|1664 VOC Return Fleet from Batavia value of cargo: £500,000,000: The 'Mark'.
In my relentless quest to create more wargaming collateral I turned to an action which has long fascinated me - The Battle of Vågen which took place during the 2nd Anglo Dutch War. Vågen is not actually a place, it is the harbour area of the town of Bergen in Norway. A Dutch East India Spice fleet which had avoided passing up the English Channel and under the noses of the Charles II's fleet anchorages at Plymouth, Portsmouth, The Downs and The Medway, took the alternative route around the north of Scotland. An effort to outrun an all too frequent storm in those waters forced it into the neutral port of Bergen.
|What a battle! At the ships are at anchor and less than 250 yards apart.
The English had sent a squadron north under Sir Thomas Teddeman who performed well in the recent victory over the Dutch fleet at Lowestoft. His squadron was alerted to the Dutch ships sheltering in the harbour at Bergen. He took his ships in and literally bottled the VOC fleet in the open cul de sac harbour by anchoring a wall of frigates from point to point across the entire frontage. He then announced his intent to batter the Dutch fleet into submission by dropping anchor and readying for battle.
Skirmishes took place in the town between groups of sailors from each fleet whom the Norwegian-Danes had allowed ashore. The authorities were publicly neutral but proceeded to strike deals with both sides behind the scenes. The forts which guarded Bergen were ordered not to fire on any ships but in the end, a mix up with the orders resulted in two fortifications engaging with the English fleet!
Alas, Teddeman had not factored in the enthusiasm of the Dutch to protect their massively precious cargoes and the size and power of their ships. The goods carried by this, the richest Dutch fleet ever to return from the East Indies was of value greater than the entire annual GDP of Denmark! Charles had already promised the Danish king half of the entire value of the Dutch fleet cargo if he sided with the English. The messages did not reach the local plentipotentiary in time.
The Dutch ships were inferior in number but bigger and more heavily gunned that their English opponents. In the ensuing intense, static, short-range slugfest the English fleet was shot to pieces by the heavy East Indiamen. In the end, Teddeman's fleet cut its cables and fled. Teddeman himself was conspicious by his absence from the main battle line. He failed to beat up with Revenge - the largest ship and join the battle, preferring to lie off the western point of the harbour mouth.
Now, on to the project. When I examined aerial maps of Bergen harbour and contemporary prints of the battle it proved irrestible. I just had to build the terrain in order to create the 4Play pack. I realized the entire battle could be fought with 1/2400 scale ships on one square foot of terrain. Yup, you read that correctly - a single 12 inch x 12 inch tile to refight a 16 ship action involving nearly 1,000 guns and a fort!
Here is the quickest and smallest terrain build I have done for a major action:
|Step 1: ships marked out on 12 x 12 inch tile. Terrain already modelled
|Step 1 plain board - the smallest battle area I have ever built.
|Step 2 markers back on. Sea painted land undercoated.
|Step 3.Land and sea finished
|Step 3 - Rewarding myself with a ship placement for perspective
|Step 4 - Finished board - took about 90 minutes of build and work time. 24 hours with drying.
|The historical battle set up looking from Bergen town past the Dutch wall to the English wall/
I'll do a part two with an overview of the three fantastic scenarios possible from the soon to be released 4Play pack.