The initial deployment of the two sides - the Union approaching from the left whilst the Confederates are on the right with Fort Beauregard at the top of the picture.
Happy new year one and all! Now that the man cave has been tidied and the Portable Ironclads Wargame has been unleashed on the wargaming world I decided to see in 2023 with what will be my inaugural game, post publication. I had a hankering to tackle something loosely based on the battle of Mobile Bay - the model of the C.S.S. Selma and the two new gunboats were a bit of a clue, as well as the planned building of the Tennessee (times two - one for the Union) - but at a smaller scale so we have a Union force consisting of a sloop for the flagship, a brace of monitors (one being double turreted) and a pair of gunboats. The Confederates have a casemate ironclad, an armoured gunboat and a brace of converted steamers sporting some artillery. There is also a fort covered by a minefield as is the other side of the channel. As per the Return to the Missenhitti in the Portable Ironclads Wargame I have placed white counters to indicate the possible presence of a mine or mines - this is determined when a ship enters the hex.
….and from the Union - the U.S.S. Hartford steaming at full speed and no doubt damning the torpedoes!
As this is the first ‘official’ game I have played since publication I will be explaining things in some detail in respect of how the rules work - despite best efforts there are a couple of minor points of contention in the example contained in the book so I hope this will serve as useful clarification. Essentially the example in the book contained a case of mistaken identity as the stats used for the Union frigate were in fact those of a sloop!
The Bay of Destiny
Fort Beauregard stood at the entrance of Thorpe Bay and controlled the approaches in and out of the inner basin. It was protected by minefields and supported by a small naval patrol consisting of an assortment of gunboats - three in number, the C.S.S. Selma, Morgan and Gaines - and the newly commissioned ironclad, the C.S.S. Tennessee. This small force was all that stood between the approaching Union fleet and the closure of the last remaining port available to the Confederacy.
The Union forces tasked with closing this last hole in the Confederate coastline were substantial. It was estimated that the available naval forces had something like a six to one advantage although naturally not all could be brought to bear at once. Natural wastage through patrolling, chasing suspected blockade runners, refitting and repair meant the available strength to use directly on operations was greatly reduced albeit still powerful. For the operation against Fort Beauregard and the inner basin of Thorpe Bay it was decided to use five ships. A pair of monitors would engage the fort whilst the remaining three would sweep the basin, destroying any enemy shipping contained therein. The flagship of the attacking force was to be the sloop the U.S.S. Hartford, accompanied by a pair of double ended gunboats - The U.S.S. Sassacus and the U.S.S. Metacomet. The two monitors tasked with subduing the fort were to be the U.S.S. Tecumseh and the double turreted U.S.S. Winnebago. The Union force was well aware of the rumoured presence of an as yet unidentified ironclad but thus far, despite intensive efforts, had been unable to confirm or deny any such speculation.
The scene is set - let the battle commence!