Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wooden Ships, Iron Men

Second Battle of the Virginia Capes - V. Zveg
(Source)
Back in the day I used to play the game Wooden Ships and Iron Men from Avalon Hill. I looked for my copy of the game (to take a picture of the box) but found it so far back in the closet that I need to put together a team to go fetch it. No doubt it would take some time, time I don't wish to spend right at the moment.

To give you an idea of it's location...


That's the back corner of my closet, I had to stretch my arm way out, cellphone extended, to capture that. The next photo gives you an idea of the number of games I have, which I used to play extensively. The cats like to play too, which is why I don't play much anymore. They don't follow the rules and when they lose, they scatter the pieces. The one's they don't chew on that is.


I believe that I've mentioned before just how lazy I can be...

And...

What did you say?
Anyhoo, (and Russ might remember playing that game) war at sea, particularly in the age of sail, always fascinated me. Sailing vessels in general are interesting to me, mount cannon on them and they become doubly interesting. (Submarine was also played extensively on Okinawa. Just thought I'd mention that.)

While I haven't been up to Boston to see USS Constitution, yet, the Navy Museum in D.C. has a nice mock-up of her gun deck -

Who's the Air Force guy?
I've also been below decks on this ship -

She started life here in the East as HMS Rose, then she went West to Hollywood and became HMS Surprise.
I've seen that fine ship making her way up Narragansett Bay under sail back in 1999. A long time ago. But when they turned her into a museum, out Sandy Eggo way, they screwed up her gun deck -

Just where are the guns supposed to recoil to, into that walkway?
Of course, it would be a bit cramped in there for the turistas if they left the space in its original configuration. Not a lot of headroom in there!

Rather than a re-run today, I thought I'd present some paintings of warfare back in the Age of Sail, glorified no doubt. From what I've read, they would sand the gun decks before an engagement so that the crew could keep their footing.

"From the water slopping around, right Sarge?"

"Nope, because of the blood."

Large spherical metal objects flying through the air, propelled with great velocity, did a lot of damage to the crew and to the ship itself. Large splinters would be gouged from the hull and transfix many a sailor. Not to mention large bits of rigging falling from aloft atop their heads.

I've read descriptions of ships pounded so badly that they appeared to be bleeding. Blood running from the scuppers so thick that the sides of the ship seemed to be painted red.

Wooden ships, iron men.

Yup.

The Battle of Trafalgar, as seen from the starboard mizzen shrouds of the Victory. J. M. W. Turner (oil on canvas, 1806–1808)
(Source)
The Moonlight Battle off Cape St Vincent, 16 January 1780 - Richard Paton
(Source)
The Glorious First of June
The 74-gun HMS Defence at the Glorious First of June, dismasted and damaged, taking raking fire from the French 74-gun Tourville, while exchanging fire with the 74-gun Mucius Scævola stationed before her to her right side.

(Source)
Battle of Flamborough Head, HMS Serapis and Bonhomme Richard (under John Paul Jones).
(Source)
The Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805. - Denis Dighton
(Source)
The Nuke has visited HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar. The battle which, in effect, decided the Napoleonic Wars ten years before Napoléon was finally defeated at Waterloo. While it took ten more years of fighting, on land, the French could not win without driving Britain from the contest. As long as the Royal Navy patrolled the seas around the Continent, Britain would stay in the fight.

Seapower, it's important.

The Nuke's photos from one of her trips to Jolly Olde England...

Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, London
HMS Victory's bowsprit
HMS Victory in Portsmouth, UK. She was undergoing repairs at the time.
The actual spot on the orlop deck where Admiral Nelson breathed his last.


34 comments:

  1. I can't think of a better way to start the day than with pictures of either planes or sailing ships so thanks for making my day. And yes, I do remember playing Wooden Ships and Iron Men among many others.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep, AH and SPI back in the day for the wargames and the Alexander Kent series......good reading there. Great photos Sarge!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kent is a favorite. I was stunned when Admiral Bolitho went down.

      Had a subscription to Strategy & Tactics back in the day. Played many an SPI game in addition to AH.

      I miss those days at times.

      Delete
    2. Was going to recommend Doug Reeman for his WWII sea novels but the Wiki informed me Reeman wrote the Bolitho series, did not know that. Have a dozen old paperbacks of those....Brit commander of a ship in the North Atlantic, Med, Aegean..... etc sometimes a German ship commander... also good stuff, he wrote 28 of those. I had a S&T sub for a number of years, couldn't wait for that mag and game to show up every other month.

      Delete
    3. I've read some of those as well. I think Reeman is his real name, Kent's that is. It was a while before I knew that.

      The game in the magazine, some of those were quite good.

      Delete
  3. Another great post.

    I remember reading the Hornblower stories and I wonder what would have happened if Forester had lived long enough to complete the saga.

    Truly the men of the Age of Sail were a breed apart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, two sets of books I need to read.

      I cut my teeth on Alexander Kent. A great series.

      Delete
  4. Some great games in those photos. ASL. Wooden Ships and Iron Men. Loved me some Flat Top.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Flat Top awesome. I have a copy of that!

      Somewhere...

      Delete
  5. And here I thought that I had quite a few board games. You've got me beat, hands down. Now I play board type games on my other computer. Have one going right now as I write. Thanks for the post.

    Paul L. Quandt

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can hear the trill of the bo'sun's pipe and the drums beating to quarters. But, can you imagine the young pampered princes of today aboard a man-o-war? Lousy food, barely potable water, months at sea, the constant threat of the cat-o-nine tails? They were, in deed, iron men.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of the kids in today's fleet would handle it very well. They're there because they want to be.

      But the press might bring in some sorry specimens!

      Delete
  7. Sarge, speaking of iron men, it looks like this is just up the road from you.

    https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=18142

    Story--

    http://dwhitmore.thewhitmorefamily.com/internet/samwhit.htm

    Some say the story has been embellished over time. Perhaps so. Still, methinks we were made of sterner stuff then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very familiar with Captain Whittemore's story. Those who say his story has been embellished over time have probably never worn the uniform, never heard a shot fired in anger, and probably whine that their latte isn't made right.

      People may have been made of sterner stuff back in the day. Maybe not, but the good captain was a tough old man!

      Kinda reminds me of John Burns at Gettysburg, veteran of the War of 1812, picked up his musket to help the Union out.

      Of course, at 69, he was a young'un compared to Capt. Whittemore!

      Delete
  8. Ha! A serious Gamer!

    Back in my Dungeons and Dragons days, someone asked me why I had over 30 6-sided dice. My reply? Avalon Hill. They had the best dice, not too small, not too large, really nicely balanced, great for DM overkill or as impromptu bad-guys

    Loved "Submarine," especially playing the big US Fleet boats after they got their torpedoes fixed.

    If you are interested in Advanced Squad Leader, there is Virtual ASL on the webs. Stopped buying games before ASL due to lack of cash, and lost all my games in the great In-Law incident, so I have no idea how to play VASL. Check it out if you are interested and have too much time on your hands. On the other hand, depending on how much ASL stuff you have, you may have a small fortune just in that. Still a very popular game, and the current publishers, MME, can't seem to keep the modules in stock. Ebay might be your wallet's friend.

    And I always had the "Cat Rule" when playing. Cat acts as "Hand of God" or "Unforseen Natural Disasters." My cat, back when, really liked chewing on the Russian counters from Squad Leader, by the way.

    Yesterday was the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, in 1571. The original "Wooden Ships and Iron Men." Smaller Christian naval force under Don Juan beat a larger fleet of muslim forces. Saw the introduction of the Galleon as a warship. Saved Western Europe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Had to pull this one from the spam filter too.

      Apologies. What, did you insult Blogger's mother or something?

      MME eh? I did not know that. Or did you mean MMP? (I googled ASL and found MMP. Pricey, just like the originals!)

      (Perhaps tonight you should tip your glass to Blogger and beg her forgiveness. I mean Blogger has to be female, she's complex and fickle at times. Heh.)

      Delete
  9. When you go up to Charlestown Navy Yard, may I suggest you arrive early so as to be sure to beat the crowds viewing Ol' Ironsides.

    One of the most enjoyable scenes I've views was on July 4, 2006.
    We were departing Logan Airport at about the same time the Navy was was giving USS Constitution a turnaround in the harbor.
    They were also firing a salute.
    Great fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice!

      (It's always smart to get into Boston early. The traffic is a nightmare. Of course, to a Californian it's nothing. I've seen both.)

      Delete
  10. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, 1571. Was the original "Wooden Ships with Iron Men" battle, fought by an outnumbered Christian force under Don Juan against the Ottoman-Turkish navy. The battle saw the introduction of the Galleon as a naval warship.

    And I loved "Squad Leader" but got out when ASL was introduced. Too expensive. If you are still interested in ASL, there is VASL, computerized ASL available.

    I loved the size of the Avalon Hill 6-sided dice. Not those huge gambling dice, just the perfect size. I could crush my foes when playing Dungeons and Dragons, as I had about 30 of those lovely AH dice. Fireball this, sucka! Never piss off a Dungeon Master who has a closet full of AH games...

    One of the worse things that happened during the dreaded In-Law War was the loss of my beloved AH games. Sigh.

    Depending on how much ASL stuff you have, you may be sitting on a small fortune.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. VASL looks awesome! Thanks for the tip Andrew.

      I have the Beyond Valor and Paratrooper modules, which I picked up in Omaha. Then it was off to Germany.

      Sadly, while overseas, many of the old hobby shops died out. Avalon Hill changed, S&T was different, it was a totally different scene from when I left.

      On the bright side, the Internet was pervasive and now, heck, I buy all my games online. Steam is a favorite vendor.

      But still, I miss the old days.

      Delete
  11. A relative in the Navy made Chief awhile back. Seems the Navy gathers some new Chiefs aboard the USS Constitution for training. He was nearly overwhelmed by the experience. Says he wonders if he could have made it back in the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that sounds pretty awesome. The Navy understands tradition, better than my old service, not as well as the Marines, but pretty good.

      Delete
  12. I don't see Tactics II or Panzer Leader in the stack

    I sold my copy of Air Assault on Crete, which I regret

    Is Ogre in your collection?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're in there, somewhere. As is Air Assault on Crete.

      Never had Ogre.

      Delete
  13. Cardboard Ships and Iron Men, heh. That was one of the games I wanted, but never had. I got all mine from flea markets and stuff, for a couple bucks apiece.

    You can play a version of it online here. I've never tried so I dunno how well it works, but seems fairly popular.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah the days when you could find good stuff in flea markets.

      Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

      Delete
  14. I used to stand in awe watching bosun's mates driving powered gigs and Uboats who couldn't drive a boat to save their lives and contrast with the old days of sail when one maintained formation precisely or got hammered by the boss. I remember leading the battle group out of the IO up to the Suez Canal after we spent a month sweeping a cleared lane so they could head home. Not one of the ships was able to form a line astern behind the guide. They straggled all over the Red Sea, the unswept parts.
    The games we played all seemed to vanish years ago. I had subsriptions to all the magazines and read some of the old ones by Ball et al who were still writing about model soldier wargames from the 50s and 60s. Miss those days.
    Get up to Boston and check out the Yard. It took a wedding to get me there but it was well worth it and we got the after hours tour of the entire Constitution including the powder magazine and other places they don't ordinarily allow folks. Probably helped that we were all in Dress Blues with medals and swords.... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ship driving still seems to be an issue.

      Sigh...

      You're right about getting up there. A trip long neglected.

      Delete
  15. Hey AFSarge;

    I saw the print with John Paul Jones, That man was made with steel, from taking a leaky merchantman from the French and mounting guns on it and naming it "Bohomme Richards" and fighting a British frigate and only his spine and superior seamanship that saved him. It was bad how he was treated after the war ended after his many exploits and having to sail with the Russians and finally dying a pauper. The Navy did bring him back and interr him at the Naval Academy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John Paul Jones was one Hell of a fighting captain. I had a pretty good size model of the Bonhomme Richard. About two feet long as I recall. Then Hurricane Mom hit while she was anchored in the basement, lost with all hands.

      Sigh...

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)