Home Forums Air and Sea Naval Merchantmen up on the blog

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  • #66123
    Brian Weathersby
    Participant

    Well, a month of dealing with the “joys” of home ownership means that I haven’t done much with the blog this month.  Hopefully, I’m starting to make up for that.  The latest entry showcases the different types of merchantmen in my collection.  Please check it out at: https://mymodelsailingships.blogspot.com

    I'm lucky to be here
    With someone I like
    Who maketh my spirit to shine
    --Warren Zevon

    #66126
    Volunteer
    Participant

    Pretty large merchant fleet there Brian. What are you going to use to convoy them? Those two BIG girls wouldn’t fool any good officer with a spyglass.

    "Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing"
    Wernher von Braun

    #66131
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    I like seeing all theses ships ,thanks.

    #66184
    Brian Weathersby
    Participant

    Vol,

    I did a “what-if” scenario for a convention  in 2011 where the US squadron of Commodore Rodgers found the Jamaica convoy in the fog during the War of 1812.  So, I needed a boatload of merchantmen.  Ideally, I would like to run a campaign where merchantmen and convoying supplies becomes an important part of your victory conditions, or keeping your fleet supplied. The Mediterranean campaign of 1795 or 1798 would be a good example.

    BWW

    I'm lucky to be here
    With someone I like
    Who maketh my spirit to shine
    --Warren Zevon

    #66260
    Volunteer
    Participant

    Vol, I did a “what-if” scenario for a convention in 2011 where the US squadron of Commodore Rodgers found the Jamaica convoy in the fog during the War of 1812. So, I needed a boatload of merchantmen. Ideally, I would like to run a campaign where merchantmen and convoying supplies becomes an important part of your victory conditions, or keeping your fleet supplied. The Mediterranean campaign of 1795 or 1798 would be a good example. BWW

    Brian, how about this one?

    The Battle of Pulu Aor (1804) (Bretwalda Battles Book 2) by Rupert Mathews is only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle.
    At 08:00 on 14 February 1804, with the island of Pulo Aura within sight to the south-west near the eastern entrance to the Straits of Malacca, the Indiaman Royal George raised a signal describing three sail approaching the convoy from the direction of the island. This was Linois’s squadron, which had been cruising in the area for the previous month in anticipation of the convoy’s arrival. Dance ordered the brig Ganges and the Indiamen Alfred, Royal George, Bombay Castle and Hope to approach the strange vessels and investigate, rapidly discovering that they were enemy warships. By 13:00, Dance had readied his guns and reformed his convoy, with the large Indiamen formed up in line of battle to receive the French attack as if they were warships. During the late afternoon, Linois’s squadron fell in behind the slow line of merchant ships and Dance expected an immediate attack, but Linois was cautious and merely observed the convoy, preferring to wait until the following morning before engaging the enemy. Dance made use of the delay to gather the smaller country ships on the opposite side of his line from the French, the brig Ganges shepherding them into position and collecting volunteers from their crews to augment the sailors on board the Indiamen. Linois later excused his delay in attacking the merchant convoy by citing the need for caution:

    If the bold front put on by the enemy in the daytime had been intended as a ruse to conceal his weakness, he would have profited by the darkness of the night to endeavour to conceal his escape; and in that case should have taken advantage of his manoeuvres. But I soon became convinced that this security was not feigned; three of his ships constantly kept their lights up, and the fleet continued to lie to, in order of battle, throughout the night. This position facilitated my gaining the wind, and enabled me to observe the enemy closely.
    —Linois, quoted in translation in William James’ The Naval History of Great Britain during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Volume 3, 1827.

    At dawn on 15 February, both the British and French forces raised their colours. Dance hoped to persuade Linois that his ships included some fully armed warships and he therefore ordered the brig Ganges and the four lead ships to hoist blue ensigns, while the rest of the convoy raised red ensigns. By the system of national flags then in use in British ships, this implied that the ships with blue ensigns were warships attached to the squadron of Admiral Rainier, while the others were merchant ships under their protection. Dance was unknowingly assisted by the information that had reached Linois at Batavia, which claimed that there were 23 merchant ships and the brig in the convoy. Dance had collected six additional ships during his journey, and the identity of these were unknown to the French, who assumed that at least some of the unidentified vessels must be warships, particularly as several vessels had been recently painted at Canton to resemble ships of the line.

    At 09:00 Linois was still only observing the convoy, reluctant to attack until he could be sure of the nature of his opponents. Dance responded to the reprieve by reforming the line of battle into sailing formation to increase his convoy’s speed with the intention of reaching the Straits ahead of Linois. With the convoy a less intimidating target, Linois began to slowly approach the British ships. By 13:00 it was clear that Linois’s faster ships were in danger of isolating the rear of the convoy, and Dance ordered his lead ships to tack and come about, so that they would cross in front of the French squadron. The British successfully executed the manoeuvre, and at 13:15 Linois opened fire on the lead ship—Royal George—under the command of John Fam Timmins. The Royal George and the next four ships in line, the Indiaman Ganges, Dance’s Earl Camden, the Warley and the Alfred, all returned fire, Ganges initially attacking the Royal George in error. Captain James Prendergrass in Hope, the next in line, was so eager to join the battle that he misjudged his speed and collided with Warley, the ships falling back as their crews worked to separate their rigging. Shots were then exchanged at long range for 43 minutes, neither side inflicting severe damage.
    Royal George had a sailor named Hugh Watt killed, another man wounded, and suffered some damage to her hull. None of the other British ships or any of the French reported anything worse than superficial damage in the engagement. At 14:00, Linois abandoned the action and ordered his squadron to haul away with the wind and sail eastwards, away from the convoy, under all sail. Determined to maintain the pretence of the presence of warships, Dance ordered the ships flying naval ensigns, including his flagship Earl Camden, to chase the French. None of the merchant ships could match the French speed, but an attempt at a chase would hopefully dissuade the French from returning. For two hours, Dance’s squadron followed Linois, Hope coming close to catching Aventurier but ultimately unable to overtake the brig. At 16:00, Dance decided to gather his scattered ships and return to his former heading rather than risk attack from other raiders or lose sight of his convoy in the darkness. By 20:00, the entire British convoy had anchored at the entrance to the Straits of Malacca. On 28 February, the British ships of the line HMS Sceptre and Albion joined them in the Strait and conducted them safely to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic.

    There HMS Plantagenet escorted the convoy to England. Five whalers and the Carmarthen, Captain Doree, also joined the convoy, with the Blackhouse, from coast of Guinea, joining at sea. The convoy returned to England without further incident.

    Linois’s squadron reached Batavia several days after the action without encountering any British ships. He was there joined by Atalante and, after taking on supplies, made sail for Île de France, arriving on 2 April. The Dutch brig Aventurier was left at Batavia and remained there until a raid on the port by a British force in November 1806, when it was destroyed. The French admiral later attempted to explain his conduct during the engagement:
    The ships which had tacked rejoined those which were engaging us, and three of the engaging ships manoeuvred to double our rear, while the remainder of the fleet, crowding sail and bearing up, evinced an intention to surround us. By this manoeuvre the enemy would have rendered my situation very dangerous. The superiority of his force was ascertained, and I had no longer to deliberate on the part I should take to avoid the consequence of an unequal engagement: profiting by the smoke, I hauled up to port, and steering east-north-east, I increased by distance from the enemy, who continued the pursuit of the squadron for three hours, discharging at it several broadsides.
    —Linois, quoted in translation in William James’ The Naval History of Great Britain during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Volume 3, 1827.

    Vol

    "Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing"
    Wernher von Braun

    #66391
    Brian Weathersby
    Participant

    Vol,

    I’m pretty sure that’s the same battle I posted a Wikipedia link to in the blog entry, different spellings not withstanding.  I’m going to pick up that Kindle book today and see if there’s any more info about the battle in it that would let me make a scenario out of it.

    The problem with doing that kind of scenario always seems to be how to build in what I call, “The McClellan Factor.”   No player in the world is going to think that those merchants are really ships  of the line, so how do you handle that?  I think that one way is to do what I used to let German players do in WWII games.  Every tank they put on the board was a Tiger miniature, even if the real vehicle was just a PzIV or what have you.  They used the real stats for it was supposed to be, but the Allied player saw every tank as a Tiger.  If they tried to spot the vehicle and were successful, then the real one got put on the board.  So maybe start the scenario with three SOLs guarding the convoy, but if the French player gets close enough or spots successfully then put the large merchant on the table instead.

    Also, maybe having some sort of grand tactical phase, where forces are moved around on a map before they are placed on the table would help.  So much of the battle we’re talking about involved long range maneuvers that some way of dealing with that seems essential.

    BWW

    I'm lucky to be here
    With someone I like
    Who maketh my spirit to shine
    --Warren Zevon

    #66393
    Volunteer
    Participant

    Sorry Brian, I missed that you had already mentioned this one. I think I had this discussion before with James White. I can’t remember now what his idea was to solve the difficulty with the deception.

    "Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing"
    Wernher von Braun

    #66424
    RogerBW
    Participant

    In a modern naval game I mixed in a bunch of umpire-controlled merchant ships so that side blue had to get a proper target identification before engaging. It didn’t help side red much, though:

    https://blog.firedrake.org/archive/2015/08/Eleventh_Harpoon_PBEM_AAR__A_Question_of_Sovereignty.html

    #66493
    Brian Weathersby
    Participant

    Roger,

    Actually, I’ve considered something like that for a Vietnam riverine scenario.  The referee and maybe players would run the sampans, while players would run the PBRs trying to find the ones carrying contraband.  I’ve never gotten past the basic idea though.

    BWW

    I'm lucky to be here
    With someone I like
    Who maketh my spirit to shine
    --Warren Zevon

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