A Napoleonic Naval Battle

(Using Signal Close Action Rules)


The view from the British Van Squadron. Following Admiral Jarvis's plan we sailed due south until we encountered the Spanish fleet. One enemy squadron was holding off to the south east on a north east heading but the larger part of their fleet was sailing north or north east towards our own lines. They appeared a disorganised force and in the clearing mist appeared at first unaware of our intentions. We engaged the enemy almost immediately as their flag, the Santissimo Trinidad, bore down upon us. My entire squadron engaged her as we passed and then turned our fire on her supporting ships.

At this point the Admiral signalled the entire British line to tack into the wind and to about face the entire line. This tricky manouevre kept us in close action with the enemy. However due to the action or the fog, only my van squadron completed the manouevre, the centre and rear squadrons reacting very late to the second part of the order. The centre was heavily engaged by now in close fire and boarding actions. As I passed by and we added our fire to the battle the Spanish ships struck their colours. We then passed by the Santissimo Trinidad which had also struck and was clearly on fire.

The rear squdaron was not fairing as well. The five ships were all engaged with more than twice their number of enemy. Although one of our ships was forced to strike the others continued to fight. The ships of our centre squadron now free from their earlier successes joined with my own squadron and we bore down upon the enemy. At this point the Spanish morale broke and their remaining ships turned to flee.

Their easterly squadron had not been engaged and had held off to the east beyond gunnery range through out the action. I doubt our commander would have shown leniency if a British squadron had acted with such lethargy.



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