The last battle of the AWI minicampaign is a naval one, on Cheasepeake bay the british and french fleets ready their guns to decide the fate of the trapped british army in Yorktown, if the jack tars emerge triumphant, the garrison will be evacuated and prolong the war indefinitely, the french must then keep the blockade up in order to end the conflict.
The british in the left have the wind gauge, a more compact line and less ships, whereas the french have the bigger fleet but must move it at leeward. The british player was awarded an extra two decker for winning the three previous games of the campaign
The british rear, keeping out of the fight
The french rear is also struggling to get into position
Admiral de Grasse raises his pennant in the 90 gun Ville de Paris
Admiral graves is aboard HMS London
The battle begins with initiative to the brits, their van snakes to starboard, intent on cutting the line, while the rear veers in order to increase their speed
Concentrated fire mauls one of the french, reducing it to half damage
Others suffer less
And a fire erupts on a wounded vessel
The french then veer their rear to port, aiming to turn the enemy
The rest of the fleet plows onward in line astern
The brits recieve a dose of round shot
Then the english rear reforms into line, opening a terrific fire
While their van manages to cut the T
The HMS Alfred, under captain Bayne, is the first to pierce the line at the head of the formation
A poor navire de ligne is ravaged by shot and reduced to just one damage, being set on fire to boot!
The London however, recieves more punishment that she dishes out
Out of options, the french decide to board, the Alfred is beset by the Pluton; in the background, the Marsellais attacks the HMS Belliqueux
The crew of the Marsellais is repulsed, and the ship is holed up by the passing british, striking
Another french surrenders
And yet another
In the british rear the HMS Intrepid sails in a sucide mission to distract the french rear on her own, a fitting quest given her name
The combat between Pluton and Alfred goes on inconclusivelly
Overview at this point: the french rear has separated from the main body, which, while hindered to the front, keeps up a lively fire in line after having dropped anchor
The brits begin to move around the boarding action
The HMS Intrepid is miraculously, still alive
Passing through the gap left by the Marsellais the british column cuts againt the T
The Alfred frees herself from the Pluton, and hell bent on vengeance veers to starboard
The hapless french is caught in a deadly crossfire and cut to pieces
In the rear, some french have managed to turn towards the british line, while the hindmost mill around in confusion
Now king George's ships open fire on the enemy line by both sides
The HMS Shrewsbury strikes, all alone in the british rear
The HMS Barfleur engages the head of the enemy line while other ships squeeze through the gap
Once more into the breach!
The Bourgogne strikes to the far superior HMS Barfleur
As the british get into close range a french strikes
La flotte royale is bracketed and pounded mercilessly
Two brits are sent to the rear to keep an eye on the advancing enemy
The HMS Intrepid fights a lengthy duel against a single ship as the french rear sails away
Under fire from two brits, another two decker strikes
And yet another
After half an hour of real time battle, the french decided to retreat in the face of apalling losses
The rear still had a long way to sail to get into combat
The van was utterly devastated
The outcome: seven french ships lost for a single british, in points 28-4, a massacre.
Two things lost the game for the frogs in my opinion: first the separation of rear and center, which kept roughly a third of the fleet out of action for the entire game; second that instead of rushing ahead to plug the gap, their admiral decided to drop anchor, giving the brits more than enough time to pass through and envelop his line between two fires. If you look back at our Toulon game, my opponent made those same mistakes, I was able to cut the center and envelop one half, leaving some decoy ships on the other side, too similar to be a coincidence I'd say.
So, the british have turned the tables of history, won the campaign and freed the army in Yorktown, the war will go on in America for God knows how many years...