Battle - 1721 - June 1st - Assault on Orleans
Ships in Action:
Captain Henrik Galant , Hercules Mastercraft-class frigate
20 other British ships, consisting mostly of heavy frigates and a few Ships of the Line.
24 Spanish ships, mostly Valiant 3rd-rates and heavy frigates
The battle took place on the Stingray Island map, Britain was attacking.
Captains Wilmore and Castor was assigned to Blue Squadron, together with other frigates, with the Fleet Admiral, Blind Eagle as Commodore. Captain Benbow was assigned to Black Squadron and Captain Galant was assigned to Red Squadron.
The Action Itself:
As we entered the battle we had a steady breeze from the South, and the Fleet formed two lines with Blue and Black in the larboard line and Red and White in the starboard. We set out heading North East to locate the Spanish fleet. All hands in the HMS Success were anxious to get in action and had to be calmed by their officers several times.
For some odd reason we had a captain in a Hermes Packet boat in our fleet, and he acted as a scout. After a bit of sailing northwards the packet boat sent up a signal that the Dons were spotted to the almost right East of us. They were all packed together in a strait ahead, and they had a slight wind advantage. The Fleet Admiral signaled a halt, and all ships waited just outside the reach of the Spaniards. The plan was to wear them down by waiting, and then rush into town and defeat them there.
All the time while our ships waited, the scout cruised the waters ahead, teasing the Dons. They sent out a frigate to chase him off, and eventually the packet boat was forced back to the main fleet. However, the Spanish frigate did not stop his chase and seemed to follow all the way to the British fleet. Some eager captains took the bait and charged after him. Finally, the Fleet Admiral had no other option than to order a full chase. However, that was the signal the Dons were waiting for, and now they filled their sails with wind and bore down on our fleet. The crew of the HMS Success had a hard time adjusting the sails to a perfect pace, the frigate being a faster ship than most.
As the Spaniards came within range, the thunder from broadside after broadside hung in the air for many minutes. The British fleet was caught in a hopeless position and had to turn to use the full potential of their firepower. In the meantime the Dons fired away, coming before the wind with their 3rd-rates. And while turning in a disorder, the British ships could not get their guns to bear, and much less focus their fire to any effect.
In the end, the British ships tried to flee. The Fleet Admiral had been sunk, and nobody seemed to take command. Of the Blue Squadron, two ships were already sunk. As Captain Castor's Merciless went down right behind, Captain Wilmore pushed the crew to the limit to escape the Spanish frigates coming after him. But even with full sails, there was no escape. In the end Captain Wilmore realized his defeat and ordered the HMS Success to turn around and face the enemy. With the Union Jack flying proudly from the top, he charged back at the Spaniards and poundered away. By doing this, he helped two other British frigates escaping by slowing the Spanish frigates down. Of the original six ships in the Blue Squadron, only two escaped.
There were several difficulties for the British in this battle. Personally, I think the main disadvantage was that we had too many frigates and too few ships of the line mustered. We couldn't defeat them in firepower since they had the most Ships of the Line. But neither could we outmaneuver them, since they had learned from previous errors and had enough heavy frigates to match our speed and agility. In my humble opinion, the only way we could have defeated them at sea, would have been through and attack from the rear and then with high discipline and focused fire brought down one by one. Or, we could of course have been lucky, charged right through their lines and in the confusion be the one with best focused fire.
Below: The British fleet from the outset, with the Hermes Packet Boat scout far ahead.
Below: The British lines of ships, heading for the enemy.
Below: Full stop, and wait to see what the enemy does.
Below: The British ships flee, and the Dons pursue them.