The Forgotten War Against Napoleon – Review

Gareth Glover’s The Forgotten War Against Napoleon – Conflict in the Mediterranean, published on 26 June 2017 by Pen & Sword Military, ISBN 9781473833951, 265 pages is a survey of the Napoleonic Wars in the Mediterranean over the period 1793 to 1815.

The Mediterranean theatre is one familiar to Napoleonic warfare buffs that but for a few engagements is generally is overlooked.

This book does not have a great deal of detail on any one engagement but rather provides a brief look at 55 or so engagements around the Mediterranean.

I’ll come out of the closet. I am a wargamer and the Napoleonic Wars are a period I keep looking at but never really get a head of steam up on a project – much as I have a deep interest in the uniforms, the ships, the battles, and the campaigns.

Glover has surveyed action around the Mediterranean and he provides between 2 and 7 pages per chapter discussing the various actions of the time. This includes both naval and land actions. Egypt is covered as is Corsica, Naples, Malta, Sicily and such. Each of the chapters provides a reasonable overview of the action and sufficient information to persuade the reader to look deeper.

For example, one action I had not heard about (or at least cannot remember reading about) is Algeciras in 1801. This was an action between the British, lead by Sir James Saumarez (the next book on my reading stack being his biography) and a Franco/Spanish fleet. The British 74s engaged a fleet consisting of 74s and Spanish 112s, capturing or sinking a couple. The following morning the French Formidable beat off the attacks of two British ships of the line and a frigate, so a mixed result for the British.

The book is full of short descriptions (the one above lasting just two pages) but will provide plenty of inspiration for either further reading or, in the case of wargamers, scenarios for future games.

The book finishes with the elimination of the Barbary pirates, using that as the conclusion of the war in the Mediterranean.

For the wargamer, a useful source for information for scenarios in the Napoleonic period. For the general reader of history, a useful summary of what went on in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars.

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Naval Battle of Abtao – 7 February 1866

PaqueteMauleOh dear, lunchtime reading strikes again. Looking for some quick light reading over lunch I thought to myself that it was time for a little more research into the Guerra del Pacífico, that project I have had on the back burner for a while ((and which interestingly is driving me crazy as I cannot find the 10mm figures I had purchased for it)).

Up popped the Naval Battle of Abtao.

By the time of this battle, Chile and Peru were in alliance (which also included Ecuador and Bolivia) against Spain. Argentina and Brazil did not join the alliance, partly because they were busy fighting with Paraguay.

Spain had sent Admiral Mendez Núñez to South America and he decided to send two of his most powerful ships south to destroy the combined Chilean-Peruvian fleet. The Chilean-Peruvian squadron was under the command of Peruvian Captain Manuel Villar and had taken refuge at Abtao, a well protected inlet near the gulf of Chiloé in southern Chile.

The Spanish squadron appeared at the entrance of the inlet on 7 February 1866 but decided not to enter as they did not want to risk their ironclads running aground in the shallows. A cannonade lasting several hours was exchanged with little effect.

The Chilean-Peruvian squadron was at anchor and without steam (and it takes a long time to run steam up). Some of the vessels engines were also being overhauled so definitely the Spanish had the Allied fleet in a good position. Had the Spanish been a little less timid they may have won a good victory. However, in spite of the disadvantages, the Allied squadron mounted an energetic fight. The Covadonga, under the command of Lieutenant Manuel Thomson, managed to fire over an island and scored several hits on the frigate Blanca. The battle ended indecisively without further developments.

At this point the Spanish withdrew as the long range gun duel was not going to effectively damage anybody.

The Esmeralda was not at the anchorage on the day of the battle. The commodore had sailed to Ancud for coaling.

The Spanish squadron however managed to capture the Chilean steamboat Paquete del Maule (pictured above) which was transporting sailors to crew the new Peruvian ironclads Huáscar and Independencia.

More on the Guerra del Pacífico and the Guerra Hispano-Peruana/Guerra Hispano-Chilena later.

HMS Rattlesnake

HMS_Rattlesnake_(1822)HMS Rattlesnake was a 28-gun  corvette of the Royal Navy launched in 1822. She made a historic voyage of discovery to the Cape York and Torres Strait areas of northern Australia.

This is not the reason I am mentioning HMS Rattlesnake. Nor am I mentioning it because of it’s obvious North American name. The corvette was built after the Napoleonic Wars but managed to find employment through the middle of the 19th century as a survey vessel and the rescuer of young ladies in distress ((Rattlesnake was the ship that rescued Barbara Crawford Thompson, who had been shipwrecked on Prince of Wales Island, North Queensland, aged 13 years in November 1844 and who spent the next five years living with the local Kaurareg people, despite their reputation for being cannibals. The true and certified version of her life story can be found in the book “Wildflower” The Barbara Crawford Thompson Story by Queensland historian Raymond J Warren))

The reason I am mentioning Rattlesnake is that one of her sister-ships, HMS Samarang, surveyed Port Hamilton in 1845 by Sir Edward Belcher in the Samarang. Post Hamilton was named after the then secretary of the Admiralty, Captain W. A. B. Hamilton. I intend to post something about Port Hamilton in Korea in the future and the Samarang will be mentioned but I did not have a picture of her, hence the entry for the Rattlesnake.

Both vessels were members of the Atholl-class of corvettes and were armed with:

Upper deck: 20 x 32-pdr (25cwt) carronades
Quarterdeck: 6 x 18-pdr carronades
Forecastle: 2 x 9-pdr guns

The War of the Pacific – 1879 to 1883 – Naval Matters

So I was researching some ships last night to make up the fleets of what now is becoming my South American Project. I looked at some of the 1/1200th and 1/1000th available, Houston’s Ships again amongst others. However, I thought I’d go small as there is not so much space available here. I settled on getting some 1/2400th scale ships off Tumbling Dice UK. Twenty minutes on-line research at that wonderful mine of misinformation, Wikipedia, and I had enough information on the two fleets to spend another 20 minutes at the Tumbling Dice website. An order for the following has gone off:

Quantity Code Description No of Vessels Price
1 ASV61 Hauscar & Independencia 2 £2.00
1 ASV62 Aimirante Cochrane 2 £2.00
3 ASV15 Corvette Screw 6 £6.00
1 ASV11 Sloop Screw 2 £2.00
1 ASV13 Gun Boat Screw 3 £2.00
1 ASV51 USS Monitor 3 £2.00

The USS Monitor is to provide a couple of single turret monitors for the Peruvians. In fact, Peru had purchased two Canonicus-class monitors from the United States just after the American Civil War and these were used as coastal monitors. The Monitor is just going to have to serve the role as it was the only single turret monitor in the range.

Mind you, whilst I was in an ordering mood, I also ordered a pack of the Los Andes and a pack of the Javery, just to see what’s in them.

Heligoland

heliI mentioned somewhere the other day that I had picked up a copy of Heligoland. This is a story of an island close to the coast of Europe and about 290 miles from the English coast. It was populated by about 2,000 people who spoke a language closer to English than any other.

The importance of Heligoland is that it is at he end of the Kiel Canal. England took over the island in 1807 and it was instrumental in defeating Napoleons Continental System.

However, in the late 19th Century, Lord Salisbury, the English Prime Minister, traded the island with Germany for some territory in Africa. This was done without reference to the islanders, one minute they were English, the next they were German. I still have a fair bit of the book to read and I am sure that I will find other parts of it frustrating, such as the English using it as a practice bombing area after World War 2. During that war, the island was the first target for English night bombing.

There are some good scenario opportunities through the book, such as HMS l’Amiable chasing off some Danish privateers.

I bought the book in a Kindle version (my preferred method of reading at the moment). The downside with the Kindle versions is the lack of maps and illustrations in a lot of cases and this book is one that in hardcover has a number.

I can, however, recommend the book – well worth the read.

War of the Pacific – 1879 to 1883

Combate_navalI’m a wargames tart. Really. There I was this morning, contemplating which part of the painting pile to attack when I got back to Singapore Friday night and something bright and shiny flashed part my eyes. For some reason the iPad had a Safari tab open at Pendraken Miniatures and for some other reason unknown to me, I had been looking in there a while back at 10mm 19th century figures. I suspect I was looking for an alternative to 6mm figures for the Wars of 1859, 1866 and 1871 in Europe. My eyes passed across a range of figures for the 1st Schleswig-Holstein War Danish, an area I have an interest in. I was starting to think about starting my 19th century Europe project with that conflict. Then it happened. I saw it … 1879-1884 South American Pacific War.

I was, of course, superfluously familiar with this conflict, after all, we all know about the Huáscar and the battle between the Esmeralda  and Huáscar don’t we? Well, that was about the sum total of my knowledge of that conflict. I put the iPad down and went to some meetings and then over lunch back here at the hotel I read some more. A little conflict and one of the many that seemed to plague South America since independence, it involved Chile, Peru and Bolivia essentially fighting for four years over bird poo. The British were involved as well, after all, there was the odd dollar to be made then with bird poo. At the end, Chile won and a few years later artificial bird poo was created negating the whole point of the conflict.

However, it seems that the memory of defeat runs deep and every year Bolivia has a festival of the sea celebration, in remembrance of when Bolivia had a sea-coast, know held by Chile.

It was bright, it was shiny, I was starting to get hooked. The war started with Chilean armed forces at about 2,700 effectives and Peru and Bolivia between them able to field around 10,000 troops. Size was good. I also have not figures for this war either and my initial thought was that they were probably all in Napoleonic style uniforms still. Wrong. The Chileans were in French style uniforms with Pickelhauben and the Bolivians and Peruvians in a mix of dress with kepi. Colours were bright. Someone get me my sunglasses.

peruvian soldiersThe thought has been germinating in my head for the day so far. I did a quick look for some source books and discovered what seemed a good history on Amazon,  The Ten Cents War: Chile, Peru, and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific, 1879-1884 by Bruce Farcau (until I saw the Kindle version was a ridiculous $88.76). There were some other history books and uniform books around but all were expensive. I thought to myself, “self, why not do this as an online project?” So there is was – I had a nice little war and a way of researching it. What else was needed? Figures! Rules!

As I have not really got any 10mm figures and as the Pendraken Miniatures range has always tempted me, I thought I’d give it a go in 10mm. There was also, of course, the naval component to the war. Tumbling Dice Miniatures make some 1/2400th scale models of these vessels. Houston’s Ships (from Great Endeavours makes some 1/1000th(ish) scale vessels from this war as does North Head Miniatures on Shapeways so there is the naval side covered.

The next step is Rules – but more on those later.

So there is is, 10mm South American Wars of the late 19th century – another project on the go!

Königgrätz – Another Distraction

ST275-2So there I was, walking around Funan Digital Mall today, looking for some decal set. A trip to the Battle Bunker failed to get any decal set so on my way downstairs for some lunch, and to try some other shopping malls, I stopped into the Soldier’s Story. Strategy and Tactics volume 275 was there – just the magazine, not with the game.

The feature of this issue is the Battle of Koeniggraetz which took place on 3 July 1866 between Prussia and Austria. Other nations were also involved. The Italians also used this war to take Venetia off the Austrian Empire. The Kingdom of Bavaria and the Kingdom of Saxony were also involved.

I first read about Königgrätz when I was about 14 and was amazed at that time. This issue of Strategy and Tactics along with my recent purchase of Bruce Weitz’s 1866 rules really has my interest fired again. In between the other 6mm projects underway at the moment, and the 15mm American Civil War, I think I have one more project on the boil again!

Oh well, one more day, one more project.

Gefecht_zwischen_k.k._Husaren_und_preussischen_Kürassieren_in_der_Schlacht_von_Königgrätz_(A._Bensa_1866)

USS Swatara

Image from Naval History and Heritage Command As it was on this day, 19 May, in 1882 that Commodore Shufeldt landed in Korea from the USS Swatara, and as the Swatara has some connections to Australia, I thought I’d mention her here.

The ship is also quite interesting as she started life as a wooden, screw sloop in the United States Navy. She was named for Swatara Creek in Pennsylvania and was launched on 23 May 1865 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard; sponsored by Miss Esther Johnson; and commissioned on 15 November 1865, Commander William A. Jeffers in command. The details of the vessel are in the table below, comparing her to the rebuilt Swatara.

The first Swatara served with the US European Squadron until 1869, then serving in the Atlantic Squadron until 1871. In 1872, as part of the Secretary of the Navy George M. Robeson’s plans to overhaul and modernize ships of the Navy, the first Swatara was taken to the New York Navy Yard, ostensibly for “repairs.” In fact, the “repairs” constituted construction of a new ship, for Swatara was given a new hull and unused machinery which had been in storage since 1865. Embodying only certain fittings and equipment from the first ship, the second Swatara was launched on 17 September 1873 at the New York Navy Yard and commissioned on 11 May 1874, Capt. Ralph Chandler in command.

The Swatara transported five scientific parties to the South Pacific in 1874 to observe the transit of Venus. The first team landed at Hobart, Tasmania, on 1 October 1874 and then Kerguelen Island; Queenstown, Tasmania; New Zealand; and Chatham Island.

USS_Monongahela_(1862) She returned all but one of the parties, picked up by Monongahela ((USS Monongahela (1862) was a barquentine–rigged screw sloop-of-war that served in the Union Navy during the American Civil War finally being paid-off in 1908))(shown to the left), to Melbourne early in 1875 and then sailed back to the US where she joined the Atlantic Squadron again for a time and was then retired for a while.

Swatara was recommissioned on 24 December 1879 at Boston Navy Yard and departed on 21 January 1880 for the Far East. She visited numerous Mediterranean ports and transited the Suez Canal, eventually arriving at Hong Kong on 17 April 1880. Swatara called at many east Asian ports during her Asiatic Squadron duty, including long stays at Shanghai, Chefoo, and Yokohama. Departing from Yokohama on 7 July 1882, Swatara headed for home waters, via the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Hampton Roads on 4 December 1882 for an overhaul. She was eventually struck from the Navy list on 29 July 1896 and sold at public auction on 2 November.

Her connection with Korea, however, was in 1882.

The tale of this involvement goes back to 1866 when the US was attempting to spread its influence through the Pacific chasing trade amongst other things. Commodore Matthew C Perry had forced a trade treaty on Japan in a wonderful example of gunboat diplomacy. In 1866 however, the American schooner Surprise foundered in the Yellow Sea (East Sea) off Korea’s Coast and the crew abandoned ship and rowed to shore. The Korean authorities picked them up and returned them across the Yalu River and into Manchuria, being delivered to the American consul at Yingtsze on Liaotung Bay. They were returned from there to the US.

Meanwhile, at much the same time, the American schooner General Sherman was under charter to a British firm and sailed from Chefoo in China to Korea. This was supposed to be a trade cruise. The General Sherman sailed up the Taedong River toward Pyongyang and got stuck on a mud bank when the water lever dropped quickly. She remained stuck fast there. It seems that orders came from Seoul to clear out the problem so the Koreans attacked the vessel. The crew held out for four days until finally being overwhelmed. The ship was burnt.

In January 1867, curious to find out what had happened to the General Sherman, Robert W Shufeldt commanding ordered the USS Wachusett to Korea to find out what had happened. Bad weather forced the Wachusett before being able to receive a response from the Korean king about the General Sherman.

In spring of 1868, John C Febiger in command of the USS Shenandoah sailed to the mouth of the Taedong and made inquiries as to the General Sherman and her crew. He was told that a mob had destroyed the vessel and killed the crew after it had been intimidated. Febinger returned to the US.

In 1870, Frederick Low, who was the US minister to China was instructed by the US Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish, to secure a treaty from the Koreans for the protection of shipwrecked sailors. He was also told to secure an commercial treaty. Low sailed aboard the USS Colorado and along with a squadron of warships and gunboats, set sail for Korea from Nagasaki. They arrived at Chemulpo and contacted Korean officials. On 1 June 1870, four steam launches traversed the Yom-ha (Salée River) to make soundings near the island of Kanghwa at the mouth of the Han River. The Korean shore batteries opened fire and there was a short fire fight.

One year later, on 1 June 1871, Low ordered an attack on the Korean fortifications along the Yom-ha. This happened, the fortifications were destroyed and around 250 Koreans were killed in the process (3 Americans were also killed). The Americans, however, still did not get their trade treaty and left.

In 1876 a flotilla of Japanese warships sailed menacingly along the west coast of Korea and extracted the Treaty of Kanghwa from the Koreans, allowing unrestricted business and trade between the two nations.

h97294 In 1878, the now Commodore Robert Shufeldt left Norfolk in the USS Ticonderoga (pictured to the right in Chinese waters on this trip) with a fleet of American warships undertaking a round the world tour – sort of a precursor of the Great White Fleet. The objective of this fleet was the expansion of US trade. When he got to the east, he used the assistance of Japan to try and negotiate a commercial treaty with Korea (the fleet of warships may also have been of assistance). In 1880, however, the Chinese (the suzerains of Korea at that time) invited Shufeldt to Peking and discussions led to a treaty. Shufeldt eventually sailed from China to Korea aboard the USS Swatara in 1882 and on a hillside near Chemulpo a treaty of amity, commerce, peace and navigation was signed.

That then is the tenuous connection between the Swatara, Korea and Australia.

Details of the Two Swatara’s

 

Year Type Displacement Length Beam Draft Speed Complement Armament
1865 Steam driven Screw Sloop 1,113 long tons 216‘ (65.8 m) 30’ (9.1m) 13’ (4m) 12 kts 164 officers and men 1 × 60-pounder gun
6 × 32-pounder guns
3 × 20-pounder howitzers 
1879 Steam driven Screw Sloop 1,900 long tons 216’ (66 m) 37’ (11m) 16’6” (5m) 10.2 kts 230 officers and men 6 × 9 in (230 mm) smoothbore guns
1 × 8 in (200 mm) rifle
1 × 30-pounder gun 

 


Naval engagements First Schleswig War

In 1848 war broke out between Denmark, Prussia and Sweden over Schleswig, part of the joint Schleswig-Holstein duchies of northern Europe. The main reason for the conflict was nationalism and whether Schleswig should be more closely tied to Denmark than it was with the German population of Schleswig wanting no such thing.

As this war was in 1848, it was fought during a transitional period for naval warfare with the wooden walls of the Napoleonic times soon to be replaced with the steel sides of mid to late 19th Century. One of the neat things about researching for this conflict is that it occurred as Australia was starting to develop an identity through the 19th Century and moreover, as Australian newspapers were developing the craft and trade.

The National Library of Australia has a beta test project running at the moment where they have digitised many old Australian newspapers, going back to the early 18th Century. Subsequently, as Australians have always been a bit curious about how the other folks live, there was always demand for articles of world news, both from Europe and interestingly, from Asia as well.

Heading to the National Library’s newspaper research site and searching on “Naval engagements First Schleswig War”, many links to articles appear. One such article is this one:

Danes and Germans, for Schleswig; a collision took place at Flensburg but the result was not known. The Danish government has called on England to assist her against the Germans. Fears were entertained in Hamburg that the Danes would blockade the Elbe except to English vessels.

This article came from the The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, dated Saturday, 12 August 1848, and was one of the pieces brought up with the search mentioned above.

The Hobart Courier of Wednesday 9 August 1848 provided a good roundup and summary of the war up to that point, noting, with regards to some of the Danish and Prussian ships, that:

Elsinore, April 19.

This evening the Prussian ships lying at anchor in the roadstead have been laid under embargo by the Danish ships of war.

Another letter from Messrs. A. Von Duers and Co., to the Hamburg Assurance Company, dated Elsinore, April 19th, 10 o’clock at night, says, ” All German vessels are at this moment being detained.”

A traveller who is well-known to us and who returned yesterday from Copenhagen, informs us that the feeling in Denmark, although very excited, is by no means so inimical to individual Germans as is generally supposed. He says he travelled through Zealand, and although he always spoke German, he did not meet with the slightest insult, either in the country or in Copenhagen.

On his application to the Minister of War for permission to go on board the Dronning Maria, his request was immediately granted in writing, and on his mentioning the name of some Hamburgers with whom he was acquainted, he was not only allowed to speak to them, but was permitted afterwards to send them all that they required-clothing, books, &c. The prisoners were kept in strict discipline, but treated with great mildness. The non-commissioned officers receive 12 pence a-day besides their rations. The major in command on board is a very humane man, and is on very good terms with the prisoners; he even permits them to enjoy themselves in playing at cards-smoking is, of course, prohibited.

A private letter from Flensburg positively denies the reports of the bad treatment which the Schleswig-Holstein troops are said to have met with in that city. Both the German and Danish troops are equally well received by the citizens ; few excesses were committed against the Germans on their retreat, and the report that scalding water, &c. was poured upon them was quite without foundation. A miller, who took some Germans under his protection, was seized by the Danes with all his people, but was  afterwards liberated. The inhabitants of Flensburg have maintained a decidedly neutral position. The wounded among the Danes and the Germans are tended with equal care, and honourable treatment is given alike to both.

Go have a look at the site, research the news from this war as if it was happening now.

Small Scale Figures – A Great Blog

I don’t often promote other blogs here – rather, I leave them in the sidebar as a link for folks to explore and enjoy at their will. However, today I came across a great blog and so I am going to mention it here as a post.

The blog is called SteelonSandBlog, and is a blog concentrating on one gamer’s efforts and interests in, well, small scale figures. These are figures in 2mm, 6mm, 10mm scale as well as 1/3000th and 1/1200th and 1/300th (5-6mm) scale.

If you are a wargamer, especially into the smaller scales, then this blog is quite inspirational. His posts are articulate and his photos are great, especially given that some of the content is 2mm in height.

One of his projects has a real appeal to those of use that enjoy pre-dreadnought naval wargaming. He has decided to refight the Boxer Rebellion … but at sea. Follow the 55 Days at Sea link and remember to read from the bottom post to the top (oldest to newest).

A highly recommended site.