,
    We die - does it matter when?
    Sink me the ship, Master Gunner - sink her, split her in twain!
    Fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain!'
    And the gunner said ‘Ay ay', but the seamen made reply:
    ‘We have children, we have wives,
    And the Lord hath spared our lives.
    We will make the Spaniard promise, if we yield, to let us go;
    We shall live to fight again and to strike another blow.'
    And the lion there lay dying, and they yielded to the foe.
    And the stately Spanish men to their flagship bore him then,
    Where they laid him by the mast, old Sir Richard caught at last,
    And they praised him to his face with their courtly foreign grace.
    But he rose upon their decks and he cried:
    ‘I have fought for Queen and Faith like a valiant man and true.
    I have only done my duty as a man is bound to do.
    With a joyful spirit I, Sir Richard Grenville, die!'
    And he fell upon their decks and he died.
    And they stared at the dead that had been so valiant and true,
    And had holden the power and the glory of Spain so cheap
    That he dared her with one little ship and his English few;
    Was he devil or man? He was devil for aught they knew,
    But they sank his body with honour down into the deep,
    And they manned the Revenge with a swarthier alien crew,
    And away she sailed with her loss and longed for her own;
    When a wind from the lands they had ruined awoke from sleep,
    And the water began to heave and the weather to moan,
    And or ever that evening ended a great gale blew,
    And a wave like a wave that is raised by an earthquake grew,
    Till it smote on their hulls and their sails and their masts and their flags,
    And the whole sea plunged and fell on the shot-shattered navy of Spain,
    And the little Revenge herself went down by the island crags
    To be lost evermore in the main.



    Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

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    AAaarrrghhh, what a cracker Cap'n. 'nd ne're should we forget, those of us who brave the seas. For all the devil may care for all their heroic deeds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Union Jack View Post
    Articles of War 1757 as pertains t the Royal Navy:

    In chief article 10: States:
    Every flag officer, captain and commander in the fleet, who, upon signal or order of fight, or sight of any ship or ships which it may be his duty to engage, or who, upon likelihood of engagement, shall not make the necessary preparations for fight, and shall not in his own person, and according to his place, encourage the inferior officers and men to fight courageously, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as from the nature and degree of the offence a court martial shall deem him to deserve; and if any person in the fleet shall treacherously or cowardly yield or cry for quarter, every person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

    However this does seem to be contradicted by article 11:
    Every person in the fleet, who shall not duly observe the orders of the admiral, flag officer, commander of any squadron or division, or other his superior officer, for assailing, joining battle with, or making defense against any fleet, squadron, or ship, or shall not obey the orders of his superior officer as aforesaid in the time of action, to the best of his power, or shall not use all possible endeavours to put the same effectually into execution, every person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as from the nature and degree of the offence a court martial shall deem him to deserve.

    Article 11 would exclude the commander of the 2nd ship, following the flag, from prosecution.

    However article 12 damns the Commodore:
    Every person in the fleet, who through cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall in time of action withdraw or keep back, or not come into the fight or engagement, or shall not do his utmost to take or destroy every ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of His Majesty's ships, or those of his allies, which it shall be his duty to assist and relieve, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

    And article 13, (unlucky for some), is the icing on the cake:
    Every person in the fleet, who though cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall forbear to pursue the chase of any enemy, pirate or rebel, beaten or flying; or shall not relieve or assist a known friend in view to the utmost of his power; being convicted of any such offense by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

    'and hereby by His own inaction is hoiste by His own petard'. M'Laud I rest my case.
    Sir,

    I do understand that by the rules and laws written almost half a century ago for the foreign navy of a foreign king that the commodore may well be condemned, and that by rules to be written at some future date that our navy may condemn him also, but that we of this fledgling nation and this navy, still in its infancy, must answer to a higher order; that of the scenario writer.

    Exhibit one:
    "Your commander has issued standing instructions for your ships to remain at two ship lengths apart. at this distance, through the mist, you can just make out the hooded stern lantern of the ship in front."

    Exhibit two:
    "Your ships will continue in Line ahead."

    Exhibit three:
    "WARNING. Do not stray from the vision of your compatriots in the line."

    Exhibit four:
    "Any of your ships so doing will be fired upon by the rest of your Squadron in mistake for an enemy. After all the Captains know that you are all in Battle line. Thus any ship not conforming must be an interloper.

    With these stern and inflexible commands, it appears that the commodore would be convicted if he had come about and attempted a rescue in such a thick fog.

    Sir, with such low visibility and seemingly strict instructions should this gentleman be sent to the gallows for following them?

    I say not!
    Last edited by Bos'n; 12-12-2016 at 23:19.
    Bob

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    If I may interject here.
    Those orders were given by the Commodore himself, on the occasion of sighting the fog. Using the stern lights was a normal tactic as was signalling by gunfire in mist and fog. What was not in Admiralty standing orders was the instruction not to forsake the battle line. However, with lamps being observed it should be possible for the whole line to wear in succession, and still maintaining its integrity reverse its course, thus trapping any enemy ships between the two columns of your squadron as they come up to the turn.
    However, the most damaging remark in Commodore Nicholson's Dispatches was the statement which I repeat again here:-

    "I have no direct understanding what occurred to the ships behind Constitution, except to say that the flash and booming of cannons erupted all along the line. Constitution, with United States in front of her, could do nothing but sail forward. Should we have turned to aid our comrades we would have been mistaken for the enemy and been unable to tell friend from foe, perhaps firing on our own ships by mistake. So on we sailed."

    Whilst no Flag Officer since Admiral Byng had been executed, this remark alone would ensure that he never got another sea going command in the Royal Navy unless he had patronage at the very highest levels. eg. P.M. First Sea lord or Prinney himself.From the much less draconian, more lenient and humane viewpoint of the democratic US Navy board, and Army (Paul Revere's case for example.) I feel sure that after a suitable spell on the beach, over the Christmas break say, and bearing in mind the dearth of suitable senior officers with experience of commanding a Squadron, Nicholson would be reinstated albeit with the preemptor that he would have to regain the trust of his Captains and men by conducting some great feat of arms in the forthcoming Campaign.

    I hope that this helps put your mind at rest, and persuades any of your men so disposed, to refrain from desertion to the Royal Navy armed with its cat and Bridport dagger.
    Bligh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    If I may interject here.
    Those orders were given by the Commodore himself, on the occasion of sighting the fog. Using the stern lights was a normal tactic as was signalling by gunfire in mist and fog. What was not in Admiralty standing orders was the instruction not to forsake the battle line. However, with lamps being observed it should be possible for the whole line to wear in succession, and still maintaining its integrity reverse its course, thus trapping any enemy ships between the two columns of your squadron as they come up to the turn.
    However, the most damaging remark in Commodore Nicholson's Dispatches was the statement which I repeat again here:-

    "I have no direct understanding what occurred to the ships behind Constitution, except to say that the flash and booming of cannons erupted all along the line. Constitution, with United States in front of her, could do nothing but sail forward. Should we have turned to aid our comrades we would have been mistaken for the enemy and been unable to tell friend from foe, perhaps firing on our own ships by mistake. So on we sailed."

    Whilst no Flag Officer since Admiral Byng had been executed, this remark alone would ensure that he never got another sea going command in the Royal Navy unless he had patronage at the very highest levels. eg. P.M. First Sea lord or Prinney himself.From the much less draconian, more lenient and humane viewpoint of the democratic US Navy board, and Army (Paul Revere's case for example.) I feel sure that after a suitable spell on the beach, over the Christmas break say, and bearing in mind the dearth of suitable senior officers with experience of commanding a Squadron, Nicholson would be reinstated albeit with the preemptor that he would have to regain the trust of his Captains and men by conducting some great feat of arms in the forthcoming Campaign.

    I hope that this helps put your mind at rest, and persuades any of your men so disposed, to refrain from desertion to the Royal Navy armed with its cat and Bridport dagger.
    Bligh.
    I am not certain that the commodore could ever be give command in the same theater of war or even in the navy again. Once you forsake your comrades who would willingly follow you into harms way again.

    Sounds like a desk is as large a command as Nicholson will ever see again.
    Bob

    Rules are rough approximations of what you think I might do!

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    Nay Sir, I draw your attention to the Articles of War in relevance to the the USA, by whom your Congress of 1806 did ratify and pertain to Land or Sea commands:

    Articles of War (1806) as pertains to the armed forces of the United States:

    Art. 52. Any officer or soldier who shall misbehave himself before the enemy, run away, or shamefully abandon any fort, post, or guard which he or they may be commanded to defend, or speak words inducing others to do the like, or shall cast away his arms or ammunition, or who shall quit his post or colors to plunder and pillage, every such offended, being duly convicted thereof, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a general court martial.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Union Jack View Post
    Nay Sir, I draw your attention to the Articles of War in relevance to the the USA, by whom your Congress of 1806 did ratify and pertain to Land or Sea commands:

    Articles of War (1806) as pertains to the armed forces of the United States:

    Art. 52. Any officer or soldier who shall misbehave himself before the enemy, run away, or shamefully abandon any fort, post, or guard which he or they may be commanded to defend, or speak words inducing others to do the like, or shall cast away his arms or ammunition, or who shall quit his post or colors to plunder and pillage, every such offended, being duly convicted thereof, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a general court martial.

    Nay Sir, I draw your attention to the date of the battle; 1800.

    Your reference is penned six years after the battle.
    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos'n View Post
    Nay Sir, I draw your attention to the date of the battle; 1800.

    Your reference is penned six years after the battle.
    Surely you are in error about the date of battle sir.
    The French ship Hermione ran aground and wrecked due to a navigation error of her pilot at Le Croisic on 20 September 1793.



    Maybe in the Fog of War your Captains mistook another ship for Hermione.

    Bligh.

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    Then perchance the Royal Navy Articles of War are still in vogue until that auspicious date Sir.

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    I have a strange premonition that the desk job mentioned earlier is the best our subject can hope for with a good attorney standing in his corner.
    Bligh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    I have a strange premonition that the desk job mentioned earlier is the best our subject can hope for with a good attorney standing in his corner.
    Bligh.
    The commodore accepts your plea bargain. Case dismissed.
    Bob

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    I think that the US was much less draconian in its attitude to misdemeanors in wartime judging by these documents. They deal mainly with the army, but do in places include the navy as an afterthought.
    Where the Royal Navy stipulates death without reference to the circumstances, the Congress seem to have given it as a last resort. Therefore, you acceptance of the plea bargain seems to be very much in the style
    of the period.

    Rob.

    The Continental Congress debated for several days the Articles of War governing the conduct of the Continental Army. Altogether, these Rules and Regulations comprised sixty-nine separate articles. In the first twelve of the articles below, what kinds of behaviors were addressed and what kinds of punishments were to be meted out to violators?

    The consideration of the articles of war being resumed, Congress agreed to the same:
    Rules and Regulations
    Whereas his Majesty's most faithful subjects in these Colonies are reduced to a dangerous and critical situation, by the attempts of the British Ministry, to carry into execution, by force of arms, several unconstitutional and oppressive acts of the British parliament for laying taxes in America, to enforce the collection of these taxes, and for altering and changing the constitution and internal police of some of these Colonies, in violation of the natural and civil rights of the Colonies.
    And whereas hostilities have been actually commenced in Massachusetts Bay, by the British troops, under the command of General Gage, and the lives of a number of the inhabitants of that Colony destroyed; the town of Boston not only having been long occupied as a garrisoned town in an enemy's country, but the inhabitants thereof treated with a severity and cruelty not to be justified even towards declared enemies.
    And whereas large reinforcements have been ordered, and are soon expected, for the declared purpose of compelling these Colonies to submit to the operation of the said acts, which hath rendered it necessary, and an indispensable duty, for the express purpose of securing and defending these Colonies, and preserving them in safety against all attempts to carry the said acts into execution; that an armed force be raised sufficient to defeat such hostile designs, and preserve and defend the lives, liberties and immunities of the Colonists: for the due regulating and well ordering of which;--
    Resolved, That the following Rules and Orders be attended to, and observed by such forces as are or may hereafter be raised for the purposes aforesaid.

    • Article I. That every officer who shall be retained, and every soldier who shall serve in the Continental Army, shall, at the time of his acceptance of his commission or inlistment, subscribe these rules and regulations. And that the officers and soldiers, already of that army, shall also, as soon as may be, subscribe the same; from the time of which subscription every officer and soldier, shall be bound by those regulations. But if any of the officers or soldiers, now of the said army, do not subscribe these rules and regulations, then they may be retained in the said army, subject to the rules and regulations under which they entered into the service, or be discharged from the service, at the option of the Commander in chief.


    • Art. II. It is earnestly recommended to all officers and soldiers, diligently to attend Divine Service; and all officers and soldiers who shall behave indecently or irreverently at any place of Divine Worship, shall, if commissioned officers, be brought before a court-martial. there to be publicly and severely reprimanded by the President; if non-commissioned officers or soldiers, every person so offending, shall, for his first offence, forfeit One Sixth of a Dollar, to be deducted out of his next pay; for the second offence, he shall not only forfeit a like sum, but be confined for twenty-four hours, and for every like offence, shall suffer and pay in like manner; which money so forfeited, shall be applied to the use of the sick soldiers of the troop or company to which the offender belongs.


    • Art. III. Whatsoever non-commissioned officer or soldier shall use any profane oath or execration, shall incur the penalties expressed in the second article; and if a commissioned officer be thus guilty of profane cursing or swearing, he shall forfeit and pay for each and every such offence, the sum of Four Shillings, lawful money.


    • Art. IV. Any officer or soldier, who shall behave himself with contempt or disrespect towards the General or Generals, or Commanders in chief of the Continental Forces, or shall speak false words, tending to his or their hurt or dishonour, shall be punished according to the nature of his offence, by the judgment of a general court-martial.


    • Art. V. Any officer or soldier, who shall begin, excite, cause, or join in any mutiny or sedition, in the regiment, troop, or company to which he belongs, or in any other regiment, troop or company of the Continental Forces, either by land or sea, or in any party, post, detachment, or guard, on any pretence whatsoever, shall suffer such punishment, as by a general court-martial shall be ordered.


    • Art. VI. Any officer, non-commissioned officer, or soldier, who being present at any mutiny or sedition, does not use his utmost endeavours to suppress the same, or coming to the knowledge of any mutiny, or intended mutiny, does not, without delay, give information thereof to the commanding officer, shall be punished by order of a general court-martial, according to the nature of his offence.


    • Art. VII. Any officer or soldier, who shall strike his superior officer, or draw, or offer to draw, or shall lift up any weapon, or offer any violence against him, being in the execution of his office, on any pretence whatsoever, or shall disobey any lawful commands of his superior officer, shall suffer such punishment as shall, according to the nature of his offence, be ordered by the sentence of a general court-martial.


    • Art. VIII. Any non-commissioned officer, or soldier, who shall desert, or without leave of his commanding officer, absent himself from the troop or company to which he belongs, or from any detachment of the same, shall, upon being convicted thereof, be punished according to the nature of his offence, at the discretion of a general court-martial.


    • Art. IX. Whatsoever officer, or soldier, shall be convicted of having advised or persuaded any other officer or soldier, to desert, shall suffer such punishment, as shall be ordered by the sentence of a general court-martial.


    • Art. X. All officers, of what condition soever, shall have power to part and quell all quarrels, frays, and disorders, though the persons concerned, should belong to another regiment, troop, or company; and either order officers to be arrested, or non-commissioned officers, or soldiers, to be confined and imprisoned, till their proper superior officers shall be acquainted therewith: and whoever shall refuse to obey such officer, (though of an inferior rank,) or shall draw his sword upon him, shall be punished at the discretion of a general court-martial.


    • Art. XI. No officer or soldier shall use any reproachful or provoking speeches or gestures to another, nor shall presume to send a challenge to any person to fight a duel: And whoever shall, knowingly and willingly, suffer any person whatsoever to go forth to fight a duel, or shall second, promote, or carry any challenge, shall be deemed as a principal; and whatsoever officer or soldier shall upbraid another for refusing a challenge, shall also be considered as a challenger; and all such offenders, in any of these or such like cases, shall be punished at the discretion of a general court-martial.


    • Art. XII. Every officer, commanding in quarters or on a march, shall keep good order, and, to the utmost of his power, redress all such abuses or disorders which may be committed by any officer or soldier under his command: If upon any complaint [being] made to him, of officers or soldiers beating, or otherwise ill-treating any person, or of committing any kind of riot, to the disquieting of the inhabitants of this Continent; he the said commander, who shall refuse or omit to see justice done on the offender or offenders, and reparation made to the party or parties injured, as far as the offender's wages shall enable him or them, shall, upon due proof thereof, be punished as ordered by a general court-martial, in such manner as if he himself had committed the crimes or disorders complained of. . . .




    Taken from the1806 regs.

    V Art. 52. Any officer or soldier who shall misbehave himself before the enemy, run away, or shamefully abandon any fort, post, or guard which he or they may be commanded to defend, or speak words inducing others to do the like, or shall cast away his arms or ammunition, or who shall quit his post or colors to plunder and pillage, every such offended, being duly convicted thereof, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a general court martial.


    Rob.

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