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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Trincomalee 3 September 1782

Mark McG
Australia
Penshurst
NSW
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After Negapatam, initiative in the Bay of Bengal turned decidedly to the French. Suffren met up with two additional ships carrying 600 troops to affect the capture of Trincomalee. This they accomplished by the end of August 1782. Hughes, who was in port in Madras, was informed of the French intent, but did not act upon the knowledge immediately.
When he arrived with his fleet at Trincomalee, he found the port in French hands and Suffren’s fleet ready to sail. With the clear knowledge that he wouldn’t be anchoring at Trincomalee, Hughes wore off back to sea. Suffren followed, his fleet still in disorder as it exited its anchorage. Both commanders were somewhat confused by each other’s actions. Hughes kept away from Suffren, but made no attempt to run. Suffren would move in and then fall back. Finally, during the afternoon of 3 September, Suffren made his move and ordered his fleet, still in disorder, to close on Hughes. This proved a tragic miscalculation as much of his fleet could not get into formation before Hughes surrounded and raked it at both ends. Casualties were fairly even between the two fleets, but the French suffered substantially more damage to their vessels, including the Héros, who lost her mainmast late in the day. With both fleets seriously damaged, daylight failing and the threat of monsoons, Suffren returned to Trincomalee and Hughes to Madras.


Turns: 14, Maps: AB, Wind Direction: 6 (Breezy)
Audacity: British (1), French (0)

The only wind change here was on the final turn, where the wind force dropped from Breezy to Normal. Aside from the pleasure of seeing the variant Wind Adjustment table in action, the wind remain unrelentingly behind the French, which gave them control of the engagement.

The English line turned back and forth several time in battle, hoping for the wind change, or a French error, but there was none of either, and the French concentrated on the end of the English line, sweeping closer when the initiative went their way.

Without a wind change to change the situation, this is a winning tactic and a safe one. St. Michel was dismasted by English fire, and there was plenty of rigging damage to the French fleet, but the breezy conditions never really slowed them down.

One particularly annoying French trick was leading the line with a Frigate (Consolante) who used the gentlemanly behaviour of the English fleet as a shield for the ships behind. This frigate eventually sauntered into the English line, let off both broadsides, and managed to bolt away with hardly a scratch after some very poor English return fire.

Otherwise the French picked on the English tail one by one, Worcester was almost dismasted, caught fire, and the blaze dismasted her, and she immediately struck. This caused the French something of a dilemma about whether to grapple or not, and eventually Consolante was risked, who grappled and the fire spread to her. But the French luck held, and both fires were extinguished.

The next two ships, Magnamine & Monmouth were both damaged, but managed to pull away to safety. La Flammand had entered battle with a deal of damage retained, and needed just 2 Hull hits to be damaged. The first was easy enough, but then 4 successive shots at the hull produced just a R damage result. Quite maddening, and then the French woke up to what was going on and tried to shield her with other ships. In the last turn a smal gap opened and Sceptre managed to score the goal, the final Hull hit to flip her to damaged.

In the final turn, the French made an effort to overwhelm Superb, coming very close to damaging her. However, they had neglected the ferocity of English firepower up close, and Sévere took both broadsides from Superb up close, which left her damaged instead. Sévere has not been a lucky ship.

Hughes and King were both wounded in this battle, but the Men of Iron special rule has saved them many times now.


Victory Points:
French: 8 VP Captured Worcester, damaged Magnamine & Monmouth
Britsh: 6.5 VP Dismasted St. Michel, Damaged, Flammand & Sévere

French lost 53 Hull & 98 Rigging (adding to the 11 Hull, 29 Rigging unrepaired)

British lost 56 Hull and 27 Rigging (adding to the 1 Hull, 3 Rigging + 1 Manpower unrepaired).

French repaired 16 Hull & 70 Rigging (9 British VP)
British repaired 56 Hull & 30 Rigging (10 French VP)

Campaign Score
French: 85 VP
British: 80.5 VP
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