The Big One - The Texel AAR Part 2 and conclusion

Back with the climactic conclusion to the Battle of the Texel...

Tonnant (far left) stern rakes Vrijheid (far right) igniting a magazine. Royal Therese is already on fire(right foreground).

Turn  9  A breath of fresh air



The wind had moved to a light northerly and ships were permitted only to move at half speed to simulate their emergence from the torpor of a flat sea. The most alarming situation for the Dutch was that van Nes now commanding the 2nd rate Vrijheid was extremely isolated from the remainder of the Dutch fleet. Despite his squadron attempting to make sail to support, he was on his own with numerous large and dangerous opponents around. Rising to the challenge he manoeuvred his ship to shoot at the ponderous Royal Therese.


Duelling ships Vrijheid and Royal Therese both have magazine explosions at the same time.

Vrijheid’s broadside thudded into the French flagship and ignited her forward magazine causing a considerable explosion and fire.  Even before the cheering had died down Vrijheid was rocked by a stern rake from Tonnant from some considerable distance. The same fate befell van Nes’ ship as had just been inflicted upon d’Estrees. A magazine ignited throwing the ship into great disorder.



The hour or so of drifting had brought vessels together by circumstance. Spiegel getting underway and with loaded guns hit Royal Charles several times. Unfortunately, the late Prince Rupert’s flagship was also loaded and loosed a thumping salvo back. This took away Spiegel’s mainmast, part of her mizzen and the bowsprit leaving her at the mercy of passing English ships.

All vessels apart from those Dutch ships racing to rescue van Nes now appeared to be converging on the central area of the battle.



Chaos as the fleets get underway with the return of the wind

Turn 10 They think it’s all over..



Spiegel’s agony continued as Royal Charles kept on a parallel course, reloaded and delivered a further crushing broadside to which the shell-shocked Dutch crew had no answer. Spiegel began to burn preoccupying her surviving complement.



Many things: Royal Charles thumps Spiegel and at centre, Prince outmanoeuvres DZP pouring shot into her. 


Spragge’s undamaged and potent flagship Prince craftily out-sailed the legend de Ruyter and cut across his bow from the starboard side loosing a close range broadside on the Dutch flagship to which it was unable to respond. The low aimed shots caused considerable damage below the waterline and De Zeven Provinciën slowed down. Exactly the same manoeuvre was performed with even greater effect by Cambridge on Voorsichtigheid only a couple of hundred yards distant.  This double blow signalled that the end might be near to my mind anyway.



A total of fifteen ships fired this turn and three of those concentrated fire on van Nes in the Vrijheid. The French trio Maure, Oriflamme and Royal Therese relentlessly pounded the Dutch ship and, in the firestorm, a luckless van Nes met his end together with scores of his brave sailors. On seeing their beloved admiral fall, the crew struck and surrendered.



Intense close-range duels were taking place everywhere. The wily captain of Caleb stern raked Reine and highlighting an obvious procedural flaw in French ship management, set her on fire. The as yet uncommitted Maagd van Dordrecht wove between the battling ships and stern raked Warspite at close range causing terrible destruction. Frustrated by his inability to get to grips with Spragge’s flagship off his starboard bow de Ruyter vent his frustration by opening up with his port-side guns the 4th rate Princess setting her on fire.




The burning Royal Therese finishes Vrijheid and kills van Nes.

Dismayed by the loss of their beloved leader the remains of van Nes’ squadron swarmed around the wounded French flagship Royal Therese which continued to burn. Many Dutch shots found their mark and it was clear d’Estrees was in dire straits.



I was prepared to call time on the game at this point but for some reason felt there was one more turn in it. When you’re in charge, anything goes so, on to the ultimate round of battle and the result.



Many ship to ship duels and much other firing during turn 10

Turn 11 The last cast of the dice



The loss of three units compelled a squadron morale check for van Nes ships. This they passed with an unmodified top score! My decision to carry on was justified. The wind changed once more to the original direction of north east and picked up strength creating some challenging conditions for the battered combatants.



It was clear to de Ruyter that a war of attrition would end in defeat at the muzzles of the heavier and more numerous Allied guns. A battle of manoeuvre was also out as both the remaining Dutch 2nd rates were heavily damaged and taking on water. The only option left was the one the enemy might least expect. De Ruyter signalled for his own ship and Voorsichtigheid to grapple and board! Admiral de Liefde aboard Voorsichtigheid came alongside and grappled Cambridge whilst de Ruyter’s own flagship grappled and boarded the mighty Prince.



The canny Caleb receives the surrender of Admiral d'Estrees and his burning flagship.


Royal Therese was burning fiercely and taking on water forcing d’Estrees to abandon ship and surrender his sword to the gallant captain of Caleb. The other French 1st rate Reine continued to burn as Maagd van Dordrecht hit her repeatedly along her port side.



In this climactic turn the as yet undamaged 5thrate Zeeland cruised past  and fired at the wounded Royal Katherine limping slowly westward attempting to remove herself from the battle. Alas this was somewhat like a wasp stinging a rhino with toothache. The wounded English ship which had taken plenty of time to reload fired a broadside of such power that the lightly built frigate exploded leaving her almost destroyed to the waterline but just afloat.



Battle of the giants. Voorsichtigheid boards Cambridge and DZP locks with Prince at the climax.

And so, back to the battle of the admirals. The veteran Dutch crews had no difficulty in grappling their opponents. Each ship replete with seasoned marines gave a throaty hurrah and boarded the two English ships. Cambridge (70) and Prince (100) were the least damaged ships of all in the Anglo- French fleet. Spragge’s flagship also had a full complement of soldiers and the gallant Dutch attack was swiftly repulsed. The same story occurred as de Liefde’s men scrambled onto the decks of Cambridge. Although this ship did not have soldiers aboard, the crew fought like lions throwing the Dutch back.



De Ruyter, veteran warrior at sea knew exactly what to do – He signalled disengage and the Dutch ships broke off heading for their anchorage off the south coats of Texel island.



The battle was over.

End of Turn 11. The carnage ends as the two flagships disengage centre left.

A clear victory for Spragge? Let’s see.



Outcome

My first thought was that this was a resounding victory for the Anglo-French. The Dutch had lost Eendraght (72) and Vrijheid (80), Ridderschap (65) and Essen (50), all captured. Beschermer (50) and and Zeeland (40) were barely afloat. De Zeven Provinciën, Voorsichtigheid and Spiegel were all badly damaged and all fire ships had been expended. In addition, the celebrated hero Admiral van Nes was dead. Surely, a disaster at sea.



Then, I had a look at the Anglo-French fleet. Admittedly only two ships had been captured; Constant Warwick (42) and d’Estrees flagship Royal Therese (100). Royal Katherine, Royal Charles, St George, Warspite, Princess, Assurance, Reine, Tonnant, Oriflamme and Maure had all sustained significant damage with a couple barely afloat. All but one fire ship had been burned. Perhaps the losses of greatest significance were the capture of Admiral d’Estrees and the death of the King’s uncle, the legendary Prince Ruprecht.



Prince Rupert sails towards his destiny.


Dutch points lost were 1,695 from ship damage working out as 65.8% when 100 points for the death of van Nes is added this make a total of 1,795. Ridderschap had also lost two captains killed.



Anglo-French losses amounted to 1,461 from ship damage working out as 56.7% meaning a differential of less than 10% - a marginal victory if at all and more likely to be classed as a draw.

Factor in 100 points for the captured d’Estrees and a further 200 for the loss of Admiral of the Fleet Prince Rupert and total Anglo-French losses amounted to 1,761. An incredibly tight differential in points of 34 translating to less than 1.5%.



The Dutch survivors limped into their anchorage at Den Helder no more than five miles distant. The battered enemy fleet, in no condition to maintain station off the Dutch coast, out of powder and shot, hundreds of men down as well as two of their most senior officers faced a parlous trip home to the Thames and Dunkerque.


The result seemed curiously similar to the outcome of many Dutch Wars naval battles with both fleets suffering terrible damage. Who won?


You may decide.



d'Estrees proud squadron sails into battle.