Britain's Navy Off The Coast Of Spain in 1809

Captain Thomas Cochrane was also a Scottish Earl.
January 1809 was a moment of crisis for Britain.  It's famous commander Sir John Moore was killed by a cannonball in Spain and his army had to be evacuated from Corunna with Napoleon's hosts nipping at its heels.  Like Dunkirk more than a century later, the Army of Portugal's evacuation from Corunna was a prime example of how Britain's mastery at sea influenced events on land.  Between the night of the 16th and the morning of the 18th, over 400 ships of various sails evacuated almost 15,000 British troops from Corunna.

The British navy picked up the pieces after Moore's defeat and helped maintain a presence in the Peninsular until the Army of Portugal could be reorganized and a new commander appointed (Wellington would return from Ireland to ultimately take the reins a few months after Moore's death).

During this period, Captain Thomas Cochrane made a name for himself (as did others) at the helm of the 38-gun fifth rate HMS Imperiuse, raiding and destroying French army installations and scooping up prizes along the coasts.

My interest in the Peninsular War originates in part from Cochrane's exploits or more specifically Horatio Hornblower's exploits.  C.S. Forester's fictional character Horatio Hornblower was an amalgam of Cochrane and Lord Nelson.  Hornblower, like Cochrane was a master of littoral warfare.

The Naval Chronicle, which was published during this period is an excellent source of first person accounts of this type of fighting.  If you are interested in Napoleonic naval combat you can actually read the Chronicle for free now here.  Sadly, John Tiller Software doesn't have an Age of Sail game which captures this period.

I do have a copy of Wooden Ships and Iron Men and my plan is to get this game on my gaming table tonight to explore Napoleonic sea combat off the coast of Spain with a few
fictional, home-brewed scenarios that hopefully capture the spirit of littoral warfare during the Peninsular War.

The first scenario I plan on playing is this one:

Wolf Among the Sheep
As the British fleet evacuates Moore's shattered army from the beaches around Corunna, on the seaward side of the transport fleet, a screen of British frigates is engaged by a 74 gun French ship of the line Regulus.

HMS Imperiuse 38 guns
HMS Lively 38 guns
HMS Indefatigable 38 guns

Regulus 74 guns

More to follow...


Doug Miller said…
My friend, allow me to make you day.
TheGascon said…
You get that thing running MP under Win10, you call me, eh?

All the JTS work brilliantly, even over LANs, but this one just fusses...
Chris said…
Going to pick up! Thanks Doug!

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