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June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

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June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  François Sevière on Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:47 am

The English ship was closing on them, steadily and surely. On board the Nereide the captain had decided to order his crew to battle stations. If they couldn't outrun the English, then they would fight them. The captain was a realist, he knew in most even fights the advantage lay with the English and their superior crews and gunnery. But if they could shoot up the rigging and slow the English pursuit down, escape would be a simple matter. He would attempt that then.

To the lively beat of a marine's drum, the crew now scrambled to prepare for action. All the drills had prepared the sailors and marines for this moment, everyone to their stations and no detail left to chance in preparation.

On deck, the ships complement of marines formed up then were asssigned to various shooting positions both on the deck itself and up in the rigging. It would be their job to pepper the enemy with musketfire if they did draw that close, hopefully picking off officers. They too would be the first line of defense should the English board. Some were also told off as gunners to assist in manning the guns. There weren't many of them though and their quality and experience was not like it used to be, Le Emperor had siphoned off so many marines from the fleet to form up units for his endless land campaigns.

Below decks, the bulk of the crew now prepared for firing the cannon, first needing to prepare the ship itself. Partititions were cleared, crew hammocks were taken down, the orlop readied to take the inevitable flood of wounded where the poor surgeon would then labor to save what he could. Firing ports were opened, cannon pulleys and ropes checked to see they were proper for the process of aiming, firing, then pulling back to reload and pushed back to the firing port once more. Ships boys would be ready to run the gunpowder back and forth to the cannon from the main magazine.

The men were made well aware of the grim nature of what was about to happen as sand was strewn onto the deckfloor in order to help those manning the guns keep their footing once the deck ran red with blood. Old salts advised that the gun crews strip to the waist too, so when splinters flew everywhere and hit someone, the cloth of their dirty shirt did not get forced into the body cavity, causing dangerous infections. It also was going to be very hot work, loading and firing these big guns in confined quarters.

All of this was done under the watchful eyes of the ship's officers who knew discipline and courage would count for much in the upcoming battle. That and they silently hoped luck would be with them too!


Last edited by François Sevière on Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  Allhands on Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:47 pm

"Make sure the prisoners remain under guard. Kill any that might try to use this chance to escape!" It was a general order. While hoping and believing that they might succeed in taking a second ship, they still had those men to worry about. In no way were they willing to risk having to fight the enemy from the inside of the bowels of their own ship.

Some of the younger lads looked anxiously over the railing. They had seen action, but a new enemy always caused a stirring of emotion, excitement mixed with worry, and certainly a good hefty rush of adrenaline. While they would aim for the masts, to slow the ship down, they knew that the Brittish cannons could be firing at their decks instead.

Several ducked down to their stations. One of them, a youth with slightly curly dark hair, skipped past the area in which they were holding their prisoners. He peered at them. They were aware of something going on on deck and had been told to keep quiet, just moments before the lad ducked down to see them. When their conversation began again the guard hissed, in French, that if they would not shut up, one of them would pay the price for certain.

Above, the enemy's ship was observed, the distance between them slowly becoming smaller and smaller.
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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  François Sevière on Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:11 am

All the members of the gun crew were as ready as they would ever be as they clustered about their grim eighteen pounder and looked from the firing port out to the sea. With every glance it seemed the ship on the horizon was getting closer and closer. It was apparent to both experienced sailors and first voyagers they were not going to be able to outrun the Englishman. And that meant a battle and soon their big cannon would join in the thunderous pounding. Oh it's not like anyone hadn't experienced the firing for they drilled endlessly but a real fight using real ammunition was quite something else. Not all that long before they'd managed to take an English ship in a surprising turn of events. Of course they'd suffered for it too though the fight had ended before it had ever gotten to close broadsides when a lucky hit must have caused a fire which reached the English magazine. The survivors of that explosion now were their prisoners. It was unlikely they'd get so lucky a second time.

"You sure?" asked one of them, a tall lanky fellow with reddish hair.

"It's English alright, don't need to even see no colors, that's an English frigate ," declared the oldest of the gun crew, Giesquel, a grizzled veteran of many a voyage. He was just over forty but looked closer to sixty with his leathery skin, white hair and various scars. Some of the ships boys believed the stories of him once being a pirate and he did nothing to deny it. Truth of it was though, he had only been on merchantmen prior to being swept up into the French navy.

"So we might just get us two victories in one voyage," grinned Vaubois, ever the optimist. He was still young, about twenty and full of youthful enthusiasm.

Giesquel grunted, "We will be content to slow 'em up and get away if I know the captain. He's no fool. You don't beat the English all that often."

Vaubois frowned, "Such talk from a Frenchman. You should be in the English navy I'm thinking?"

"I would but for one thing..." Giesquel patted the huge bronze cannon as he smiled.

He got all of their attention.

"I hate the damned English."

That brought smiles and nods all around.



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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  Terence Whyte on Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:04 am

"Hey, know what's goin' on?" One of the ship's boys asked. He sat among the other prisoners with two more of his friends. To his left sat a few marines, and to his right, a good few seamen. Whyte shrugged. "No idea, but something's up, what I'm thinking. An' it ain't their arms... yet." He shifted a little on the floor.

"They're all a running..." A seaman reported. He was a gruffy, old sort, and was missing two fingers on one hand, had a few scars on his face and arms, a tattoo completed the picture of the near stereotypical seaman. "I dare bet my money that it's not a storm they're afraid."

Whyte stretched his legs out. "I'll take bets, so gentlemen, if anybody's wanting to bed it is something else, this is the time." A lanky, short thing of a seaman scoffed. "What can we bet with? Not exactly much we've been left with."

Whyte looked thoughtful at that. "Coin, of course. One we will eventually get by!" He smiled cheerfully. "Sooner or later."

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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  François Sevière on Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:15 am

Once more the stern faced French guard moved closer to the cell, his musket bayonet fixed and leveled, and loudly ordered the prisoners to stop talking. Of course it did not help that the man only knew his native language. But the tone and gesture of leveled weapon should have given the English some indication of intent.
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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  François Sevière on Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:33 am

For just an instant the joking and conversation paused as the gun crew heard a familiar sound, a cannon firing but in the distance. Gisquel looked out the gunport just in time to see a splash in the sea some fifty yards from their vessel.

"The English are firing on us with their bow chaser, testing the range," the old veteran informed the rest.

It was a miss of course but it showed the English ship was definitely closing distance at a relentless pace. Even as the crew digested that reality, it must be obvious to their captain that outrunning the enemy was a failure. They were going to need to turn and fight.

"It won't be long now and we'll turn to face 'em, amis," Gisquel grinned exposing stained teeth.

A few of the younger ones weren't quite so nonplussed.

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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  Terence Whyte on Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:07 pm

After the first salvo from the French, came a test from the English. Or so he thought. It could have been something else entirely. He could not see what was going on outside. Whatever the guard shouted at them, the words were perhaps as French as any before, but his gestures spoke clearly of what they were ordered to do.

He shifted. If luck would have it, one of those balls, could blast through and... he just hoped that the British, if those were them, would not sink this ship, as none of them could escape, should they be abandoned in the cage.

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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  François Sevière on Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:06 am

The time had come to fight back and after bellowed orders from the ship's captain, the French warship turned to present a broadside on the oncoming British frigate. French doctrine was to try and fire high at the rigging in an effort to slow the British down. The cannon were adjusted and tense crews waited at their guns for the command.

They didn't have long to wait and one after the other the big cannon thundered French defiance as they opened up. On deck, the captain and officers tracked the splashes of their shots, mostly short. Next time the enemy would be that much closer though and they'd start ripping iron balls thru the sails and, if lucky, splinter the masts.

Below in the gundeck, the crews now hurried to reload, stepping thru their well practiced drills in a concerted effort to be ready for the next broadside. Smoke already filled the close quarters and their time in hell was just beginning.


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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  François Sevière on Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:13 am

They all knew it was coming and the suspense was almost as bad as actually receiving the English broadside...almost. As the French gun crews labored over their guns to reload they suddenly got hit with the enemy fire. The English were not firing at the sails as per the French tactic but going for the hull.

The sound was indescribeable, cannonballs smashing thru the decks, splinters whizzing all about, men screaming from pain or fear or both. One big gun was dismounted by a lucky hit. Above the gun deck a cannonball had taken an officer's head off on the bridge, just like that. However horrifying, no one could even take any time away from their own tasks and duties. The battle was just heating up.

No attempt now for a coordinated broadside in return, as each gun was readied, they were fired. Though now it was much more difficult to even see their target given the noxious cloud of smoke which flooded the gundeck. Already men were down, a few killed, others wounded. Officers called for the injured to be taken to the surgeon, but kept on their men to keep loading and firing. Wide eyed powder monkeys were cajoled to keep the gunpowder coming, ignoring all the mayhem and danger all about them.

Veteran gunner Gisquel waited til the now loaded cannon had been hauled back into firing position at the gunport then roared out, "FIRE!"


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Re: June 25th On the French Ship Fighting the Terpsichore

Post  François Sevière on Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:04 pm

The English ship was in musket range now. The captain ordered any on deck with muskets to open up. The first volley was rather impressive though whether they hit much was more unlikely given the inaccuracy of smoothbores. From then on it was independent fire and the French peppered away at the closing English vessel.

Meanwhile the French cannon were firing, reloading, then firing as rapidly as their crews could manage. The orders had been to try and cripple the English rigging but, while some balls ripped thru canvas, the enemy was still bearing down, they had the advantage of the wind at their backs.

The captain muttered something vile then turned to those officers gathered next to him.

"It's going to come to boarding, gentlemen. Break out the weapons, arm the crew. They are going to come at us!"

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