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Thread: 2015 Solo Mission - At War Again by Continentaleye

  1. #1

    Default 2015 Solo Mission - At War Again by Continentaleye

    2015 SOLO CAMPAIGN – AT WAR AGAIN

    Captain Thomas Barton of the HMS Zealous had used one of the rare periods of peace between England and France to his advantage. Unlike his peers who spent their time going home to family or making the rounds in society, he spent his establishing an intelligence network throughout the Caribbean. His spies, although none would want to be identified as such, came from all walks of life, from wealthy merchants and shop owners, to colonial administrators, to foreign agents, to seamen and ship captains. The person he was meeting that night at a rowdy seaside tavern outside of Kingston Jamaica was from the latter class.

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    “Your message indicated some matter of urgency,” Barton began. He was dressed in civilian clothes, the uniform of a King’s officer quite unwelcome in his current surroundings. “And you did not indicate you weren’t coming alone.”

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    “Sorry Cap’n,” the spy Barton knew only as Silas said “but I thought you might want to hear from the one who brought me the information, case you might have any questions or the like. This here’s Cap’n Galvin of the merchant schooner Guadalupe. Tell him what you seen Galvin.”

    “We were a few days out of New Orleans headed south to Porto Bello when one of my officers took the fever. I wanted to get him off the ship before the sickness spread or the crew threw him overboard. There’s a village on Guanaja Island called Athens Mill where I’d stopped to water before and I knew there was a doctor there. As I began to make my way into Northeast Bight a Spanish cutter came out and refused us entry.”

    “Northeast Bight, I heard of it before,” Barton said. “A good anchorage, secluded, easily defended. It’s rumored it was often used by pirates.”

    “It still is,” Galvin continued. “Before we were driven away, I saw three ships in the bay, one of them was the Revanche Rouge.”

    “Are you sure?” Barton asked excitedly.

    “Saw it clear as day. But I think you’ll find this even more interesting. The other two were frigates – one of them was English, the Cleopatra. I’m sure of that too. One of my men had served aboard her during the last war before being cashiered out.” Barton’s head was spinning. The service thought the Cleopatra had gone down in a hurricane but it was quite plausible the Crimson Pirate had taken her.

    “That scoundrel Frenchmen, the Crimson Pirate,” Barton muttered but was interrupted by a loud chuckle from Silas. “Something funny?” Barton was annoyed.

    “Crimson Pirate my eye,” Silas said. “He’s not even a Frenchman. His real name is Burton Lancastor and he was born on New York Island. With the Spanish he calls himself Captain Vallo. During the American Rebellion he helped the Spanish when England plundered Omoa in 1779. That’s probably why the Spanish are protecting him in one of their harbors even though England and Spain aren’t at war – yet.” With that, Silas laid out two maps on the table. “I took the liberty of asking Cap’n Galvin to put the spot on the map.”

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    "It seems to be law inflexible and inexorable that he who will not risk cannot win."
    John Paul Jones

  2. #2

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    As the HMS Zealous approached Northeast Bight, Captain Barton stood on the quarterdeck wondering if he had reached the anchorage soon enough to find the Revanche Rouge still at anchor within the bay. He had set the date of the operation to coincide with a moonless night but he had not anticipated the low-lying fog that now enveloped his ship. He knew it could prove to be either a boon or a bane – or both.

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    After several minutes of crawling through the anchorage with only enough sail to sustain forward movement, an anchored frigate emerged from the fog like a ghost off the starboard bow. French build Barton thought to himself. Barton signaled to First Lieutenant Alexander to hold his fire so they could explore more of the anchorage since the enemy remained oblivious the presence of the Zealous inside their lair.

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    As the Zealous reached the western most extent of the anchorage and turned to larboard, Barton worried that the other two ships Galvin had seen were gone as there was little room left for ships of their size to be anchored safely and still be hidden by the fog.

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    And then as if to quell his anxiety, another ship appeared and there was no mistaking its identity; it was the Revanche Rouge (Aquilon).

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    Even though one ship was unaccounted for, Barton determined the time for stealth was over; it was time for action. He motioned to the helmsman to come alongside the enemy 74 and as the Zealous did so he yelled, “Fire Mr. Alexander, for King, Country and Captain Andrews!” The latter being a personal friend who had been humiliated by the Crimson Pirate.

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    The double-shotted cannons did their deadly work causing major damage to the Revanche and killing nearly all her crew who had been asleep or passed-out on deck. The broadside was so effective at sweeping the deck, the British marines were unable to find a single target for their muskets. Lieutenant Alexander led a boarding party onto the blood-soaked deck and captured the ship without losing a man.

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    "It seems to be law inflexible and inexorable that he who will not risk cannot win."
    John Paul Jones

  3. #3

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    Amazed at the unqualified amount of success brought on by the element of total surprise, Barton quickly decided to take the Revanche as a prize. He left a sizeable prize crew under the command of Lieutenant Alexander since they would first have to put out the fire and stop the leak the Zealous’ broadside had wrought before they could cut cable and make for the harbor entrance. And, just as the element of surprise had disappeared, so had the fog. Captain Barton could now see the second frigate and it was clearly the Cleopatra who at that very moment was clearing for action.

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    The short-handed Zealous disentangled from the Revanche and moved to engage with the Cleopatra. Meanwhile, having extinguished the fire on his new command, Alexander ordered his men on the Revanche to raise sail. The remaining frigate, the Unite, was having a difficult time getting underway against the wind.

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    The captain of the Cleopatra attempted to cross the bow of the Zealous, but realizing he would not make it before the two ships collided, he ordered his larboard broadside to fire. The Zealous responded with her forward guns as the marines from both ships exchanged fire.

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    Barton had hoped to board and capture the Cleopatra as he had the Revanche but as the Zealous’ bowsprit slid past the stern of Cleopatra, his boarding party’s grapples splashed harmlessly into the water. The marines had slightly better luck and were able to kill some of the enemy seamen on deck.

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    The captain of the Cleopatra continued his larboard tack so that his ship would not be exposed to a stern rake but, unfortunately for him and his crew, the as yet unfired double-shotted rear guns of the Zealous came to bare and launched enough iron to sink the hapless frigate. The Unite and the Revanche exchanged broadsides with the French ship taking the worst of it.

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    The Unite however was able to bring her forward starboard guns to bear on the Zealous to good effect. And her marines found their marks on the Zealous’ crew. The ships became entangled and it was unclear which boarding party would gain the upper hand. But in the end, it was the Zealous’ men who gave better than they got but the outcome of the battle was still uncertain.

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    But it did become quite clear once the ships drifted apart and Zealous’ broadside ripped the length of the Unite’s deck from stern to stem killing enough of her crew to force her captain to strike his colors.

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    "It seems to be law inflexible and inexorable that he who will not risk cannot win."
    John Paul Jones

  4. #4

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    All three enemy ships now being vanquished, Barton faced a conundrum. He did not have enough seamen left on the Zealous to send a prize crew to the Unite and he did not know the status of the crew on the Revanche. He considered torching the Unite but decided to wait until he had time to speak with Lieutenant Alexander. As it turned out, the prize crew on the Revanche was intact and he ordered Alexander to send half of them over to the Unite along with his Second Lieutenant Charles Auckland to take command of the captured frigate. Meanwhile, the Zealous maneuvered so that once the exchange of crew had taken place, the three ships could attempt to run the gauntlet between the two forts. Barton did not know if the forts would engage but he did not want to take any unnecessary chances.

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    The Unite lead the way and successful stayed out of the range of the southern battery’s guns.

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    The Revanche strayed too close to the shore and the battery made its intentions known delivery some damage to the former privateer’s hull.

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    Next it was the Zealous’ turn and Barton was ready knowing the fort intended to fight. A ball from the battery shredded some of the sails but other than that produced little damage. The broadside from the Zealous on the other hand got the attention of the soldiers in the fort.

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    It proved to be the final exchange of gunfire of the day as the three heavily damaged and undermanned ships rounded the headland and headed towards Jamaica. Once in port, Captain Barton was informed the unfortunate news that the Crimson Pirate had not been aboard the Revanche Rouge when it was taken but Barton took solace in the fact there was no ship left afloat in Northeast Bight for Lancaster or Vallo or whatever his true name was, to command.

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    Butcher’s Bill:

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    "It seems to be law inflexible and inexorable that he who will not risk cannot win."
    John Paul Jones

  5. #5
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Another superb annecdote Anthony. The backstory was very imaginative.
    Thanks for yet another yarn of high quality.
    Rob.
    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.

  6. #6

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    What Rob wrote, Anthony. Another great AAR.

  7. #7

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    Thank you gentlemen! And thank you both for the rep points, they are much appreciated.
    "It seems to be law inflexible and inexorable that he who will not risk cannot win."
    John Paul Jones

  8. #8
    Midshipman
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    Another cracking story and a great and famous victory.

    That will put a crimp in the Crimson Pirate's depredations and no mistake.

    A very entertaining back story leading up to the main event, if only you could get the Butchers photos the right way round I wouldn't get a crick in my neck reading them, and it would be perfect..

  9. #9
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    I can turn photos as you know, but mine always put up duplicate attatchments as well so I have to delete the originals thus rendering the picyures all in one block at the end of the story with the text devorced from its picture.Consequently unless they are stand alone pictures I tend to leave them alone.

    Rob.
    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.

  10. #10

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    Thanks John and thank you for the rep points as well. As for the Butcher's Bills - I'm not sure why I can't figure out how to post them correctly, I know I have given Rob several headaches fixing them for me. I am able to manipulate the orientation of the picture on my computer before I post them so it's just my own user error not posting them correctly. Rob, I will do my best to get it right next time!
    Anthony
    "It seems to be law inflexible and inexorable that he who will not risk cannot win."
    John Paul Jones

  11. #11
    Midshipman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Continentaleye View Post
    Thanks John and thank you for the rep points as well. As for the Butcher's Bills - I'm not sure why I can't figure out how to post them correctly, I know I have given Rob several headaches fixing them for me. I am able to manipulate the orientation of the picture on my computer before I post them so it's just my own user error not posting them correctly. Rob, I will do my best to get it right next time!
    Anthony
    I wonder if it's because you are taking some pictures in portrait orientation and even though you change them on your computer they still retain the portrait code in the jpeg and this site uses that info?
    Of course that might be me just being ridiculous!

  12. #12

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    John, what you say could very well be true, I am technologically challenged. My son who is off to college out of state is my Tech wizard but if I can figure out how to facetime (just kidding, I actually know how to do that) I will give him a call and see if he has any suggestions.
    "It seems to be law inflexible and inexorable that he who will not risk cannot win."
    John Paul Jones

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