01/26/15

French Naval Support at Saratoga I

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When Admiral Comte De Grasse’s Fleet of 24 ships of the line appeared off Martinique on 28 April 1781, it posed a very real strategic threat to British sea power in the West Indies. De Grasse entered Fort Royal the next day to pick up the 4 ships there, bringing his line of battle to 28 ships reinforced by 3 frigates and 150 supply ships. De Grasse was being watched by Admiral Sir Samuel Hood’s blockading squadron, so on 30 April de Grasse sailed out in force to attack Hood, but the British admiral, outnumbered, slipped away after his brush with de Grasse.

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01/26/15

French Naval Support at Saratoga II

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As the two fleets maneuvered to approach each other, their commanders shared common concerns that would determine their tactical dispositions. The weather was described as moderate and fair in the log of the British admiral’s flagship. The prevailing wind was light and from the north-northeast, which gave the British fleet the advantage of the “weather-gage.” The lay of the land and sea, as described by Mahan, was also of importance: “The mouth of the Chesapeake is about ten miles wide, from Cape Charles in the north to Cape Henry on the south. The main channel is between [the] latter and a shoal, three miles to the northward, called the Middle Ground.” Mahan accounted for the strength of the forces now about to be opposed: “nineteen British sail of the line to twenty-four French, constituted as follows: British, two 98’s (three-deckers), twelve 74’s, five 64’s, beside frigates; French, one 104 (three-decker), three 80’s, seventeen 74’s, and three 64’s [plus frigates].” Thus the British were outnumbered by five ships of the line and in firepower on the order of three to four—the French having close to 2,000 guns against the British 1,500 (Major Operations of the Navies).

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01/26/15

French Naval Support at Saratoga III

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De Bougainville had engaged while the center of de Grasse’s fleet was still out of supporting distance. A French officer who was a witness to de Bougainville’s unequal fight wrote that “the four ships found themselves engaged with seven or eight vessels at close quarters. The Diademe was near Rear Admiral Drake [the Princessa], who set fire to her at every shot, the wadding entering her side. The English could not cut off our van . . . they contented themselves simply with cutting up that part of our fleet which kept up a distant fight.” As a result of her pounding by the Princessa, the Diademe, in the same officer’s account, “was utterly unable to keep up the battle, having only four thirty-six pounders and nine eighteen pounders fit for use, and all on board killed, wounded, or burnt.” Captain de Chabert of the Esprit witnessed the Diademe’s distress, and in spite of the wound he had just suffered in the action ordered on full sail and came across the Diademe’s stern to drive off her attackers. The Esprit delivered such a constant fire “that the gentlemen of Albion could not stand, and had to haul their wind.”

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01/26/15

The German High Seas Fleet – Summer And Autumn Sorties; Restricted Submarine Warfare

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Four days after the Battle of Jutland, William II visited Wilhelmshaven to inspect the High Sea Fleet. Aboard Scheer’s flagship Friedrich der Grosse, the emperor gave “a hearty speech of welcome to divisions drawn from the crews of all the ships, thanking them in the name of the Fatherland for their gallant deeds.” The kings of Bavaria and Saxony led the list of subsequent visitors from among the crowned heads of the smaller German states, while Scheer reported that “congratulations on the success of the fleet poured in from all divisions of the army in the field, from every part of the country and from all classes of the people.” The German celebration of what was, at most, a tactical victory contrasted sharply with the disappointment on the other side of the North Sea. Ever since the prewar arms race the British navy, from the admirals down to the sailors and stokers, had fully expected that a fleet-scale encounter with the Germans would end in a glorious victory, a modern-day Trafalgar. While no one considered Jutland a defeat, it also did not feel like a victory, even though the outcome, in practical terms, was just as decisive: as one journalist put it, the prisoner may have succeeded in assaulting its jailer, but was now safely back in its cell. King George V expressed his continued confidence in Jellicoe, but would not go so far as to congratulate him, instead sending the admiral a telegram blaming the weather for the missed opportunity to crush the German fleet: “I regret that the German High Sea Fleet in spite of its heavy losses was enabled by the misty weather to evade the full consequences of the encounter they have always professed to desire, but for which when the opportunity arrived they showed no inclination.” Jellicoe echoed the same theme in his own post-battle message to the fleet: “Weather conditions of a highly unfavourable nature robbed the fleet of that complete victory which I know was expected by all ranks.”

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01/26/15

The Naval War In Southern European Waters, 1916

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The months between Jutland and the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare were an eventful time elsewhere in the naval war, with things generally going the way of the Central Powers. The failure of Austria-Hungary’s spring offensive in the Alps left the Italian front stalemated, and the rival fleets did not attempt to engage one another in the Adriatic, yet the Austrians managed to keep the Italians on their heels. On August 2, the Italian navy lost a second battleship to Austrian sabotage, the dreadnought Leonardo da Vinci, sunk at anchor in Taranto harbor, then on December 11 suffered the loss of the pre-dreadnought Regina Margherita, which fell victim to a minefield off Valona, Albania. The French navy likewise lost two battleships: the pre-dreadnought Suffren, torpedoed by German U 52 off Lisbon on November 26, and the pre-dreadnought Gaulois, torpedoed by German UB 47 in the Aegean on December 27. Austro-Hungarian espionage in Italy remained a valuable asset to the Central Powers in the Adriatic and beyond, but the advantage did not last long into the new year. The Italians finally traced the enemy’s covert operations to the Dual Monarchy’s consulate in Zurich, which their own agents raided in February 1917, securing evidence that led to the arrest of scores of Austrian agents, effectively breaking the spy network.

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01/26/15

Yaah! magazine

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Yaah! magazine is a new kind of magazine. An independent magazine that covers all types of war and strategy games, regardless of publisher.

For example, we cover stuff like Dust Tactics, Command and Colors: Napoleonics, MMP’s Operational Combat Series, Rivet Wars, Dungeon and Dragons: Attack Wing, Warfighter, and much more.

We’re independent. Despite being owned by Flying Pig Games, we aren’t about Flying Pig Games, nor are we about smashing the competition in dark-hearted reviews. We only write articles about one thing: Games we love. Well, okay, we also write a small bit of history (see below). Life is too short to write about, to talk about, the bad stuff. If you see it in our pages, you can be sure the article’s author enjoyed himself. That sounds like fun to us.

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