Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Opening Shots - The Battle of Halifax 1871


This is the first Broadside and Ram scenario that I'll be playing in a series of three, based on my 'What If?' war between the British Empire and United States of America in 1871. In this scenario, the US North Atlantic Squadron has arrived off the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, to begin a blockade designed to pressure the British into ceding part of Canada to the USA under threat of a shooting war. The US vanguard consists of three powerful ironclad monitors - the USS Dictator, USS Puritan and USS Wyandotte - with orders to initiate the blockade, while the remainder of the fleet steams north from Boston.

HMS Royal Alfred

The only British warship that can match these ironclad monitors is the flagship of the North American Station, HMS Royal Alfred, an 18 gun central battery ironclad. HMS Royal Alfred is ordered by Vice Admiral Wellesley to steam out of Halifax, challenge the monitors and force them to withdraw, despite being outnumbered and outgunned by the US warships. 

If push comes to shove, the only option for her commander, Captain Wells, is to go down fighting, with no hope of reinforcements arriving in time but with the chance to seriously damage the US monitors and thus weaken the blockade before it can take hold. The US squadron, under command of Rear Admiral Lee in USS Dictator, has orders to open fire on any warship that attempts to escape before the blockade is in place.

USS Dictator

In the game, I'll use HMS Royal Oak as a stand-in for HMS Royal Alfred but the US monitors will all be the actual ships involved. The monitors seriously out-gun the conventional ironclad but HMS Royal Alfred will be an independent command, with an advantage in terms of tactical manoeuvring over the US squadron. Captain Wells will also have a  +1 command rating, which should help a bit, as well as the support of the shore batteries if the monitors get too close inshore. 

The VP's will also be awarded to the Royal Navy on the basis of the amount of damage inflicted on the US monitors at the end of the game, while the monitors must shatter and sink HMS Royal Alfred to finish the scenario and advance to the next scenario. The Royal Navy will get 1VP for each monitor damaged, two if silenced, three if crippled and four if shattered at the end of the game. The US will get 1VP for each ship damaged, crippled or silenced at the end of the game and 2VP if any ship is undamaged but will lose 3VP if any ship is shattered.

I'm hoping to play this game in the next couple of days.

8 comments:

  1. Looks great Jim. The Royal Oak or Alfred will get some serious shire support. York redoubt had some 9”RMLs which I enjoyed playing on as a boy.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York_Redoubt

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    Replies
    1. Yes that is the plan the RN will be following, given that the US monitors have to sink the Royal Alfred, so have no choice but to follow her inshore.

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  2. Looking forward to the action.

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  3. Looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

    (Out of interest I sketched out the ships for galleys & Galleons, and with the forts it comes out to a pretty much equal point encounter, although the British would have to lure the monitors inshore in order to be able to get any value from the forts.)

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely...it may all end very quickly if the monitors can coordinate their fire but if not it could go on a fair bit.

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  4. Looks a facinating what if scenario, but I was wondering in reality how seaworthy were the monitors?

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    Replies
    1. Good question. The Dictator and Puritan were designed as ocean going monitors, although Puritan was never finished. One of the reasons that they're turning up first is that the rest of the squadron would be taking its time, with some under tow.

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  5. Looking forward to full report

    Cheers
    Matt

    ReplyDelete

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