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Another excellent game of SCA Fast Play. Scenario originates from excellent reference material for Close Action, a Rebel Seas that focus on American Independence. Graves left England about a week after troop convoy of de Ternay left France and it is assumed that faster sailing British fleet intercepted squadron of de Ternay near American coast. British squadron, numerically inferior had among them flagship London(98), three decker that was more than enough to offset the disparity of forces. Because of the convoy de Ternay needed to protect, British maneuvered for a wind cage, and fleets approacehed from opposing tacks.
Wind cage may give advantage to the side that possess it (in many games providing some absurd benefit for firing when in reality it helps maneuvering, and the advantage depends on the players ability to interpret the situation). In here, British squadron could decide the time and place of attack. Additionally, because of French close hauling course, British could attack only part of French van without rear being able to help. Countering such a move is difficult, because if French wear early to match the course, the rear becomes overwhelmed and entire fleet may become disordered. If maneuver is executed late, damage to the ships nearly guarantees failure and disorder.
However it was not what British had in mind. More conventional approach appeared to be the dish of the day, and it did cause havoc amongst some of the French leading ships. British were not, however eager to engage from close, but preferred to stay in medium range, until French decided to wear together matching that of the British. During the maneuver, Duc de Bourgogne – who’s gunners were ill performing throughout the game, shot full broadside to Provence(64) causing it so much damage that it could no longer stand in line. London(98) happened to be it’s opposite number in line so it was matter of time before Provence surrendered (not that any 64 would ever, in any circumstances stand long against such odds). Now, the rearmost ship of French line became first, and the line started to turn in succession ahead of British. As a result, the British van suffered heavily.
The whole maneuver was apparently so surprising to British that they attempted to tack together to alter the course oppose to French (apparently fearing that wearing would bring them too close to fresh French broadsides – worry that is entirely unfounded, especially considering the risk involved in tacking). Intetion was apparently to engage the vulnerable French rear, but only three centermost ships managed to perform ordered tack. Result threw the whole British squadron in disorder. When Resolution(74), Prudent(64) and Bedford(64) refused signal to tack together repeatedly regardless of urgency, plan was discarded (Ill reminder of what happened at Minorca with Admiral Byng). Two ships of the van, engaged heavily already could not perform tack, and therefore become separated from the main body of the British line. Meanwhile French could finish of the work at the van, causing Resolution(74) to surrender.
After the misdirected British maneuver, general melee ensued, where British van was surrounded by French – in grave state of disorder, and the rest of the British fleet ended up tangled together. Both sides now attempted franticly reform the lines – precarious moment for the French, given that long tradition spells doom to the side that is ill organized. Good news were that London was entangled so badly with the British rear that it failed to reappear into fight until it was too late.
After the second British ship Prudent(64) struck her colors and Resolution(74) was boarded, British commander gave in. Evening was approaching and both sides retreated to lick their wounds.
French boarded one vessel and forced another to strike. British forced one to strike, but failed in the critical task of destroying French squadron. It is true however, that many de Ternay’s ships suffered (Neptune(74), Jason(64) and Conquerant(74) all took a heavy toll while from remaining British ships only Bedford(64) was comparably damaged) and were not in any state to repeat the action following day. Hughes, with only four ships, of which Bedford(64) would need shore time, would not dare engage de Ternay either, but seek shelter instead.