“We’ll take him first! Stand by Larboard battery!” Captain Herrick noted Soames hurrying down his lines of guns as the gun captains crouched like athletes behind each breech, trigger lines taught as they peered through the open ports for a first sight of the Spanish Argonauta.
After a very busy week it was pleasing to finally be able to deploy some models on the table and last night it was a multiplayer Sails of Glory encounter. We opted for four ships per side with each player commanding two vessels. The French fleet comprised comprised the 1st Rater Commerce de Marseille and was supported by two French 3rd Raters the Aquilion and Le Berwick and reinforced by the Spanish Argonauta. On a converging course was the British fleet which comprised HMS Victory and supported by three 3rd Raters, HMS Imperteaux, HMS Spariate, HMS Bellona. Two of the British ships, Bellona and Imperteaux were classed as having “Well Trained Gunners” special rule.
Each squadron sailed in line astern the British due south while the French south west on a course which potentially had the led ships intercepting if each squadron held their bearing and speed. Further, both admirals determined retain their 1st Raters at the rear of the line. Soon the British squadron broke formation with HMS Spariate and HMS Bellona attempting to manoeuvre to a position that would cross the French line while HMS Imperteaux and HMS Victory would travel behind the stern of the French ships. However, the French ships had a faster turn of speed, due to their attitude. As a result who would cross the T first was in doubt for some time!
Above, the French squadron in line astern led by Aquilion.
However, we will look at the engagement against the rear of the French squadron first. As the British ships turned from their southerly bearing to an easterly bearing HMS Victory was masked by HMS Imperteaux. As a result Le Berwick and HMS Imperteaux alone exchanged broadsides, which was soon followed by another exchange by HMS Imperteaux and Commerce de Marseille. It was here that the well trained gunners of HMS Imperteaux delivering two broadsides in quick succession. At this point the ships of the rear section were travelling on divergent bearings and would therefore soon be out of range. However, HMS Victory was able to deliver one broadside, her only one, at long range. As a result Commerce de Marseille suffered a leak and broken mast, a result which kept her damage parties busy for some time and prevented her engaging the other British ships.
Below, HMS Imperteaux is engaged by Le Berwick and Commerce de Marseille. HMS Victory is on the left rear.
Above, HMS Imperteaux is engaged by Le Berwick and Commerce de Marseille. HMS Victory is on the left rear. Below, another view now including Argonauta.
Meanwhile the action at elsewhere had been dramatic. Aquilion and the Spanish Argonauta were set on a converged course with HMS Bellona and HMS Spariate. As you will recall who would cross the T of the other was in doubt for some time and the ships exchanged broadsides as they approached. Below, HMS Bellona moves to cut the T of the French squadron.
However, at the last moment and under full sail, HMS Bellona crossed in front of Aquilion and Argonauta. It was at this point both British ships unleashed devastating broadsides on Argonauta who suffered a series of leaks and lost three masts in a single turn. Crippled she was forced to strike her colours almost immediately.
The action now became a confusing melee between Aquilion and the two British ships HMS Bellona and HMS Spariate to which Le Berwick soon joined. Broadside and musket fire enveloped the vessels for some time. In due course casualties aMong the crew of HMS Spariate became crippling. Indeed, HMS Spariate struggled to manoeuvre the crew losses were so great. However the French Aquilion to was in trouble. With fires and leaks soon out of control another proud French ship was lost.
Now having lost two ships the French Admiral decided to disengage. The British it was true had had some considerable success, the French however were determined to bring the enemy to battle again soon…