Naval Campaign game 3: Baert's Baptism!

March 19, 1689
Scenario name: Schomberg's reinforcements
Baert has word of a troop convoy bound for either Hoylake or Belfast. It is carrying English and Dutch soldiers to Ireland to fight King Louis's cousin James II. His ships left Dunkirk three days ago and are approaching the convoy from the north and windward. He is ordered to sink or capture as many of the transports as possible. The convoy is escorted but Baert is not sure how many warships have joined since it left Walcheren four days ago. It may have picked up more escorts at sea as it has taken a long time to reach the current position. 





The French state sponsored privateers operating out of Dunkirk were given a wide brief. As long as France's enemies suffered and the King's coffers swelled, anything was permissible.

Jan Baert with six ships put to sea several days ago awaiting the imminent appearance of a troop convoy bound for either Hoylake or Belfast depending on where King William III wished to assemble reinforcements to bolster Old Schomberg's international force attempting to wrest control of Ireland from the Jacobites. The mainly Dutch convoy left the Maas around the same time as Bart put to sea but had as yet not crossed the relatively short distance to hug the southern English coast. Suspected of picking up further escorts, the convoy is finally in view sailing in a tight grouping with naval escorts in close support.

Baert has split his ships into the Blue and Green squadrons with orders to cut the convoy, capture at least two ships and damage the escorts without endangering his own vessels.

The plan as provided by Gerard-Jan - player commander can be seen below. I tried my best to follow these orders but as you are all fully aware, wargaming is not an exact science and dice are independently minded!



The ships in the convoy were named: Brak, Beemster, Star, Antwerpen, Forth, Cornelius, Anna, Bogaerts, Beet and Boom. The cargoes were identified on a seperate list each being allocated a number from one to ten. At the end of the game, any captured ships would be dealt a card and thus Baert would know what he had actually won until the fighting was over. Six ships each had 300 troops, two ships had 100 cavalry horses each, another had 8 siege guns, 12 mortars and 200 artillerists and the last had the pay chest and general officers' staff. This represented roughly three battalions of infantry and a cavalry regiment.

T1 End from NE
Turn 1 and 2

Baert's ships swooped very aggressively and the four convoy vessels turned sharply to starboard to head off the threat. This knee jerk movement meant the Hazewind and Mordaunt would need to weave through the closely packed merchantmen. Collisions were inevitable. Hazewind hit the Cornelius on the southern flank of the convoy and the English 4th rate Mordaunt ground into the Beemster on the northern flank. Even as these collisions occurred Baert's ships swarmed around the most proximate warship -an English 5th rate Pearl. Mignon, Alcyon and Baert's own ship Maure (The Moor) targeted her and being nearest, the fire from Baert's flagship did the most damage. In the opening minutes of the fight Captain Harvey of the Pearl was cloven by a shot. In this moment of high drama Pearl's own guns tore into the hull of the merchantman Comte which had been fitted out as one of Baert's new ships. The hot shot found the magazine and a section of the starboard side was blown out.

T2 End from East

The Nijmegen opened  up on the distant Mignon with such an accurate broadside that tonnes of rigging crashed to the deck burying her master- Messier beneath and crushing him to death. The inexperienced crew of Dunkerque lubbers panicked and Mignon turned into the wind and away from the fight.

T2 End from south

The battle had started in a frenzy of explosion, death and desertion. A sign of things to come.

T2 End from NE

Turn 3
Hazewind's travails had not ended. No sooner has she cleared the debris from the collision with Cornelius than another merchantman the Star, slammed into her causing more damage and confusion.
The intense fighting seemed to be allowing the convoy to slip away although Jersey and Alcyon gave chase some 600 yards behind. Comte, damaged and in fear of further explosions attempted to turn from the battle but the wounds inflicted slowed her enough to make the ship vulnerable to further Anglo-Dutch attention. The Mordaunt cruised across her stern and barely 100 yards distant, raked her. This started a fierce fire which took a considerable time to bring under control.
T3 end from NE

Baert tasted blood and his ships circled around the damaged Pearl. Close range fire shredded her rigging and caused enormous loss of life. The officer who had taken command from Harvey only a few minutes before fell to the cannonade and on seeing this the crew of Pearl struck and the ship or what was left of it, surrendered. Baert did not even stop to claim the prize.


Turn 4
Mordaunt's close attention to Mignon caused the vessels to bump resulting in damage to both. The Nijmegen now appeared at the centre of the storm shooting on the Green squadron as it harassed the fleeing convoy and tried to slow the merchantmen down with fire. Nijmegen's accurate gunnery partly dismasted Alcyon and attracted the attention of the equally powerful Adroit commanded by the salty Marseilles sea dog Brunet. His ship tore holes in the Nijmegen causing over 80 casualties with a single broadside. To compound the agony of this fine ship, the English Mordaunt began firing on her!
Perhaps the smoke and heat of battle created a friendly fire incident or maybe Mordaunt's captain harboured dark memories of the 3rd Anglo Dutch War and sought retribution for a long past but unforgotten wrong.

Turn 5
Mignon had escaped the carnage and limped off north eastward licking her wounds having finally doused the conflagration. No other firing occurred by two bold attempts to capture merchant ships took place. The fast moving Jersey grappled and boarded the Beemster on her starboard side. The sorely wounded Alcyon attempted the same manouevre on the Brak but her grapples were cut through and she was repulsed.

T5 end from south
Turn 6

Full marks for effort, Captain Patrice of the Alcyon tried to grapple and board the Star but his wounded ship was again rebuffed and seemed to lose momentum as it slowed and altered course. The Brak, frantically trying to escape the clutches of the privateers rammed the Beemster on the deck of which a struggle for control took place as Brunet's waterfront toughs tried to overpower the crew. At last the privateers prevailed and the Brak was captured!

Although Nijmegen lurked nearby she had been so sorely hurt in the cannon exchange that she had no loaded guns and too few men to prevent the capture of Brak.   The Hazewind had sailed into a position from which she could rake Baert's flagship. The Maure's rudder jammed to starboard and she was involuntarily taken away from the action.

Turn 7
Patrice and the doughty Alcyon made one final attempt to capture the convoy back marker - Brak but the Dutch crew were able to beat off the attempt for the second time. Alcyon - exhausted and empty handed, swung her head round and headed for home.

T7 end
Turn 8. 
By now almost all of the convoy had escaped and was too far away for Baert's scattered and wounded command to catch them. All of Baert's ships were damaged but all, were afloat and under control. The enemy warships were badly battered. Pearl was wrecked and drifting, Nijmegen had sustained enormous casualties and had fewer than half of her guns operational, Hazewind was damaged and too light and far away to make any significant contribution and Mordaunt was out of position.


T8 End

Turn 9
The scope of Baert's achievement did not become clear until he reached Dunkirk. He had caused enormous damage to the enemy warships, damaged four transports and captured another. The Brak was found to be carry 100 cavalry horses over half of which had been slaughtered in the battle or died on route to Dunkirk. His own ships were all repairable and after paying tribute to Le Roi Soliel, Baert found himself one ship to the good (although she needed considerable investment to be seaworthy and in fighting trim).

T9 Game end


General at Sea/Admiral

Jan Baert

Turn #

1

Engagement

North Sea

Damage inflicted

254

Damage received

119.5

Balance

134.5

Victory points

100

Bonus points

Capture of merchantman Beemster

40

Enemy loss of a 5th rate Pearl to battle damage

50


Cargo of 100 horses – 48 alive after reaching port

20

Total points

344.5

Turn points allowance

40

Points carried over from previous turn

0

Points total

384.5

Repairs

Maure

15

Adroit

12

Jersey

11

Alcyon

15

Mignon

16

Comte

16

Sub- total repairs

85

King’s treasury share of spoils: Horses

20

Cost of prize ship money

20

Purchases and upgrades









Net points

259.5

Comments

An extremely daring sortie which produced an unexpected victory over the enemy’s warships but did not capture or destroy as much of the convoy as had been hoped.