Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tinkering with Ships

I have decided to jump into my next project. One of the best articles in the TooFatLardies specials was "All At Sea." Rich created a fictional campaign set in the Indian Ocean where the British and French were fighting over some islands that lay along the trade routes to India. The naval portion of the campaign used Kiss Me Hardy and the land portion used Sharp Practice.

I have wanted to do this or a similar campaign for a long time. I think I found the project that it will work for - The War of Jenkin's Ear. In 1742, the Spanish brought up a fleet from Havana and Florida to invade Georgia. It was to destroy the colonial forces in Georgia and then press on to Charleston and ferment a slave rebellion.

The Spanish had the upper hand on paper. Their invasion force was over 2000 men. They had a naval force of some 55 vessels (depending on the source it varies from 36 to 55). Among these vessels was the sixth rate French Frigate of 24 guns. In addition, they had a 14-gun packet boat (likely a schooner), two bilanders, a schooner, at least one galley, at least six galliots, and at least two quarter-galleys. These were joined by barges and piraguas as troop transports. Of these few were modern warships of the time. The galleys were being phased out of most navies by this time. Bilanders had largely been replaced by brigs. The galleys did carry some heavy cannon in their bows. It is unclear if they had any broadside cannon.

The Spanish had artillery and theoretically, plenty of supplies. While the colony of Georgia had a single regiment of regulars that had been recently raised and were largely green troops. They also had some militia that were veteran troops and some fortifications.

Georgia was led by General James Oglethorpe who fortified Cumberland, Jekyll and St Simons Islands. Each island had several forts and small towns. They were to be the initial barrier to protect Savannah, the capitol of the colony. These barrier islands would also be the first line of defense for all of the southern Colonies, especially South Carolina.

For the British, there were three factions when it came to the naval forces. First were those directly under Oglethorpe's command. These were some small transport sloops and a cutter and three more substantial vessels. These were the Success, a 20 gun vessel with 100 men; the Walker, a 14-gun schooner with 80 men (Oglethorpe's flagship); the Faulcon, a 14-gun schooner; and the St Philip, a 14-gun sloop with men. Several of the reports refer to the Walker and the Faulcon as a guard schooner rather than by name. At some point, one of the two sinks. But within a paragraph, the guard schooner is sailing for someplace making it difficult to follow the action.

The Royal Navy did not have a North American Squadron at this time. However, there were a number of ships that operated off the North American Coastline at this time. These include some ships that are familiar to you if you have purchased To Covet Glory. The main one is HMS Tamar. This is the same vessel that was present around Charleston during the American Revolution. The ship had been on stations since at least the late 1730s. Other vessels included the HMS Flamborough (20), HSM Rye (24),HMS Squirrel (20), HMS Tartar (22), HMS Hector (44), HMS Phoenix (20), Spence (6), Wolf (8), and Hawk (6). These were assigned to cover the whole off the North American coastline and Bermuda. Most of these vessels participated in the 1740 campaign against St Augustine. All of these vessels are tasked with protecting North American waters from Spanish Privateers. A job which the newspapers of Charleston seemed to think they did rather poorly. But by the attack on Georgia, the Royal Navy had the following vessels near Charleston that were gathered in a fleet on July 18th: HMS Rye, HMS Flamborough, HM Sloop Hawk and another sloop of 8 guns (likely the Wolf). These would set sail with the South Carolina ships on July 18th for St Simons Island. Upon reaching the islands, they pretty much turned around and went back to Charleston with the excuse that they needed to defend the colony. Fortunately for Oglethorpe, the Spanish were convinced they could not win and were withdrawing.

The colony of South Carolina had a navy of their own. A shipyard had been set up at Port Royal and the colony had built two half-galleys for their defense: the Beaufort and the Charles Town. In addition, there was the brig Carolina of 10 guns, a captured Spanish snow (brig) St Juan Baptista of 10 guns, the schooner Ranger of 12 guns, a 10-gun sloop and a 6-gun schooner.

This provides a large variety of vessels to build for the campaign. The tough part will be the the older style Spanish ships. Then there are the shore batteries and shore fortifications that need to be addressed.

I am attempting to build some Bilanders now for the campaign. I also have a vessel to use for the various sixth rates involved. These will be the biggest ships that I will have tried with To Covet Glory. I am looking forward to getting some of these built and on the table.

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