02 June 2012

The Glorious First of June!

Ever since I started calling the new Dystopian Wars event "The Glorious 3rd of June" I have been thinking I should actually post a blog entry commemorating the original (and, indeed, historical) naval battle known as the Glorious 1st of June.

I remember first reading about this battle as referenced by characters in the Horatio Hornblower series of historical novels which I consumed when I was younger, and then, again, the battle was referenced by characters in the Patrick O'Brien novels which I read when I was a bit older (less swashbuckling action than Horatio performed but more explanation of nautical lore to the brilliant but not so nautical Maturin).  But, of course, in the era of the Grand Napoleonic Wars, the age of Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar, the battle known and referenced as the Glorious 1st of June is hardly more than a footnote of history in these books.

And when it comes to gaming, I certainly tried to recreate the battle of Trafalgar with Wooden Ships & Iron Men, and again with Flying Colors (both attempts were played solitaire, as I could not recruit another gamer passionate (i.e. "crazy") enough to spend an entire weekend cooped up in a room pushing small cardboard counters around on a hexmap and consulting charts with every roll of the dice), but I never set up and played the scenario for the Glorious 1st of June.

And when it comes to famous naval quotes (those have been bandied about on the Man Battlestations forum lately), everyone knows Nelson's message just before the battle of Trafalgar commenced, but who even remembers which British admiral commanded at the Glorious 1st of June?  (Lord Howe commanded at the battle in the Atlantic against the French in 1794, and he was a hero to the young Nelson, but overshadowed by the latter in the Battle at the Nile, etc.)

Of course, at the time, the Glorious 1st of June was the largest naval battle between the English and the French.  It was possibly because of subsequent battles between the English and French which were even larger that the former battle was lost in history.  Also, the battle was something of a practice run, in the opinion of this armchair historian, for what was to come, providing opportunities to improve discipline and tactics (at least in the British Royal Navy).  In the end, it was remembered as a great victory by the British (even though the results of the battle were not as conclusive as others like the defeat of the Spanish Armada or Trafalgar...) and it seemed to serve as a touchstone event in developing the organization and technology in the Royal Navy which led it to prove superior over the French and expanding a British Empire across the globe for a century to come.