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Thread: 2015 Solo Mission - When the Fog Lifts by Dobbs

  1. #1
    1st Lieutenant
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    Default 2015 Solo Mission - When the Fog Lifts by Dobbs

    This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. The brig had been bought to help the family dominate the New England textile market. Instead, her first voyage found Lacey Anne fitted out as a privateer. Captain Winthrop Doylee peered into the thick morning fog. He could feel the moisture saturating his frock coat and his lace cuffs and collar were hanging limp. It was a lucky thing that mother had a connection with General Washington and that his Excellency understood the value of sea power. A hastily scrawled note in his hand, and Winthrop Doylee the merchant became the dread Captain Winthrop Doylee, a licensed pirate sailing for the defense of the United States.

    The plan was simple enough; all the locals knew that the brig Spitfire was the face of the Royal navy in these parts. Sink, burn or capture her and more men would see the possibilities of this adventure. General Washington would also see the value of placing his trust in the daring Captain Winthrop Doylee. Although after this, the British would probably see him as a pirate. to the locals and his Excellency, General Washington, he’d be an American privateer. Personally though, it was just business, and just a different way of cutting out the middleman. Doylee thought of himself merely as a merchant with an alternative lifestyle.

    As the sun climbed a little higher, the fog turned to a heavy mist, and there, dead ahead and presenting her stern two cables to the east, lay Spitfire.

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    The obvious maneuver was to bear off and rake her before the British gathered their wits. Unfortunately, the Brits were already game. As Lacey Anne bore off, Spitfire luffed up. The resulting exchange dashed Doylee’s optimism. A full American broadside did less damage than the partial British one. Neither brig’s 6 pounders did much physical damage, but aboard the American brig, a fire broke out and a handful of her crew succumbed to the splinters from a shattered bulwark.

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    Spitfire slowed as she tacked through the wind and Lacey Anne closed range.

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    Spitfire completed her tack and Lacey Anne bore off just a pinch. Simultaneously, both crews unleashed their broadsides. The American full broadside was telling and started a small fire, while the English partial broadside did superficial damage but brought down more of her opponent’s crew.

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    Thinking that maybe things would turn in his favor at pistol shot, Doylee luffed his brig up. The English bore off and demonstrated at point blank range what the difference was in marksmanship between the Royal navy and colonial merchants.

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    “Perhaps long range is better until one has an advantage,” Doylee mused. As the distance between the vessels grew, a series a splashes erupted off the transom, an affirmation from a British partial broadside.

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    During the lull brought on by being well out of range and strongly to windward, the remaining crew restored order to the brig. Doylee backed the foretopyard and braced the maintop around and Lacey Anne danced quickly through the eye of wind.

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    As the range closed again, American long range gunnery proved to no avail, throwing only a curtain of spray over the English brig.

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    The return volley from Spitfire’s 6 pounders also did no real damage, but continued to find prey among the American crew.

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    At long range, the two brigs again exchanged broadsides. Smoke and noise seemed the biggest factors of both broadsides, though from the quarterdeck it did look like Spitfire may have taken a hit between the wind and the wave.

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    Knowing that Spitfire was going to be slow coming out of her tack, Doylee chose to close. At a range of less than half a cable, Lacey Anne’s 6 pounders smashed through Spitfire. Spitfire’s return fire almost went unnoticed except for a sharp crack as a ball carved a groove on the foredeck.

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    As the smoke swept off to leeward, Doylee followed it and put the helm down. If he could turn fast enough and bring the mostly unscathed starboard side to bear, it would be no contest. Lacey Anne would have twice the broadside strength as Spitfire. The English would have to yield!

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    The crew fired the first starboard broadside, and the results were not impressive, but as Doylee had hoped, it was better than Spitfire’s return fire. It didn’t matter if it took a long while or a short one, Doylee mused, it was simple math. Spitfire could now only fire half the weight of Lacey Anne’s broadside. She would eventually have to submit.

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    From his tiny raised quarterdeck, Doylee peered at his brig’s waist. After all of the gunfire, things still looked pretty orderly. The great guns were being reloaded again and run out, but the crew looked sparce. It didn’t seem like they had been at this business very long, but it looked like there were only about thirty men still on deck.
    Doylee brought Lacey Anne onto a close reach, he thought that this had come out better than he had dared to hope. Now, either way the British brig turned, she would end up trading broadsides in an uneven match. Spitfire’s only other option would leave her wide open to a bow rake.

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    Doylee stared in amazement as the English brig stood on directly into a bow rake. Lacey Anne’s broadside roared and he watched Spitfire’s bowsprit crumple under the onslaught. With a crack and a rush, Spitfire’s foretopsail yard fell to her foredeck. Even wounded, she held to her course. With a splintering crash, Spitfire drove her mangled beakhead into Lacey Anne’s starboard side. Strangely, on the quarterdeck, the air was filled with the whine of hornets. No, not hornets, it was musketfire from Spitfire’s exposed foretop. In Lacey Anne’s waist, men were struggling and clashing as the Spitfires tried to board. Amongst the men caught in hand to hand fighting, other Lacey Annes struggled to reload and run their guns out for another broadside. Doylee wrestled with the scene. Spitfire was done, she was a wreck. Why wouldn’t the British stop fighting? Again, Lacey Anne’s broadside roared, and as the smoke cleared, the scene changed once more. On the English brig, the flag came down. A lone lieutenant was yelling that it was over. Slowly, the noise and chaos subsided. Through the scattered men, someone pushed forward and handed Doylee a sword. He acknowledged it and leaned on a pipe rail, trying to will his hands not to shake. This was not at all like merchanting.

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    The Butcher’s Bill. Until the rake, damage between the two brigs was running pretty even and the British had definitely gotten the upper hand with crew damage. It was only by two raking broadsides while entangled that the Lacy Annes were able to overwhelm the Spitfires by destroying their vessel.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; Yesterday at 16:14.

  2. #2


    Great AAR. Exciting battle and a well done narrative. Its nice to see an action between two brigs during the AWI. Anthony
    "It seems to be law inflexible and inexorable that he who will not risk cannot win."
    John Paul Jones

  3. #3
    Admiral of the Blue.

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    Superb action Dobbs, and brings into focus what I am currently reading. I could be there, Your description of the sail and running gear damage is the knowledge of a true sailor and adds such a lot to the narrative.
    Only one problem which we are both going to have in this era is that of colours for the American and the Brits. I have tried experimenting with removable flag staffs and did not like the way they either came out too easily or turned round in the hole just when I ws going to photograph the action. Even making a sleeved ensign to slip over the existing one did not look convincing in photos. It is something I must put my mind to seriously now unless I wish to duplicate all my ships which I do not. Then there is the matter of the French Royal standard!

    Last edited by Bligh; Today at 01:18.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  4. #4


    ....another, privateer in the campaign. Keep the stories coming...

    As Rob wrote, "Your description of the sail and running gear damage is the knowledge of a true sailor and adds such a lot to the narrative." Well done.


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