Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Battle of Jasmund (Iron and Fire)

I've been looking again at the naval side of the Second Schleswig War with a mini-project in mind for the Battle of Jasmund (or Rugen depending on which side you were on). This was a minor skirmish in the naval war but quite significant nonetheless, as the Prussians failed to break the Danish blockade of the Baltic ports due to the local superiority of the Danish fleet.

There's a brief description here, which together with the background notes in Iron and Fire (p18-19) and my other sources, provides pretty much everything needed for a scenario write up:

Battle at Rügen

On March 17, 1864, Prussian naval forces attempted to break the Danish naval blockade. The corvettes ARCONA and NYMPHE departed Swinemünde on an easterly course to investigate whether any Danish ships were around. As no Danish presence was realized at first, the Prussian ships changed to a westerly course and was reinforced by the paddelwheeler LORELEY and 6 steam gunboats. Then the combined Prussian squadron headed north in line abreast. As it was level with Jasmund the Danish force, sighted the Prussian squadron.

The Danish force consisted of the propeller frigate SJAELLAND the ship of the line SKJOLD, as well as the 2 corvettes THOR and HEJMDAL and was commanded by Rear Admiral C. E. van Dockum. This force was shortly afterwards reinforced by the propeller frigate TORDENSKJOLD. When sighting the enemy, the Danish force immediately weighed anchor and headed south directly against the Prussian squadron. 

Shortly afterwards there was a fierce exchange of fire between the two sides without any serious damage on either side. After less than one and a half hour the Prussian squadron withdrew south. The Danish force did not succeed in cutting off their retreat. Never the less the Prussians did not manage to break the blockade, but the incident meant that the Danish Navy still had to maintain a large presence for continued blockade.

As you can see, not a lot happened but there's quite a few 'what ifs?' that would make this a viable and interesting game. So, having rummaged through my 1/2400 scale Tumbling Dice ironclads box, I've managed to assemble the forces for both sides, give or take a little fudging to make things fit and some extras to go beyond the Jasmund / Rugen engagement:

The Danish Squadron

Rear Admiral Van Dockum

Skjold (ASV3 2nd Rate 90 guns HMS Hero)
Sjaelland (ASV5 Frigate HMS Phoebe)
Tordenskjold (ASV8 Small Frigate HMS Arrogant)
Heimdal (ASV11 Screw Sloop)
Thor (ASV 11 Screw Sloop)
Dannebrog (ASV45 Armide)

The Prussian Squadron

Kapitan zur See Von Jachmann

Arcona (ASV8 Small Frigate HMS Arrogant)
Nymphe (ASV15 Screw Corvette)
Lorelei (ASV16 Paddle Corvette)

Screw Gunboat Flotilla
Comet (1st Class)
Hay (2nd Class)
Hyane (2nd Class)
Pfeil (2nd Class)
Scorpion (2nd Class)
Wespe (2nd Class)
(all ASV13 Screw Gunboats)

There are a few compromises here but the pictures I've found of the various ships and gunboats match up fairly well with the models in terms of size and appearance. I still need to find a suitable Aviso for the armed yacht Grille, which played a role in later skirmishes, but that's a minor omission. A merchant steamer would also be useful to act as the Danish armed merchant Freya, which was the focus of a later skirmish.

I think this could be a lot of fun and shouldn't take too long to put together, especially as the models are easy to paint, have their own bases already provided and are designed for handling, unlike the Hallmark ships which are more finely sculpted and a therefore a bit fragile. I'll put this on the 'to do' list for sometime in the not too distant future.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff, looking forward to seeing how it turns out