HMS Dreadnought

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Shipwright's model of H.M.S. Dreadnought of the 1704 Esablishment.

H.M.S. Dreadnought

Rating: 4th-rate

Class: Macedon-Class Ship of the Line

Date of Commission: January 2nd, 1722

Shipyard: McDella & Silver Yards

Guns: 54

Crew: 500

Status: In Commission.

Background:

H.M.S. Dreadnought was originally a 64-gun 3rd-rate Ship of the Line of the Royal Navy, launched at Blackwall in 1691. She was reduced to a fourth rate in 1697. Dreadnought was rebuilt at Blackwall in 1706 as a 4th-rate of 54 guns before she was stationed in the West Indies. She took part in the defeat of a Spanish fleet under Admirals Antonio de Gaztañeta and Fernando Chacon, at the Battle of Cape Passaro under Admiral Byng in August 1718. In late 1721 she was drydocked by the McDella&Silver shipyards in Turtling Bay, and work was begun on changing her specifications after the new 1722 proposals to the 1719 Establisment put forward by Sir Robert Viscount Middlemore.
Shipwright's model of the finished H.M.S. Dreadnought.

On January 2nd 1722 her finished hulk was towed to Port Royal to be fitted, armed and victualized. On the same day, she had her proper launch and were commissioned to Captain Sir Nathan Blatchford. With him followed Lieutenant Arthur Bradshaw, First of the H.M.S. Argonaut, and by extensive use of recruitment posters and word of mouth, nearly 200 of her crew joined as volunteers. An additional 272 crewmen were either brought in by the press-gangs or transferred from decomissioned ships.

Engagements:

It was not until February 7th, during the Battle of Maracaibo, that the Dreadnought exchanged her first broadsides with the enemy. As part of White Squadron she contributed in damaging, sinking or taking several Spanish frigates and ships of the line while recieving minimal damage. This babtism of fire, and the resulting prize-money, knit the crew together wonderfully, and only 27 deserters were reported after the following days of shore-leave in Port St. Thomas.

On February 9th however, the Dreadnought was unexpectedly called into action at Léogâne, to hastily defend against a much larger French fleet. Outnumbered two to one, the British vessels took up defensive positions inside the nearby fortress and waited for the French to storm the gates. No attack came however, as the French avoided the small British force only to launch an attack on the port itself. Finding themselves unable to affect the events in the port, the British force retreated to sea.

When the French sent a heavy fleet to reclaim Cayo de Marquis on February 11th, the Dreadnought was again ordered to take part in the defence of said port. Seeing that the enemy outnumbered the Fleet once again, the British organized landing parties to defend the fortress, a tactic that had worked well against the French only the day before. The French, as at Léogâne, ignored the waiting British forces and started their attack on the town. After a council of war, the British captains all decided to make a run for the town in a last effort to keep it from French hands. Of the fifteen British ship who charged through the French blockade, only eight made it to the port, including the Dreadnought. After holding off the French landing party with pistols and muskets for some time, the French launched a flanking attack which overmanned the British defenders. When Lieutnenant Bradshaw, having command of the Dreadnought and a sceleton crew while Sir Nathan led his dreadnoughts and Marines in the town, came to the conclusion that the battle had gone awry, he followed his intructions and set sail for the nearest British port. Sir Nathan, wounded but alive, was exchanged and set free the following day, after attending a humiliating dinner with the victorious French officers.

On February 12th, Captain Blatchford having just been piped aboard after his release, the Spanish gathered a fleet only a few miles off the coast of West End, and the Admiralty hastily sent for all available captains to help defend the port. When the Spaniards entered the Bay of West End, it turned out that the Fleet was once again outnumbered by their enemy. As they did at Cayo de Marquis the British prepared to defend the nearby fortress, and as their French counterparts the Spaniards started an assault on the port itself, leaving behind a blockading line to prevent the British ships from reaching the port. The Dreadnought was in the van of the charging British ships as Fleet tried to break through the blockade, but was blocked by an enemy third-rate before reaching the town. The dreadnoughts managed to fend off the enemy's first attempt at boarding, but as several other enemy ships started consentrating their fire and boarding attempts on the now surrounded Dreanought, Sir Nathan ordered his boarders to their positions, fired a broadside and boarded the enemy third-rate in the smoke. The fighting aboard the enemy ship was brutal, but the dreadnoughts were on the winning side, especially after cutting down the Spanish captain on his own quarterdeck. It could not end well however, and while Sir Nathan and his dreadnoughts were fighting on the enemy's deck, the Dreadnought were horribly mauled by Spanish gunfire and then boarded. Upon realizing this, Sir Nathan was obliged to surrender his sword and strike his colours. Sir Nathan spent the rest of the battle under guard in one of the Spanish ships, while the Spaniards themselves fought the British landing parties that got through the blockade. Around four bells in the afternoon watch however, he was placed ashore as the Spanish ships retreated to sea, leaving their prizes and their captured British crew behind. The British defenders, outnumbered 2 to 1, had defeated the Spanish attack on the town, and shortly thereafter the White Ensign was again hoisted aboard the Dreadnought.

During the attack on Caracas on February 13th, the Dreadnought, still not fully repaired after the Battle of West End, attended as part of Red Group. The Spaniards were seen hugging a lee shore ahead of the charging Fleet, and so the British managed to split the Spanish line in three, Red engaging the rearmost ships. The Dreadnought, with only half her crew available for the day's battle, contributed greatly in the sinking of six enemy ships, most of them at point blank range.

The Dreadnought was in the van of the British Fleet during the reckless pirate charge on June 5th, narrowly avoiding damage as the two bodies of ships crashed into each other, wreaking forecastles and breaking masts. After the initial chaos however, the group of five which the Dreadnought was attached managed to reform in time to launch a successful attack on an isolated enemy force of seven ships. The pirates again opted to charge, but after some furious close-in fighting, the few enemies who didn't sink put about and fled to the open sea.

British Captains:

1706-1718: William Haddock

1722-Present: Sir Nathan Blatchford, 1st Bart.


Port Battle History

Port Date Battle type Enemy Result
Maracaibo 07.02.1722 Attack Spanish Victory
Leogane 09.02.1722 Defence French Defeat
Cayo de Marquis 11.02.1722 Defence French Defeat
West End 12.02.1722 Defence Spanish Victory
Caracas 13.02.1722 Attack Spanish Victory
West End 05.06.1722 Defence Pirates Victory