Action at Adriatic – Battle of Lissa 13 March 1811

Previously I looked at the scenario of the Battle of Pirano, which actually happened chronologically after Battle of Lissa (a side note, there was another battle of Lissa 55 years later, 20 July 1866 during 3rd Italian War of independence and Austro-Prussian War. Battle included Ironclads and steam powered sailing ships, and could be interesting scenario of it’s own right).

While in Piarano, fleets consisted of one ship of the line each side, in Lissa action were solely between two small ship squadrons. British, as it was often case, were numerically – and by sheer force – underhanded. French invasion fleet was larger, and since they also carried army troopers to occupy the island of Lissa there was also advantage in manpower. So the obvious question is, why did British win? The reason is quite simple. French blundered.

Positioning of the fleets close to a shore, and ships small size (and great disparity of numbers) makes Battle of Lissa one of the more interesting Napoleonic naval battles to reconstruct. Mainly because while there is disparity in numbers, Franco-Italian fleet is not entirely useless, but does possess some fighting spirit. Problems would become evident from coordination not from really inferior quality, and hence it is suggested to have significant number of relatively new players to control the French fleet, to make sure that coordination is not perfect. It is especially advisable for the commander of the fleet not to control any other ships.

British fleet was positioned in compact order, close to the shore of the island (about one nautical mile) in following order.

British Fleet (Hoste), Heading: WNW
HMS Active, 38 guns (flag)
HMS Amphion, 32 guns (Note: 140mm treble shotted howitzer on deck. Increase carronade factors accordingly)
HMS Volage 22 guns (armed with all 32 pdr carronages)
HMS Cerberus 32 guns
 

The French fleet bore down from North on the British line in two squadrons, in following order:

Windward Squadron (Dubourdieu), Heading: S
Favorite, 40 guns (flag)
Flore, 40 guns
Bellona, 32 guns
Mercure, 16 guns
 
Leeward Squadron
Carolina, 32 guns
Corona, 40 guns
Danae, 40 guns
 
Misc Ships – following leeward squadron in considerable disorder
Principessa Augusta (Small Schooner), 18 guns
Principessa di Bologna (Small Schooner), 10 guns
Eugenio (Xebec), 6 guns
Two gunboats
 

Wind speed is Light Airs, blowing from North-North-West.

French Fleet should be mostly Average with some poor ship companies and captains, and British should have mix of Elite and Good companies and captains.

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This entry was posted in scenarios, Signal Close Action and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Action at Adriatic – Battle of Lissa 13 March 1811

  1. Gerald says:

    War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read

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