|A view of the battle to come|
Each side had the same orders (although they did not know that), which were:
- Achieve control of Lake Ontario. If you cannot gain full control of the lake, it is important that you do not lose control of it. A disputed lake is better than one in enemy hands.
- Provide support to our naval forces on Lake Erie by providing material and manpower.
- Support army operations on the Niagara peninsula
|A view of Lake Ontario|
|The Americans get their briefing|
|The British Captain's Conference|
With everything set, the campaign began with each side making plans for the first two weeks of July. The Americans formed a strong escort for their July convoy (which was carrying the main armament for General Pike) and patrolled off the American base of Sackets Harbor. The British decided to refit their larger ships (upgrading the armament) and send the other ships out to train. Both sides wanted to see what the other was thinking and didn't feel confident in trying to engage the enemy right away.
During the second half of July the British continued to train their crews and sent a few ships on escort duty. The Americans received word from their army that some troops were available for an attack on the British Army's stores at Burlington Heights and decided to commit most of their fleet to supporting the operation. The attack turned out to the very successful due to the naval support.
When the calendar turned to August, the British Army was screaming for naval support saying that without it they might be pushed out of the Niagara peninsula. The British Lake Squadron commissioned a new ship (the 14-gun brig Lord Melville) and sent all their ships to support the army. Meanwhile, the American Army was chomping at the bit to follow up the successful raid with an all out attack, with naval support. The Americans commissioned the 26-gun (all long guns, including two pivot guns) General Pike and sent it on a training mission, while most of the rest of the fleet was sent to escort their August convoy (which was carrying the guns and final naval stores for Sylph). But the Americans did send three small schooners to support the army. The two groups supporting the land operations spotted each other and the Americans decided they were in a bad spot and ran back to Sackets Harbor. A few lucky die rolls and the fact that most of the British ships were square-riggers, as opposed to the fore-aft rigged American ships, allowed the Americans to escape. One of the ships had a mishap shortly after the escape that heavily damaged the ship's masts and putting her in the yard for the next two weeks. With full naval support, the British Army was able to turn back the American attack and drive the Americans back to Fort George.
During the final two weeks of August, the armies on each side calling from more naval support; the British to push the Americans back across the Niagara River and the Americans to fight off the British attack. In Kingston, the British knew the General Pike was ready to fight and felt the only way they were going to beat the heavier American ship was to have better trained crews. So, they decided to ignore the army's calls and send all the ships out to train. The Americans decided to send a handful of schooners to support the army, while the rest of the squadron patrolled lake looking for the British. The Americans spotted the British ships and started to pursue them.
|The operational map used to determine the position for tactical battles|
The Americans set up with the two newest ships, General Pike and Sylph, leading the way, followed the rest of the squadron.
|The American squadron ready for action|
|The Royal Navy squadron beating to quarters|
|Both sides ready for action|
|Americans turning to close, but not maintaining good formation order|
|British closing the distance, while maintaining an orderly formation|
|Americans moving into position|
|More movement, while the British check ranges|
|The lead ships engage, while the trailing ships maneuver|
|Royal George moving to support the flagship|
|Pike trying to cut off the lead ships while the trailing American ships try to get behind the British|
|General Pike (lower left) and Sylph (lower right) play bumper boats with Wolfe (upper left) and Royal George (upper right)|
With their two largest ships out of action, the remainder of the British squadron decided to break off the action. Beresford, the tail-end British ship, turned and fired a few shots to slow down the pursuing Americans on the right side of the squadron. Because the other Americans had to turn to avoid the group of stopped flagships and Governor Thompkins, the British ships could put on full sail and were able to pull away from the action. Given the ship losses, the battle was judged a win for the Americans. As the referee, I sort of forced the British into this battle (although the dice did show the wind change that led to the Americans catching them). In my defense, it was getting toward the end of the campaign and I wanted to make sure we had a good battle.
|Ship positions as the battle ended|
A quick review of the orders for each side showed that while the British had lost their two largest, they didn't lose total control of Lake Ontario (although they did concede it for the last month of the campaign). The Battle of Lake Erie went to the Americans and the Americans were in a better position on the Niagara peninsula than they were historically. With all that in mind, the 1813 campaign was declared an American victory, but it is really just a set up for more battles in 1814 (when both sides would add 50+ gun frigates to their squadrons).
Overall I thought it was an interesting campaign game and a good battle. Thanks to everyone that participated. Unfortunately, Kevin had to leave just before the battle to help out his son, who was involved in a car accident. Kevin's son is fine (just bumps and bruises), but the car was totaled.
If you are interested in seeing the rule modifications I made to Sail and Steam Navies for the game, you can download a PDF of the changes here (Note: you will still need a copy of Sail and Steam Navies to use them). A file with the ship logs from the Lords of the Lakes game (the file includes the major ships operating on Lake Ontario during 1813) can be found here.
|2012 DANG Attendees|