East Indies Campaign

Campaign: Suffren v. Hughes The British send Admiral Sir Edward Hughes to the East Indies to advance their war against Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore. To hinder those plans, the French send a fleet ultimately under the command of the Admiral Pierre-André de Suffren Saint-Tropez. The result is a string of naval battles that will determine the control of the East Indies.
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Providien (12 April 1782)

Mark McG
Australia
Penshurst
NSW
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Providien
12 April 1782 - In the month after their first engagement, Suffren and Hughes returned to their respective ports to refit. Both of their missions continued, Hughes in his fight against Hyder Ali and Suffren in his attempts to disrupt British operations. In early April, Suffren learned of two ships arriving from Europe to reinforce Hughes, the Sultan and Magnanime. Suffren sailed out to intercept the reinforcements before they could join Hughes, but when he spotted the British fleet, he discovered he was too late. Hughes turned his ships to engage Suffren for the second time. The two fleets approached on the same westerly tack to within gunshot. The two commanders, eager to engage each other, ordered their flagships to within pistol shot of each other, resulting in each fleet taking opposing arc formations, tied in melee in their centers with most action involving two British ships (the Superb and Monmouth) and three French ships (Héros, Orient and Brillant). The battle lasted for roughly four hours, with these five ships taking the brunt of the damage in one of the bloodiest actions to date.

Turns: 30, Maps: AB, Wind Direction: 6
Audacity: British (0), French (1)

Result

French: 15.5 VP
Burford dismasted, Monarca dismasted, Superb dismasted, Magnamine damaged and struck, Worcester damaged, Monmouth damaged and captured

lost 117 Hull, 116 Rigging & 4 Manpower


British: 23 VP
Flamand damaged and captured, Artesian damaged and captured, Vengeur damaged and dismasted, Orient damaged, Severe damaged, Annibal dismasted, Ajax damaged and dismasted & Suffren wounded

lost 82 Hull, 78 Rigging & 1 Manpower


Bloody hardly describes it.. carnage is a better description.
Preservation of force went right out the window in this brutal melee.

The battle started pretty slowly, with some long range firing and maneouvre for position. English were pulling some moves to get the wind gauge when a Turn 6 wind change turned against them, and they fell back rapidly on Turn 7 to regroup. We very nearly ended the scenario there with hardly a hit scored between us. However, we continued on after a pause, with the French closing in on the regrouping English.

By Turn 15 the French grabbed initiative and closed on King's group of 64s that had been sailing independently. It was a dramatic turn, with Monmouth damaged, and English maneovre getting off some good broadsides, and critically, wounding Suffren (even with the Men of Iron rule!).

From here on in it degenerated from being 2 fleets sailing as fleets into 2 English commands vs 1 French command with mounting damage to both sides. The English 64s had taken a bit of hull damage, with Monmouth striking and being captured, Worcester being damaged and sailing away, Magnanime (Maggie May) being damaged, and shamefully striking after making it behind the English line. The French had taken a lot of rigging damage closing up, and started to suffer once within carronade range.

From here, King managed to extricate his command from imminent danger except Monmouth who was captured. Hughes tacked his command to cover King's withdrawal, and to bring the 3rd Rates into the battle, who did some carnage at close range. Flamand appeared to have a magnet aboard, with every shot hitting hard. Shout out to Hero for failing the tack..

With Hughes closing in, Suffren wounded, and mounting rigging damage and both Flamand and Severe damaged, the French position looked shaky. T18 was the turn I would have re-gathered the French fleet and taken stock, and as the English, I would have backed away. Flamand was lost, but the rest was salvagable. By Turn 21 Ajax had been dismasted, and Flamand captured, but separation was still possible.

However, it was not to be as the French crossed the front of the English line, and yet again the smashing began. By this stage, masts were tumbling and damaged ships weren't uncommon. The leading French ship, Artesien had ventured too far and had been savaged, struck and then captured. We also began to see the more absurd effects of the towing ships being stacked rule, which created even more chaos.

By Turn 25 it was enough, and we agreed to end the battle for the lack of ammunition. Both fleets were gravely damaged and many ships vulnerable to striking. It seemed timely to call a cease fire, exchange prisoners and refit.

Post battle (after VP assessment), Monmouth was exchanged for Artesien on an "as is" basis, meaning the burden of repair falls on the original owner. Being two 64s of equal VP value that seems entirely in the spirit of the Eighteen century, and overcame the question of where the new crew would come from.

Flamand remains captured by the English fleet, but being somewhat a unique ship in Flying Colors (a 50 gun 3rd Rate), the campaign rules about replacement make little sense (the nearest lower replacement being a frigate). So she will likely languish damaged in port as a (semi-floating) battery.

Suffren recovers from his wound, but not yet from his shock and dismay at English firepower up close.

French repaired 96 Hull & 115 Rigging + 2 Manpower (24 British VP)
British repaired 80 Hull & 80 Rigging (18 French VP)

Campaign Score
French: 47 VP
British: 49 VP
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