Today, July 29th, I had the biggest battle of my current historical fantasy scenario so far, and it didn’t disappoint.
The Franco-Spanish allies departed from the Spanish harbour with 104 ships, and the Raven made sure they were heading to the French harbour as expected, then she raced off to tell the Pirate admiral and the Pirate squadrons lying in wait just off the French harbour. The Spanish harbour is to the north, and the Pirate harbour is just around a cape directly to the south. The French harbour is to the east of that harbour, so the Allies went east for a bit and then turned southeast. The Allies sailed in a massive formation where the van was shaped as a V, with their 18 frigates out in front scouting for trouble, which they would soon run into. Then came the three-deckers (four-masters in this case), then another line inside of them of ships of the line on both sides of the transport ships, which were two deep and protected on both sides by double lines of SOL’s (ships of the line). This intense and closely packed protection was suggested by the French, who warned the Spanish of how there was a good chance of a surprise attack on the voyage, or maybe the Pirates would be waiting for them in their own harbour! They were taking the relatively short journey very seriously, which would pay off. The transport ships carried the gold (for repairing and building new ships), as well as the infantry troops and artillery pieces.
The Pirates had a line of SOL’s anchored to the west of the French harbour and to the north, creating an L-shaped formation of powerful ships. This was strengthened by a squadron of ships stationed at a nearby island, and by a host of reserves to the south, not to mention the ships still in the Pirate harbour.
The Raven, being the Pirates’ fastest ship, told everyone that the Allies had departed and were now presumably on course to collide with the Pirate fleet. Obviously, an epic battle was inevitable, neither side willing to back down!
The Raven rounded up the other nine Pirate frigates and led them to the northeast, then turned due south with the wind and came down on the foremost Allied ships, forcing them out of the Allied formation. The battle was on! The Allies cleared their decks for action and loaded the guns, knowing full well that they were probably going to soon run full-tilt into an impressive Pirate fleet. What they didn’t count on was not being able to get their transports safely into the harbour. The Pirates had positioned the anchored L they formed so that the first ships of the intersecting lines were tied together at the bows, as well as the ships on down the line, creating a nearly impenetrable wall of firepower, and the leading Allied ships would be exposed to fire from two directions.
The Allies sailed toward the intersection of the L, where directly beyond lay the French harbour, a safe haven away from the chaos and carnage. The frigate battle was progressing, but although the Pirates first had the weather gauge, they were outnumbered two to one. Meanwhile, to the southeast, the Allies’ biggest ships had reached the apex of the L and purposely rammed the two Pirate three-deckers tied together and other ships followed suit and rammed other Pirate ships, but could not break through! As masts fell and the carnage increased, the distances between ships completely evaporated, as almost the entire Allied fleet fell into the L and ships were crushed together in the desperate effort to get through. The Allies had a secret weapon, though. The gigantic crab El Toro suddenly arose from the depths on the other side of the Pirate line and began wreaking havoc on the first Pirate ship, tearing out masts and cutting her anchor cable, sending her drifting to the south, letting the Allies begin to go through the new opening.
The Allies’ weak rear came under attack by the reserve squadron of the Pirates, and they fought desperately to try to keep the Pirates from getting to the transports. The ships in the Allied formation became incredibly cramped and were not able to maneuver. The Raven alerted the Pirate admiral in his harbour of the need for more ships, and the Pirates accordingly sent a dozen ships, nine of them three-deckers. Meanwhile, the Pirate frigates were suffering badly from having to fight both broadsides. The Allied ships continued to break through the Pirate L to the French harbour, only to find Pirate ships manning the otherwise deserted harbour! These ships were not as prepared as others in the battle, as they did not think that the Allies would break through the Pirate line so quickly. The Pirate ships farthest north cut their cables and headed south to the mounting carnage as more and more ships got involved.
The Pirates were losing tons of masts and the east side of their L had completely disintegrated when the Pirate reinforcements of a dozen arrived from their harbour, almost at the same time the two Pirate sea monsters made their appearance. The Teach and Seleucis. The five-master Prussian Crown led the way, with fellow five-master Harbinger directly astern. In an act of pure aggression, the Prussian Crown sailed straight into the frigate battle to try to get to the Allied transports. Friend and foe alike scampered out of the way as the huge three-decker made her entrance. And what an entrance it was! The Prussian Crown smashed her way into the Allied line, her first doubly-shotted broadside sending 110 cannonballs careening through the decks of her poor opponents, a couple of Spanish 64’s, who both were quickly dismasted and on fire. The horrors that befell the Allied rear in this battle were almost indescribable. The three-deckers from the west were joined on the other side of the Allied formation by a handful of Pirate ships from the east side of the L, and the pincer movement was devastating. Hundreds of soldiers lost their lives on the transports as broadside after broadside rained down masts and rigging, starting fires below decks, one of which reached El Pulpo’s powder magazine. The Pulpo exploded!, and sunk the two Allied ships in her immediate vicinity, while setting fire to others. Masts continued to fall as some of the Allied transports made their way into the French harbour.
At the harbour, the Allied escorts had formed a crude opening that they protected Pirate ships from penetrating. El Toro protected the opening and sank any Pirate ships that came too close. This system worked for many of the transports, but the rearmost transports were doomed, courtesy of the Prussian Crown and Harbinger. In a heroic display, the Allies managed to gang up four ships and the injured Toro on the Harbinger, and she lost mast after mast until the Toro finally pulled her under in a suicide mission, two of the most important figures in the battle going out in a blaze of glory :eek:. Other acts of extreme teamwork and determination were present in the Allied fleet. The Asesino de la Nave blew up the larger Xiamen’s Claws, while the Seleucis was killed in a group action of 74’s and 64’s. Some Pirate ships, especially the ones trapped between the harbour and the Allied ships, surrendered. The Pirates did not expect the Allies to fight so hard, and after the admiral on board the Prussian Crown saw the Harbinger go down, he ordered a general retreat. The Allies were too damaged to pursue, it being one of the most exhausting and bloody battles in history!
The Pirates escaped while the Allies tried to make sense of how bad their losses were. They were surprised to discover that they had won a somewhat crushing victory!(The Pirates were also very confident in themselves based on past raids, so it was a huge blow to their morale)
When it was finally sorted out and crews were able to rest for the first time in over 18 hours of hardship, it was clear that the Pirates had not accomplished their goal of decisive victory. The Pirates had lost 155 masts, a truly staggering amount, compared to the Allies’ 102. The Pirates had had six ships sunk, compared with twelve for the Allies(including one important gold transport), but the Allies had captured 18 Pirate ships, while not surrendering any. Two of the three sea monsters were dead. The Allies lost 16 infantry units, as well as two artillery units but many more had reached safety, as well as enough money to repair all of their masts. The Pirates also had an even larger stockpile of money, so they were able to make all of their repairs and build back some of their sunken ships.
The battle was very satisfying, with incredible CARNAGE everywhere :D. The fleets made their repairs and are already ready to go at it again. I have a historical fantasy rule that captured ships can be repaired 100% and then traded in for ships of the winning nations’ unbuilt ships with the same number of masts. In this way the Allies traded in five captured four-masters for four Allied five-masters, the new flagships! (I save the five-masters for last, they’re the most powerful in HFS’s and amazing to me)
The next event in the HFS will be something to do with the Amerc vs English war. I already know what I will do, but you’ll have to wait to find out!