Our Ships Were French Oak And Hearts of Oak Our Men

Contre-amiral Thierry Victore’s ad-hoc squadron has been in pursuit of an enemy Royal Navy ship heading towards the safety of its waters. Aboard the ship was a passenger carrying vital intelligence of great importance to The Directoire. Capitaine Géroux’s mission was to prevent that passenger from reaching the enemy shore, and if possible, to capture him. However during the night fog enveloped both ships, potentially allowing the prey to escape, but as night gave way to day the fog started to lift… When all became clear, Géroux found himself within firing range of the enemy. Dryade was in a position to wreak havoc upon the enemy ship but failed. In the process Capitaine Géroux was unable to sink or capture the english ship nor capture the passenger and gain the critical intelligence. Unable to make clear plans following the disaster poster le brouillard Amiral Victore has dispatched a ship to observe each of the likely ports the enemy vessel has temporarily taken shelter in.

HMS Meleager & HMS Vanguard take on Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

HMS Meleager followed by HMS Vanguard emerge as Duguay-Trouin lies in wait!

The Amiral has ordered all ships to watch those enemy ports close and immediately engage any ships attempting to leave – the passenger must be secured for delivery to The Directoire! Capitaine de vaisseau Côme Rainier Fabian is commanding the Duguay-Trouin (a 74-gun Temeraire Class 3rd Rate), and as Victore’s senior captain has been assigned the most likely port that the enemy agent (and the HMS Sybille) have sheltered in. It’s also the most well defended, with a fortified island covering the two channels that lead into the harbour entrance. On arriving (under cover of darkness) Capitaine Fabian decides on a bold move, and despatches his young protégé Lieutenant Dubois with the ship’s marines and a portion of the crew, in boats, to quietly subdue the garrison and disable the guns. It’s an agonising wait, but eventually word comes and Dubois has not disappointed him – despite heavy casualties in the fight the fort is secured, the garrison taken prisoner, and Dubois has taken the initiative to man the fort’s guns in support of the Duguay-Trouin! Magnifique!

HMS Meleager & HMS Vanguard take on Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

Duguay-Trouin moves forward to intercept the leading english vessel HMS Meleager

With the fort secured and the wind turning to the South-West Fabian moves the Duguay-Trouin round the North-Eastern headland to observe and wait out of sight of the harbour mouth. He does not have to wait long as with the steady wind and a clear dawn two enemy vessels are observed raising sail and moving out of the harbour towards the channels (and the waiting french). As the Duguay-Trouin clears her decks, Capitaine Fabian begins to move her forward to intercept the enemy vessels… The english have decided to depart via separate channels, and the smaller vessel approaches the Duguay-Trouin (it is HMS Meleager, a 32-gun Frigate of the Amazon Class of 5th Rates), while the larger english vessel heads for the eastern channel.

HMS Meleager & HMS Vanguard take on Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

HMS Meleager is raked by Duguay-Trouin and pounded by the island Fort!

As HMS Meleager attempts her brave dash down the channel she finds her way barred by the looming presence of Duguay-Trouin, as the latter cuts across her bows and lets loose a deadly initial broadside that rakes the little english frigate from bow to stern! To add insult to injury the english fort guarding the harbour entrance opens up on her at close range – pummelling her little hull with devastating fire! Simultaneously the fort engages the larger english vessel, now identified as HMS Vanguard (a 74-gun Edgar Class 3rd Rate), as well – the incredulous english now obviously realising the french have taken the fort! HMS Meleager’s master, Lieutenant Cadwalader Rhydderch Floyd, has no option however but to immediately strike his colours and abandon ship – as his vessel has literally been obliterated from under him! Now the game is afoot – it’s a straight out race between the opposing 3rd Rates!

HMS Meleager & HMS Vanguard take on Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard bombards the fort as she passes, heading for open waters…

Both Capitaine Fabian and Captain Louis Domenic Church (commanding the HMS Vanguard) head their vessel south as rapidly as possible towards the open water. As Captain Church passes the fort he has Vanguard fire a full broadside into it, in an effort to silence the french gunners! As the Vanguard emerges beyond the island, Duguay-Trouin gets off a good broadside, supported by a departing close-range bombardment from the fort. With the accumulated damage to HMS Vanguard Capitaine Fabian’s vessel has the upper hand!

HMS Vanguard takes on the Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard receives broadsides from the Duguay-Trouin and Fort

However, a rashly aggressive move by Fabian returns the favour, and allows Duguay-Trouin to be bow raked by HMS Vanguard! At this point Captain Church abandons his attempt to run for open water, the french vessel has the weather gauge and the better of him so far (despite his last broadside raking the vessel) and his best option is to fight it out; “at least just for long enough to prevent the french pursuing him further” he thinks.

HMS Vanguard takes on the Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard bow rakes the Duguay-Trouin – Aie!

HMS Vanguard takes on the Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard and Duguay-Trouin manoeuvre for position over each other

As the two Third Rates manoeuvre, Capitaine Fabian does pull off a nice change of course allowing him to bring his as yet unused starboard broadside to bear! He furthermore withholds it’s fire until he is close range – to maximise its benefit. In the following close range exchange this gives Duguay-Trouin the advantage in an otherwise fair exchange – and while both vessels are still equal in firepower, the french fire is more telling and HMS Vanguard comes out worst off. Luckily they are not close enough for Musketry however – Duguay-Trouin is devoid of it’s marines (holding the fort), and Vanguard still has the advantage in crew numbers!

HMS Vanguard takes on the Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard and the Duguay-Trouin exchange close range broadsides

The two vessels now turn away from each other – Capitaine Fabian is heading for the eastern channel to come around the island to the north, but in an unforeseen turn of events is taken aback as he swings too far into the wind to enter the channel – the Duguay-Trouin is unceremoniously torn around onto a new heading, first North-East (which coincidentally leaves her able to loose off a full long-range broadside at HMS Vanguard), before finally settling on a North-West heading! Captan Church is meanwhile inching his way around the west side of the island and returns the compliment to Capitaine Fabian with a long-range stern broadside!

HMS Vanguard takes on the Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

The Duguay-Trouin (left) and HMS Vanguard (right) exchange long-range broadsides (looking South-West)

At this point HMS Vanguard is seriously damaged (60%+ of Hull), and this so greatly concerns Captain Church that he orders HMS Vanguard to make a hurried dash to the north channel in an effort to regain the safety of the harbour. In a repeat of Capitaine Fabian’s earlier error, Church swings too hard to the north and runs straight into the wind as he rounds the west side of the island, and to makes things worse HMS Vanguard is thrown around onto the rocks surrounding the island as she is taken aback! The damage is major, and even though she may still float she is now firmly aground on the rocky shallows of the island! An island occupied by french marines at that!

HMS Vanguard takes on the Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard is swung onto the rocks and run aground by a head wind!

As the Duguay-Trouin approaches Church has no option but to strike his colours and offer his surrender to Capitaine Fabian. Soon marines are securing the vessel, and still more english prisoners are being transferred to the Duguay-Trouin’s hold. Meanwhile loud explosions from the island confirm that Lieutenant Dubois has completed spiking the fort’s guns and blowing it’s magazines. Meanwhile with the english agent and intelligence secured a prize crew is now aboard Vanguard, frantically tossing half her guns over the side to lighten her, as ropes are run out to the Duguay-Trouin’s ship’s boats to help pull her off the rocks – but they must move fast before anymore english ships emerge from the harbour…

Aftermath

This game was played solo with the basic (introductory) version of the rules plus several additional and optional rules (Initial Broadsides, Rakes, Collision Damage, Entanglement, Boarding)! This is the second game (February Scenario) of the 2015 Solo Campaign being played by members of the Sails of Glory Anchorage Forum. I was Capitaine Fabian commanding the french, and the english vessels were run using the campaign’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) system.

HMS Vanguard takes on the Duguay-Trouin Wargaming.info

Duguay-Trouin prepares to take possession of her prize, HMS Vanguard

Back to the campaign, and we are yet to see if Capitaine Fabian returns to port with his prize, but he has gained significant status for his career and abilities (3 points), while Captain Church’s war is over, as may be Lieutenant Floyd’s! What will the next engagement (March Scenario) bring? You can follow my games in the Anchorage SGN Solo section of Wargaming.info. Finally, for those interested , although the Royal Navy opposition is only AI, they too have personalities, the opposition Royal Navy Squadron currently consists of the following captains:

  • Commodore Valentine Cornelius Harland
  • Captain Stirling Stephen Barnabas-Winston
  • Captain Rorie Cairbre MacClelland
  • Captain Louis Domenic Church – POW
  • Commander Crofton Merrick Seward-Beckham
  • Commander Maitland Lindsay Scott
  • Lieutenant Cadwalader Rhydderch Floyd – MIA
  • Lieutenant John-Amery Rodger Mercer

Read more of the solo campaign in the March 2015 Scenario AAR: Duty And Daring.

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