Duty And Daring

It was a devastating battle, leaving several French and Spanish ships struggling to remain afloat. Proserpine (a 36-gun Frigate) was not involved in the battle, having been on picket duty nearby. Now having arrived at the scene of the battle to deal with it’s aftermath, Capitaine de corvette Cyrille Léopold Villeneuve (Proserpine’s commander) has been ordered by the fleet commander to assist the 3rd Rate, Commerce de Bordeaux, that has been damaged in the fight. The ship has suffered severe damage to masts, rigging, hull and rudder, and has no surviving ship’s boats. It’s officers and men have taken heavy casualties, have lost their captain, and jury rigged sails and rudder have proved inadequate for her to navigate on her own. The wind and tides are are driving the ship perilously close to reefs and shoals off the enemy coast. Proserpine must get to the Commerce de Bordeaux, take it in tow, and make her way to safer waters before the stricken 3rd Rate falls victim to the rocks or enemy vessels!

Prosperine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Proserpine (foreground) approaches Commerce de Bordeaux to begin providing assistance…

Proserpine rapidly approaches Commerce de Bordeaux and hails her to begin preparations for towing – however some rogue waves disrupt the process and it takes a couple of attempts to successfully get her under tow… However just as towing is set to get underway the call comes to Capitaine Villeneuve “Sails Ahoy – enemy vessel approaching“! It’s HMS Defence, a 74-gun 3rd Rate under the fire-breathing Scotsman Captain Rorie Cairbre MacClelland, who missed the main battle and is intent on getting herself a prize regardless!

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Just as towing gets underway HMS Defence (a 3rd rate) arrives on the scene

As Proserpine and Commerce de Bordeaux make way with the tow in place, HMS Defence starts bearing down on their position – she’s recognised that Proserpine is only a 5th Rate, and that Commerce de Bordeaux is in no state to offer much resistance… Everyone knows they are thinking”this should be easy…

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Proserpine with Commerce de Bordeaux under tow face the approaching HMS Defence

The game continues as Capitaine Villeneuve decides the shortest route between two points is a straight line and he makes a beeline for the open water, despite this bringing his vessels more or less directly towards HMS Defence!

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux about to play chicken with HMS Defence

Captain MacClelland pulls a fast one on the French, turning across the wind he is taken aback and thrown around the other way – suddenly bringing part of his broadside to bear on Proserpine

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

HMS Defence gets taken aback, although…

…who receives the first bombardment of the fight – taking hull damage and crew casualties…

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

…this proves misfortunate for Proserpine who gets a partial broadside as a result!

…however Capitaine Villeneuve keeps his cool and plays ‘chicken’ with his opposite – Proserpine literally brushing her bow against HMS Defence’s port side as the latter cuts across her path – and now Capitaine Villeneuve returns fire with part of his larboard broadside at point blank range into HMS Defence – giving almost as good as he got!

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Chicken continues – but Proserpine retaliates against HMS Defence

As the opposing vessels continue on past each other, the two 3rd Rates exchange broadsides – the heavily damaged Commerce de Bordeaux at the disadvantage and taking heavy damage from the Royal Navy vessel.

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

As the enemies slide past a hair’s breadth apart Commerce de Bordeaux & HMS Defence exchange broadsides

Then they are past – Capitaine Villeneuve pulls out all the stops and his crew work hard at maintaining best speed possible for open water with the weight of the tow dragging on them… But Captain MacClelland still has a trick up his sleeve a she starts bring HMS Defence around for another run at the French…

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux make their run for open waters as HMS Defence comes about…

…MacClelland allows his vessel to be taken aback again, using the wind to throw him around again to get into position to get another broadside off into the extremely badly damaged Commerce de Bordeaux

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux start zig-zagging as HMS Defence is taken aback again!

Which HMS Defence does – even as Commerce de Bordeaux replies as best she can with what little firepower and crew she has remaining… She takes more damage and is now on the verge of striking her colours, or even sinking (she’s reduced to just 20% hull and 10% crew remaining)!

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Commerce de Bordeaux and HMS Defence exchange another broadside

However even as Captain MacClelland uses the wind to rapidly turn HMS Defence by being taken aback a third time, the French vessels are past the danger zone and heading for open waters… MacClelland can only watch as his prey heads off into the distance, and the sounds of fiery scottish cursing is heard coming from the poop deck on HMS Defence… On board Proserpine Capitaine de corvette Cyrille Villeneuve breaths a little easier, one obstacle overcome, now  he just has to get his charge Commerce de Bordeaux safely to Brest…

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux make a run for it as HMS Defence is taken aback a third time!


This game was played solo with just the basic (introductory) version of the rules, I was Capitaine Villeneuve commanding the French vessel Proserpine and the opposing Royal Navy vessel HMS Defence (and to a degree the partially disabled Commerce de Bordeaux) were controlled using the campaign’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) system. The game was the March scenario of the Sails of Glory Anchorage Forum’s 2015 Solo Campaign – for more solo Sails of Glory games from the campaign see also the previous scenarios When The Fog Lifts (January 2015) and Our Ships Were French Oak And Hearts of Oak Our Men (February 2015).

Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux face HMS Defence

The French vessels Proserpine & Commerce de Bordeaux head to the safety of their fleet and French waters…

For some AARs (After Action Reports) of Sails of Glory against a human opponent, and using the full advanced and optional rules, see my recent trio of games against Joel McNelly: Un Trio de Batailles Navales (1)Un Trio de Batailles Navales (2) and Un Trio de Batailles Navales (3). And keep an eye out here for more Age of Sail games with Sails of Glory soon.

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  • The Wargames Room

    Another great report John.

    • Cheers Keith… Due for another solo game again soon (the April Scenario) – but been a bit distracted by other projects! 🙂

  • The Wargames Room

    I’m not sure the April scenario has been posted yet. Then again perhaps I’ve missed it…

    • I don’t think so – but I haven’t been on the forum for a couple of weeks…

  • The Wargames Room

    John, where did you get the Sails of Glory play mat from?

    • I have 2, both off EBay, 1 second hand from Spain & 1 new from Italy! 🙂