Saturday, 4 December 2021

All at Sea - Spanish First Rates for Cape St Vincent

HMS Captain 74-guns commanded by Commodore Horatio Nelson engages the 80-gun San Nicholas and the 112-gun San Josef at the Battle of Cape St Vincent 14th February 1797 - Donald Macleod

Next year will be the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Cape St Vincent fought on the 14th February, St Valentines Day, 1797 between the British fleet of 15 ships of the line, 5 frigates, 1 sloop and 1 cutter under Admiral Sir John Jervis and a Spanish fleet of 25 ships of the line, 7 frigates and a brig under the command of Admiral Don Jose de Cordoba y Ramos near Cape St Vincent, Portugal.

The battle is notable in that the British victory began the fight back at sea by the British Royal Navy to re-establish its supremacy over the fleets of Revolutionary France and her new allies, Spain and the Dutch Batavian Republic as they threatened to combine their strength and launch a surprise invasion of Ireland to knock Great Britain out of the war, as the only remaining opposition to French conquests in Europe.

The Dutch would see a similar reverse that same year on the 11th October when their fleet was decisively defeated off Camperdown or Kamperduin on the Dutch coast by Admiral Adam Duncan leading the British North Sea Fleet.

The British fleet turned in succession as the main force of the Spanish fleet threatened to break contact, causing the frustrated Nelson aboard Captain to respond to Jervis' signal and general orders for Britannia and the ships behind her to close on the enemy line to wear round on them after Vice Admiral Charles Thompson failed to respond and continued to follow in line ahead. - Map from The Trafalgar Companion, Mark Adkin

The Battle of Cape St Vincent is also noted for the arrival to public notice of a rising star among the captains of Sir John Jervis' Mediterranean Fleet, a certain Commodore Horatio Nelson, who had, unknown to himself, been promoted by seniority, before the battle took place, to Rear Admiral and who would firmly establish himself on the road to being perhaps one of the greatest admirals in history with his audacious manoeuvre; that saw him wear his ship, breaking the traditional line of battle and lead an attack on the van and centre of the Spanish fleet, pinning the nearest enemy vessels to him as the main British fleet tacked in succession to come up to him as quickly as possible as he boldly led a boarding party that captured the 80-gun San Nicholas and the 112-gun San Josef, a manoeuvre that earned the facetious title of ;

'Nelson's patent bridge for boarding enemy vessels.'

JJ's Wargames All at Sea Cape St Vincent, Spanish
It was back in June that I finished off my Spanish 3rd Rates 

To commemorate this famous battle, I wanted to make sure I had enough Spanish ships to facilitate its playing and with twenty-five ships of the line needed and only fifteen constructed for the Trafalgar project I set myself the task of completing the other ten Spanish ships that required another seven third rate 74-gun models and three more 112-gun first rates to do it.

These two Spanish first rates complete the line up of Spanish ships of the line as at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797

Finally, after lots of other work on other projects I got a chance to sit down and get the last two Spanish first rates into JJ's shipyard seeing them into the fitting out dock last week and completed this week as seen above and below.

As with my last batch of third rates I wanted these models to reflect the Revolutionary War paint scheme that preceded the later Nelsonian chequerboard pattern to give this earlier Spanish fleet that look, all be it with some models in that later pattern suggesting the switch from one to the other as ships went in for refits.

So before starting these two final models I was keen to get some inspiration for the look I was after and hopefully feature two of these mighty Spanish first rates that featured in the battle line up.

When inspiration for the look of my Spanish collection is needed I tend to refer to the wonderful art of Carlos Parilla Penagos and was pleased to find two such illustrations depicting the look perfectly and of the ships I had in mind. 

Salvador del Mundo - Carlos Parilla Penagos
The picture depicts the ship in 1790 when Spain hastily prepared an expedition to the Nookta Sound on the coast of modern day Vancouver Island, over a political dispute about trade with Great Britain

So first up is the 112-gun Salvador del Mundo or Saviour of the World the second built of the eight ships of her class, the Santa Anna's known as los Merigildos, designed by Romero Landa and launched at Ferrol on the 2nd May 1787.

Too late to see service in the War of American Independence the Salvador del Mundo was part of a mobilisation of the Spanish navy as the Viceroy of Mexico triggered a dispute with the British East India Company that had set up a fur trading base in Nookta Sound on the Canadian Pacific seaboard to facilitate the trade in furs with China.

Jose Joaquin Romero y Fernandez de Landa 
Spain's first official naval engineer and designer

The Spanish Crown had laid exclusive claim to the entire Pacific coast since the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 and the Viceroy sent two Spanish warships to the area that caused both Britain and Spain to send major elements to sea before better sense prevailed and an agreement was reached that saw Spain abandon its claim and pay reparations for damages.

My interpretation of the Salvador del Mundo with her distinctive ochre strake directly below her poop deck aft quarter rails as depicted in the Penagos picture above

Less than ten years after her launch the Salvador del Mundo would see her first battle against the adversary she narrowly missed meeting in 1790 as at 06.30 on a cold foggy morning of the 14th February 1797, the 74-gun HMS Culloden at the head of the British fleet signalled to Admiral Jervis aboard HMS Victory;

'Five enemy sail in sight to the south-east.'

At 10am with the mist clearing fast, Flag Captain Robert Calder, on board the 102-gun Victory, began to count the Spanish ships as they sailed slowly into view on the starboard quarter;

'There are eight sail of the line Sir John.'
'Very well, sir.'
'There are twenty sail of the line Sir John.'
'Very well, sir.'
'There are twenty-five sail of the line Sir John.'
'Very well, sir.'
'There are twenty-seven sail of the line Sir John, nearly twice our own number.'

Admiral Sir John Jervis 'Old Jarvie' circa 1795 - Lemuel Francis Abbott

'Enough sir.' snapped Jervis, 'The die is cast and if there are fifty sail I will go through them!'

The Salvador del Mundo was under the command of Brigadier Antonio Yepes and was part of the 4th Division of the First Squadron in the centre of the Spanish line under the command of Admiral Cordoba aboard Santisima Trinidad the fleet flagship.

Battle is joined showing the position of the Salvador del Mundo as she comes under attack from the Victory and the 74-gun HMS Excellent under Captain Cuthbert Collingwood who force the Spanish first rate together with the 74-gun San Ysidro to strike. Trafalgar Companion - Mark Adkin

At 14.35 the British 74-gun Excellent under a certain Captain Collingwood drew alongside the Salvador del Mundo to exchange broadsides and was later joined by the 64-gun HMS Diadem under Captain George Towry and with the Excellent on the bow quarter and Diadem on the stern quarter the two British third rates battered the Spanish first rate just as they were joined by Jervis and the Victory who on passing the stern of the Spanish ship, caused her to strike.

HMS Victory rakes the Salvador del Mundo as she passes astern at the Battle of Cape St Vincent - Robert Clevely

The Salvador del Mundo suffered 166 casualties of whom 42 were killed. In return Excellent and Diadem escaped the battle with just 23 and 2 casualties respectively with 11 killed all aboard Excellent.

The Salvador del Mundo was taken into service by the Royal Navy through the rest of the Revolutionary War and the subsequent Napoleonic War not seeing front line service but seeing out her days on harbour duties until her decommissioning and scrapping at the end of the war.

In 1797 the Salvador de Mundo is shown as armed with 30 x 36-pounder long guns on her lower gun deck, 32 x 24-pdr guns on her middle deck, 32 x 12 pdrs on her upper deck and 20 x 8-pdr guns on her forecastle and quarterdeck.

Next we have the San Josef herself, perhaps the most famous Spanish ship involved in the Battle of Cape St Vincent after the Santisima Trinidad.

The San Josef or San Jose was a 114-gun first rate ship of the line designed and built by the French builder Francisco Gautier and also launched at Ferrol on the 30th June 1783.

'The Saint Joseph' - Carlos Parilla Penagos
A perfect illustration of the Revolutionary War scheme

She was built along the same plans and design of the 112-gun Purisima Concepcion launched in 1779 by the same designer, but unlike her the San Josef turned out to be a much finer ship and the better sailor of the two.

My second new Spanish first rate designed to stand in for the San Josef or San Jose when we refight Cape St.Vincent.

The Battle of Cape St Vincent would be her first and last action at sea under Spanish colours and she would sail under the command of Rear Admiral Francisco Javier Winthuysen commanding the 6th Division of the 3rd Rear Squadron under the command of Vice Admiral Don Joaquin Moreno.

Rear Admiral Francisco Javier Winthuysen y Pineda - Naval Museum of Madrid

At 13.20 Admiral Jervis signalled to all rear divisions to turn onto a larboard tack individually and attack and by 13.45 the battle between the two fleets became general as ship after ship closed with the Spanish fleet, as illustrated in the map above.

Nelson aboard Captain 74-guns and Troubridge astern of him in the 74-gun Culloden drew level with the San Nicholas 84-guns and the San Josef 112-guns to begin an hour long exchange of broadsides at very short range.

Eventually the Culloden fell away disabled from the exchange of fire leaving the Captain to continue the unequal struggle only to be joined by Collingwood and the Excellent 74-guns sent ahead by Jervis to fill the gap between the Captain and her enemies.

HMS Captain capturing the San Nicholas and the San Josef - Nicholas Pocock

The battle was still very close and at about 15.00 Collingwood relieved Nelson by passing the Excellent between Captain and the San Nicholas and the San Josef firing as she passed, with Collingwood retelling the action in a letter to his wife stating;

'. . . we did not touch sides, but you could not put a bodkin between us, so that our shot passed through both ships, and in attempting to extricate themselves they got onboard of each other.

Captain Cuthbert Collingwood seen here before
reaching flag rank and looking much younger than the man
depicted in his portraits after Trafalgar 

 My good friend, the Commodore, had been long engaged with these ships, and I happily came to his relief, for he was dreadfully mauled.'

The shattered Captain ship's company made the best of their brief respite to replenish empty shot lockers and repair their badly cut up rigging caused by fire from the Santisima Trinidad and her consorts.

In addition, she had casualties to treat including Nelson who was injured after being struck in the side by a splinter from one of the rigging blocks.

An illustration of the individual ship movements leading up to the capture of the San Nicholas and San Josef by Commodore Nelson's Captain - Trafalgar Companion, Mark Adkin

However despite his injury Nelson was not content to simply rest on his laurels following the respite granted by the interceding Excellent and seeing that the San Nicholas was very much preoccupied in the struggle to free their ship from the San Josef and still reeling from the shock of the broadsides delivered by the Excellent he immediately realised the opportunity the situation presented, acting with promptness and courage that was fast becoming his command trade mark.

Nelson gave the order to his Flag-Captain Ralph Miller to steer the Captain alongside the stricken Spaniard, whilst calling for boarders and putting himself at their head, a very unusual thing for a flag-officer of Nelson's rank to do but illustrative of his instinctive leadership.

With the Captain's cathead lodged in the stern gallery windows 
of the San Nicholas, Nelson led the boarding party.

The Captain's cathead became lodged in the stern gallery window of the San Nicholas as her bow crashed into the Spaniard's starboard quarter and her spritsail yard pushed over the the enemy quarterdeck.

A soldier of the 69th Foot on board and serving as marines reached over and broke a stern window with his musket butt and Nelson then scrambled out along the cathead and climbed through the shattered glass into the Spanish captain's cabin, followed by his men.

The coat of Colour-Sergeant Chadwick of the 69th Foot who saw service as 
marines at the Battle of Cape St Vincent at which Chadwick took part. Next to his
jacket is a naval cutlass and sea service pistol.
JJ's Wargames - Cardiff Castle, 2021

The cabin doors were locked and Spanish officers were firing their pistols through the windows, but the momentum of the attack was maintained as the boarders broke down the doors with axes and stormed onto the quarterdeck, cutting down the Spanish Commodore, Don Tomas Geraldino as they went.

Meanwhile, another party, under Edward Berry, had run out along the bowsprit and dropped from the spritsail yard onto the quarterdeck and moments later Nelson was receiving the swords of the Spanish officers as the San Nicholas struck her colours.

The San Nicholas had suffered grievously with 203 casualties of which 144 were killed including her commander.

The even larger three decked San Josef  was still trapped alongside with the Prince George 98-guns close by firing well aimed broadsides only adding to the carnage created previously by the Captain and Excellent.

Rear-Admiral Winthuysen had been carried below, having lost both legs earlier in the action, and over 140 of her crew were dead or wounded, but some of her crew were still resisting, firing down onto the quarterdeck at Nelson's boarding party and threatening an awkward reversal of fortunes if not dealt with rapidly.

Again Nelson responded with his usual sangfroid ordering sentries posted to the hatchways and hailing Captain Miller to send over reinforcements to keep the San Nicholas under control, and thus having secured his rear led his boarding party in another furious rush up the sides of the San Josef.

Nelson boarding the San Josef - George Jones c1829 (National Maritime Museum Greenwich)
Not a particularly accurate portrayal, as the San Josef's quarterdeck was higher than the San Nicholas and Nelson's men were forced to climb up rather than descend on to it. The green facings of the 69th Foot makes a nice touch though.

Edward Berry gave his commodore a leg-up into the main chains, from where he leapt over the bulwark and down onto her quarterdeck, where he was met by the Spanish captain presenting his sword as a gesture of surrender and explaining that his admiral was dying of his wounds below.

The Surrender of the San Jose - Daniel Orme c 1799 (National Maritime Museum Greenwich)
Again a rather symbolic representation of events rather than historically accurate as the Spanish admiral lying left was actually dying below decks at the time. The rounded stern gallery of the San Nicholas can be seen captured in the background and the 69th Foot are again nicely represented.

Suspicious at the sudden collapse of enemy resistance Nelson asked the captain 'on his honour' if the ship had surrendered and, on being assured that she had, shook hands with him and told him to assemble the other officers for a formal surrender ceremony.

Hull plan of the captured San Josef (National Maritime Museum Greenwich)

Total casualties suffered by the San Josef were 142 which included 46 killed including Rear-Admiral Winthuysen.

The San Josef would be taken into service in the Royal Navy as the 114-gun HMS San Josef seeing later service as the flagship Admiral John Thomas Duckworth in 1809.

She would have a long service career with the Royal Navy seeing out her post war years as a flag-ship, gunnery training ship and guard ship before being broken up at Devonport, Plymouth in 1849.

HMS San Josef seen in later years of Royal Navy service - (National Maritime Museum Greenwich)

Apparently small pieces of the ship exist today with a quoin from one of her guns to be seen in the Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Silly and her carved Triumph of Arms taken from her stern rail was sold at auction in 2014 whilst some of her timbers were used in the rebuilding of St Nicholas Church, West Looe, Cornwall in 1852.

At Cape St Vincent the San Josef was likely armed with 30 x 36-pounder long guns on her lower gun deck, 32 x 24-pdr guns on her middle deck, 32 x 12 pdrs on her upper deck and 22 x 8-pdr guns on her forecastle and quarterdeck.

That concludes the work on my own age of sail collection for the time being as I look forward to Warlord Games releasing their new models, a small third rate 64-gun ship, a 4th rate 50-gun ship and a 22-24 gun corvette, with the first mentioned key to my next additions and collection, namely the Dutch fleet for Camperdown

That said I aim to present some more games with the collection currently built and I will be working on some more models for a mate from club, Bob, who is keen to have his own fleets available and it will allow me to keep my ship modelling skills up in readiness for the new models.

As well as that I also plan to work on some more at anchor models for Algeciras and the Nile and I still need to get some Spanish gunboats built, a Xebec and Polacre and some shore line facilities, so plenty to do in the All at Sea project.

The Trafalgar Companion - Mark Adkin
1797 Nelson's Year of Destiny - Colin White
Nelson's Battles, The Art of Victory in the Age of Sail - Nicholas Tracy

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Warfare 2021 - Wargames Association of Reading

Warfare - 2021

Yesterday was a real treat and feeling of a certain return to normal with my travelling up with friends to attend Warfare 2021, hosted by the Wargames Association of Reading at their brand spanking new venue Ascot Racecourse.

Steve M, Vince and I rendezvoused in Exeter at about 07.30 to start our, just under, three hour drive to the outskirts of leafy west London via the historic A303 that saw us gliding over Salisbury Plain past the World Heritage site of Stone Henge; with little traffic to mention and despite an autumn storm bringing high winds over night no problems with blown down tress blocking the roads, which was a bit of a concern when we set out.

Warfare is my first show since attending PAW, the Plymouth Wargamers annual gathering back in February 2020 and I know I have really missed this big part of my hobby and the pleasure of doing a bit of shopping, chatting to traders and other folks in the hobby and taking the time to appreciate the efforts of other gamers and clubs who put on the display games.

My last attendance at Warfare was back in 2018 which you can check out in the link below, which also links to my previous show reports from 2016 and 2017. I missed the 2019 show as Carolyn and I were away in Berlin visiting Will on his Masters Degree course and taking time to tour that key historic European city.

JJ's Wargames - Warfare 2018

The chaps from the Reading club have had their issues in recent times with the old venue for this show, the Reading Sports Centre, which I commented on here on JJ's in past visits and seemed to generate quite a bit of discussion on other forums at the time.

I mentioned that my comments were entirely constructive, knowing as I do the difficulties of organising a large wargaming event and appreciating the efforts the Reading chaps go to to get this show set up year on year for the hobby to enjoy and so I was really looking forward to this post-pandemic event at a new venue, Ascot Racecourse, which seemed to offer a solution to the problems of previous shows, with the benefits of spacious parking, easy access to the motorways, and an airy well lit grandstand display hall familiar to those of us who travel up to Colours at Newbury.

It was interesting on arrival to see that my preconceptions in terms of access and facilities looked to be confirmed and the venue was well signed and organised as you might expect from an organisation like Ascot, used to making arrangements for Royal VIP's and as I think you will see from my pictures of the main traders hall on the ground floor of the grandstand the space was great, providing lots of room to enjoy wandering among the trade stands without feeling cramped and elbow to elbow with other visitors.

Perhaps the only key issue encountered in this space was the requirement to have certain doors open to allow a free flow of air into and out of the stands which with the cold winter weather we were experiencing with bitter winds, the poor traders close to such access points were feeling the chill at times and required the odd coat left on.

I very happily found my way over to Dave Thomas's stall and picked up the balance of Perry Miniatures to complete my AWI collection for my Mohawk Valley project which included the new British Light Infantry in skirmish order and the new Butler's Rangers.

Perry Miniatures - British Light Infantry Command

Perry Miniatures - British Light Infantry Skirmishing

Perry Miniatures - Butlers Rangers Skirmishing

Thank you to Dave for his usual excellent service and organisation, with everything I had ordered boxed and ready for collection.

I then headed over to Warpaint Figures where I topped up my supply of flower tufts for my basing requirements going forward and at a very good price, so thank you to them to.

Finally ending up in front of the ABC Brushes where I found myself unable to resist taking advantage of their special offers on brushes with a pack of seven Prolon-ProArte detail-brushes for £5 which looked well worth while giving a go.

The last thing required was ten colours from the Vajello acrylic paint range which had been used up during recent ship painting projects and then with time to spare, just after lunch and a good chat with other chaps from the club who had made the journey up to Ascot, (John, Paul, Lawrence and Mr Steve) I together with Mr Steve headed back into the hall and the upstairs rooms at the top of the grandstand to check out the competition games and finally the display games that really caught our attention.

Before that though I took a few moments to take a good look at the Empress range of English Civil War 28mm figures that are likely to form part of a new collection project.

I love the look of these Empress musketeers coming in packs of four with mixed head gear and other accoutrements.

Before embarking on a new collection I like to take my time to assess the various ranges of figures based on the units I plan to create and the English Civil War is an era I've long had an ambition to build some armies for and in glorious 28mm and something along with my Romano-Dacians, Wars of the Roses and AWI collections should keep me more than occupied during retirement.

These Empress castings are stunning to see up close and I grabbed some pictures of the range for my notes and Paul and Christine who run the business were very helpful in looking at the various value deals they offer that would enable me to put the size of units I am planning at the best possible price, and I think this is a range that could well form the core of the new collection especially as the West Country generals Waller and Hopton are set to join their range of personality commanders.

Likewise the detail on the cavalry options is exquisite down to the wheel locks on the pistols and a poncho donned horse holder for the dragoons.

So with lots of ideas around planned ECW units going around in my head, Steve and I headed off to the display games, and in no particular order these are the games that grabbed the attention of my camera.

The Second Battle of Murfresboro or Stones River, ACW using Fire & Fury Brigade - Jemima Fawrs Wargame Blog.

Back in the day when my eyes could cope with the detail, 6mm was a major scale in the collections I and friends gamed in offering as it does the ability to really game in the grand manner and at a very affordable price point.

Of course when the figure collection is complimented by a stunning terrain layout the game you see here is what can result.

As I say, not my preferred scale, but I can appreciate class and passion in a game and this game was packing plenty of both.

Huntingdon & District Wargames Society - Carthago Delenda Est, Punic Wars Battle 

The Punic Wars is a favourite with most ancient wargame fans and I'm no different but every now and then a Punic Wars game really grabs the attention like this one, a 54mm presentation with elephants that look quite capable of causing a lot of damage should the impulse take them.

Malvern Old Wargamers - The Last White Rose, a Tudor 'What If Battle' using Armati

This particular game played a nice twist on the usual Wars of the Rose style of game with an Italian Wars, Landsknecht style opposition in this what if scenario battle that sees Richard de la Pole, the last Yorkist standing attempting to land and take back the Tudor crown.

Society of Ancients - Battle of Illipia 206 BC using Impetus II

As mentioned, what's not to like about the Punic Wars and I'm always interested in what the Society of Ancients are putting on as a game and the presentation of Ilipia had two very nicely turned out armies on the table.

Having just concluded taking my pictures of the two armies lined up in battle array, one of the players pointed out the shields carried by the Punic infantry contingent, explaining that the shields were not, as I expected, sporting decals, but were hand painted by one of their club members!

Of course this blog is a celebration of this kind of 'going the extra mile', and I know it's mad but I love it. Just check out these shields.

and finally.

Combined Opps present 'This Very Ground' - French Indian Wars.

I know I have seen and presented this table from the Combined Ops chaps who hail from our part of the world in glorious Devon, but you can't really get enough of this kind of attention to detail with this kind of table, right down to the remains of the sky burial to the pumpkins in the settlement vegetable garden.

Warfare was a great day out and thankyou to our hosts the Wargames Association for Reading for a great show that helped fill the void from the previous eighteen months.

I do hope Warfare will be here for next year in a similar format, but I gather the talk in the venue yesterday is that it might not be at Ascot for various reasons.

How often it seems we only appreciate things the more when we don't have them and it's shows like Warfare that are an aspect of the hobby that I really appreciate. There is nothing quite like taking a day in the company of likeminded friends to simply bathe in the hobby amid traders and games, soaking up the inspiration to work on new games and collections whilst chatting through ideas with people who really get this bonkers but delightful hobby.