Saturday 24 February 2024

Mobile Bay, 5th August 1864 - Dawn of Iron.

Battle of Mobile Bay, by Louis Prang. 
At left foreground is the CSS Tennessee; at the right the USS Tecumseh is sinking.

This battle was an opportunity to dust off some much loved Peter Pig ACW ships and try out a new set of naval rules.

The rules are “Dawn of Iron” and are published by Scary Biscuits Studios. They are a simple set of rules that are easy to learn.

This is ideal for a club game where we wanted to use a lot of ships. In addition they are devised so the book keeping is kept to a minimum.

Example of Ship Card.

Example of Damage Card.

This scenario “Damn the Torpedoes” was taken from their extensive Battles Packs. There are plenty of battles to choose from.

We played the rules with no changes except to reduce the turn arc to 22.5 degrees from 45 degrees. This worked well in our game and did cause a few more collisions that would have otherwise occurred. Always a good outcome in a naval game.

The table set up :-

The CSS Tennessee is the pride of the Confederate navy being a large Ironclad. The other three ships were less impressive but well armed.

The four Union ships are Ironclad Monitors, all with large guns.

In addition the Union had the following wooden ships:-

USS Brooklyn & Octorara
USS Hartford & Metacomet
USS Monongahela & Kennebec

The Union Fleet was bigger than this but we did not have enough models, also, we wanted the Confederates to have a chance of winning.

The objective of the game was for the Union fleet to enter the harbour and eliminate the Confederate ships. The Confederates would win by preventing this and by sinking half the Union ships.

Before the game started the Union commander opted to attack at high tide. This would allow ships to sail between the torpedoes and land. However this would be for a limited time before the tide started to go out.

Gregory, who was given the job of Admiral Farragut, planned for the Monitors to sail through the gap and silence the Water Battery and Fort Morgan.

Things started well, the Union soon silenced the Water Battery and were steaming past Fort Morgan. It was then that the Tennessee came into sight. Gregory told Vince to take her on with the USS Tecumseh. This he did by ramming into her. Both ships were now entangled for rest of game.

At this point the two Steve's who commanded the Confederate Fleet were not looking confident. Gregory now unleashed the rest of his fleet to finish of the Confederates.

This was when the Union snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. As each wooden ship came on and tried to sail through the gap they were hammered by the remnant of Fort Morgan. What was worse, the tide started to go out, the USS Manhattan got stranded and then Admiral Farragut was killed. 

Then the Confederate Gunboats sailed in for the kill and finished off the Union Wooden ships.

Finally remember the Tennessee and Tecumseh, well they were still entangled. They had been hammering away at each other and finally the Tecumseh was beaten into a derelict vessel and surrendered.

The Union had now lost 50% of there fleet so the Confederates claimed a victory.

A most enjoyable game played in good humour. Steve M and Steve L were the Confederates who did not give up when the Monitors broke into the harbour. Gregory and Vince were the gallant Union players who were convinced they would win in a return game.

The rules played well and gave a good feel of the period. Some realism has been sacrificed to keep the game mechanism simple but they have captured the main elements of the conflict. 

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