Sunday, March 6, 2016

Tales from the Anaconda: The Battle of Hampton Roads. March 1862

Cincycon 2016 featured an American Civil War naval game loosely based on Hampton Roads. This battle of Hampton Roads had some odds and ends. In addition to USS Monitor, the steam frigate USS Minnesota was off the shoal and joined by USS St. Lawrence being pushed around with the aid of a tugboat. The casemate ironclad CSS Virginia was joined by the gunboats Patrick Henry and Jamestown.

Rules: Smoke on the Water, from Canis Publishing.

Scale: 1/600


USS Monitor - Peter Pig
USS Minnesota - Bay Area Yards
USS St. LawrenceBay Area Yards
Union tugboat - Thoroughbred Figures

CSS Virginia - Thoroughbred Figures
CSS Patrick Henry - Bay Area Yards
CSS Jamestown - Bay Area Yards

The Confederates enter the roads from the southwest, the Union steam in from the northeast leaving the protection of Fortress Monroe behind them. St. Lawrence, realizing it cannot keep up, rapidly falls behind and out of the game.

Minnesota maneuvers to deliver the broadside.

Though starting cautiously, USS Minnesota soon accelerated into the center of the battle and drew fire from all sides. Three of the first four heavy rifle shots from CSS Virginia were DUDS, sparing Minnesota 30 points of damage. There was much grumbling about the quality of the Richmond primers and fuzes. In return, a broadside of the Minnesota (20 guns!) resulted in 1 pentration of the casemate by the 10" smoothbore, 18 bounced rounds of 8" and IX" gunfire...and a critical hit to the boiler! Steam filled the ship, scalding many crew men working the lower deck. The survivors abandoned ship. Leaving Patrick Henry and Jamestown to fight on or run away.

Fire burns on Minnesota while steam pours out of Virginia.

Well that's one way for it to play out, but not much fun at a convention, so ceding the Union a victory, play proceeded as if the boiler survived.

Minnesota took fire, caught on fire and deciding that today was NOT a good day to die, broke off and retreated to the relative safety of Fortress Monroe.

The action then shifted to USS Monitor. Monitor had a lot of trouble hitting the approaching gunboats. Their fast speed let them close in rapidly and with some good ship handling, both gunboats rammed the Monitor...

Minnesota sent the port broadside into CSS Patrick Henry causing moderate damage and a fire.

Sound collision!

Great ship handling - the CSS ships did the best possible job maneuvering to contact.

With little effect. Monitor suffered a machinery hit reducing her speed to slow. Didn't even lock together. Both Confederate ships attempted to board Monitor, but the attempt was repulsed with losses to both boarding vessels.

Monitor slowly backed off and unloaded the 11" guns into Patrick Henry.  Between the heavy guns and the fire, Patrick Henry was crippled and sank.

Monitor did not escape unscathed. Accurate fire from the heavy guns on all three Confederate warships reduced the turret to scrap. Monitor limped away, taking fire from the Virigina, which could not catch up. Jamestown, seeing what fate had befallen Patrick Henry steered clear and went to the assistance of Virgina.

A fun little game with lots of action. The dice were hot as armor was repeatedly penetrated with generally low probability opportunities. Very far from the grinding slugfest that was the original battle, but perhaps an idea of what would have happened with guns firing shot at full powder charges.


  1. Nice little action and lovely models. Looks like a great game!

  2. Thanks for the kind words! It was a fun game. I was somewhat surprised that each side elected to engage the other's wooden ships. But really that comes to Union initiative. Monitor was fast enough to break south and engage the steam gunboats leaving the speedy Minnesota to deal with the pokey Virginia.