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Thread: [EIC] The East India Company vs. Villeneuve

  1. #1

    Default [EIC] The East India Company vs. Villeneuve

    The naval battle of the Celtic Sea has gone down in history as one of the most farcical engagements in naval warfare, of a league with the infamous Great War event known only as the 'Multi-Hindenburg'.
    Pierre-Charles Velleneuve, facing political pressure from his Emperor, took a large portion of the French battle fleet on a course to engage reported isolated squadrons of the British Navy, hoping that it would be possible to defeat the enemy fleet in detail while the allied Spanish fleets and their own Mediterranean squadrons could gather strength to overwhelm Lord Nelson's main fleet.
    What the French warships stumbled upon instead was a merchant convoy consisting of three 'Indiaman'-type heavily-armed merchant vessels and a single light cargo ship, all carrying bales of cotton from the Americas for British trade. The French squadron gave chase, intent on disrupting the British trade, and after some time the Indiamen were forced to give battle.
    The French squadron consisted of the superheavy First Rate
    Scipion, with 122 guns, as well as two lighter vessels of 74 guns each, 2 32-gun frigates, and a 38-gun heavy frigate. Each of the Indiamen, captured originally from the Dutch, carried 58 guns, and the standard cargo ship carried 12. Scipion alone outweighed the entire English formation.
    However, despite this mismatch in ships, the wind was driving the French onward, and the British captains were well-used to violence. They loaded chain shot and unleashed broadsides against the approaching French squadron, ripping holes in sails and crippling
    Scipion with the first volleys. Subsequent broadsides felled most of the masts of the approaching fleet with ease, and only a frigate and a 74-gun vessel managed to actually open fire on the British ships, and both of those were subsequently forced to strike their colors as the Indiamen threatened them with raking fire while their vessels lay helpless and sailless. The only reason Villeneuve was spared was due to the Indiamen running out of ammunition for their guns- if not for that shortage, it is likely the pride of the French Navy would've been pounded to splinters, or worse, left helpless and becalmed in the face of an arriving Lord Nelson.
    This encounter was only discovered after the seizure of the Paris Archives, for one simple reason: while Velleneuve had reported it in full, the British convoy commander had reported the following upon reaching harbor:

    'Bit of Frog bother in Celtic Sea. Chain shot most effective, 2 prizes looted and sunk, remainder left at sea by retreat. Require new ammunition loads and minor repairs, also new rum ration. Recommend that chain shot loads increased on convoys.'
    Alii inferre bellum, facientibus pacem.

  2. #2
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    United Kingdom

    Default Re: [EIC] The East India Company vs. Villeneuve

    I enjoy a sea battle from the Age of Sail, and this one had a remarkable outcome considering the ships which were involved on both sides.

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