Naval Napoleonic

Action at Gushing

This action is our second visit to the art of Naval Warfare in the Napoleonic Wars.  Again John's converted HMS Victory models sailed into action again. 

This time the Royal Navy is out to defeat the Dutch Navy squadron which is under refit at Gushing.

British Rear Admiral Sir Percival Saltwater

After some years rotting ashore the Admiralty has suddenly called upon you to command the Gushing squadron. Walcheren fever has reduced their options, so they have called you back from what you and your wife lady Meredith thought was final retirement!

The orders are to maintain the blockade on the Dutch squadron penned in Gushing. This is a boring thankless task compared to the bold actions (reckless according to their Lordships) you undertook with frigates in the West Indies. The Dutch coast is known mainly for its fogs and mud banks. The Dutch squadron of four of the line is thought to be in ordinary (only stump masts) so they are not coming out in a hurry! Our squadron of three of the line has been commanded by Commodore Colborne whom their lordships intend to send somewhere more important. His ship the HMS Malplaquet 12 (Asterope), is sorely in need of a refit so he will going back to Chatham as soon as you relieve him. You have been given the 98 gun HMS Jason 23 (Ceres) which is an unwieldy tub compared to the frigates you commanded in the past. The Captain is John Smith.

   You are worried as you sail out to your new command. Before you knew of this task, you promised Lady Meredith you take her to see the Vauxhall firework for her birthday, in five weeks’ time! How if you sailed in and destroyed this Dutch Squadron? There would be protective shore batteries but you have braved their fire before in the West Indies. Dutch ships of the line normally carried less gun weight and in port they probably would have only half crews available. You would think about it.

 As you neared Gushing you met the 14 gun brig sloop Erythea 26. The Captain Belowes, told you that he was attached to Commodore Colborne’s Squadron, so you took him under command. He had been posted inshore most of the time whilst the Squadron kept out to sea out of sight of the land. He showed you a map of the Gushing port, with the positions of the ships and shore batteries on it. One of the latter had recently had a red hot shot furnace added to it. The ships moored in ordinary were the Namur 38 (Nemesis), the Leydon  18 (Merope) the Haarlem 16 (Celaeno) and the Utrecht 14 (Electra). Also in the port at present was the Frigate Schnapper 29 (Tisiphone). The flow of the tides and the rivers Bile and Midnet meant that the shipping channel were relatively clear of mud banks away from the Lax Island. Much of this information came from the local fishermen who sell fish to the squadron. This information decides you to make the attempt on the port.

    When you take command of the squadron you tell Commodore Colborne and Captains Clarke, Hallows, Lambert, Green and Smith that you intend to attack. This is since temporarily you have four ships of the line available. At high tide you will have six hours when the East and South Channels are deep enough for manoeuvring safely. The wind from the NW is favourable. The sloop Erythea will stay out to sea ready to give warning of any hostile ships. The line of battle will be HMS Jason 23 (Ceres 98), HMS Agincourt 11 (Alcyone 74), HMS Malplaquet 12 (Asterope 74) and HMS Quebec 27 (Thea 64). The enemy vessels will be pounded into a sinking state should they keep resisting but if possible one or two could be towed away! All the crews are understrength but that is normal! 

Accordingly at the turn of the tide you form up and head towards the port via the East Channel.        

 British Forces

HMS Jason 98 guns, Admiral Saltwater, Captain Smith, Crew 787 (Fast)

HMS Agincourt 74 guns, Captain Green, Crew 549

HMS Malplaquet 74 guns, Commodore Colborne, Captain Lambert, Crew 543 (Slow)

HMS Quebec 64 guns, Captain Hallows, Crew 508

HM Sloop Erythea 14 guns, Commander Bellowes, Crew 84 

Dutch Fleet at Gushing

Dutch Admiral Jan Van Hooch

You have been put in Command of the battle squadron at Gushing, a dismal posting. Your flagship is the Utrecht 74 and you have the Haarlem 68, the Leydon 68, the Namur 58 and the Frigate Schnapper 40. All the ships of the line are having their top masts and rigging replaced and so are moored immobile in dock. The Schnapper is being used to train your crews in seamanship by shifts. There is an English squadron of three ships of the line blockading the port so it does not move very far away! According to the fishermen who sell them fish, these ships are the Malplaquet 74, the Agincourt 74 and the Quebec 64. There is also a brig the Erythea 14 which interferes with any vessel in the area. Since being moored against the dock the ships can only fire their starboard broadsides, you have taken the opportunity to send half their crews on leave. Since the squadron is immobile, you are taking some leave on your estate yourself. In the extremely unlikely event of the English being mad enough to attack the port, the Captains or their deputies should be able to order the gunfire necessary to sink them. In this case they should be ably assisted by Colonel Jaxon’s shore batteries. Since one of these has now a redhot shot facility, it is even less likely that they will be disturbed. Unlike the English there is no shortage of manpower in the fleet or the shore batteries! It is rumoured that the English crews are twenty per cent under strength! The day will come when your squadron will be needed to help escort Napoleon’s army across to conquer England, but at present you can relax.

Dutch Forces

SoL Utrecht 74 guns, Admiral Jan Van Hooch (absent) Captain Advocat Crew 275

SoL Haarlem 68 guns, Captain Maas, Crew 225

SoL Leydon 68 guns, Captain Himmet, Crew 225

SoL Namur 58 guns, Captain Vater, Crew 175

Frigate Schnapper 40 guns, Captain Amastal, Crew 280


Gushing Shore Batteries

West Battery 12x 36pdrs {Red hot shot for six guns}= 432lbs Crew 220

Lax Island North 12x 36pdrs  = 432lbs Crew 200

Lax Island East 6x 24pdrs = 144lbs  Crew 75

Midnet 12x 24pdrs = 288lbs  Crew 150



Gushing Action Account

Seeing a British Squadron of four ships of the line approaching, the alarm was raised and the red hot shot furnaces were lit. As soon as the enemy were within range the West Battery and the Lax Island East Batteries opened fire. The leading vessel was the 98 gun HMS Jason and its return fire was very damaging to the batteries. The following 74 gun Agincourt and Malplaquet’s in fact silenced them, just after the first red hot shot salvo had been fired. The moored Utrecht 74 and the anchored Frigate Schnapper 40 opened fire as the British column advanced towards them at long range. HMS Jason then came abreast of the 58gun Namur, which exchanged fire with it. Alas the British broadside was of grape which decimated the half strength crew of the 5th rate. The survivors fled ashore abandoning their ship. The Jason then repeated this with the 68gun Leydon which did manage to fire two broadsides. The following HMS Agincourt added to the Dutch misery, with only forty-seven of the Leydon’s routed crew remaining. The Jason carried on remorsefully to grape the 68gun Haarlem. Its Captain was killed and on seeing the previous disasters one hundred and thirty-nine of its crew escaped ashore.

 Meanwhile the Dutch 74gun ship Utrecht was firing half rakes at the Jason’s bow, supported by the Frigate Schnapper. However, the three decker could take a lot of punishment and when its guns could bear on the Utrecht, it suffered the same fate as the others. Its crew were mainly raw recruits, so more than half of them escaped safely ashore. This left only the Frigate Schnapper left afloat. Long range fire from the Malplaquet had started one fire which was soon extinguished. Then another one was started by a hit from the Agincourt. It had done well but a hundred of its crew had fallen and the Jason was coming close. Captain Amstal decided that it was time to be sensible and escape via the South Channel. With its greater turn of speed it was soon clear of the Jason’s bow carronades and so got away and extinguished the second fire.

  The British two-deckers went alongside the moored Dutch ships to take possession of them. The Agincourt seized the Utrecht, the Malplaquet the Haarlem and the Quebec the Leydon. There being no ship to tow the Namur, the marines of the Quebec set it on fire.

Meanwhile ahead of them the doughty Jason went forward to deal with the two batteries guarding the South Channel. This it did, but having suffered many hits earlier, its Mizzen mast collapsed to windward.  Once this was cut away, it with the rest of the squadron sailed away back to Chatham, towing the three prizes. The Sloop Erythea remained on station outside the port to keep watch. This was its normal place whilst any ships of the line would be posted out to sea. Since it was within sight of the action it would receive a proportion of the prize money. The three two-deckers were purchased by the Admiralty and were used as prison hulks for some of the many prisoners of war collected by the British forces. Admiral Saltwater was created Baron Gushing and was never trusted with a sea command again! Neither was Admiral Jan Van Hooch! His forces had suffered nearly a thousand dead and wounded. The British losses were one hundred and sixty-five mostly on the Jason.

Games Masters Comments

We found we were rather rusty with the rules. The result would have been closer had we remembered that hits on shore batteries are halved and had the Dutch fired dismantling shot. The firing of grape at the moored vessels disposed of the half strength crews whilst doing minimal damage to the ships! We decided that losing a Captain dice should be after multiples of 20% losses, rather than the 10% in the rules. Two Dutch Captains fell.

Naval Napoleonic Intro

The Action at Estrecho da Barra

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