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Thread: Jan 16 For Honour and Glory - Capitaine Vagabond

  1. #1
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    Default Jan 16 For Honour and Glory - Capitaine Vagabond

    I find it hard to believe that it was March 21 since my last campaign game of Sails of Glory, but having just checked, I have to believe it.

    So with a small fanfare of trumpets here is another story by that old Blow Hard Jean Le Vagabond, scourge of the British Royal Navy and consumer of vast quantities of the famous 98 brandy, usually at someone else's expense.

    Jan 16 For Honour and Glory

    Ah Baptiste, it is good to see you and your beautiful daughter this evening, I feel in fine spirits tonight, the walk up that blasted hill didn’t seem as steep as it usually does. Maybe it’s because Spring is in the air and a man feels more alive when the sap is rising as the saying goes.

    Yes Baptiste - I do mean in the trees, the sap is rising in the trees, what else could I have meant, I’m a man of refinement and education not one of the coarse local ruffians that you usually associate with. I beg your pardon Hermione, your Father can be a brutish man at times. I am sure you must have compared his manners with mine and found him wanting in that respect. Do not take offence Baptiste, we both came from humble origins but I have seen the world, spoken to the great Napoleon and commanded men in battle, while you have tended to your vines and tilled the soil. Worthy activities I know but they do not uplift a man and talking about uplifting a man it would be an act of kindness on your part to fetch me a glass of the 98 brandy that Madame keeps under the counter for me and we can forget this unpleasantness of sap rising.

    Please do not carp on about the cost of the 98, it was truly a great year and it will be a long time before we see it’s like again.

    Well Hermione now that your Father is doing his act of kindness I should like to tell you that as I was walking up the hill this evening I hoped I would find you here. All day long I have been thinking of your namesake, yes you are quite right Hermione, the love of my life, the beautiful Frigate Hermione. I was remembering my first action as her Capitaine and knew you would be enthralled to listen, and enraptured by the story of how I defeated HMS Hamadryad and saved the crew of Le Success from spending the rest of the war in one of the Rosbif’s prison hulks.

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    Some of the details are a little cloudy as they sometimes are these days, but I remember I had been entrusted with carrying despatches to Admiral Monmarceour who was commanding the French fleet in the Caribbean Sea. We were 15 days out of Brest and for the last few days there had been a sail following us. You may well ask Hermione why I hadn’t turned to discover who this was but you must understand that if a ship is carrying despatches nothing must delay her unless it is an emergency. I was surprised that another ship could maintain station and keep up with Hermione over such a period of time but this ship had managed to accomplish it and I was curious.

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    There was a slight sea fret on the morning of the 3rd day and as I viewed our tailing ship I saw a second ship had pulled alongside her. The wind had backed and instead of being on our nose it was coming over our stern and driving us towards our destination quicker that ever. A normal Capitaine would have carried on and not given a fig for what was happening behind but as you know I am not the usual run of Naval Capitaine’s.
    I reasoned that if one ship had pulled alongside the other there was probably a boarding action taking place which indicated one of the ships was either French flaged or and ally of France. I would not leave either to fall into the hands of Johnny Rosbif and I ordered a turn to larboard. As the wind was now against us it meant we had to sail a long course to get to a position where we were able to tack and close with the two ships.

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    Through my telescope I could see that as I suspected a British Heavy Frigate had taken a French Packet.

    Packet Hermione? A packet is a ship usually hired by the French Government to carry post to our colonies, she carries a few guns and sails fast but is no match for a Frigate, heavy or light and this one had the look of a Spanish Frigate, maybe one of the Hamadryad class and she would be more than a match for my Hermione.

    Why you ask – well she was heavier, carried more and bigger guns and her crew outnumbered us as well. The only thing in our favour was that I was the Capitaine and had trained my crew well and they adored me for it.

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    I had finally put Hermione in the position I desired and ordered the helmsman to tack and steer straight for the British ship. Unfortunately they had had time to place a prize crew on board the packet and as they
    raised their sails and got underway, the packet went north west and the Rosbif’s ship sailed before the wind SE.
    I had a difficult decision to make, to chase the enemy frigate or rescue the packet.

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    I decided to do both and sailed between them. Baptiste pass me those bottles of beer, yes the ones that are still capped, you remember what happened last time when you used the Blacksmiths bottle and it was not empty, ahh I see you do. Ok, this is how the vessels lay, the British ship had turned to try and intercept us but was too slow and we were able to fire a full broadside and rake him from stem to stern.

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    Great big splinters of wood were blasted down his deck, laying low many of his crew and as the Hamadryad rose on a wave one ball hit as he surged upwards and blew a hole below the water line. I knew that would keep what was left of the crew busy pumping as well as trying to repair the damage in a most difficult location.

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    Le Success was slowly getting underway with her prize crew and trying to raise as much sail as possible but we hit them hard with all the guns that we could bring to bear; yet again I saw a ball strike her hull below the water line.

    You look questioningly Mademoiselle, ahh I understand. Baptise you have a pearl of a woman with you tonight. No don’t look at me like that Baptiste, I know you have no understanding of naval matters but your intelligent daughter does and she is questioning why we hit both ships below the water line when the normal French practice is to try and bring down the enemies rigging. Well Hermione as you know I have no regard for that nation of shopkeepers across La Manche but in naval tactics they are our master. Yes it grieves me to say so but in almost every Frigate to Frigate action there has been, the Rosbifs make mince meat of us. Yes it is amusing n’est pas that is all they can do with prime fillet de beouf, grind it up into little pieces and mix it with bricks and mortar to make the Cottage Pie but still they take Frigate after Frigate of the finest vessels conceived by man. Our French Frigates out class the British ones and yet they continue to trounce us and I am convinced our tactics are mistaken. We should fight to sink the enemy rather than disable him and that is what I instilled into my men and brave souls that they are, they follow my words unquestionably.

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    After taking such a beating from our broadside the Hamadryad turned away to starboard, yes Baptiste that’s right to you. She needed to enact repairs and I thought she might flee but I was more concerned with setting free our brave seamen on Le Success.

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    I manoeuvred Hermione alongside Le Success and the British Prize Crew hauled down their flag like the lubbers they are. In the distance I could see that Hamadryad hadn’t run away but was making a long turn to come back and attack.
    You understand Hermione that this suited me and my crew perfectly, I just had to get some of my men across to Success to help man her and then we could set our sails and attack. We had the advantage of the windward location, what do you mean Baptiste, how many times do I have to explain the simplest of sailing terms to you. Hermione please would you tell your Father what I mean.

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    Thank you Hermione, you have such a good grasp of naval strategy, anyone who didn’t know better would believe you must have been to sea yourself, even, maybe, served under one of the famous French Frigate Capitaines – someone like myself perhaps.

    Now where was I, ahh yes, the bottle with the blue label is Hermione and the red one is Hamadryad, she was coming on famously, I believe her Captain had delusions of boarding us. He had a larger crew and a bigger ship and so to dissuade him a little I ordered the starboard bow battery to fire a little higher than I’d trained them and they swept the deck of the British ship killing crew without too much damage to the ship.

    I’ll be honest with you Hermione, I was a little concerned at this point. My 1st Lieutenant was directing the transfer of men to Success and he was a little slow and punctilious, there were times I would have liked to shake him until his teeth rattled but that would never do. The men must see I had faith in him and if they knew that, they would obey him as if it was me who gave them their orders. One needs to maintain a proper chain of command to maintain discipline but yes, right then I needed a man with more fire and determination, more like myself you say Hermione, well I must agree but there aren’t so many Jean Le Vagabond’s and we have to do the best we can with lesser mortals.

    Which reminds me Baptiste, strangely my glass is empty again, would you do me the kindness of asking Madame to refill it so that I can resume my story?

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    As I feared the Hamadryad was able to fire a broadside into my beautiful ship from close range and to make matters worse it was her first broadside from the starboard side and at close range as well.

    You ask how she could do that Baptise? Oh I see, let me move the red bottle to show you where she was when she fired that fateful volley. It was devastating, our Main mast fell over the side, men dropped wounded and dying, there was blood everywhere, the gun ports were beaten in, it was an awful blow to my precious ship.

    A lesser Capitaine and crew would have hauled down their standard and surrendered, I would have done it to save the lives of my crew but the men pleaded with me not to do so. We will fight to the death for France and Capitaine Le Vagabond they shouted.

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    So with a tear in my eye, for I was moved by their faith in me, I ordered the remaining sails to be set and we pulled away from Le Success, Our broadside was a pitiful affair with so many men dead and cannon disabled but the men went to their work with a cheerful heart. They aimed low and we put another ball below the water line. We could not repay them in kind but we would fight them to the end.

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    The British crew were dismayed at our sang froid and fired at long range into Le Success but did little damage. We had cut loose the Main Mast and were sailing free and this you understand Hermione is where a well trained and well led ship will always overcome lesser crews, even if they have a larger vessel.

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    I knew I had to create a telling blow, it was a risky manoeuvre with only 2 masts standing but with Gods guidance and two strong men at the wheel I brought Hermione across the bows of the British ship and we fired our own devastating broadside down the length of their ship.

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    Followed by a murderous salvo of musketry which did untold damage to their crew.

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    Let me reposition the bottles so you can see the situation. Of course for every daring deed there are consequences and for us it was one I had foreseen and realized we must risk everything with one bold stroke.

    Yes, I don’t need to tell you Hermione but your Father may not have grasped the situation. Hamadryad, a bigger, heavier ship, sailed full tilt into my Hermione and as you would expect, being hit broad side on, we took much more damage from the impact. Men were knocked off their feet, one of the canon broke free and it was mayhem for a short while.

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    Fire was starting to take hold on our enemy and I was desperate to push her away before the fire leaped the gap between us. I was like a lion shouting and encouraging my men but good fellows that they were, they knew the danger and pushed as hard as they could. Eventually there was a gap between the two ships and I could breathe a sigh of relief and take my place back on the Quarter Deck.

    I see you are looking querying again Hermione and allow me to say in my defence, whilst I have told you in the past that a Captain must stand firm on the Quarter Deck, looking unperturbed at the mayhem taking place all around him, occasionally rules must be broken and this was one of those times.

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    We ghosted away from the blazing hulk and soon I knew she would burn to the water line, there just weren’t enough men on board to fight the fire and so it proved. I shouted for them to launch their boats, or jump and swim but in all consciousness I couldn’t risk my ship, boats or men to save the enemy. It saddened me to see them drown, even if they were the enemy, we are all seamen and share the same dangers. We did our best and managed to save a few of the poor souls but it was a bitter sweet moment in my long and illustrious career.

    We took the prisoners from Le Success into Hermione and left her remaining crew to make way as best they could.

    I received a reprimand from Admiral …. I forget his name, for delaying the despatch by 2 hours but my conscience is clear and we were rewarded with a barrel of the finest Bordeaux from the owners of Success when we returned to Rochforte later that year. A genuine vintage year, yes Baptiste a little like the 98 brandy thank you I would appreciate another glass which I take as a gesture of good will from you to an old sailor and then I’ll take my leave for I can hear the wind starting to howl.

    That’s reminds me of the Hurricane I experienced a few months after the incident with Hamadryad but that will have to wait for another day.

    Oh I remember his name Admiral Monmarceour, that was it. You see my memory revives with the 98.

    Au Revoir ma petite Hermione until it’s time to tell you of another of my adventures on the rolling oceans.

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  2. #2

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    Hey, John. Good to see you've posted another story albeit skipping a couple. I've got the Becalmed done - just need to write it up. I was waylaid by the latest Wings of Glory campaign but I should get to this tomorrow or the next.

    Well done - even Baptiste doesn't know his larboard from this starboard!

  3. #3
    Admiral of the Fleet.
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    Well worth waiting for John.
    Another ripping yarn from that old coquin Jon Vagabond.
    You never fail to bring a smile to my lips with his repartee and egotistical story line.
    It is as endearing as the adventures of Brigadier Gerard.
    Well worth a broadside from the rep gun.

    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.

  4. #4
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    Thanks Paul and Rob, I thought no one was going to read my story let alone enjoy it.
    Cheers and thanks for the rep. A glass of the 98 would possibly be in order I believe.

  5. #5
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    What a great adventure, a pleasure to read!

  6. #6
    Midshipman
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    Sorry Achim I've not been on the forum recently. Thanks for the Rep.
    Cheers

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