NAVAL TACTICS, PART THE SECOND.-The system of M. Bourde de Villehuet
PART THE SECOND.
HAVING, in the preceding part of this subject, shewn the system of Tactics which prevails at the present day; we now come to give the deviations from that system, which have been proposed by M. Bourde de Villehuet.
Not wishing to alter the customary orders of BATTLE and RETREAT, it is only proposed that a fleet should be, for its common order of sailing, in what is called the ORDER OF CONVOY. This order (says M. Bourde de Villehuet) is the most simple, and the only one a fleet ought to be in at all times; because, first, it is easily preserved; secondly, it cannot be discomposed in twenty out of the thirty-two shifts of wind, and is easily re-formed in the twelve other changes; and finally, it is easy to pass from that order to those proper for the security of a fleet, in all possible cases, either to preserve one’s self, to attack, or to defend.
THE ORDER OF CONVOY
IS that which a fleet holds in making a strait course, the ships being all in the wake of one another, steering on the same point of the compass, and forming a right line. If the fleet be numerous, they may be divided into three columns, which are to be ranged parallel to each other, that of the admiral occupying the middle, and steering all three the same course. Thus it may be observed that the order of convoy disregards a line of bearing; and this is its essential difference from the first and fifth orders of sailing.
TO FORM THE ORDER OF CONVOY IN ONE LINE.
WHEN the fleet is in no particular order of sailing, the leading ship is to veer sufficiently for the others to get in her wake and steer the same course she holds. Generally, it is the commanding officer who takes this post, when the squadron is not numerous.
|That the order may be the sooner formed, every ship of the fleet or squadron shall chase at the same time that which is to be a-head of her in the line, taking care to manoeuvre in such a manner as to avoid running foul of those which cross her fore-foot in endeavouring to join their leaders in the line. Therefore, such as are to leeward of others shall take care not to persist obstinately in weathering them; but, they must back, or go a-stern if necessary, by keeping away a little more. Such as shall already be in the column, and are to be more a-stern, must bring to till they are in their posts, or stand on under a very easy sail, that each ship may contribute to the celerity of forming the order.|
TO FORM THE ORDER OF CONVOY IN THREE COLUMNS.
THE leaders of each of the three divisions are to place themselves in a line right a-breast one of another: and they must take care to keep a proper distance between themselves, according to the length of the columns, which will accelerate the progress of the disposition. Then every ship of each particular squadron, chasing that which is to be next a-head of her, will come and take their stations a-stern of one another at the rear of the leading ship of the division, and steer directly after her.
This order, which in the practice is very easily held, has the advantage of keeping the fleet close and connected, without causing any delay in its progress. The best sailers can regulate their velocity by that of those which are inferior to them in sailing, and, these on the other hand may, with a little attention, carry as much sail as the weather will admit, by which means all imaginable courses may, without breaking, be steered.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN ONE LINE, TO THE ORDER OF BATTLE, CONTINUING ON THE SAME TACK.
THE headmost ship is to haul close by the wind on the same tack, and the rest of the fleet are to make the same movement in succession, observing the proper distances from each other.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN ONE LINE, TO THAT OF BATTLE ON THE OTHER TACK.
THE headmost ship is to veer and to come to the wind on the other tack; then all the vessels of the fleet are to perform the same manoeuvre in succession.
ANOTHER METHOD.-After having formed the order of battle on the same tack, as has been shewn before, the van ship is to tack; and all the ships of the fleet are to follow in succession, to form the order of battle on the other tack.
ANOTHER METHOD.-If you are steering a course in the order of convoy, four points large, the order of battle on the other tack may be formed at once, by all the ships veering or staying together.
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TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN THREE COLUMNS, TO THE ORDER OF BATTLE ON THE SAME TACK.
IF THE FLEET HAS THE WIND ON THE BEAM, OR BETWEEN CLOSE HAULED AND EIGHT POINTS LARGE, [Tactics, pl. XVI. fig. 93.] the ships of the lee column are all to bring to at the same time. The other two columns stand on. When the leader of the weather column brings the lee leader to bear on the close-hauled line, he tacks, and is followed in succession. The centre column does the same. But, as the weather column has a greater distance to run, it must make all possible sail, while the center column need not make so much; because the center column is not to begin to haul its wind till the center ship of the weather column has got on the close-hauled line.
The lee column is to follow in the same manner, when the center ship of the center column is close by the wind.
IF THE WIND BE MORE THAN EIGHT POINTS, OR RIGHT AFT, [Tactics, pl. XVI. fig. 94.] the column which is to form the van guard in the order of battle is instantly to haul its wind in succession, with all sails set; while the two others, continuing their course, will put themselves successively by the wind, on the close-hauled line upon which the order of battle is to be formed, and consequently in the wake of the weather column.
IF THE COLUMNS BE CLOSE ON A WIND, it then becomes a case within the usual fifth order of sailing, treated of in the first part.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN THREE COLUMNS, TO THE ORDER OF BATTLE ON THE OTHER TACK.
THE fleet might be put first in order of battle, on the same tack; then, making the ships tack in succession, they would be in order of battle on the other tack. But, as this method might be too long, the time of evolution may be diminished, [Tactics, pl. XVI. fig. 95.] by making the two weather columns bring to, WHEN SAILING BETWEEN CLOSE-HAULED AND EIGHT POINTS LARGE, while the ships of the lee column veer in succession and keep their wind on the other tack. The center ship of the lee column having veered, the center column is to fill, the leader of which bears away, running exactly with the wind right aft, and is followed in succession, by the ships of his division, till they are in the wake of the lee column, then on the other tack; when the leader of the center column hauls by the wind, the ships of his division hauling in succession. When the center ship of the center column has bore away, the weather squadron manoeuvres in the same manner, and thereby completes the order of battle.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF CONVOY TO THAT OF RETREAT.
WHETHER THE FLEET BE IN THE ORDER OF CONVOY IN ONE LINE OR IN THREE COLUMNS, they are first to form in the order of battle on the same tack; thence they are to pass to the order of retreat, in the manner directed in the first part.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF BATTLE TO THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN ONE LINE, ON THE SAME TACK.
THE van ship is to bear away as far as the intended course, and the rest are to execute the same manoeuvre in succession; so that, when the rear ship shall have made the same movement, the evolution will be compleated, and the order of convoy formed on the same tack.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF BATTLE TO THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN ONE LINE, ON THE OTHER TACK.
THE van ship is to tack and run one point large, till she can bear away, under the stern of the rear ship, as far as the course which the fleet is to hold. All the ships are to perform the same manoeuvre at the same points, to change the order and get upon the other tack.
The van ship, instead of tacking, may veer and run a little time before the wind, before getting on. the other tack: then she will heave to the wind on the fleet’s course, without fear of breaking through the rear. This movement is shorter, and to be prefered, since the order of convoy is never held to keep by the wind.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF BATTLE TO THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN THREE COLUMNS, ON THE SAME TACK.
THE three leaders of the columns are to bear away together, and steer on the intended course; then the ships of each squadron are to execute the same manoeuvre in succession, following the same direction; so that the three rear ships, veering at the same time in the wake of their respective columns, will compleat the evolution.
The columns will find themselves too distant from each other; but, as there is nothing which disturbs them, and they have the wind right aft or very large, it will be easy for them to close as much as may be necessary.
TO CHANGE FROM THE LINE OF BATTLE TO THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN THREE COLUMNS, ON THE OTHER TACK.
THE three leading ships of the columns are to heave in stays at the same time, and bear away on the perpendicular of the wind on the other tack: then the ships of each squadron are to perform the same manoeuvre in succession; and, when the rear ships shall have turned about and be in a line with their respective columns, and the leaders of the weather divisions shall, by crowding all the sails, have come a-breast of the van ship of the lee squadron, the evolution will be compleated.
If the fleet is to steer more large than the perpendicular to the wind, it will be easily formed, by making the leaders and their columns bear away in succession, then putting afterwards the columns at the necessary distance from each other.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF RETREAT TO THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN ONE LINE.
ONE of the wings is to haul together close by the wind, on the same tack as the line of bearing on which they are formed, in order to bear away in succession at the point of the angle, in the wake of the other wing; the ships of which are to run with the wind four points large, on their line of bearing; and, when the last ship of the weather wing is in the wake of her line, the order of convoy is formed.
If necessary to sail more large, the van ship and the rest of the fleet may bear away more, in succession: or should you not wish to keep away so much, the same ships may keep their wind more, and follow the van ship in succession.
TO CHANGE FROM THE ORDER OF RETREAT TO THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN THREE COLUMNS.
IT is necessary first to form the order of battle, and to pass from that to the order of convoy in three columns, as just before directed.
TO RESTORE THE ORDER OF CONVOY IN ONE LINE, WHEN THE WIND COMES A-HEAD MORE THAN CLOSE-HAULED.
IT is easy to conceive that the order of convoy cannot be disturbed by all the shifts of wind, as long as it is more abaft than the starboard and larboard lines of bearing; because the ships, steering large in the wake of each other, can easily maintain their posts, having only their sails to trim, whether the fleet be in one line or in several columns. But, if the wind draws more a-head than one of the lines above-mentioned, it is evident, the ships being obliged to veer, or pay off, all at the same time on the same tack, the order will be disturbed. We shall now proceed to give the method to restore it on the same tack, when the fleet is in one line in the order of convoy. If we suppose the fleet steering large on the starboard tack, and the wind come suddenly right a-head, which would immediately throw all the sails flat a-back on their masts, the van ship is to cast instantly to port, and bring to on the starboard tack, while all the rest of the fleet are to box off, all together and at the same time, to starboard, and make all sail, in order to come with celerity close by the wind on the larboard tack, and get into the wake of the van ship, then to tack and take their stations successively under an easy sail, and bringing to likewise till the rear ship, which has a good way to run, be in her post.
Should you wish to get on the other tack, then the van ship is to cast to starboard, to bring to on the larboard tack by the wind; then the rest of the fleet would cast the other way, to tack afterwards successively in the wake of the ship which lies to, and take their station there, as has been said before; with this difference, that, after the restoring of the order, you would find yourself on the larboard tack.
|If the sudden shift of wind be not quite a-head, or if it be six points, or between six and twelve, the van ship is, nevertheless, to bring to on one tack, while the rest of the fleet, casting on the starboard, make all sail to gain her wake, to tack there, and thus regain their stations.The order of convoy may be restored by a still shorter and more simple method, but which will cause the fleet to drop to leeward more than the former does. In the same case as the last, when the wind comes right a-head, the whole fleet is to pay off on the same tack, if the ships are all on one line, and the rear ship must bring to, while the rest of the ships, running five points large (if the wind has shifted six points beyond the direction of close-hauled), will come and bring to successively a-head of the rear ship on that line of bearing which they are to hold, observing that such ships are to carry a greater and proportionable press of sail, as, being nearer the van ship, have consequently more way to run before they can regain their posts.To know how many points or degrees the weather ships have to run large to get into their stations, add eight points or ninety degrees to the half of the points or degrees the wind has shifted beyond one of the two lines of bearing: and, in regaining your posts, you will have the quantity of points by which you differ from the course you steered. For example, if you were steering East, and the wind shift to that point of the compass, it will have shifted six points beyond one of the directions close-hauled, which you would have been able to preserve on the same tack; so that, adding half of six points to eight, you will have eleven points difference from the East course which you steered before, and you will consequently sail N W by N on one tack, to restore the order, or S W by S on the other, to gain your posts close by the wind in a line with the rear ship; which, bearing West before the shift of wind, ought now to bear S S W, if close to the wind on the starboard tack, or N N W if posted upon a bow-and-quarter line on the larboard tack. Therefore, to regain their stations in the line, the ships run five points large. Had the wind shifted four points only, it would have blown E S E; and the ships, taking their posts on the starboard tack, to the N E of the rear ship which is lying-to, would have steered N N W to fall into their stations, and restore the order of convoy on the same tack.|
TO RESTORE THE ORDER OF CONVOY, IN THREE COLUMNS, WHEN DISTURBED BY A SUDDEN SHIFT OF WIND RIGHT A-HEAD.
WHEN the wind shifts on a sudden right a-head, or between the two lines of bearing, the order of convoy is to be restored by the whole fleet casting the same way all together, leaving the three rear ships of the columns lying-to, close to the wind on the tack on which you purpose to continue close-hauled; while the ships of the three columns running large all together on a course (to leeward of the first), which must always be determined by half the number of points or degrees the wind has shifted beyond the direction of close-hauled, added to eight points or ninety degrees, will bear away with ease for their stations in the close-hauled line of bearing, which they are to hold to the windward side of their rear ship; where they will arrive successively, by carrying more sail according as they may be nearer to the van, because in that case they have a greater distance to run.
OF THE CONVOY OF MERCHANT SHIPS, UNDER THE PROTECTION OF MEN OF WAR.
TO take the requisite care of a large fleet, there should be in the convoy a number of frigates, which are to be distributed a-head, a-stern, and on the wings of the fleet, which is always to be kept in the order of convoy on three, four, five, or six columns, according to the number it may be composed of: some other frigates are also to be sent on the look-out, in order to be informed of what passes at a certain distance, and warned in good time of the approach of the enemy.
If the frigates which are sent to look out should discover an enemy of superior force, they will make it known by signal, and perhaps it may be thought advisable that they should steer a different course from that of the fleet, in order to deceive the hostile ships in sight.
The men of war are to hold themselves in the order of convoy a little a-head and to windward of the weather column of the fleet; because, in that position, they will be able with promptitude to attend wherever their presence may be necessary. The frigates will repeat the signals from one to another with celerity and exactness, that their purport may, with all possible expedition, be made known to the commanding officer, who, on the other hand, must not neglect to have all suspicious and neutral ships chased, and even stopped, by the frigates about him, and which are always to be supported by one or two line of battle ships, according to the exigency of circumstances.
The degree of progress which the whole fleet will make will be regulated by that of the worst-going ships, which, however, are to be abandoned when found to cause too great a loss of time; for, sometimes, it is better to risk a small loss than to expose the whole by delay.
There will be placed between the columns, sloops of war, and other swift-sailing light vessels, to maintain order, and keep the ships in their stations. Their particular business will be to get the tardy ships to make more sail, and to oblige those which may be out of their post to resume it; in the evening they will give an account, to the frigates having charge of going the round, of those which have not well manoeuvered; and these will make their report to the commodore.
During the night the same order will be maintained, except with respect to the look-out frigates, which are to be called in within a certain distance of the fleet, and which are to be allowed lights as well as the rest of the men of war. They are to be particularly careful to oblige all straggling ships to return to the convoy, and to fire, without hesitating, on all strange vessels coming from the main sea, in order to give the alarm, Every night they are to be supported on the wings by some line of battle ships.
PART THE THIRD.
WE now come to the System of Tactics which has been proposed by the Viscount de Grenier; and which is certainly a bold innovation upon the tactics of the present day.
The additions and alterations of preceding writers did not subvert the established principle, but were accommodated to it. They never thought of altering THE ORDER OF BATTLE: this, however, the Viscount has done, and consequently has rendered necessary a different mode of evolution.
The productions of an ingenious mind are seldom barren of utility; and, although these tactics should never be practised, some of the reasoning, upon which the old system is condemned, and by which the new one is defended, may contribute to improve the art of naval war.
PRELIMINARY REFLECTIONS, AND DESCRIPTION OF A NEW ORDER OF BATTLE.
MANY naval expeditions, three battles in which I* have been personally engaged, the analysis of naval tactics, the attentive perusal of the journals and accounts published on the manoeuvres of our fleets and on those of our enemies, have made me sensible of the necessity of improving the art of defence and attack at sea. My encouragement in this undertaking has been so much the greater, as the success did not seem to me impossible.
I have considered the art of war by sea in a new point of view: I have laid down new principles, and have endeavoured to present them in a succinct and intelligible manner. Should such officers, as come to a knowledge of them, not coincide with me in opinion, I hope they will do justice to my intentions.
Should men of abilities, diverted of prejudice, analyse my work, and allow that it may be of some utility, it will be a satisfaction to me to witness, in my life-time, the success of so pure an intention as mine, the end of which was only to employ my leisure hours in the investigation of the following objects.
* We have thought it right, in translating this work, to adopt the stile of the original, in the use of the first person: we must therefore remember that the Viscount de Grenier is speaking of himself.
|first, To render ineffectual part of an enemy’s forces, in order to collect the whole strength of a fleet against those attacking or attacked; and, thereby, to be able to overcome the remaining part with more facility and certainty.Secondly, Never to present to the enemy any part of a fleet without its being flanked; so that, were the enemy to attack those parts which hitherto were ever reckoned weak, he should find himself even defeated.The art of war does not consist in the mere bravery and obstinate intrepidity of individuals; its chief object is to become master of the field of battle, to take possession of the enemy even while he is able to defend himself, or to put him to flight through terror. Thus it is that the glory of a nation may be characterised, and the fame of a military corps may obtain immortality.|
The NEW TACTICS which I am going to propose are naturally calculated to confirm these useful truths, provided the officer, who commands a fleet governed by my new principles, do not lose sight of the essential object I have just pointed out to him; and if he, accordingly, cause the divisions of that fleet to manoeuvre so as to draw part of that of the enemy out of the whole body of it, and to keep that detached part to windward because, in such a position, this very part must be vanquished by all the united forces of the fleet ranged in the new order, before it can be assisted by the remainder of the fleet which would be to leeward. Such is what I propose to prove beyond doubt; and I hope this assertion will appear so much the more just, as it will be evident that, in all cases whatever, the admiral will have no occasion to perplex himself with any more than two positions, on both tacks necessary for the three squadrons of his fleet, and whence result four general orders in each position. The combination of the movements of these orders will produce above 240 different positions, or, in one word, all the possible positions which may enable one to face the enemy with celerity, without disunion, (even after having been separated) on all the points of the compass where that enemy might present himself, either in attack or defence, to windward or to leeward. Each squadron in these positions, in passing from one order to another, would never have any other course to make but one of the two close-hauled courses, or their opposite; and in which, finally, these same squadrons might easily fall together in order of battle, on one part of the enemy’s forces in those shifts of wind which often happen during engagements, and which have frequently occasioned the loss of a battle to a fleet ranged according to the usual order.
It appears to me, that the art of war by sea has not hitherto been considered in its true point of view; and that the TREATISES OF NAVAL TACTICS, which have been published by Father HOSTE, M. DE MOROGUES, M. DU PAVILLON, and others, are of no other service than to teach the manner of ranging the ships for battle; but do not lay down the method of attacking an enemy with advantage, or defending against him in the best manner possible.
All the rules given in those treatises are reducible to a few principal propositions, in which all the ships of a fleet are ranged in three columns, or in one line, with the wind aft or large; or ranged on the obtuse angles of chasing or retreating; and that they are of no other use than to inform us how ships are to manoeuvre in order to range themselves in one single line close-hauled, which they have termed the order of battle; and how to pass from that line to any of the other positions before enumerated, which they have called the order of sailing*, and the order of convoy**. Some Tacticians have considered the order of battle in one single line close-hauled, as an order not to
* The Viscount here alludes to M. Morogues, and
|be varied from; notwithstanding experience has proved, that, if a fleet formed upon that line be divided by a change of wind, by a vigorous attack of the enemy, or by any other cause, such ships as are separated can no longer act but as single ships, which have no more any collective disposition, and with which it is almost impossible to re-join, so as to form a new body, and one single will in the execution of a general manoeuvre.Experience has proved again, that, from any of the positions, or orders of sailing in three columns, according to those tactics, it is impossible to pass to the order of battle within reach of the enemy’s shot, without giving that enemy an opportunity of breaking into the line which you wish to form, if he knows how to avail himself of the disadvantageous positions in which the columns must be while they are making the manoeuvres requisite for the formation of that line.Experience proves likewise, that, should not the enemy be able to penetrate into the line, while it is forming, he may, after it is formed, throw himself with a superior number on one of the parts it is composed of, in the van or in the rear, when he himself is to windward, and put it to flight*; because the two extremities of that line are always defenceless, and, on account of the greatness of its extent, it is impossible to repair to either of those extremities, in order to defend them, with the same celerity as the enemy can who attacks them.|
From these undeniable truths, it seemed to me necessary to deviate from the prescribed rules, in order to find out a more perfect system of tactics, wherein all the chief movements of a fleet should bear a relation to its positions; wherein all the forces of that fleet should be so disposed, that the two extremities of a line of battle had nothing to fear from the enemy; wherein all the squadrons might be put in action without any confusion, either collectively or separately; wherein their separation from each other should no longer be considered as a disadvantage; wherein the movements of each division might be executed within the reach of the enemy’s shot, at the very moment of the attack, without any risk of being endangered by his fire; wherein, in short, all the forces of a fleet should be so disposed as to be able always to attack with advantage, and to defend in the best manner possible. This is what has engaged my attention. But, before I deliver my thoughts on that subject, I am going to shew that the usual order of battle cannot suit either the defence or the attack, and that we are not to look upon it as an invariable system, since the very author who has laid down and fixed the principles of the tactics now in use, and on which all the others have since been framed, did not himself consider it as such.
That one order, which offers all the ships in a single line close-hauled, steering in the wakes of each other, very close, is observed with so much rigour, that if, during action, the ships stand not close, and as it were chained together, they are thought to be exposed to unavoidable defeat; and such persons as are persuaded of the necessity of this very close order, are alarmed, and even disconcerted, as soon as they perceive the enemy to have penetrated the line. A variety of causes may, however, contribute to the breaking of it, without its being in the power of the commander in chief, or of the officers under him, to prevent it, whatever may be their knowledge and prefence of mind; such, for example, as the sudden umasting of some ships, which, for that reason, necessarily quit their post; a defect in the construction of others, which, falling to leeward much more than the rest, get out of the line without changing their course or their manoeuvre, and thereby open a free passage to the enemy for dividing the line in every place where such kind of
* The English have, no doubt, judged rightly of the weakness of our line of battle: for, in the various engagements in which I have been during the two last wars, they have directed their first effort on our rear, and upon it without keeping any order. It is even very sure that the defeat of M. De Conflans was owing entirely to no other circumstance but that method of attacking his fleet.
|ships are stationed. Another cause may be, the sudden change of wind, which (especially if it veers aft) may offer a favourable opportunity of penetrating the line before its order can be reestablished.This order of battle is therefore infinitely defective in any case of being merely upon the defensive, since nothing more than an unlucky broadside, the accidental drift of a badly constructed ship, or a sudden shift of wind, may give an advantage to the enemy.Nor is this all. That order of battle is defective in a numerous fleet, on account of the communication of the signals, and the want of facility in giving such orders as are most suitable to the position of the fleet; for its extreme extent may retard the communication of the admiral’s signals, and of course the execution of his orders; rendering it perhaps even impossible; because in so remote a point of view, he cannot judge, with precision, of the distance which is requisite for each different manoeuvre he may order. But let us now consider that order of battle with respect to the attack.|
The close dependance of all the ships together, from the first a-head to the last a-stern, and which is to render that line the stronger for defence, supposing even that none of its parts suffer from any of the accidents above mentioned, gives it an inactivity absolutely detrimental, when it is to commence the attack.
If the enemy is inferior and resolves to retreat, he naturally directs his course to that point of the compass upon which he expects to make the greatest way. It even happens sometimes that every ship makes sail without regarding a particular order of sailing, which might obstruct her flight; consequently the attacking fleet cannot reasonably observe the line of battle in chasing the enemy: for, to come up with him, there is an absolute necessity to croud like him, all the sails, and make courses on such points of the compass as the chased ships stand on. In such a case, the usual order of battle is useless.
If you suppose the adverse fleet of equal strength, and disposed to receive your attack, how will you be able to do it with advantage, if you do not fall with a superior number on his rear, in order to try to break his line, or put it into confusion? And must you not, in this case, neglect the usual order of battle?
If, in short, instead of falling with a superior number on one of the extremities of the adverse line of battle, you want to prolong your own line to windward, making a line equal in extent to his, from the first ship a-head to the last a-stern; so that each ship of the two adverse lines should exactly correspond with each other; what else can be the consequence of it but an engagement, abandoned to mere chance; an engagement, in which the most able commander in chief may not be able to get any general manoeuvre executed, to save the damaged part of his fleet, but by exposing another to be destroyed, while it executes the evolutions necessary for that purpose, under the fire of the enemy? Engagements of that kind always remain undecided; because, after many blows given and received, both the commanders end by observing each other till night comes on; and the less stubborn of the two seizes that opportunity to set off by some unexpected manoeuvre.
Finally, this order of battle, which may expose the attacking fleet to the same inconveniences as that which stands on defence only, arising from the difficult communication of signals, shift of wind, and the uncertainty of sufficient space for its manoeuvres; which does not permit an attack upon the enemy, with superior advantage, without being forced to disregard that very order; such an order is as detrimental in the attack as defective in the defence.
|I am therefore going to propose a new order of battle, wherein the fleet, composed of three divisions, will be ranged on the three sides of a regular lozenge, formed by the intersecting of the two close-hauled lines, instead of being in one single line, as in the usual order of battle; and wherein one of the divisions will always be ranged in order of battle, while the two others, resting upon the first ship a-head, and the last a-stern of that division, will be formed on the close-hauled line opposite, and will stand on checquer-wise*, (or in bow-and-quarter line,) on the same tack as the ships which are in line of battle.In this situation the two divisions, whose ships will steer checquer-wise, will serve to cover the head-most and the sternmost ships of the line of battle, to hinder the enemy from penetrating into that line (should he, from the reasons before deduced, have an opportunity so to do); it will serve to repel the enemy, were he to attempt to double the rear, in order to place it between two fires; and, finally, they will be able to fall, very readily, on one of the divisions of the enemy’s fleet, and detach it from the rest, in order to engage that detached part with all possible advantage. |
EXPLANATION OF THE HORIZON, AND OF ITS PARTS UNDER A NEW DENOMINATION, AS APPLICABLE TO THIS SYSTEM OF TACTICS.
THE circle of the horizon, for any object whatever, changes necessarily every time that object changes its place; for the object always occupies the center: and the direction of the wind, which seems to be fixed to one particular point of that horizon, changes likewise its place successively as the object itself changes its centre, although in fact the wind continues still to blow from the same point of the compass with respect to that object, when this object does not alter its course. Therefore, a ship, each ship of a fleet, even each individual of that ship, or of that fleet, occupies always and necessarily
* As I should not be surprised to hear some seamen exclaim, that it is very difficult for the ships in one line to preserve their posts checquer-wise, and that it must be an obstacle to the admission of this new system of tactics; it will be very easy for me to answer them thus:
First, that, if that reason was a sufficient one to reject my ideas, it would be a stronger motive to reject also the usual tactics; since, out of the sixteen positions which serve as a foundation to that system, there is one half in which the ships are ranged checquer-wise. Secondly, that it is impossible to pass from any of the remaining positions to the order of battle, without the ships of each column steering checquer-wise. But, besides, as the order of battle has been determined to be on the close-hauled line, and as, on the surface of the horizon, the compass offers us eighteen courses large against two close-hauled, it is scarcely possible to make any evolution whatever on all that surface, but by following some of those large courses: and one is obliged, so as to be able to range one’s self as quick as possible in order of battle, to steer checquer-wise on a close-hauled line. This incontestible truth being once acknowledged, the objection becomes of no effect; especially if one considers that it will be much more easy, than it is imagined, to preserve the checquer-wise order, of which I am speaking, as the two divisions will rest upon two fixed points, viz. the first ship ahead, and the last a stern of the line of battle; and if each ship takes care only to-keep, in respect to the ship next to and to windward of her, so as to stand in the same line and in her wake, if she is on the other tack, they will be sure to find themselves in a line of battle after having gone about.
For the remainder, it signifies very little whether the ship which is to leeward of the other is exactly in the precise point of that evolution: she will be in her right place as soon as, by turning about, she can stand large on the ship nearest to her and a-weather of her; observing, however, that the intermediate vessels of the leeward squadron should not over-shoot the direction of the wind, with respect to the headmost ship of the second squadron; because that is the post of the aftermost ship of that leeward squadron.
Besides, each of those ships manoeuvering according to that method, the checquer-wise order will easily be preserved; thus no objection of this sort can be entertained.
|the center of an horizon; this is an evident truth. But, to have an adequate idea of the evolutions of ships, acting singly or collectively, it is necessary to consider that truth as a principle not to be lost sight of. Accordingly, I conceive the circle of the horizon as divided into two unequal, instead of equal, parts; [Tactics, pl. XVI. fig. 1.] the one, in which the ship, placed in the center of that horizon, may easily present her head, and steer on twenty points of the compass by sailing on all the direct courses possible from the center of the horizon towards all the points of the circumference, from one of the close-hauled lines to the other, by removing gradually from the one as far as the wind right-aft, and by approaching afterward the other close-hauled line as she removes from the wind right-aft. The other part of the horizon I consider to be that in which the ship, placed in the same center, cannot present her head to more than twelve rhombs of the compass, on the side of the direction of the wind, when, with the assistance of the helm and the sails, she is made to shoot a-head on that side, without her being notwithstanding able to move herself towards any of those twelve parts of the horizon. For these considerations I shall name the first of these parts, the direct and graduated space: because, in that space, all the courses possible to be steered may be marked by degree from each of the two close-hauled lines to the wind right-aft; and that whoever chooses to go to any of the points marked on that part of the horizon, may steer a direct course from the center from which he sails to the point where he wishes to go, whatever may be the rhomb on which, in that space, that point may be placed. The second of those two parts I shall name theindirect, crossed, and ungraduated space; because, from the sixth point of the compass, on either side, to the direction of the wind, a ship cannot steer from the center to the circumference of the horizon; but, in order to arrive in that part at one of the proposed points of the surface of the globe, she is obliged to follow one of the two close-hauled lines, or both alternately, and steer consequently cross courses, which must necessarily delay her progress.It is from that new division of the horizon into two unequal parts that I shall shew the true mean of destroying the forces of the enemy, and to render engagements decisive.For, if we suppose a fleet so disposed that no more than a part of it should be able to fight to leeward, with another fleet equal in number of ships, ranged to windward in one single line; as, for example, supposing that the three squadrons of the fleet to leeward should be ranged on three of the sides of a lozenge [Tactics, XVI. fig. 2.] a b, c d, e f; the squadron a b, which is most to windward of all, being drawn up in line of battle, cannot be fought but by an equal number of ships A B of the weather fleet A B, C D, F while all the rest remain inactive; unless the ships, which are not engaged, should try to pass to leeward of the fleet a b, c d, e f, which is itself already to leeward. But, if those ships of the weather fleet thought proper to bear away, is it not very sure that the remaining ships placed from A to B, which are fighting to windward (and which cannot fall off like the other ships which are placed from C I to F I), ought, with respect to these, to be considered as a squadron placed in that part of the horizon which we have denominated crossed and difficult, and to which these last ships are no longer able to repair, unless by steering alternately the two close-hauled lines; which would infinitely delay the assistance which the ships of the squadron A B might stand in need of. Now, if, in that case, the two other squadrons c d, e f, of the fleet ranged according to the new system, and which did not engage, come to windward and join with the squadron a b, against that of the enemy which is to windward, is it not certain that the squadron A B of the enemy, which is to windward, might be destroyed, before it can receive any assistance from the remainder of the fleet which is to leeward, from the point C I to the point F I ?|
|I think, therefore, that the great art of war at sea ought to consist chiefly in endeavouring, by stratagem, or by the nature of the evolutions, to draw or keep to windward a part of the adverse fleet, and to be able to collect all one’s forces against that part. It is an incontestable principle; and it is that which has determined me to give a definition of the parts of the horizon, to render more clear the utility of that principle. It shews me even what an error we generally lie under, when we give it as an indispensable rule always to endeavour to get to windward of the enemy.The ancients, who manoeuvered with oars, had all their weapons at the prow of their ships. They attacked their enemy by presenting a pike which was fixed to that prow, and came to blows after having boarded each other. In order to facilitate such an attack, it was absolutely necessary they should be to windward of their enemy, because the impulse of the wave accelerated the velocity which the strength of the rowers gave to their ships.That impulse of the wave was absolutely contrary to all the efforts of the ship under the lee. If she wished to engage, it was absolutely necessary to dispute the wind with her enemy as much as possible, in order to gain over him a real advantage. For want of reflection this rule has been handed down to our days, when the construction of our ships, and the nature of our offensive and defensive weapons, require us to present the flank instead of the prow to the enemy: and it is what any one will be sensible of; if he compare the advantages of a fleet placed to windward with those of one placed to leeward. They will see that the windward position is advantageous only to a fleet much weaker than that of the enemy, and which is obliged to retreat to avoid an action: but it is of great importance for a fleet willing to attack an enemy with equal forces, who is ready to accept the engagement, to keep under the lee of that enemy; because the ships of the leeward fleet are able to work the guns of their lower tier, which very often are of little, if of any, service at all to the ships fighting to windward, especially after a cruize, on account of the consumption of provisions and ammunition, the weight of which cannot be replaced, and destroys considerably the stability; and because the fleet which is to leeward gives the adverse fleet to windward (if it be beaten) no means of avoiding being destroyed, nor to shelter, from the enemy’s fire, such ships as may be disabled, as that to leeward can do. The only real disadvantage the lee fleet is exposed to, is the smoak which concentrates between the decks: but it is possible to remedy this inconvenience by means as easy to practise as to foresee.|
OBSERVATIONS ON THE DIFFERENT ORDERS NECESSARY FOR THE DIFFERENT SITUATIONS OF A FLEET.
1. AN ORDER OF SAILING is requisite. That order of sailing which keeps best together all the ships of a fleet, so that they may, in the most rapid manner possible, be formed in order of battle, ought to be preferred to any other.
There is no occasion for more than three orders of sailing. One, when a fleet is to pass a streight; another, when it steers in an open sea, either looking for the enemy or trying to avoid him; or when proceeding on a voyage; and the third is requisite when a fleet has an extensive cruize to perform, so as not to be surprized or cut off by the enemy. Therefore, whatever I propose will be relative to these three objects.
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|2dly, AN ORDER OF BATTLE is necessary; so calculated, that, by a quick movement, the ships of a fleet may reciprocally protect each other, and engage the enemy on whatever side he appears, either to windward or to leeward.3dly, There must be AN ORDER OF CHASING; so disposed, that all the ships may act at one time against all the forces of a retreating enemy; and be capable of quickly resuming the ORDER of BATTLE, if the enemy, after having retreated a little, should shew a design of coming to action.4thly, AN ORDER OF RETREAT is necessary; by which all the ships of the fleet may be able reciprocally to assist each other, and prevent their being separated by the forces of the pursuing enemy.|
That order of retreat is the best which may most readily be changed into that of battle.
5thly, AN ORDER OF CONVOY is essential for the safety and protection of merchant ships from one port to another. That which is calculated to extend protection and shelter to these ships on every side, against the approach of an enemy, without interruping their course, must be the most desirable.
6thly, There must likewise be an ORDER OF CIRCUMVALLATION; the object of which is to separate from the hostile fleet a part of its forces, in order to engage the remainder with more advantage.
That which, being correctly and opportunely formed, can produce an equality between two fleets unequal by the number of their ships, can hold victory in suspense, and even determine it in favour of the inferior fleet, claims undoubtedly the preference.
Upon these principles, I shall now explain the general orders I wish to propose.
THE FIRST ORDER OF SAILING.
THIS order of sailing consists in the ships being arranged in such a manner, that, whatever course they steer, they should always be in the wakes of one another. This order is that which is, and must be, observed in any narrow road, whatever may be the occasion of its narrowness, either rocks or sands. [Tactics, pl. XVII. fig. 4.]
THE SECOND ORDER OF SAILING.
IN this order of sailing, hitherto absolutely unknown, the columns a b, c d, e f, of the fleet are to be formed on three sides of a regular lozenge, and ranged on the two close-hauled lines; the ships of the two divisions c d, e f, (*sometimes to windward [Tactics, pl. XVII. fig. 6.] and sometimes to leeward [Tactics, pl. XVII. fig. 5.] of the third division a b,) are to be formed on two parallels of one of the close-hauled lines in the wakes of their respective headmost ships; and this third divisiona b is to be ranged a-head of the two others on the other close-hauled line, and nevertheless steer checquer-wise the same course as the two divisions, c d and e f.
When the division a b shall be to windward of the two others, I will call that order the windward, primitive order of sailing (fig. 5); and if, on the contrary, the two divisions c d, e f, are to windward of the division a b, I will call it the leeward primitive order of sailing (fig. 6.)
* In this the Viscount de Grenier is rather incorrect; for, in fig. 5, the divisions a b and e f areequally to windward of c d; and, in fig. 6, a b and c d are equally to leeward of e f.-Translator.
|This order must facilitate the communication of signals to all parts of the fleet; and it will be so much the more easily observed, when the ships shall gain to windward in the close-hauled line of bearing, or steer to leeward four points large, opposite to one of the two close-hauled lines; for, in either case, they will be in a line in the wakes of their headmost ship.|
AN IMPORTANT OBSERVATION.
THE position of the three divisions in the windward primitive order of sailing is the same for the order of battle natural, the order of retreat, and the order of circumvallation.
That of the three divisions in the leeward primitive order of sailing is also the same for the order of battle inverted, the order of chasing, and the order of convoy.
Therefore, in all possible cases, the admiral commanding a fleet need not perplex himself with any other than these two positions on one or the other tack, whatever movements he may wish the fleet to make.
The only difference between these different orders consists chiefly in the course which the ships of each division are to steer, and in their positions with respect to the tack on which the fleet is to be, which tack shall always be the same with that of the course to be steered, as in the usual tactics*.
THE THIRD ORDER OF SAILING.
IN this order of sailing, the two divisions c d, e f, instead of bearing on the headmost and sternmost ships of the third division a b, as in the primitive order of sailing, may be remote from that third division as much as it will be thought proper for a cruize; and they may be very usefully placed at a very great distance from one another, provided that the ships of each of these divisions shall keep always their respective positions in the two lines of bearing; because they can then quickly reunite at sight of the enemy, and resume the primitive order of sailing, by making, each on their side, the movement which is to bring them nearer. For, if these three divisions a b, c d, e f, should be situated at six leagues distance from each other, they will be able to see over a space of fifty leagues circumference, without the enemy being able to surprise the fleet in disorder while they manoeuvre to resume the primitive order; because the space, taken from the center of the horizon, wherein each ship of the three divisions stands, to the point of the circumference of that horizon where the enemy is discovered, being allowed to be six leagues, each division
* If seamen, expert in the ordinary tactics, will compare the space occupied by the three divisions of a fleet disposed in the order of sailing in three columns, and that which is to be occupied by them when they are disposed in the present windward or leeward primitive order of sailing, (supposing the distances between the ships in the respective positions of both systems to be equal,) they will find, 1st, that in both cases the fleet must occupy an equal superficies; 2dly, that the distance of the two farthermost ships of the fleet, according to the new order, does not exceed by two sevenths that which exists between the two farthermost ships of one of the three divisions of the usual order of sailing; 3dly, that, in the usual system, all the ships of the lee column are to leeward of the leewardmost ship of the fleet ranged according to the new order, and that, for that reason, we may consider the ships in this new order of sailing, as being more connected together than in the order of sailing in three columns, since they are more capable of affording each other mutual assistance.
|(in order to reform) would have only half that way to make, while the enemy must have, to come up with it, the six leagues from which he was discovered, and plus half the way which each divisions has to make in order to join the two others.If, indeed, we suppose the three divisions a b, c d, e f, [Tactics, pl. XVII. fig. 7.] to be in such a position that the two divisions a b, e f, should be at six leagues distance from each other; and that the triangle S, T, V, the two points of which S and V are the two extremities of the base, on which rest the two divisions c d, e f, and the point T the summit of that triangle, where is fixed the center ship of the division a b: should that division a b, steer from T towards X, on the course opposite to the close-hauled line it steered before, while the two divisions c d, e f, steered likewise from V and from S towards X, these three divisions would have each only three leagues to make, in order to join the two other divisions: and therefore, as these three divisions have only each their three leagues to run to avoid the enemy, this enemy, who had been perceived at six leagues distance, has necessarily nine leagues to make, before he can reach the same point. As the greatest celerity with which ships are known to sail does not allow us to believe it possible that the enemy can come up with any of those divisions before they have formed in the windward primitive order of sailing, we may, I presume, consider this third order of sailing as exceedingly advantageous for a fleet when cruizing; and so much the more so, as the frigates may be of great utility to give notice, from a still farther distance, of the approach of the enemy, and facilitate still more the communication of signals, if they are placed a-head and in the intervals between the divisions at the points y y y to windward and to leeward of the fleet*. |
ORDER OF BATTLE.
THE new order of battle I propose is such, that the three columns of a fleet are formed on the three sides of a regular lozenge, as in the windward primitive order of sailing; except, however, that only the ships of one of the three divisions stand in the wakes one of another, and that those of the two other divisions are ranged on two parallel lines and steer checquer-wise. So that if you want to change a fleet from the windward primitive order of sailing to this new order of battle on the other tack, the movement will be infinitely quicker than those which, in former known tactics, are commonly prescribed to pass from all the orders of sailing either in one line, or on the obtuse angle of chasing or retreating, or in three or six divisions, to the usual order of battle. For it will be sufficient for the ships of the three divisions, ranged in the windward primitive order of sailing, to heave in stays all together, and get on the other tack in the opposite line of bearing, and they will instantly find themselves in this new proposed order of battle; [Tactics, pl. XVII. fig. 8.] and, should the fleet be in the leeward primitive order of sailing, it would be sufficient for the ships of the three divisions all together to haul their wind on the same tack as they steer, and they would find themselves in order of battle. [Tactics, pl. XVII. fig. 9.]
* We may, if we will, suppose that in this order of sailing for a cruize, the three divisions, to be ranged in the leeward primitive order of sailing; in which case it will be easily conceived that the squadron, of which the center ship is supported to windward on the summit of the triangle S T V, may equally be so on the same summit when supposed to leeward of the base; and that the three squadrons will also have it equally in their power to join each other by contrary movements, before the enemy can come up with either of them, or even prevent that junction. Therefore, I shall not attempt to give any demonstration.
|When the two columns c d, e f, (fig. 8.) are to leeward of the third division a b, ranged in order of battle, I shall name that order the order of battle natural; when, on the contrary, these two divisions,c d, e f, are to windward of the division ranged in order of battle, (fig. 9.) I shall name that order the order of battle inverted.The former of these two orders is calculated for a fleet which must combat to leeward, and the latter for a fleet combating to windward.|
OBSERVATIONS ON THE NATURAL AND INVERTED ORDERS OF BATTLE.
IF we suppose that the division, which is to combat to windward or to leeward, can take either the starboard or larboard tacks, we shall see hereafter that it may easily be ranged on the four sides of the lozenge*, and that it can of course face the enemy on whatever side of the horizon he presents himself. But, in order to know, at first sight of the enemy, whether he is to windward or to leeward of the fleet ranged lozenge-like, on what tack, and on what side, the fleet is to be formed, to attack or defend themselves with advantage, it is proper to know that, in both the windward and leeward primitive orders of sailing, the direction of the wind always traverses both the weathermost and leewardmost ships of the fleet; [Tactics, pl. XVII. fig. 8 & 9.] that this leewardmost ship is always placed in the center of an horizon, which is to be considered as the horizon of the whole fleet; and that it is from that ship you are to judge, by means of the rules which are known and practised in such cases, whether the lozenge-like fleet be to windward or to leeward of that of the enemy.
If you want to know, at sight of the enemy, seen either to windward or to leeward, on what side the line of battle is to be formed in order to be able to send one of the divisions on that side of the lozenge where there is none, it is the position of the enemy, with respect to the direction of the wind, which is to determine it; because, if the enemy is to windward of the fleet ranged in the windward primitive order of sailing, and, if it bears down on that fleet, with the wind large or right aft, it belongs to its weathermost ship to observe what follows.
If that ship, by setting the enemy, finds him to starboard of the direction of the wind, the division, which is starboard of that direction of the wind, is to take the starboard tack, and range in order of battle before the enemy is arrived within gun-shot: if, on the contrary, the above-mentioned ship finds the enemy to larboard, it belongs to the larboard division to assume the order of battle, and to take that tack, before the enemy can come to action; which will be very easy.
The old rule for choosing the proper tack is to be observed by a fleet in the leeward primitive order of sailing; observing that it is the business of that fleet’s leewardmost ship to determine it; and the point of the horizon which is opposite to that whence the wind blows is the point towards which the observer is to be turned to judge on what side, whether starboard or larboard, the line of battle is to be formed; because, in that position, the starboard side must always be on his right hand and the larboard on his left.
* In the section of evolutions it will be shewn, very particularly, with what ease and celerity a fleet may pass from all the positions of the primitive order of sailing to the order of battle on the four sides of the lozenge.
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|By following this general rule, the line of battle will never be exposed to be prolonged either to windward or to leeward, nor on the opposite tack, by all the ships of the adverse fleet formed in one single line, nor even to be surprised in disorder by that fleet while you are forming in orders of battle, natural or inverted.|
MOVEMENTS WHICH CAN BE EXECUTED BY THE TWO DIVISIONS RANGED CHECQUER-WISE, AND RESTING THE ONE ON THE HEADMOST, AND THE OTHER ON THE STERNMOST, SHIPS OF THE LINE OF BATTLE RANGED ACCORDING TO THE NEW ORDER OF BATTLE NATURAL; WITH A COMPARISON BETWEEN THAT ORDER AND THE USUAL ORDER OF BATTLE.
SUPPOSE the line A B, C D, E F, to represent the fleet of an enemy to windward in the ordinary order of battle, on the close-hauled line of bearing and the starboard tack; [Tactics, pl. XVIII. fig. 10.] then, the leeward line a b will represent one of the divisions, in order of battle on the starboard tack, of the fleet ranged according to the new natural order, which the enemy wishes to attack, and to which he believes himself superior, because that division offers a front infinitely inferior to his own*.
The two lines c d, e f, will represent the two other divisions standing on checquer-wise on the same tack as the line of battle, and formed on the opposite close-hauled line.
On this supposition, if the divisions A B, E F, of the hostile fleet, which have it not in their power to attack the ships of the line a b, wish to fall on the headmost ship a or the sternmost b of that line, they will be obliged to bear away in order to attack the two ships a and b: then it is necessary that each of the divisions c d, e f, of the fleet ranged according to the new order, should make the following evolutions according to their respective situations and to the manoeuvre of the enemy.
1st, The ships of the division a b are to slacken as much as possible their headway, and form a very close line, till the enemy makes a movement to attack the headmost or sternmost ship of that division.
2dly, The ships of the division c d are to make sail till they come under the third ship of the rear of the line of battle a b **, when they will take the same sail as the ships of that division, to preserve that position until the hostile ships make their evolution to attack the rear ships of that division. In this situation the ships of the division c d will be able to observe the manoeuvres of the enemy, in order to change tack and form themselves in order of battle on the opposite board as soon as the hostile ships shall have, after their bearing away, run over a certain space: because the ships of the divisionc d, steering afterwards close-hauled in the wake of the sternmost ship of the division a b, will be able to cover the rear ships of that division, and get the weather-gage of the hostile divisions which are bearing a way; rake their ships; run along-side of them; double their rearguard, and put
* It is undoubted that a number of ships, whatever it may be, cannot be attacked on the same tack but by an equal number of ships, when they are ranged in order of battle in one single line.
** The position which I direct here for the division c d refers only to the time I suppose necessary to change tack and come very close to the rear ship of the same division a b. I might as well have prescribed it under the second or fourth ship of the rear of the same division a b, the whole depending merely on the time necessary for the division c d to make its evolution. It is what may be tried when you exercise the evolutions.
|it between two fires, if those hostile ships are following in the wake of each other*; divide it, if they bear away checquer-wise; or gain to windward and put between two fires the enemy’s division C D, while it is engaged with the division a b.3dly, The ships of the division e f may abandon their post and run checquer-wise under a press of sail on the same course and in the same order they were formed, as soon as they perceive that the enemy falls a-head of the division a b; in order that, if the division A B of that enemy makes any manoeuvre to bear away and fall on the division e f, or on the van of the division a b, they might, by going about, steer in order of battle close-hauled on the opposite line of bearing, and cover the headmost ship of the division a b, double the hostile division C D a-head, or divide the other hostile division A B, which is running checquer-wise on the opposite tack.The two divisions c d, e f, might again manoeuvre another way, in case the ships of the enemy were ranged in one single line, not well formed, or should be in disorder and leave too great a distance between them while they are engaged very close with the division a b. [Tactics, pl. XVIII. fig. 11.]|
1st, By putting about the ships of the division e f, and likewise the ship a headmost of the division a b.
2dly, By making at the same time the ships of the division c d tack, and likewise the ship b of the division a b, to keep by the wind, on the opposite close-hauled line.
3dly, By making all the ships of the division a b (which stood between the headmost a and the sternmost b) bear away four points at the same time, and making them also take the same tack as the ships of the other two divisions when they are on the beam of the sternmost ships of those two divisions; because, in that position, the ships of the two divisions c d, e f, might gain to windward, on two parallels in order of battle, in the wake of the two headmost a and b; they might put between two fires a part of the enemy’s ships, which then would be obliged to take the same tack as these two divisions, because the ships of the division a b (which are on the same tack as those two divisions) might prevent the ships of the enemy steering the course opposite to that tack.
To conclude, these two divisions c d, e f [Tactics, pl. XVIII. fig. 12.] may manoeuvre in another manner and join both together the rear ships of the division a b, in case those of the enemy, instead of falling on the head of that division, should attack the sternmost b. But this is what we shall see more particularly in the section on the movements of war**, which follows immediately that on evolutions.
From this succinct exposition it may be observed, 1st, That, in the first supposition, the way of thus disposing the forces of a fleet is so much the more suitable to the defence of the headmost and sternmost ships a line of battle; as the ships of the division c d, being covered by that line of battle, are able to manoeuvre without any one ship of that division being exposed to the fire of the enemy; that the division e f, the headmost ship of which is e, always presents the side to the enemy, without any one ship of that division being exposed to receive the fire of the enemy either a-head or a-stern, because they are not to range in a line of battle unless the enemy runs large or before the wind.
* If the hostile ships which are not engaged with any of those of the division a b bear away in succession in the wake of their headmost, in order to pass to leeward of the division a b and to put it between two fires, then the ships of the division e f must necessarily take the weather-gage of them, since the headmost of that division e f is, by her very situation, already to windward of the headmost of the adverse ships which are bearing away, and she has the opportunity to come as close as possible to the sternmost ship b of the line of battle a b.
** The Viscount de Grenier did not proceed sufficiently far in his new system to give the public this section on the movements of war.-Translator.
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|2dly, That, in the second supposition, the only ships which are liable to be raked a-stern, while they change tack, are the headmost and sternmost of the division in line of battle which cover the ships of the other two divisions.3rdly, That, in the third supposition, the ships of both divisions c d and e f, manoeuvring under the lee of the division a b, are equally, both during the action and the time of their evolution, sheltered from the fire of the enemy*.On the contrary, these things can scarcely be put in practice in the ordinary order of battle, in which all the ships are ranged in one single line close-hauled; in which neither of the divisions can manoeuvre, to go and assist another division, without tacking or veering under the fire of the enemy; without, consequently, being liable to be disabled by the shot of that enemy to whom it cannot return any. For, if we suppose [Tactics, pl. XVIII. fig. 13.] the two fleets A B, C D, E F, and a b, c d, e f, ranged in order of battle close-hauled on the starboard tack, and the leeward division e f disabled by the adverse ships; how will it be possible for the van a b or the centre c d to go to the assistance of the rear e f, without veering or going about? How will they be able to execute one of these movements, under the fire of the adverse fleet ranged as well as they within range of the guns on the close-hauled line of bearing, without being raked either a-head or a-stern? How could they, in short, assist the other divisions a b, c d, if they had been disabled during the action, without exposing themselves instantly to the very same dangers? It is impossible. And thence it is, that, in actions between two fleets ranged in two parallel lines close-hauled, they are obliged to pay no regard to their weakened part; that the disabled ships of the leeward line get out from that line, in order to shelter themselves under some other ship, while they repair the damage they have received, if it be not considerable, or they run before the wind, by crowding as much sail as they can, when the damage is such as to require much time to repair it. And thence it is, too, that those of the windward line drop a-stern, to get out of the line of battle, and manoeuvre as the leeward ones do in similar circumstances; and thus it is, in short, that naval battles fought in this manner almost** always remain undecided; because, by a change of wind, or the approach of night, as I said before, the less stub-born commander gets away from him who is more obstinate, or they both mutually separate, by the windward fleet keeping the luff, and the leeward one bearing away some points.|
The result of the comparison is, that the new order I propose is preferable, in this respect, to the ordinary one. But I propose to evince it still more particularly some other time.
OF THE ORDER OF CHASING.
AS the order of chasing supposes naturally that the pursued enemy is to leeward, a fleet ranged in the new leeward primitive order of sailing must be in the most advantageous position for chasing, [Tactics, pl. XIX. fig. 14.] by steering large or with the wind right aft, as most convenient for the
* One may readily conceive the movements which might be executed by there two divisions in the inverted order of battle; in which they stand checquer-wise to windward, instead of to leeward, of the division in line of battle: for these two divisions might execute all their movements full as well and as free from the fire of the enemy as in the precedent supposition.
** The author has been properly cautious in this expression. History records many instances of decisive battles on the ocean.- Translator.
|pursuit; because, should the enemy choose to commence an action after having at first fled, and resume the order of battle, the ships of the fleet ranged according to the new order would have only to keep close by the wind to find themselves ranged in the order of battle inverted, however large might be their course, while chasing; and, should the enemy take the opposite tack, they might equally well present one of the divisions in a line of battle, and form themselves immediately after, according to the prescribed order to combat with advantage, as we shall make it appear evident in the section concerning evolutions.If, notwithstanding, the enemy you wish to chase happen to have the weather-gage of you, the windward primitive order of sailing [Tactics, p1. XVII. fig. 5.] will be the most natural to observe for chasing, close-hauled or large, as far as the perpendicular to the direction of the wind on the board he was first perceived; because, in that case, should the enemy choose to engage after having avoided it, the fleet ranged according to the new order might very speedily be formed in order of battle, on either tack, according to the board which the enemy’s ships would take. This is what will likewise be made more evident in the section on evolutions.|
IN this lozenge-like position, it may be observe that the fleet, in the order of chasing, presents the obtuse angle of chasing, as when ranged according to the ordinary tactics; with this difference, that, in order to form themselves in order of battle, it is enough that, in this lozenge-like position, the ships of the second division should all keep the wind on the same board they were standing on, because they would afterwards find themselves in a line in the wake one of another; but, according to the usual tactics, the ships have a long space to run before they can execute the same evolution.
OF THE ORDER OF RETREAT.
THE defective extent of the ordinary line of battle, the impossibility of speedily defending the two extremities of that line, the slowness and uncertainty with which the signals are communicated, are as evident in both the order of retreat as in that of battle commonly practised, whether you retreat according to the prescribed method of the obtuse angle, or prefer the line a-breast on the perpendicular to the wind, or whether, in short, you form it in one single line or in one of the close-hauled lines; because all the ships of the fleet, which are steering checquer-wise, are afterwards to form themselves in order of battle in one line, and they never can execute that in practice with the precision and celerity which is required in theory; as it is almost impossible for each ship to keep her station checquer-wise, in any order whatever, with the wind right-aft or large, by observing the rule commonly given. For, should the greatest part of the fleet, being not so good sailers as the rest, remain a-stern at the very moment necessary to range themselves in order of battle, it cannot be executed unless the best sailers, who are to leeward, have brought to, to wait for them, and the best sailers to windward have done the same successively from the very first to the last, in proportion as they arrive in the wake of the former who are lying-to. But, how very difficult is it not afterwards to form that line of battle, when you are obliged to correct the defects arising from the lying-to, owing to the more or less lee-way of ships in that situation! What an advantage has not your enemy over
|you, if he can attack you in that situation, wherein your ships are all motionless, and leave necessarily between them spaces, which that enemy may avail himself of, to divide your line and envelop a part of it, especially at each of its extremities!I thought proper, therefore, to pay no more attention to that kind of order of retreat than to the customary order of battle; and, accordingly, I propose, as a new order of retreat, [Tactics, pl. XIX. fig. 15.] the same order of the divisions as in the windward primitive order of sailing, the ships of the fleet steering large or with the wind right-aft; because, whatever may be the course, they must be very speedily formed in the order of battle natural, either by keeping all together by the wind and forming themselves on the same tack as the enemy, or by taking the opposite tack, as we shall have an opportunity to explain more particularly in the third section on evolutions.Should any one, however, retort on me the observations I have made on the impossibility of preserving an order checquer-wise, I will answer,|
1st, That it cannot be material for more than one division only; while, in the customary order, it is so for all of them.
2dly, That it cannot again be material, with respect to the distances it might occasion between the ships of that division, however near might be the pursuing enemy, endeavouring either to divide it or to attack both its extremities; because the two divisions which are resting to leeward on the head-most and sternmost ships of that division, would always be disposed to defend them, and repel the enemy that attempted penetrating into the line.
Finally, I will answer, that, as the division which is to form the order of battle takes up only the third part of the space which is required by a fleet ranged in the common order of retreat, much less difficulty would occur in forming it on one line, and much less time would be employed in performing that evolution, especially if the leewardmost ship first keeps by the wind, making as little sail as possible, and if those to windward take their stations according to the degree of their celerity; and place themselves in the wake one of another without ever bringing to; for, bringing to is the most defective of all evolutions which can ever be put in practice.
IN this order of retreat, formed lozenge-like, we may observe an obtuse angle similar to that of the ordinary tactics: and that the ships of the second division, in order to form in order of battle, have only to keep by the wind on the same board as they are standing: but which cannot be performed in the usual order of retreat, unless by a very long and tedious movement.
OF THE ORDER OF CONVOY.
THE order of convoy ought to be formed in the same manner as the leeward primitive order of sailing, except that the two divisions which steer four points large in order of sailing, are to steer close-hauled on the line of bearing which is opposite to that in the order of sailing; and that the third division is equally to form itself on the close-hauled line of bearing on the same course as the two other divisions, so that the merchant ships may be surrounded by These three divisions [Tactics, pl. XIX. fig. 16.] and steer afterwards checquer-wise with the wind large or right-aft. In
|this position, (agreeable to the desire of the commander of the convoy, even if it be very considerable, and take up a great superficies,) the escorting fleet will be able, without disturbing the order it is in, to surround it, by means of merely increasing the distance between each ship: but, in case the convoy were to be met by an enemy sufficiently strong to come to action, and who had a mind to do it, then it might perform the evolution we shall prescribe in the section concerning evolutions.Moreover, this order may again be useful should you wish to encompass, or to put between two fires, a part of the enemy’s force which might be separated from the body of the fleet. This will also be shewn in the sequel. |
OF THE ORDER OF CIRCUMVALLATION.
IN the order of circumvallation [Tactics, pl. XIX. fig. 17.] the ships of the three divisions are to be ranged in the same order as the windward primitive order of sailing, and steer the course opposite to that of the close-hauled line of bearing on which they are formed; because, in running on part of the enemy’s ships, they may put them between two fires and separate them from their fleet, if they pass from that order of circumvallation to the order of convoy, as will be seen in the section on evolutions.
BEFORE explaining the different movements which the divisions are to perform in the new order of a regular lozenge, I cannot forbear laying down some general rules of the utmost importance.
I. The order of sailing on one line is that which is to be observed by the ships of a fleet in going out of any harbour, or anchorage whatever.
II. To form that line speedily and without confusion, the station of the ships should not be regulated by the order of the list, or rank of seniority of their commanders, the admirals excepted, who are to keep aside and to windward of the line.
III. Ships which are nearest to the mouth of the harbour, or which are most offward, are to get under way first; and those which come successively in that same position, with respect to the remaining part of the fleet which is still at anchor, are to do the same one after another.
IV. When the road is very wide, and many ships may get under way at a time, without risk of damage or confusion, they are at liberty to do it, provided that the ships most offward of the road, or of the direction of the wind, get first under way.
|V. After the ships of that fleet are come out of a port or road, steering with the wind large or right-aft, they are next to form themselves in a close-hauled line of bearing before they assume the primitive order of sailing lozenge-like. And, that they may with precision execute that movement, it is necessary that the ship who first got under way should rake the head of the line, and observe not to keep close by the wind before she is sure that the other ships are to windward of the course she is to steer.VI. The ships which, in getting under way, have followed successively the headmost ship, are to regulate their steerage each by their ship a-head, if they be either to windward or in the wake of that ship; and they are to keep always as close to the wind as possible, if they be to leeward of her.VII. Were the ships in the open sea separated by a calm or some other cause, and it were found necessary to resume the order of sailing on a close-hauled line of bearing, to be able afterwards to pass to the various orders of sailing lozenge-like; then the headmost ship of all, happening to be on the side of the tack on which the order is to be formed, is to be the van ship of that line.|
But, before hauling by the wind, that ship is to set, as I said before, all the other vessels to windward of the course she is going to steer To this effect, at the moment the signal for rallying is made, all the ships are to haul the wind, if the other is to windward of them; or, if she be to leeward, it will be her business to haul the wind, and all the others will bear away and come in succession to form themselves in her wake, manoeuvring, always so as to follow closely the ship a-head of them, either to windward or to leeward.
VIII. The fleet being ranged close-hauled in one line, the admirals (who, as we said before, art. II. are to keep themselves to windward of that line) will come and take their stations, each in his own squadron. To this end, the ships which are to compose each of those divisions will manoeuvre so as to leave proper room for their admiral; which will be so much the more easy to execute, as those admirals who are to windward of that line, and who must know not only the number of ships that has been allotted to each division, but also which they are, will be able to repair to the station which shall have been assigned them by the commander in chief either at the head or in the center of their squadron, according to the signal made for that purpose. But, it is necessary that this evolution should be made with a press of sail from the van to the rear, and in succession, that the order of that line be not disturbed, and no ship be obliged to bring to.
IX. To range a fleet on a regular lozenge, the division which is to windward or to leeward of the two parallel divisions must be composed of one ship more than either of the two other divisions*: therefore, in all cases, this division will have one ship more than the two others; and, should you wish to know what number of ships are requisite to compose a fleet intended to be ranged in the lozenge-like order, the table of the regular lozenge is in this progression: 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 31, 34, 37, &c. increasing always by three, from 7 to 100, and ad infinitum: so that, with one of those given numbers, should you wish to know of how many vessels the divisions of a fleet are to
* In the customary order of battle the three divisions which compose a fleet are each formed of a number of ships equal to the third part of the whole. The admiral is placed in the middle of the center squadron. If he keeps that station, during action, it is impossible for him to see what passes at the van or at the rear of his fleet; if he quits that station to inspect and judge the effects of the action, he leaves a vacancy: and the center squadron, weaker by one ship than either the van or the rear of the line of battle, more surely be considered as a defect in the formation of the three divisions ? And would it not be more advantagous to have it rather stronger by one ship than the two other divisions ? This advantage arises, in every case, from the ranging a fleet in the form of a regular lozenge; an order in which the admiral, placed in the center of that lozenge, can, as I have already demonstrated, judge with precision of the behaviour of his fleet, and of the consequences of the action from the beginning to the end.
|be composed, first take one out of that number, and the third part of that remainder will be the number sought for, to which you will add the first subtracted unit to compose the second division.|
IF you want to know how many ships are to compose each division of a fleet of forty-nine ships, you must first take one out of forty-nine, leaving forty eight, the third of which, being sixteen, is the number of which the first and third divisions are to be composed: then, to the sixteen of the second division add the subtracted one of the forty-nine, you will have seventeen for that division. And thus it is for any other number; which must be determined on before quitting the anchoring-place. And, in order that each ship should know which division she belongs to when the whole fleet is ranged in one single line, the van ship of that line shall hoist at the top of the mizen mast the flag marked No. 1, the next will hoist at the same place No. 2, and thus successively all the ships which follow the van ship, as far as No. 16, will do the same, if the fleet is composed of forty-nine ships, or as far as the third of any number.
The sternmost or rear ship hoist at the top of the fore-topgallant mast the same flag No. 1, that which precedes her will hoist at the same place No 2, and thus successively all the other ships as far as No. 16, or the third part of the quantity of ships with which the whole fleet is composed.
In this way the ships of the center division, not hoisting any number, will be known to be those which are to compose the other division.
X. When the fleet is ranged on the three sides of the lozenge, with the second division to windward, the headmost and sternmost ships of that division become the van ships of the two other divisions in all the evolutions the fleet may practise to gain to windward; and they will, on the contrary, become rear ships whenever the fleet shall steer large or with the wind right-aft. If this second division is to leeward of the two others, the sternmost ships of the first and third divisions will become the van ships of these two same divisions whenever the fleet steers large or before the wind; but if this second division is close-hauled, then the sternmost of the first division will become headmost of the second, and the sternmost of the third will be the rear of the second. When the fleet is formed in the lozenge order of battle, only these three are the principal things (whatever may be the distance allotted between the ships) necessary to maintain it; viz.
The first, that the sternmost of the third division, and the headmost of the second, should bear from one another in the direction of the wind.
The second, that the sternmost of the first division, and the sternmost of the second, be both on the perpendicular of the wind.
And the third, that the headmost of the first division should bring the headmost of the second division on the close-hauled line of bearing opposite to her tacks: that the headmost of the third division should bring in the same manner the sternmost of the second; and that all the ships of each division, from their headmost to their sternmost, should bring each other successively on the close-hauled line of bearing opposite to that of their course; so that, were all the ships of each division to steer close-hauled on the other board, they would find themselves in the wake of their respective seconds a-head, and which are to windward of them. This will be so much the more easy to practise, as the headmost and sternmost of the second division, which serve as a point of support to the ships of the first and third divisions, are in a line, and therefore in a fixed and determined position.
XI. Whenever the fleet shall be ranged in one single line, the first division then be the foremost; the second will be that of the center; and the third will be that which holds to the rear ship. They might otherwise be designed, by van guard, the center, and the rear guard.
|XII. When you want to change the order from one line to the regular lozenge, you must always put one ship more in that division which is to be at the head of the two others, and to form of course the second division. To execute this without confusion you will make use of the numbered flags, as prescribed before in the ninth article, only observing the following method of doing it.If it be the van guard of the fleet ranged in one line which is designed to be the second division, the ships which compose it hoist no flags; but the sternmost of the line will hoist No. 1, and then, from that sternmost to the tenth ship (if the fleet be composed of thirty-one,) every ship will hoist her own proper number. Then, the ship which precedes No 10 will hoist also No 1, and thus successively up to the tenth ship every one will hoist likewise her proper number; so that the eleven remaining ships of the fleet are those which form the second division.The same method is to be observed, when the rear is the division destined to be the second in the order of the regular lozenge; with this only difference, that it is the headmost ship of the line which is to hoist the flag No. 1, and that those which are next after her are to conform themselves successively one after another to what I said just now with respect to the hoisting of their respective numbers.|
As for what concerns the center division, what we have already said, art. IX, may be considered as sufficient.
XIII. When the fleet shall be ranged in the order of the regular lozenge, the weathermost of the two parallel divisions is to be called the first division, and the other the third. That which is at the head of these two divisions (in whatever of the general orders of the lozenge it may be) is to be termed the second. By these means there never will be any danger of mistaking the commands for the execution of any evolution.
XIV. Whenever any of the divisions of the lozenge-like fleet is to pass to a different position, to assume another order, the headmost ship will remain in the same post where she is, and the next ship to her is to become headmost to that division, during the time of the evolution.
XV. The divisions named first, second, and third, preserve their respective denominations while they perform their evolution to pass from one order to another, till that evolution is compleated, and the new order assumed.
XVI. If the three divisions cease to move in the lozenge-like order, either to make head-way, or go a-stern, to get to windward or to leeward, the number of ships they are composed of is never to be altered, unless the admiral thinks proper to add some ships to one of them, which he will give notice of by a particular signal.
XVII. When, from the position in which the enemy is perceived to be, the particular order of battle is resolved on, the divisions should always begin to form themselves in the respective positions of that order, and then they may steer the course most proper to near the enemy. Thus, the ships of the three divisions will have but one movement to make to be in a situation of either attacking or defending.
XVIII. When, in the explanation of an evolution, the expression pressing sail is made use of, it is to be understood that such are to be set which will give a ship the swiftness necessary to make her execute with precision the evolution required. It is, therefore, not sufficient to add only a few sails, but all of them are to be set which the ship can carry, and none are to be suppressed till she is arrived at her station.
This article concerns especially the worst sailers of the fleet, which are not to neglect setting all the sails they can possibly carry, that they may not cause delay, but preserve their post.
XIX. When the fleet, being in one of the orders of sailing, tacks together, it is to be wished, for the precision of the evolution, that all the ships could perform it at the same instant: but as, in
|this common movement, the ships might run foul of each other, it must be a rule that none shall heave in stays before her next a-stern has let go the sheets of her fore-staysail.XX. Whenever, while the fleet is running checquer-wise on one of the close-hauled lines of bearing, the admiral wishes to change the tack, all the ships of the line are to tack (as we have just now said) when the movement of her which is immediately to windward be determined.XXI. In veering in succession, the chief object is, that each ship should find herself at her station after the execution of the movement. Hence it results that they are, as much as possible, to run in the same wakes as the headmost of the line, which will be easily done, by increasing or diminishing sail.|
XXII. In an evolution when all the ships of the line are to bear away at the same time, the van ships are to take care not to bear away before those of the rear have done it, in order to avoid their mutual running foul of each other.
XXIII. When the fleet tacks in succession, the ships are to be very attentive in tacking exactly in the wake of their headmost ship, without lengthening the line: whence it follows that no ship is to wait till that which is a-head of her has compleated her evolution before she herself begins also to tack; and that when a ship wishes to find herself at her post after having tacked, she is to regulate herself by some of the ships already close-hauled on the other tack, if there be any so ranged already, or judge at one glance the place they will take up after they shall have ended their evolution.
XXIV. When the order has been so disturbed as not to be susceptible of being restored by a simple movement, the three divisions must form themselves first in one single line, that they may more easily afterwards resume the lozenge-like order: and, in that case, the leewardmost ship of the fleet is that by which the other ships are to regulate themselves to form that line, as has been mentioned in the articles II, V, VI, and VII.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE DIVISION OF A FLEET INTO DIVISIONS OR SQUADRONS.
THE method of forming a fleet in a lozenge-like order, which I now propose, changes in nothing the division of a fleet according to the established custom. It is true that the second division of this lozenge-like fleet is composed of one ship more than either of the two others. But that does not prevent the sub-dividing of that division in the same proportions as those of the other two, viz. in thirds, because the exceeding vessel of that squadron may several ways be considered as being there necessary. In the first place, she may be considered as belonging to the center division of that squadron, and intended to make it stronger in that part. In the second place, she may be considered as a single ship of the fleet, placed in that post to serve as a guide to the whole fleet, and as a van to the first and second divisions alternately, sinnce the position of all the ships of that fleet is referable to her own, and she steers alternately at the head of the first and the second divisions.
Therefore, if we suppose a fleet of sixty-four line of battle ships, besides the frigates, fire-ships, and store-ships, each division will be composed of twenty-one ships; and each subdivision will be of seven. The headmost ship of the second division may, if you like, be considered as a single ship placed there to fulfil the functions I have just mentioned; or the center ship of that division will be considered as a ship adding momentary strength to that second or center division*.
* When the three squadrons of a fleet are all equal in point of number of vessels, there is likewise in each squadron a division stronger by one or two ships than the two other divisions, whenever it happens that those squadrons cannot be divided exactly into three equal parts, as it is the case when a fleet is composed of twenty-eight or twenty-nine ships, &c.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS POSITIONS IN WHICH ARE TO BE RANGED THE SHIPS, FRIGATES, AND TRANSPORT-VESSELS BELONGING TO A LOZENGE-LIKE FLEET, WHETHER RANGED IN ORDER OF SAILING, ORDER OF BATTLE, &c.
IN the order of sailing, the admiral is to be a-head of the fleet, at a short distance from the head-most of the second division, and in the direction of the wind with the headmost of the first division. [Tactics, pl. XIX. fig. 19.]
Two of the frigates are to observe the same rule and the same position, with respect to the van ship of the third division and the sternmost of the first.
In the order of battle, on the contrary, the admiral is to be in the center of the lozenge, and two of the frigates on the south side of the lozenge. [Tactics, pl. XIX. fig. 18.]
As for the transports and store-ships, when there are any, their station is to be in one line on the side opposite to that of the enemy, when ranged in order of battle; and, if in order of sailing or convoy, they may occupy the space circumscribed by the lozenge.
In any other circumstance these ships are to occupy the different stations appointed for them, that they may distinguish the signals and execute the commands of the admiral.
Lastly, when the fleet shall pass from the order of battle to any other order whatever, or from any order to the order of battle, the admiral’s ship is to bring-to, and not to take any of the positions above mentioned till after the complete execution of the movement.
HERE the Viscount de Grenier finished his new system. It is probable that they will not supercede the present practice; but, as he has displayed much ingenuity in its contrivance, and ability in its support, as in his work many criticisms are offered upon the system which now prevails, the insertion of his labours was, we trust necessary to complete the subject, and may perhaps suggest hints for the improvement of naval tactics.
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