Sea motive

Battle of Minorca redux 1756 banner


Sea motive

This restaging of the fleet action during the Battle of Minorca  has the number of ships used in the battle, with 12 Royal Navy ships of the line engaging 12 French ships of the line. The rules for the battle can be found here.

One difference to the real battle is to allow the winds (represented by the gods of the winds, the Venti) to change according to a dice roll at the end of each move. If the score is 1, the wind changes 1 point anticlockwise, 2-5 gives no change to the direction, and if a 6 is thrown, the wind changes 1 point clockwise. Likewise the strength of the wind may change, with a die roll of 1 decreasing it by one unit, 2-5 gives no change, and 6 increases it by one unit. Thus the capriciousness of the Venti can decide the fleet action on the day as the winds work in favour of one or other fleet, due to their possession of the weather gauge.

The fleets assume the positions used on the day, approximately those before the battle began at 13:45. The French ships form line ahead, and sail West. The English also form line ahead, intercepting them on a course heading North West.

The initial weather conditions match those at the start of the battle, with Afer Ventus, the south west wind blowing, at a mild strength.



Move 1

The white squadron of France (L’Orphee, Hippopotame, Redoutable & Triton) lead, sailing close hauled, followed astern by their red squadron, headed by Admiral de la Galissonière in his flagship, the Foydroyant. If the ships continue on their present course, the French will be able to ensure they overlap the English fleet, sailing beam reached, unless they change tack.

Aboard HMS Captain, leading the white squadron, the fighting instructions make clear their duty.

“As soon as the Admiral shall hoist a Red Flag on the Flag-staff at the Fore-top-mast-head, and fire a Gun, every Ship in the Fleet is to use their utmost Endeavour to engage the Enemy in the Order the Admiral has prescribed unto them.”

Sail at’em to intersect, and begin an action. Astern, HMS Intrepid, and the rest of the fleet follows. So far, only the L’Orphee and Hippopotame are visible from the French fleet at the bottom left hand side.

The Venti are consulted, and Afer Ventus tires a little, and the wind drops back a notch, which will slow the approach of each fleet.


Move 2



HMS Captain, leads the white squadron, followed by HMS IntrepidHMS Revenge and HMS Trident, sailing on a course to intersect the French fleet, led by L’Orphee, Hippopotame and Redoutable. The sailors have their sails set, and unless the winds change their mind, they must wait until they close the range and the battle can begin. The Venti are consulted, and the wind reduces by one.


Move 3


The fleets continue, with the Royal Navy red squadron now seen behind the white, led by HMS Ramillies, the flagship of Admiral Byng, and HMS Culloden. Behind the main fleet,  sails the frigate HMS Phoenix.

Afer Ventus tires, and the wind swings from the South West to West, as Favonius takes up the cudgel, at the same strength.

W D&S (1)

Move 4


Onwards the fleets sail, as slowly the gap is closed. Le Guerrier joins the rear of the French line. The wind remains the same.

W D&S (1)

Move 5


The French line is joined by the frigate Topaze to the lee of their line.  The Engish red squadron is now joined by another ship, HMS Kingston, behind HMS Culloden.

Time still for a sailors utterance from the Common Book of Prayer; Special Prayers with respect to the Enemy.

THOU, O Lord, art just and powerful: O defend our cause against the face of the enemy.
O God, thou art a strong tower of defence to all that flee unto thee: O save us from the violence of the enemy.
O Lord of hosts, fight for us, that we may glorify thee. O suffer us not to sink under the weight of our sins, or the violence of the enemy.
O Lord, arise, help us, and deliver us for thy Name’s sake.

Favonius strengthens; slowly, steadily, bringing the fleets together.

W D&S (1)

Move 6


The red squadron for the Royal Navy is now on the board as HMS Deptford is seen. In La Royal, the Fier & Foudroyant join their red squadron on the board.

Favonius continues, stronger still.

W D&S (1)

Move 7


In La Royal, the Temeraire join their red squadron on the board.

Afer Ventus takes over again, at the same strength.

W D&S (1)

Move 8


W D&S (1)

Move 9


W D&S (1)

Move 10


Move 11


Move 12


Move 13


Move 14


Move 15


Move 16


Move 17


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Move 19


Move 20


Move 21


Move 22


Move 23


Move 24


Move 25



Battle of Minorca 1756 redux