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"Effect of HMS Warrior have on British ACW intervention?" Topic


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500 hits since 4 Nov 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP05 Nov 2017 1:54 p.m. PST

Posit the British do not intervene on land BUT dispatch HMS Warrior to break the union blockade???
see this
link

YouTube link

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP06 Nov 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

I recommend we game it and find out. :-)

From a technical perspective, the monitors were quite dangerous. The Dahlgren 11" naval gun was already a severe danger to state-of-the-art broadside ironclads in 1862; the 15" naval gun that superceded it was even worse. These guns could penetrate any existing trans-oceanic ironclad armor within a few hundred yards (i.e., real life engagement ranges), and could also fire exploding shell that set fires and destroyed vulnerable masts and unarmored parts. In 1862 the monitors were fewer, weaker and smaller, but by 1863 they were numerous and by 1864 they were teeming and some were monstrous. I have personal doubts about any monitor's efficacy on trans-oceanic expeditions, but confined to the coasts of the Americas, I think they posed a serious threat to any naval units operating thousands of miles from the nearest friendly base, even armored ones.

We can make armchair pronouncements about the relative power of the two navies all day, but the truth is that war with even the weakest opponent was a severe danger to oceanic trade in the era of wooden ships and exploding shell. The Confederate navy, starting from zero, devastated US overseas trade in just a few years of war with a handful of small repurposed wooden steamships; the UK trade routes were even more extensive and more vulnerable, and the US Navy started the war with dozens of trans-oceanic frigates, sloops and corvettes, then demonstrated the capacity to crank out gunboats by the hundreds. That's not an opponent the UK wanted to take on.

Any move to interfere in the ACW was an act of war. The desperation of the Napoleonic Wars was still within living memory, and the United Kingdom was set against getting embroiled in such a multi-front global conflict again as long as there were better options. Sending a few ironclad units to resist the blockade would have been a weak and extremely provocative strategic move, far too likely to bloom into a much larger trans-Atlantic war. The UK probably could have won a war by siding openly with the Confederacy, but once the conflict widens so far, geopolitics become a critical consideration, and Napoleon III just across the channel was an inveterate meddler and opportunist with the second most powerful cruising navy in the world and plenty of strategic options short of declared war to hurt the UK during a large, open conflict.

So no, the Warrior was not by herself (nor even with her sister and half-sisters) a war-winning blockade-breaker. But we're wargamers, so we shouldn't let trifles like operational reality spoil a fun game. :-)

- Ix

Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2017 10:40 a.m. PST

GREAT post I'll find out this weekend. We are gaming ACW 15mm ironclads.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2017 12:56 p.m. PST

Have fun with that. I hope to hear how it goes.

Monitor vs. Warrior by radojavor

Just for pedantic fun, check out this conversation on the Civil War Talk site. Scroll down a little and look for the post calculating the stats for USS Monitor vs. HMS Warrior using the stats for the old miniatures rules The Devil At The Helm. You can then do the re-calculations for later coastal monitors with thicker turret armor (Canonicus 10", Passaic 11") and bigger XV-inch Dahlgrens. Or try out USS Dictator with 15" turret armor and XV-inch Dahlgrens…

- Ix

gamer110 Nov 2017 6:07 a.m. PST

Late to this post an not directly related but I agree with Yellow Admiral on those and other points. I am currently making a ACW game that covers the whole war and have been play testing and tweeking it for several years now. Yes mainly a labor of love:)
Based on all the research I have done I concluded it was VERY unlikely that the British or the French would get into an actual "shooting war" with the US. I think at most, even in 1862 if every thing had gone the CSAs way and it appeared they would convince the Union it wasn't worth the trouble the most Europe would have done is perhaps recognized the CSA and be more open to producing ships and material for them and make it easier to get them. I think some folks focus on the cotton issue and forget that Europe did as much trading with the northern states as the southern ones and Britain would not only have the troubles that would come with a shooting war but also would lose a lot of money because of no more or very limited trade with the north. I feel the only chance of open warfare would have been from some really unexpected event that took on a life of its own, like the Trent affair could have(possibly).
So, anyway, that is why I decided that in my game there is no rule for Europe declaring open war on the Union, the best the CSA can hope for is a large increase in resources, but no actual British or French naval or land units:)Any way, just this war gamers 2 cents worth:)

Travis

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2017 11:07 a.m. PST

Thanks for the plug for "The Devil at the Helm" Ix, I helped to develop those rules! But when I read the article I find it's my old friend John Wallis is the OP and major contributor to the tread and the DATH rules.

British intervention was always suspect but the main emphasis in the development of the British and French ironclad fleets was mutual suspicion.

The second, real fear the British had was that of commerce raiders. When you control as much of the world sea trade as the British did in the 1860s that was a very real problem. The Union, not have signed the Treaty of Paris in 1856 would have found enough New Englanders to try their hand at privateering.

I suggest reading A J Marder "The Anatomy of British Sea Power" and T. Ropp "The Development of a Modern Navy" which cover both the British and French naval policy respectively in Ironclad and Pre-Dreadnought eras. These books will disabuse the fantasy of British intervention.

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