Friday, October 23, 2009

Sink the Hartford!

Last night we played an American Civil War naval game, using some home rules I made and 1:600 scale ships from Thoroughbred Miniatures and Peter Pig.

USN: USS Hartford, USS Sassacus, USS Maumee, USS Kansas
CSN: CSS Tennessee, CSS Selma, CSS Little Rebel, CSS Hampton, CSS Nansemond, CSS Wasp

The scenario was set around a sand bar just outside of a Confederate harbor. The Union screw sloop USS Hartford was giving chase to a Southern blockade runner. In an effort to sink her before reaching the safety of the harbor defenses, the Captain of the Hartford decides to take a risk and follow his prey through the shallow water. With her bow gun firing, the Hartford moves full steam ahead!

As her keel scrapes along the sandbar, she becomes grounded and the blockade runner narrowly escapes. The Southerners watching from shore can hardly believe their eyes as the large monster comes to a screeching halt. Seeing an opportunity, the Confederate commander orders all sailors to their ships, and the docks become alive with action.

Union ships that are blockading the harbor are at first enjoying the entertainment. However, when seeing the Hartford run aground, they get under steam and rush to her aid. The Rebels also close quickly on the Hartford, making sure to stay on her bow so as to avoid her powerful broadside guns.

As the Confederate ships close the distance, they open fire, and shots tear into the Hartford's Hull. The majority of the shore batteries consist of Heavy Smoothbores, and the Yankee is well out of their range. But, the Rebels do have three Heavy Rifles capable of hitting her, and it is a lucky hit from one of these guns that lands squarely on the upper deck, killing the Captain.

A shot from the CSS Selma lands another lucky hit on the Hartford's bow gun. Unable to fire her broadsides, she is now completely helpless. And to make things worse, she catches fire as well. Union Tars rush about fighting the fire and helping the wounded. The Hartford's Lieutenant takes command of a panicked crew. Finally, the other Union ships reach her and open fire on the Rebels.

After the Union ships sink the Nansemond, the Selma gets some retribution and scores a lucky hit. A shot from her bow gun crashes into the Kansas, hitting her magazine. A powerful explosion breaks the hull, and she begins sinking.

As shots continue to riddle the Hartford, the crew can take no more. The Captain strikes the colors and the Confederates cheer their success, but the battle is far from over. The Captains on the Sassacus and the Maumee do not intend to let Hartford fall into enemy hands. Shots landing on the Selma cause her to catch fire and she retreats from the fight. Then, the CSS Hampton crosses the sandbar and attempts to ram the Sassacus, but fails and glances off the hull.

A David torpedo boat, the CSS Wasp, uses a small island for cover and then pounces on the Sassacus. Fortunately for the Yankees, the torpedo is a dud and doesn't go off. However, already badly damaged, the Captain of the Sassacus realizes he must retreat. All hope now lies with the Maumee.

The men on the Hartford cheer on the Maumee as she cruises by and engages the Rebels at close range. A broadside from the Tennessee crashes into the Yankee ship causing more hull damage.

As the final dual takes place, the Little Rebel closes on the enemy at full speed. She crashes into the Yankee with her ram prow and sends the Maumee to the bottom.

After ordering a cease fire, the Confederate commander sets to the task of rescuing the Union sailors and caring for his own wounded. As the tide comes in, the captured Hartford is sailed back to harbor and is a great prize for the CSN. For the Union, it is a humiliating defeat, and the USN has lost one of it's best ships.

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