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Thread: 2015 Solo Mission - Our Ships were British Oak by Dobbs

  1. #1
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    Default 2015 Solo Mission - Our Ships were British Oak by Dobbs

    ‘Our Ships were British Oak, and hearts of oak our men.’

    This is my interpretation of the adventure. I changed the original slightly to continue following the adventures of Captain Winthrop Doylee and his brig Lacey Anne. The British ships were reduced to something that wouldn’t wipe a brig off the sea with a backhand and the battery was reduced to a Burden of 3 and a firepower of 3 to the east and 2 to the west. I also allowed that if it was water, you could sail there, since the British were going to have a tough time beating to weather.

    Captain Winthrop Doylee stood by the taffrail peering into the darkness. It was not his plan, but it was a good plan. First Mate, now wishing to be known as First Lieutenant, Tobias Henry had suggested it, and now he was in charge of making it work.

    Looking back on the last week it was all such a blur; the struggle to keep the captured brig Spitfire afloat and get her safely back to port. The discovery of the documents in the captain’s cabin, General Washington’s enthusiasm and encouragement to get Lacey Anne ready for action again. There hadn’t been any problem filling the empty crew positions, for the time being, the dread privateer, Captain Wintrop Doylee was a local hero.

    Now, in the darkness of the middle watch off of Narragansett Bay, Lacey Anne lay at anchor while her first lieutenant led a party of volunteers in small boats to storm the battery guarding the entrance channels. If they were successful, according to the captured papers, at dawn they would have a chance to thwart a series of coastal raids planned by the British.

    The darkness and the silence were impenetrable, but the compass in the binnacle unerringly let Doylee know where the battery lay. The tension was thick and time moved slowly. Two bells into the morning watch, a small blue rocket leapt skyward on fort’s bearing, signaling a successful capture of the battery. Surprisingly, the rocket’s brief appearance did nothing to release the stress. Instead, the impending decisions that tomorrow would bring weighed heavier.

    The sun climbed above the horizon and revealed a small brig anchored to windward of Narragansett battery. She was flying no flag and few hands could be seen moving about her deck. The sea breeze had refused to release its grasp and the wind continued to blow directly into the mouth of the Providence River. From his quarterdeck on the brig, Captain Doylee discreetly watched the river mouth. In spite of the unfavorable wind, a sail could be seen working to weather on a port tack. As the ship cleared the headland, the lines of the 28 gun post ship HMS Cerebus were unmistakable. She had been a thorn in the side of the New England community since the start of hostilities. In her wake followed a Swan class sloop. This was something more than expected. Doylee lowered his glass and tried not to show too much tension as he gripped the taffrail. If success was to be found here, it was going to rely on a heavy dose of bluffing and patience. It was too late to run.

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    Cerebus held her port tack as she closed on the western shore, and just before she must certainly touch bottom, she came up into the wind and tacked smartly across. She broke out a flurry of flags which almost certainly were directed at the battery, asking about the anchored brig.

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    Cerebus got her way back on on a starboard tack as the Swan followed her tack.

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    As Cerebus drew abeam of the fort, she fired a signal gun, seeking a reply to her inquiry about the brig.

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    Aboard Lacey Anne, tension was reaching a new high. It was time to slip the anchor. Doylee cast a quick eye to make sure it was buoyed. If he didn’t have to buy a new one, he would be happier. The ship’s boy, err, midshipman, was standing by with a flag hoist. Doylee nodded to the bosun. The bosun started to yell and things began to happen quickly. As the anchor let go, the buoy swept past the cathead. Lacey Anne began to make way astern. The topmen let the fore and main topsails fall, to be quickly sheeted home. The big gaff spanker creaked up the main course mast, while at the other end of the boat, her backwinded jibs raced up their stays. Slowly, Lacey Anne began to pay off on a port tack.

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    In apparent response to Lacey Anne getting underway, Cerebus luffed up and tacked.
    Following suit, the Swan tacked as well. Aboard Lacey Anne, Doylee couldn’t believe that the plan was working this well. “If only Lieutenant Henry can keep his men in check only a little longer…”

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 08-07-2022 at 10:18.

  2. #2
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    It worked! It really worked! At Doylee’s gesture, the little midshipman hauled for his worth and the signal flag broke out at the main course peak, followed by the Grand Union on the taffrail. At the battery, the British flag raced down the flag pole and in its place a Grand Union shot up. The east and west emplacements roared a moment later. At the same time, Lacey Anne’s helm and gathering way let her turn down onto a run across the bow of the oncoming Cerebus. Her broadside of eight 6 pounders thundered, offering a bow rake as her opening shot.

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    Even receiving fire from two directions, Cerbebus was able to shrug off the damage. The most dramatic injury was to the spanker, when a ball from the fort punched through the sail and tore the canvas to ribbons.

    On the Swan, it was a different story. Fire from the heavy guns of the battery took the figurative wind out of her sails. With the sloop hulled repeatedly from the single broadside, her captain bore off and sought the safety of the river.

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    On Cerebus, the shock of the battery’s ruse was shortlived, and her broadside bellowed at the fort in retaliation. From his quarterdeck of Lacey Anne, Doylee could see that the eastern emplacement was taking a pasting.

    With her abrupt turn to starboard, it was obvious to that the British sloop was trying to withdraw. Lacey Anne brought her forward port broadside to bear as she crossed the sloop’s stern, trying to inflict a mortal blow before the Swan could escape to the safety of the river. While the noise was dramatic, the effect was less so, and the sloop continued to flee.

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    In the meantime, Cerebus bore off to chase the American brig. This meant her captain had to subject his ship to another volley from Henry’s battery. Henry’s guncrews were definitely learning fast how to serve their loaner weapons and the heavy shot smashed into the post ship’s already wounded starboard side. The resulting damage was apparently enough to remind Cerebus’ captain of his primary mission of coastal raiding, and the vessel quickly swung to port in an attempt to get out of the battery’s range before his ship was too knocked about.

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    The Swan was in a bad way, but so far nothing had been hit to check her speed. Gritting his teeth, Doylee knew where his duty lay and gave the order to bring the brig up into the wind to tack and pursue Cerebus. Privateering wasn’t supposed to be about duty. When he’d first envisioned this scheme, he had pictured it would be more like merchanting, but cutting out the middle man.

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    It was obvious as Lacey Anne hardened up, closehauled on a starboard tack that she was going to be too late to offer any meaningful contribution against Cerebus. Even at this distance, Doylee could see the topmen preparing to drop the t’gallants and courses. Doylee was confident that he could catch the post ship, but if he gave chase, it would be a running contest up the Long Island Sound. Having to reply to Cerebus’ long 9 chasers with his brig's 6 pounder pop guns didn’t sound like the kind of wager that Doylee would find appealing. He felt a little satisfaction as, just before the range grew to far, Henry’s guns sounded again, and, judging by the lack of splashes around the fleeing post ship, Henry’s guncrews met with some measure of success.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 08-07-2022 at 11:03.

  3. #3
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    As it played out, Captain Doylee's Lacey Anne came through entirely unscathed, since no one was ever in a position to fire on her. Her only casualties were from the volunteers who had a rough time of it on the battery.

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    The eastern battery got knocked about a good bit and Lieutenant Tobias Henry's men took it hard.

    The parting shot from Henry's battery pushed the Cerebus over the edge damage-wise, making a complete victory for Captain Winthrop Doylee and the Lacey Annes.

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  4. #4
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    Another great battle and victory! Thank you for posting.

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    I enjoyed your take on the original brief very much Dobbs.
    The wind and navigation adds a lot to the game.
    It was always envisaged that players would choose ships to suit their means and balance the scenario accordingly which you have achieved with panache. Add to this your good story line and well deserved rep points from my own battery are on the way.
    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.

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    A great battle and story, Dobbs. Glad you're continuing on the campaign trail. Rep was sent earlier.

  7. #7
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    Dobbs that was an excellently written and entertaining story that I very much enjoyed reading, thanks for posting it.
    It's a long time since I played this but I seem to remember there being a lot less sea room for the ships leaving the harbour. Your game involved much more sail handling and manoeuvre and was better for it. Your descriptions of the sailing side of the game was masterful and I certainly hope you will carry on with the campaign games.
    Cheers and rum all round

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