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Ship of the Line Scenarios (pt 1)

It's been nearly a year since I've posted any info on Ship of the Line ... so in an effort to drum up some more pre-orders and hopefully keep it at the top of GMT's 1Q production schedule, here's some more scenarios that are being included. Enjoy!
- Mike Nagel, Designer

Grenada 6 July 1779

British Ships: 21
French Ships: 25

Early in 1779, Admiral John Byron arrived from Rhode Island to take command of the British fleet in the West Indies. After assessing the situation, he determined to strike the French at Grenada, a British possession under siege by Admiral d’Estang. The French caught wind of Byron’s arrival and raised anchor during the night of 5 July. Both fleets sighted each other while forming for battle. Byron called for a general chase, before realizing that the French fleet was superior to his own in numbers. His precipitate action led to the rear of his line being isolated and subject to attack by nearly the entire French fleet. Given the damage and disorder of his fleet, Byron was forced to withdraw. Byron’s loss was considered the greatest British naval disaster in nearly 100 years. Soon after, Byron was relieved of command in the West Indies.

The Moonlight Battle 16 January 1780

British Ships: 15
Spanish Ships: 11

Admiral Rodney received intelligence early in the month that a Spanish fleet was cruising off of Cape St. Vincent. Under full sail, the British fleet met the Spanish during the early afternoon of the 16 January. That day, Rodney was confined to his bed with a bad case of gout. This is significant as the actions of the British on that day were decidedly not “Rodney-like,” which leads some scholars to question whether battle orders were issued by Rodney or his flag captain, Walter Young. The British fleet bore down on the Spanish in line abreast, hitting the rear of their line and “leap-frogging” up the Spanish line. This maneuver was performed dangerously close to the coastline, to make sure the Spaniards were unable to escape into port. The entire action lasted several hours, well past midnight. Of the eleven Spanish ships that began the action, six were taken and one, the Santo Domingo, exploded early during the fight.

Porto Praya Bay 16 April 1781

Special Note: This is the area defined by the shoals on the new Map D.

British Ships: 5
French Ships: 5

At the outset of Britain’s war with Holland, the decision was made to capture the Cape of Good Hope in order to control commerce moving into the Indian Ocean. A fleet under Commodore James Johnstone was dispatched for this purpose. The French, hearing of this plan dispatched a fleet under Admiral Suffren to foil them. Upon reaching the Cape Verde Islands, Suffren decided to put into Porto Praya Bay for provisions. Upon reaching the bay, Suffren was surprised to discover that Johnstone had the same idea and had anchored his fleet there! Suffren immediately chose to attack and sailed his ships into the bay and anchored among the British ships. After a very brief scuffle, Suffren determined that his attack had failed and quickly abandoned his position for the safety of the high seas.

Fort Royal 29 April 1781

British Ships: 18
French Ships: 20

At the end of January 1781, Admiral Rodney received reports of a large French fleet headed for the West Indies. He ordered Admiral Hood out to intercept the attackers and Hood soon discovered that the reports were false. Upon hit return, Hood was ordered to blockade Fort Royal on the island of Martinique. Hood objected to this order as it would place his fleet downwind of enemy approaches, but Rodney insisted. Unfortunately, Hood was correct in his evaluation. On 28 April, De Grasse arrived off Martinique along with a supply convoy. Since Hood was out of position, De Grasse easily put to on the opposite side of the island. The following morning, Hood had managed to get his fleet close enough to Fort Royal to begin a long-distance cannonade with De Grasse’s ships as they came up around the south side of the island. Hood’s poor position and De Grasse’s maneuver around the island allowed several French ships, previously blockaded, to join the end of De Grasse’s line which now out numbered Hood. With concern for the safety of his convoy, De Grasse never pressed Hood and the latter could not get up wind. The battle remained little more than several hours of ineffective cannonades.

The Doggersbank 5 August 1781

British Ships: 7
Dutch Ships: 7

On his way back to England through the Baltic Sea, Admiral Hyde Parker crossed paths with a Dutch fleet under Admiral Arnold Zoutman. Both fleets were escorting convoys. Until recently, Hyde had been Rodney’s second in command in the West Indies, but a censure from Rodney and a rebuke from the Admiralty had landed him with new duties. Quick to show he was eager to fight, he signaled his convoy to make for home and drove forward to engage the enemy. Both fleets held their fire until within close range. Action was hot, but mostly ineffective, with both fleets withdrawing without serious losses (although the Dutch lost a ship the following day).

The Saintes (I) 9 April 1782

British Ships: 12
French Ships: 12

In early April 1782, Admiral De Grasse approached the islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe. His large fleet was accompanying a supply convoy to be used in the planned conquest of Jamaica. As the French headed into the gap between the two islands, near a smaller group of islands, called the Saintes, in the center of the gap, the van of Admiral Rodney’s British fleet was spotted. The British van, under Admiral Hood, had become separated from the rest of the fleet and was vulnerable to attack. Rather than commit his entire fleet towards Hood’s destruction and possibly leave his convoy vulnerable to attack, De Grasse dispatched 15 ships under Admiral Vaudreuil to force the British to withdraw. Hoods ships stood in line, keeping station so as to not draw further away from the rest of the British fleet. Vaudreuil swung his line up from the south and engaged Hood’s line from its rear to its front, tacking in a continual clockwise circle. Vaudreul kept his distance for fear of the British carronades. The battle continued for several hours until Hood was reinforced. After the battle, Hood’s ships hove to for repairs that they would need for the battle to come!

The Saintes (II) 12 April 1782

Special Note: Here's the monster scenario for Flying Colors!

British Ships: 36
French Ships: 30

After the melee on 9 April, Rodney ordered Hood’s squadron to the rear of the fleet where they could best make repairs while the chase of De Grasse continued. De Grasse had made good time, but difficulties conspired to force a battle. During the chase, several French ships collided and these damaged ships fell behind to the mercy of the approaching British. De Grasse was forced to slow his movement to cover the damaged vessels. The two fleets met on parallel tacks, the French from the north and the British from the south, pass each other to starboard. When the British van met the French rear, Rodney ordered a general melee and the British split the French line in two places. The melee continued for several hours, resulting in the capture of Admiral De Grasse. With the French flagship and commander-in-chief captured, Rodney ordered the British fleet to hold position, allowing the remainder of the French fleet (now under Vaudreuil) to escape. Rodney’s decision met with strong criticism by his own commanders, particularly Hood, who felt that the entire French fleet could have been taken the following day had they not stopped. This battle, know as “The Saintes” by the British or “Dominica” by the French was the largest naval action fought during the American Revolution and the last major engagement fought in the West Indies.