First day of Huzzah is always exciting. I won’t quite compare it to Christmas Eve (yeah, I still get excited. What of it?) but it’s right up there. I always try to get in early so I have time to settle into my hotel room and have dinner and maybe look around at some of the vendors before the evening gaming session begins. I got to Maine a little bit later than I wanted, but still had plenty of time. In fact I was in the hotel for all of 20 minutes before I spent my first money of the weekend. I bought 3 books from John Durant at fire sale prices. He’s getting out of the business and so was letting his stock go at a deep discount. I could have bought a bunch more but, like most of us I imagine, I’m short on funds of late so had to settle for three. I was actually pretty good for the weekend; I bought the books, some metal bases for the 10mm AWI army I’m working on and a copy of Regimental Fire & Fury. I don’t need more rules (no one does) but I’ve been interested in these since they came out and ACW is a favorite period of mine.
I only played in one game on Friday night and that was First Battle of Sacket’s Harbor which was put on by Rich Claydon of Boston Trained Bands. This is a naval engagement, fought during the War of 1812 on Lake Ontario. Rich used 1/100 scale (i.e. way big) ship models and the Trafalgar rules from Warhammer Historical. Trafalgar is a very good set of rules for convention play as they are simple, but give a very good feel for fighting in the Age of Sail. The ships in the battle were smallish, built from green timber, and largely manned by soldiers rather than sailors. The armament on them is what could be scraped together locally and consisted largely of powerful but short range carronades. The biggest ships in the battle (Oneida for the Americans and Royal George for the British) mounted around 20 guns each.
The background was that the American forces had captured a small British sloop, Lord Nelson, and the British wanted her back. Point of pride and all. The forces in the game were Oneida and Lord Nelson for the Americans, Royal George, Seneca, Governor Simcoe, Prince Regent, and Earl of Moira for the British. Lest the sides seem unfair, know that the Americans had control of a fort at the harbor entrance that was well armed and protected. British goals were to capture Lord Nelson and, if possible, neutralize the fort.
I’ll jump to the end. The British (myself and Adam of Fencing Frog) captured Lord Nelson and pummeled the fort into submission. Overwhelming British victory.
The Americans came out with what looked to be a very good plan. Oneida pulled out of the harbor and anchored in front of the fort with her formidable weaponry pointed right at the British fleet bearing down on her. Rather than moving Lord Nelson to a position of safety behind Oneida and the fort though, Admiral Reinhart brought her out in front of Oneida and attacked the superior British fleet with her! Bonus points for aggression. He was counting on Lord Nelson’s speed and maneuverability to save him; he didn’t count on getting dismasted by a well aimed broadside from one of Adam’s ships.
After crippling Lord Nelson, her capture was just a matter of time and Adam pulled it off with alacrity. In the meantime, I was concentrating on reducing the for with my two ships. I had the Governor Simcoe and the Royal George with her 22 carronades under command and so was best equipped for the job of reducing masonry to rubble. Simcoe is a very fast ship and quickly pulled ahead of the Royal George. I anchored her in a position between the fort and the anchored Oneida so I could bring both under fire. This plan worked wonderfully until the fort found her range and hammered her badly. Fortunately by the time that happened, Royal George was up and I was able to weigh anchor on Simcoe and continue firing on the fort with George. I silenced the fort’s guns, which, combined with Adam’s capture of Lord Nelson, earned us an overwhelming victory. Not a bloodless victory though. My Royal George and Simcoe were both severely damaged by the fort’s guns. Allen, the fort’s commander also managed to sink one of Adam’s ships. Oneida also put a hurt on several of Adam’s vessels. So the victory was dearly bought, but tasted all the sweeter for that.