By 1782 the American War of Independence had spiralled out of British control and had developed from a small problem in the thirteen colonies to a world conflict involving other European powers seeking to take advantage. British forces were becoming stretched to their limits in defending their interests throughout their other possessions.
This struggle naturally came to India where three of the combatants had holdings namely the British, French and the Dutch.
|Captain Pierre Andre de Suffren|
Between February 1782 and June 1783 the fleets of French captain Pierre Andre de Suffren de St. Tropez and British Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes fought a series of naval actions along the Indian Coromandal coast in what has become one of the most popular campaign settings for wargamers of the age of sail. Five actions, all largely inconclusive and fought between fleets that were relatively equal in numbers, were fought on the Coromandal coast, at Sadras, Providien, Cuddalore, Negepatam and Trincomalee.
|Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes , pictured here as a captain|
|Battle of Sadras map - Three Decks, Warships in the Age of Sail|
The rules used were a combination of the card play taken from "Kiss Me Hardy" (KMH) by the Too Fat Lardies, and the freely available App "Eight Bells" to handle the combat and sailing stats for our model ships. All the players had to do was draw a card and decide on their actions.
Eight Bells Napoleonic Naval App
Kiss Me Hardy
For a more detailed description of how these rules worked I have put up a post on my blog.
|The French fleet with the wind in their coat tails bear down on the British line|
The British being downwind and in line decided to blaze away as the French fleet approached, however deciding to shoot at the French rigging.
|As the range closes, both commanders signal their fleets|
|HMS Exeter prepares to give the French a warm welcome|
|The British line opens fire|
|Fire as they bear|
Admiral Hughes was also experiencing problems manoeuvring his ships, and only being able to signal one order at a time (Hughes was rated as a poor commander) was not helping. The Eight Bells App has a movement system that randomises the ships speed based on the roll of three dice and the attitude to the wind. As ships sailing in formation start to try and form up or change direction this can really mess up the neat lines us wargamers like to form, a bit like real life really!
So as Hughes' flagship attempted to tack around and lead his lead ships back to support his rear, the random speed settings together with damage from French fire caused his line to lose formation and become ragged.
|The French, on the right, fall in with the British rear attempting to "double" them|
|The French van fired at the British rear aiming for the rigging|
|The British start to lose masts and spars under the close range barrage|
As the damage inflicted on each others rigging and the corresponding breakdown in formation occurred both commanders realised the change in situation and signalled "Fire as she bears" allowing the respective captains to place their ships alongside that of the enemy and get stuck in.
|As the French go for the British rear the British van double back on them|
However the wargamers need to battle it out to the end took over and the French tried to contest every action, which led to the British crew superiority to gradually take effect. As the British reinforcements arrived on the scene the battle swung back their way as three French ships struck their colours in quick succession.
|The final melee - yellow markers showing three French strikes|
Once again, thanks to my fellow Devon Wargamers, Jason, Gus, Ian, Ollie and Jack for a very entertaining days gaming.