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Thread: The Defense of Principio Furnace

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    Default The Defense of Principio Furnace

    During the American Revolution, Principio Furnace, located near the mouth of the Susquehanna River at the top of the Chesapeake Bay, was one of the few places where the colonists could make their own cannons. Consequently, the British showed up and burned it without much resistance.

    In my alternative history here, the colonists manage to scare up Finch and Robin, a pair of cutters mounting 4 pounders to attempt to stop the British attack.

    The view looking up the Susquehanna with the two cutters hiding behind Garrett Island.

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    Having been alerted to the approach of a British sloop, the cutters move downstream.

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    Aboard Swan, the British become aware of the American presence.

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    To achieve their objectives, the British must exit the river between the shoals and the headland to starboard. Since they don't want to be trapped in a narrow channel, the colonists must be subdued first.

    Finch lets fly with her forward broadside. On Swan, a man is carried to the orlop deck.

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    Wanting to keep plenty of room to maneuver in the river, the British turn upstream. Finch bears away while Robin and Swan exchange broadsides. Swan comes through unscathed while Robin takes a hit in the rudder.

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    A lull as the cutters try to close on the windward sloop. Robin's rudder hit throws her up into the wind.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 08-31-2023 at 20:49.

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    The British are trapped on a lee shore, but the Susquehanna's current may just be strong enough to free them...

    ...not quickly, but at least the American gunnery is not impressive.

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    Finch works herself toward a raking position as Swan's crew tries to distract with an ineffective aft broadside.

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    The British are off the bottom and drifting downstream, but not in time to prevent Finch from getting her stern rake. Luckily for Swan, it is not too punishing and just makes a little more work for her doctor and carpenter. Robin and Swan can't exchange fire because the tip of the island blocks their line of sight.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 08-31-2023 at 21:26.

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    The damaged rudder foils Robin's attempt to tack and she winds up in irons. Swan takes advantage of her misfortune and rakes her, damaging the hull above and below the waves.

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    Still struggling to escape being in irons, Robin drifts backwards. Both Americans fire. Robin cleanly misses, but Finch's broadside strikes Swan's rudder.

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    Things start to go extremely pear-shaped for the British. Swan's damaged rudder swings her to port before the crew can react, and she plants herself firmly on Garrett Island. Her broadside during the grounding is entirely ineffectual.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-04-2023 at 13:54.

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    Swan continues to drift with the current since any attempt to sail forward would merely drive her back onto Garrett Island.
    Her drift carries her clear of the southern point and her broadside shreds Robin's topsail.

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    Still drifting, Swan brings her fresh port broadside into play against Finch and hulls her below the waterline. Finch's reply goes unnoticed. Robin's broadside just makes noise.

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    Finch's captain throws her into the wind and is able to bring her port aft broadside into play. It's contribution sends another British crewman to meet the surgeon's knife.

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    A lull as Finch's luffing up turns into a feint. On Robin the crew has set the t'gallant to bring her speed back up. Unfortunately the needed crew has negatively impacted reload time. Swan's crew starts to sheet home her sails that have been luffing these many minutes.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-04-2023 at 13:51.

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    This is the same turn as the last picture from a different angle. Robin has luffed up and Swan is about to start making way.

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    Robin completes her tack while the battle moves upstream and away from her.
    Swan, making way at last, steers straight into a bow rake.

    Finch's gun crews cheer at their good fortune, fire, and completely fail to inflictany meaningful damage.

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    Finch turns away to reload while Swan's captain ponders the practicality of circumnavigating Garret Island now that his opponents are separated. Attempting to close the gap, Robin shakes out her main course.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-10-2023 at 12:09.

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    As usual, Dobbs, you have thrown together a GREAT AAR!

    - Great Scenario
    - Great Table
    - Great Models
    - Great Story

    Chewing my fingernails as I wait to see what will most likely be a Great Ending...looking forward to it!!!

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    It's advantageous point of sail for Robin and she begins to close the gap (the wind gauge does not accurately reflect the wind angle in this picture, it's a little more counterclockwise).

    Swan's captain decides against circumnavigation because of a newly developed fear of being too close to land. Instead, he luffs up to tack.

    Having reloaded, Finch bears off and lets fly. The roundshot sweeps across Swan's deck, sending more men below.

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    Charging ahead with all the sail she can carry, Robin sweeps across Swan's stern. Her 4 pounders actually do some damage, hitting the hull above and below the water. The resulting splinters, supported with musketfire, send more patients to the surgeon.

    Swan's starboard aft broadside gives Finch a solid whack in the hull.

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    Robin charges past and luffs up while Swan falls off on a starboard tack. Finch squeezes in off Swan's starboard quarter and the two exchange fire. The exchange goes extremely poorly for Finch. Her 4 pounders have no apparent effect while Swan's 6 pounders pummel Finch's hull. The British broadside even brings down Finch's main topmast. The jib collapses in a pile of canvas over the bowsprit. On both sides, the marines lay down whithering musketfire.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-10-2023 at 16:39.

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    There must be a picture missing here, as Swan and Finch chew away at each other with musketfire. Swan's captain chose to lay alongside Finch and just use her size advantage.

    Robin finishes her tack while reducing sail.

    With the next broadside it all falls apart for Finch. Once again her broadside is ineffective, while Swan's brings down what is left of her mainmast and pounds her hull to nothingness. As a last act, Finch's musketfire makes a good contribution to the colonial cause as Swan's crew starts to feel their depleted numbers.

    On the other side, Swan takes a hard hit in the hull while giving nothing in return.

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    Robin's captain ponders whether this is a fight he can win. Swan begins to pull clear of the settling Finch.

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    In a classic example of bad timing, Robin takes a solid hit below the waterline as her captain decides that glory is the only way.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-10-2023 at 17:26.

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    Gotta say, I like your cutters, Dobbs...scratch built?

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    Robin unfurls her main course in a desperate attempt to get out of short range while she reloads, but is not fast enough. Swan is able to cut across her stern and rake her, delivering the final blow.

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    The camera pulls back. A few hours later, a battered sloop of war entered Furnace Bay and a handful of hastily bandaged British sailors rowed the ship’s boat up the creek and burned Principio Furnace.

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    Robin bears off. Her broadside deals a hit to Swan's hull, but not a finishing blow.

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    Swan luffs up and her replying broadside chews through Robin's bulwarks. Robin's captain realizes that if his next broadside doesn't hit something vital the jig is up.

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    Swan absorbs Robin's broadside. The musketfire exchange strains Swan's weakened crew, but the fight isn't over.

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    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-11-2023 at 09:53.

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    The Butcher's Bill

    The American cutters were very fragile in the power department, with only the single mast. When Robin lost her topsail she either couldn't keep up with the moving fight or had to suffer a slower reload rate for the extra crew needed for sail handling.

    It was interesting how Finch lost everything in mast hits and no one else took a single mast hit.

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    My system still uses the Sails of Glory chits for damage. Movement has been significantly modified to use a range o speeds from 1 knot to 15 for the swiftest vessels. This battle averaged around 5 knots. I had opted to play in light winds that would have made a frigate wallow.
    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-11-2023 at 17:14.

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    Splendid nail biter to the very last round Dobbs. Just a pity the Butcher's Bill is not showing up.
    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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    I'm on it!

    Mike, the cutters are Langton hulls, one of which was graciously provided by Admiral Bligh many years ago. The main for and aft and headsails are made from 0.020" sheet styrene from Evergreen (the main has round styrenegluedto it for the reefing lines). The top and t'gallant sails are the mizzen off a sloop of war.

    I think this is the link to the one place in the States where you can get a Langton cutter.

    https://store.waterloogames.com/K1-C...ass-p227370498
    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-11-2023 at 16:45.

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    Mike and Rob, thank you for the rep, gentlemen!

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    Now I can see the ships stats O.K. Dobbs.
    You have made an even better fist of it than I thought at first.
    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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    As it has been brought to my attention that not everyone is conversant with some of our more quaint English idioms, I felt that I should explain the use of “making a fist” in my post to Dobbs.

    To do or complete something to a degree of satisfaction, primarily heard in UK. Well done boatswain, you and the tars made a good fist of painting the longboat! For an amateur, she didn't make a bad fist of performing as the surgeon’s assistant.

    Not to be confused with a Monkey's fist!
    A monkey's fist or monkey paw is a type of knot, so named because it looks somewhat like a small bunched fist or paw. It is tied at the end of a rope to serve as a weight, making it easier to throw, and also as an ornamental knot. This type of weighted rope can be used as a hand-to-hand weapon, called a slingshot by sailors.

    To make a monkey’s fist of something is taken from the story about a monkey trying to remove nuts from a jar; therefore to make a monkey’s fist of something means to make a complete mess up of a job. It is often shortened to, "well seaman, you have made a complete monkey’s of that my lad". Or some such saying of a similar nature!


    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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    An up-close and personal picture of one of the cutters:

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    Very entertaining, Rob.

    I must say that if it has American roots, it's not a tree that grows on the Chesapeake.

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    Good one Dobbs! I suspect that it is in fact British in origin.
    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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    Thanks for that AAR, Dobbs - well illustrated and well told a story.

  23. #23
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    Thanks, Paul! And thanks for the double rep!

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    Thanks, Pete (Stumptonian) for the rep! You guys are making me blush.

    Ever since Bligh introduced me to making terrain, every time Suzanne and I go sailing I'm scoping the coast for new ideas for what to do with Styrofoam.
    Last edited by Dobbs; 09-19-2023 at 17:17.

  25. #25
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    Dobbs,what you say took me back to when we took our lads up to the lake district when they were about eight and nine.
    All the photos I took seemed to have rocky outcrops on them. It was incredible how many of the wargames we played for the next couple of years or so had rocky outcrops featured in them!

    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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