Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Friday, 2 November 2007


The Battle of Guadeloupe was a Napoloenic naval battle fought on 21st October 2007 between the Black Wolf club (British) and the Guildford Wargames club (French) at Hitchin.

8th May, 6pm (3 hours to dusk) - The French
The French Admiral L'Hospitalier Villemadran (Andrew F) is in command of the French Caribbean fleet. He has has been raiding British possessions and is now preparing to join with the Spanish for an invasion of British-held Jamaica. In Fort Royal, Martinique, he has 1x 120 gun, 2x 110 gun and 26x 74/80 gun ships-of-the-line plus 5 frigates.
On May 8, he departed from Martinique with his entire fleet and headed south for a rendezvous at a minor anchorage with 10 Spanish ships-of-line commanded by Admiral Don Louis de Flores and 15,000 troops for the invasion. His priority is the Spanish fleet which, should it be captured by the British, would defeat the invasion.
Nearing the rendezvous, late in the afternoon at 8 knots, his frigates spotted a large fleet. Thinking it to be the Spanish, he approached, only to discover it is the British fleet of about 30 sail, about 15 miles distant to the south west. The wind is brisk, from the north, variable.
Villemadran decided to turn the fleet by Squadrons to the WNW, hoping to draw the British away from the Spaniards.

8th May, 6pm - The British
Admiral James Hargood (Kevin P) is in command of the British Caribbean fleet. The French have been raiding British possessions so his spies and frigates have kept watch on the French fleet. Learning of its departure from Martinique on May 8, he set off in pursuit with 4x 100 gun and 25x 74 gun ships-of-line plus 5 frigates to destroy the French fleet.
Late in the afternoon, his frigates discovered the French fleet about 15 miles distant to the north east. He decided to continue on his current course but slowing to 4 knots.

8th May, 7.30pm
Villemadran now presumed that the British were aware of the Spaniards, so he turned the squadrons to the SSW and increased speed to 8 knots.
Hargood observed these manoeuvres but maintained his slow SE course, waiting for the French to manoeuvre again and unaware of the Spanish presence.
The frigates of both sides were given orders to engage the enemy frigates to hide a manoeuvre both intended to carry out at dusk. Each side had one frigate badly damaged, forcing them to return to port. Under cover of darkness, the French turned SE as the British turned south, both slowing to a few knots so as to maintain formation during the night.

9th May, 6am
The British were surprised to find a large number of Spanish ships at the island, mainly transports. Not yet appreciating their significance, Hargood continued slowly south, awaiting developments and news of the French.
The Spanish were also surprised to see a British fleet a few miles away. All the ships prepared to depart in considerable panic while a frigate reported the British presence to the French.
Villemadran, learning that the Spanish were at the island and that the British were to the SW, immediately reformed his line to the SSW and increased speed to get between the British and the transports.
9th May, 7am
The Spanish transports began to leave the anchorage while the Spanish warships made a 'demonstration' towards the rear of the British line.
A confused Villemadran, wondering why the British weren't attacking the transports, turned WSW to support the Spanish attack on the tail of the British line.
Observing the French movements, Hargood turned east and increased speed.

9th May, 7.30am
The battle started with the three French squadrons turning ESE on a converging course with the British line. The Spanish joined the tail of the forming French line.
The first French squadron (Pete D) cuts across the front of the British line.

The lead British squadron (Chris F) has engaged the French van closely (top right). The centre French squadron (Andrew F) is passing in front of the centre British squadron (Kevin P) which has become separated from the van.

The lead squadrons are mauling each other off top left. The centre French squadron has turned round the starboard side of the British centre, meanwhile the rear French squadron (Chris R) engages its port side. The Spanish squadron (Jim C) is about to engage the rear British squadron (Colin B).

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