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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Naval Battle Report 1 - (1804, Battle of Cape Santa Maria)

Action of 5th October 1804
The Battle of Cape Santa Maria

Rule set: Trafalgar (Warhammer Historical)

Players: Chris (Britain)
Lee (Spain)


Aside from a regular Saturday night group, my friends and I haven't done much gaming lately, so finding that both myself and my good friend Lee 'Skirmish Phalanx' where available we decided to meet up and have a light game of Trafalgar.

Being a sucker for 'history' over 'points values', I persuaded Lee to re-fight a real naval engagement, and to try and keep it as level as possible I choose the Battle of Cape Santa Maria, as it had 4 ships per side, and in game terms (points values) this meant a balanced game. Having only 4 ships each also suited the time we had available and our mutual desire for a quick, easy game.

You can find a good article on the battle on Wikipedia (link at the bottom), but the brief is as follows-

The British have learn t of a Spanish Fleet carrying vast amounts of treasure. They know the rough location of this fleet and have position a squadron to intercept.
Britain and Spain are not at war, however it is believed that Spain will soon declare, so the British Commodore was sent orders to intercept the treasure ships, peacefully if possible....

The Order of Battle

Medea (40), Flagship, commanded by Capitán Francisco de Piedrola y Verdugo
Fama (34), Capitán Miguel Zapiain y Valladares
Mercedes (36), Capitán Jose Manuel De Goicoa y Labart
Santa Clara (34), Capitán Aleson y Bueno

HMS Indefatigable (44), Commodore Graham Moore
HMS Lively (38), Captain Sir Graham Eden Hamond
HMS Amphion (32), Captain Samuel Sutton
HMS Medusa (32), Captain John Gore


The two forces spot each other, the British Navy heads straight to the Spanish, sending a signal to stand to and prepare to be boarded. The Spanish naturally decline the offer....

A sudden change in the wind leaves the Spanish Flagship the Medea clambering to fix sail. In a panic the Spanish sailors make a mess of things, and the Medea drifts to a halt while the rest of the fleet pass her by. The British seeing the flagging Medea make a bee line straight for the distressed vessel.

Still unable to fix sail the Medea chooses to drop anchor and await the British fleet, the first to arrive is the HMS Indefatigable and the two flagships exchange broadsides. The Inde coming off with damage to her rudder, but the Medea is set on fire!
HMS Lively, Amphibian and Medusa all combine to give the Spanish Fama a good licking, who sees her Foremast taken down. The Fama and the Mercedes return fire at the British ships, the Spanish gunnery proving most ineffective with only minor damage to the British.

The British sail past the Spanish and all arrive within shooting range of the flagship Medea, the damaged Indefatigable managing to drop sail enough to remaining within broadside range.
The combined fleet action is enough to see the Medea strike her colours, it doesn't look good for the Spanish! But what is this!? HMS Amphibian is spotted straggling behind the convoy, and still within range of the Spanish guns!

Santa Clara and Mercedes find themselves with the opportunity to unleash raking broadsides down the Amphibian and the Fama assists with cannon to the side. The combined assault, even at range, is enough to put the Amphibian out of action, and she strikes.

One all.

The Indefatigable managers to repair her rudder, and with the Medusa following makes a tight circle back round to the Spanish line, the Livery is forced to go wide due to avoiding the Medea and finds itself a little way off from the main pair.
The Spanish way the cost of losing the Medea against the knocking out of the Amphibian, and decide to attempt to cut off the Livery from its sister ships.

The Fama and Mercedes head off to intercept the Livery, whilst the Santa Maria blocks its route to the Inde. All ships exchange fire, except the Indefatigable who has out-sailed her companions. With the Inde unable to bring her guns to bare, the Spanish have the better of it. The Liverly holds up well against the Spaniards, but the toll of being out gunned with the Indefatigable unable to find a target, takes its toll on the British.

The Indefatigable and the Medusa prepare to turn back onto the Spanish, but a sudden change in wind forces them to a virtual stand still. Meanwhile the Livery finds herself continuing to fight two ships, as the Santa Clara takes the place of the leaving Fama. The combined broadsides inflict some serious damage on the Livery.

Having just prepared to turn, taken into account the change of wind, the Indefatigable and the Medusa curse their luck as the wind changes back to its original course! This leaves both ships dead in the water, as sailors clamber back and forth constantly trying to control the sails. The Livery, though badly damaged, breaks through the gaps left by the Spanish ships, but given the loss of the Amphibian and the damage to the Livery, the British decided to call it a day. The Spanish survive the assault. The gold is safe.

Alas! History did not repeat itself for the British this time around. In real life the British won, destroying the Mercedes and capturing the other 3 Spanish vessels, with next to no loss to themselves.

The game ended much as it started - what proved unlucky for the Spanish, the initial wind, and poor rolls by the Medea to recover, ended the Indefatigable and the Medusa's attempts to re-enter the fray, and whilst the British have the edge over the Spanish on gunnery, it was a lot to ask of the Livery to face two equal sized Spanish ships.

All in all a good couple of hours play!

I hope you enjoyed this battle report and I would love to hear your feedback, opinions and comments. If you have any questions on the battle on the rule set used, I will do my best to answer them.

More reports to follow!

(and Lee)

Wiki page -

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