History, Politics And Current Affairs

Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff
Page 6 of 7

Author:  jemhouston [ Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Garrity wrote:
jemhouston wrote:
Washington might get suspicious.

Suspicious of what? There's already a supply convoy coming in from Westfield, Massachusetts with a new supply of ammunition for General Garrity's artillery. a few more wagons in the mix won't make that much of a difference.

All those wonderful new toys :lol:

Author:  Garrity [ Fri Feb 03, 2017 7:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

jemhouston wrote:
Garrity wrote:
jemhouston wrote:
Washington might get suspicious.

Suspicious of what? There's already a supply convoy coming in from Westfield, Massachusetts with a new supply of ammunition for General Garrity's artillery. a few more wagons in the mix won't make that much of a difference.

All those wonderful new toys :lol:

Indeed. However, my alternate self already has such a monumental reputation in the colonies that no one is going to look too hard at the materiel he's providing.

Author:  Poohbah [ Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Will the first one be named USS Fenian Ram, perchance?

Author:  Garrity [ Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Poohbah wrote:
Will the first one be named USS Fenian Ram, perchance?

i was actually thinking of either Cu Chulain or Beowulf .

Author:  jemhouston [ Sat Feb 04, 2017 4:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Will there a Fort Garrity?

Author:  Garrity [ Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

jemhouston wrote:
Will there a Fort Garrity?

Yes, and it will be VERY well-armed....

Author:  Garrity [ Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Historical note:

When I created the character of Pastor Wilbird Hawkins of the First Congregational Church in Westfield, Massachusetts, I did so because I didn't know who the real pastor was at the time. Through much research, I found out that the pastor of First Congregational at the time of this TL was John Ballantine. This worthy gentleman became the pastor of the First Congregational Church in August, 1740 and held the post until his death on February 12th, 1776. The pulpit remained unfilled until November 21st, 1781, at which time one Noah Atwater was appointed.

Author:  Garrity [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Forth unto the Enemy
Date: July 27th, 1776
Location: Harlem Heights, New York
Time: 10:00 AM

In the Continental Army’s camp just behind Harlem Heights, General Garrity comes to General Washington’s headquarters and says “sir, now that the Declaration of Independence has been promulgated throughout the several states, I believe that it would be appropriate for the British to receive a copy. Since we are fighting for our freedom, they must be shown that our reasons for so doing aren’t transient or the thing of a day. I therefore request the honor of conveying the copy to General Howe.”

“A capital suggestion, sir. How many men will you need?”

“I will go alone, accompanied only by my standard bearer.”

“Isn’t that more than a little bit risky, General?”

“Perhaps, but not overly so. Even though we are at war with the British, I believe that they still have some notions of gentlemanly behavior and would not consider harming me. In other matters, there is something I would like to discuss with General Howe while I am visiting him; with your permission, of course...”

“What is that, sir?”

“In the course of the present war, the Continental Army has come to possess numbers of British prisoners. By the same toke, the British also hold numbers of our men as prisoners. What I want to do is to give General Howe certain assurances that the British prisoners held by the Continental Army will be well-treated. In return, I will seek the same guarantees for the prisoners that the British hold.”

“A noble purpose, sir; one that I am in complete agreement with. A thought does strike me, however; what if the British refuse to give assurances in regards to the prisoners they hold?”

“In that case, I counsel that the British prisoners held by the Continental Army continue to receive proper rations, clothing and medical care. After all, a Redcoat would be much more likely to surrender if he knows that he’ll be treated well. On the other hand, if information is received that American prisoners are being mistreated, all such instances will eb noted for the record so that the offenders can be sanctioned according to law & custom.”

“Very well, General Garrity; you have my permission to proceed.”

“Thank you, sir.”

General Garrity snaps off a salute, then mounts up and rides back to where his brigade is camped. It so happened that the supplies, equipment and artillery ammunition he sent for have been delivered and stored in anticipation of later use. In particular, the limber chests for General Garrity’s artillery have all been refilled, as have the caissons (these with double loads of canister, grape, case shot and shell); the rest of the ammunition went to the brigade’s supply dump. As for the balloons, support equipment and associated telegraph gear, the materiel is being prepared for deployment per General Garrity’s orders.

Garrity rides to his headquarters tent and orders his bugler to sound ‘Officer’s Call’. When everyone is present, he says “gentlemen, General Washington has authorized me to proceed through the British lines under a flag of truce for the purpose of giving General Howe a copy of the Declaration of Independence. I will also be discussing issues regarding the treatment of prisoners-of-war.” He pauses momentarily, turns to his executive officer Allan Trent and says “my flag lieutenant Mr. Lafreniere will be coming with me; please see that he is informed. While I’m gone, you will have command of the Brigade.”

Colonel Trent acknowledges his orders with a nod of the head and replies “copy that, Mike”

The meeting concludes and, fifteen minutes later, John Lafreniere comes up and says “you wanted to see me, Mike?”

“I sure did, John. You and I are going to pay the British a visit under a flag-of-truce. I don’t think they’re going to try anything stupid, but it pays to be careful. I’ll have my Walker Dragoon revolvers in my belt holsters along with extra loaded cylinders in my saddlebags. You’ll have your Remington revolvers in your shoulder holsters, along with your Sharps carbine in a saddle scabbard. Lastly, we’ll each have our short-barreled double 8-gauge shotguns; I always did liek having them as extra ‘insurance’.”

“That’s a good idea, Mike. When do we leave?”

“Within the hour.”

Lafreniere walks back to his tent to make his preparations. First, he sees that his Sharps .54-caliber carbine is cleaned, serviced and freshly-loaded. On his waist belt, there is a leather box with 50 reloads for the Sharps. There are also pouches with four extra loaded cylinders to the Remington revolvers. Lastly, he turns his attention to ‘Old Painless’; his 8-gauge double. To lessen the gun’s weight and make it more maneuverable, the barrels have been shortened to just 20", while the muzzles have been squared, crowned and re-welded.

Instead of a copious amount of shot, each of the two barrels has been loaded with 200 grains of blackpowder, topped off with an .85-caliber round ball and six pellets of .440 round shot. For reloading, there are 12 extra charges of powder & shot carried in quick-load tubes. Lafreniere rides back to General Garrity’s command tent and says “I’m ready to go, boss; how is your hardware loaded?”

“The Walkers have 50 grains of powder and a 250-grain conical ball in their chambers; I’m not bringing my carbine or my Whitworth rifle for obvious reasons. Instead, I’ll have ‘Bad Medicine’ in a saddle scabbard. She’ll have 200 grains of powder in each barrel along with 15 pellets of .375" lead shot; if I have to drop the hammer, ‘Bad Medicine’ will certainly make a mess of anything in front of me.”

Just now, a headquarters orderly comes up with the brigade’s battle flag in hand, and hands it to Lt. Lafreniere. General Garrity now draws his two-handed sword (the one given to him by Mr. Smith at the beginning of Operation; Holdfast) and ties a length of white cloth to the tip. Then, the blade is brought to the shoulder. So armed, the two men ride out from camp, down the front of Harlem Heights, across the Hollow Way and towards the British lines. Before very long, a party of British sentries on picket duty comes out from concealment; the officer in charge calls out “halt, who goes there?”

“I am Brigadier General Michael Garrity, Continental Army. I am here under a flag of truce to speak with your commanding officer, General Howe.” The Redcoat officer takes a moment to overlook the two men on horseback before him, then he replies “very well, sir; please follow me.” Under escort, the two American officers ride through the British perimeter. They are handed off to Captain Ronald Adair, 52nd Regiment of Foot and taken to General Howe’s headquarters. Salutes are exchanged and greetings are made, then General Garrity gets down to the business at hand.

“General Howe, I am here at the request of General Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. He has charged me with the task of conveying to you a copy of the Declaration of Independence. He asks that you read it, so that you can understand the reasons why the colonies have separated themselves from Great Britain.” General Garrity signals for Lt. Lafreniere to come forward and hand him the message tube containing the copy of the Declaration. General Howe accepts it and places the tube on his desk. He replies “you may convey my respects to General Washington and tell him that I will read the document as time permits.”

“Thank you, sir. The second reason why I am here is to discuss the issue of how prisoners-of-war are to be treated. General Washington wishes me to tell you that all British prisoners held by the Continental Army will be well-treated and receive proper food, clothing and medical care. He asks for the same guarantees to be given in return for those American prisoners held by His Majesty’s forces. To see that these guarantees are carried out in full, a committee of three inspectors from each of the opposing armies will be appointed and charged with the task of seeing under what conditions prisoners are being held.”

General Howe replies “you have my word as an officer and a gentleman that such guarantees as you mention will be carried out in full.”

“Very well, sir. Now that my business here is concluded, may I enquire as to the health of General Cornwallis and his troops? I had the honor to command the brigade which opposed his late operations on Long Island.” A slight frown crosses General Howe’s face as he says “then, it was your troops who brought him down...”

“Not exactly, sir; actually, I was the one who shot him. The distance was just under 500 yards and I was mounted on horseback when I took the shot. It is fortunate for General Cornwallis that a sudden gust of wind spoiled my shot, otherwise he would most certainly be deceased. I’ll have you know that I and my personal escort went forward and opposed Cornwallis’ advance; due to my superior position, I was able to hold my ground for the space of a quarter-hour until my brigade could come up.”

“Indeed, sir. My surgeons managed to avoid having to amputate General Cornwallis’ arm, but he’ll lose the use of it. As to the others, it has been many a long year since the British Army has suffered such casualties in so short a period of time; my surgeons are still dealing with the casualties. Now that you are here, some of my more hot-headed officers are of the opinion that you should be taken and held because of that...”

Upon hearing this, General Garrity’s hands twitch ever-so-slightly; as if they are going for the butts of his revolvers. The moment passes when General Howe says “sir, you need have no fear in this regard; I immediately disabused those officers of such notions and quickly reminded them that no true gentleman would undertake such a craven maneuver.”

“I thank you for your courtesy, sir.“ Outwardly, Garrity and Lafreniere are calm, cool and collected; inside their minds, they are more than a little bit relieved at not having to fight their way out of the British camp. Now that the meeting is at an end, General Howe speaks up and says “I will arrange for your safe escort back to your lines.”

“Thank you, sir. However we meet again, I promise you that I will have no personal animosity towards you.” The two American officers mount up and prepare to ride out. A few minutes later, a party of British cavalry forms up and rides with them through the perimeter and back toward the Continental Army’s lines. After his return, General Garrity reports back to General Washington and says “sir, my mission was a success. General Howe agrees that prisoners of war must be treated decently. I proposed to him that a committee of three officers from both armies should be appointed to monitor how prisoners are being held and treated by both sides.”

“An excellent idea, sir; one that I hadn’t though of before now. My adjutant will see to the details thereof.”

Surprise, Surprise
Date: August 13th, 1776
Location: Harlem Heights & vicinity
Time: 9:00 PM

After weeks of preparation, the British Army is finally preparing to move against the Continentals on Harlem Heights. In likewise manner, the Continental Army has been busy in preparing to receive the British. General Garrity’s brigade and his artillery have been posted on the right flank along the Hudson River in anticipation of the British making a powerful thrust from that direction. On the left flank, Colonel Henry Knox and his grand battery (composed of 12- and 18-pdr guns, 8" & 10" mortars plus 24-pdr & 32-pdr howitzers) are in position.
In the meantime, General Garrity’s engineers have been busy setting up a position from which an observation balloon can be launched. This location is just 1/4 mile back from the front lines, and is protected by General Garrity’s cavalry and his flying artillery (the two mountain guns).

On the evening appointed, the balloon is unpacked and laid out on the ground behind a low earthen embankment topped with a stockade. The three wagon-mounted hydrogen generators are rolled into position and charged with loads of iron filings and dilute sulfuric acid. The gas begins to flow as the reaction begins, and is pumped into the balloon. Slowly, it begins to fill up and rise into the night sky.

The balloon’s ground crew attaches the basket to the envelope and a mooring line from the basket to a wagon-mounted windlass. As other members of the crew assemble and test the telegraph equipment on the ground and in the basket, the transmission wire is attached to the balloon’s mooring line.

General Washington and his staff are on hand to witness the preparations, and what they see fills them with awe and wonderment. Slowly but surely, the envelope fills with gas and begins to rise into the sky. Washington looks to General Garrity and says “‘tis truly a wonder to behold. How high will this device of yours rise into the sky? How will it be operated”

“Sir, the balloon is fixed to the end of a long tether and will only rise as high as I allow it to; in this case, just 1,500' above the ground. By way of comparison, this is more than three times the height of the tallest cathedrals in Europe; were the balloon not moored to the ground, it would rise a great deal higher than that and float away on the wind. As for operating the craft, there is a crew of two men; one to make the observations with his binoculars and the other to report them to the ground crew via the telegraph. At altitude, the men in the balloon’s basket can see for at least twenty miles in all directions; it would be safe to say nothing will escape their notice...”

“Truly, this contrivance of yours seems to be almost miraculous.”

“Hardly a miracle, sir; just the application of certain scientific principles with which I am well-acquainted. Perhaps the good Doctor Franklin would like to examine the balloon and its equipment when he’s available.” General Washington nods his head sagely and replies “I do believe he would, sir.”

Author:  jemhouston [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Too Bad Jefferson isn't around.

Author:  Garrity [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

jemhouston wrote:
Too Bad Jefferson isn't around.

As I understand it, he's in Philadelphia.

I'll have to mention him in a future update; aside from his foibles, Thomas Jefferson is probably one of the most intellectually-gifted men to ever be President.

Author:  Garrity [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

General Garrity's 8-gauge double (before the barrel was cut down):

One of his Walker Dragoon revolvers:

Author:  Garrity [ Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Action Stations
Date: August 14th, 1776
Location: Harlem Heights, New York
Time: 5:00 AM

Early the next morning before it starts to lighten in the eastern sky, bugles sound throughout the British camps; rousing men from their slumber and having them stand to arms. Today is the day htat General Howe has chosen for the assault on the colonial works on Harlem Heights; all throughout the ranks, there is a keen sense of anticipation at the prospect of imminent action. After a very early morning meal, the redcoats assemble themselves by companies into their respective regiments and then begin to march forward into line.

By this time, the sky is beginning to lighten in the east. Just then, a number of British officers take a note of a strange object that seems to be floating in mid-air high over the colonial lines. This matter is quickly brought to the attention of General Howe and his staff; together as one, Howe and his staff raise their spyglasses on it. General Henry Clinton remarks out loud “what in God’s name is that thing? Some damnable colonial trick, I’ll wager...”

General Howe again focuses his spyglass on the object. A frown crosses his face as he says “trick or not, look at the basket attached to the bottom of that thing. There are two men in it, and they are high enough so they can see our deployments as they happen. If there be some way of sending messages to the ground, all chance at achieving surprise is lost. We must assume that this is the case, so here is what we will do. General Clinton?”

“Yes, sir?”

“You will order the troops to demonstrate as if we intend to carry out a frontal assault. I want the colonial lines probed to test their strength and see what happens. While this is going on, send to my brother Admiral Howe. Give him my compliments and say that he is to hold his fleet in readiness to board troops at a moment’s notice. Tonight under cover of darkness, we’ll leave a sufficient number of troops in place to make the colonials think we are still here. All other troops will quietly move to board Admiral Howe’s ships.”

“What is your plan, sir?”

“While we hold the colonials in place thinking that we are going to attack in force, the remainder of our troops will be aboard the ships of the fleet; the ships will be divided into two bodies. One will advance up the East River and land troops on the west bank of the river behind the Colonial lines. At this same time, the other half of the fleet will sail up Hudson’s River and do likewise by landing troops on the east bank. My plan is to stage a simultaneous assault and take the Colonial Army by surprise from the rear.”

“A capital plan, sir. What are your orders?”

“Send word to the battery commanders that they are to range their heaviest pieces on the colonial lines. When all is in readiness, they are to open fire. While this is going on, send out patrols to conduct reconnaissance and find out where the colonials are the weakest.”

“Very good, sir.”

High over the crest of Harlem Heights, the two-man crew in the observation balloon have sent their first report via telegraph to the ground station. The substance of the report is that the British are moving troops and guns into position, and that an attack is likely before very long. This information is immediately dispatched to General Washington’s headquarters, where it is received with much interest. After reading the report, Washington says “General Garrity, that balloon of yours has already proved its worth; it seems as if the British are preparing to mount an attack against us. I would not have known this until they actually opened fire. My compliments on your foresight, sir.”

“You are very welcome, sir. I am glad to have been of service. Do you have any orders for me?

“You are to return to your command and hold your troops in readiness to repel an expected British attack. Your own artillery will follow Colonel Knox’ lead when he decides to open fire.”

General Garrity snaps to attention, renders a salute and replies “yes, sir. I’m rather looking forward to giving the redcoats a taste of New England-style hospitality.” This last is delivered with a predatory grin as General Garrity mounts up and rides out. Across on the other side of the field, the British troops are standing to, with their regimental flags flying proudly in the early-morning breeze. At a signal, the British grand battery opens fire with 24-pdr guns, 32-pdr howitzers and heavy mortars; these pieces being the only ones with the range to hit the colonial positions. The volleys from the guns and howitzers are ill-timed and somewhat ragged, while the fire from the mortars has to be constantly adjusted (either by changing the elevation of the mortar tubes or varying the size of the powder charges).

The British artillery fire is inaccurate, with only a few balls and shells falling near their intended targets; most of the projectiles fall either short or long. Those that are long tend to overshoot by a considerable margin. By General Garrity’s standards, the fire is sloppy and poorly-delivered; by contemporary British standards, the performance of the artillery is acceptable. In response, Colonel Knox gives the signal for his artillery to return fire, and so they do. Rather than having small hand-held telescopes, Knox’ gunners have binoculars, clinometers and optical rangefinders previously provided by General Garrity. These devices alone make Knox’ fire far more accurate than it would otherwise have been. As accurate as it is, however, it is nothing to compare with the fire from General Garrity’s artillery. His 12-pdr smoothbores are machined to exacting tolerances; thus giving them windage that is much tighter than contemporary guns; tighter windage means less gas escaping from behind the projectile and therefore, more power, range and accuracy; the range is 1,800 yards at 5 degrees of elevation. Next are the guns in Garrity’s flying artillery, the two 1.65” Hotchkiss-pattern rifled mountain guns. These two pieces have a range of 4,000 yards

The best performance of all is from General Garrity’s 20-pdr rifled muzzleloaders; on open ground, these guns have a range of 2,000 yards at 5 degrees of elevation and up to 4,400 yards at 15 degrees of elevation.

General Garrity’s guns are also far more powerful than anything Colonel Knox has in his inventory; both batteries have their fire propelled by charges of black powder. The difference is that Garrity’s shells are loaded with high explosives. The shells from the 20-pdr RMLs are loaded with 3 lbs of TNT; the common shell and case shot fired by the 12-pdr smoothbores are loaded with 8 ounces and 2 ounces of TNT respectively. The mountain guns are an exception, with each of their shells having a filling of four ounces of Octol. For ignition, all guns (including the 1.65" mountain rifles) use friction primers

In terms of rate-of-fire, General Garrity’s 20-pdr RMLs and 12-pdr smoothbores can let off one shot every 90 seconds. Once again, the exceptions are the two mountain guns; their small size, light weight and breechloading mechanism mean that each of these pieces can discharge up to 12-15 rounds per minute. However, the usual rate-of-fire is 10 rounds per minute for rapid fire and 6 rounds per minute for sustained fire.

While the duel between British and American artillery is going on, both sides put forth skirmishers beyond their picket lines and have them make probing attacks in order to sound out any possible weaknesses in the opposing line. In these actions, the British come out very badly due in large part to the fire superiority that General Garrity’s skirmishers have. All of his men are armed with flintlock rifle-muskets, while the British are armed with the Brown Bess smoothbore. A British officer once said that a soldier with a smoothbore musket is able to hit a man at 50 yards and is lucky to be able to hit at 100 yards; and that anyone hit at 150 yards is exceedingly unlucky. Given that Garrity’s rifle-muskets have an effective range of 300-500 yards, his troops are able to engage and decisively defeat the British skirmishers without taking so much as a single casualty.

The artillery engagement continues for hours on end, with those British guns facing Colonel Knox’ battery taking no more than the expected number of casualties. This is most definitely not the case with the grand battery facing General Garrity’s position on the colonial right flank; numerous pieces are dismounted (or otherwise put out of service) and the casualties among the crews serving them are severe. Even so, General Clinton holds to General Howe’s plan and presses the engagement only so far as is necessary to make the Colonials think that a frontal attack is in the offing.

At General Howe’s headquarters, casualty reports from the grand battery on the left flank are coming in. There are looks of shock and disbelief at the damage that portion of the colonial artillery has been able to inflict. General Clinton looks to General Howe and says “my God, sir!!; I never would have thought that the colonials would be able to deliver so destructive a volume of fire upon us, and with such accuracy, too. There must be at least a full battalion of artillery on their right, if not more...”

General Howe replies “I have a good idea that damned thing in the air (whatever it might be) bears some responsibility for what is happening. Think of it, sir; such an enormously-high vantage point would give them a commanding view of the entire battlefield and enable the colonials’ artillery fire to be much more accurately directed. Send to my battery commanders and order them to keep up a good, hot masking fire until the sun starts to set. Afterwards, you and I will move the troops under cover of darkness to the landing and get them aboard Admiral Howe’s ships as speedily as possible. The sooner we are able to come down behind the colonial lines, the better I will like it. I will take charge of those troops going up the East River and you will command that contingent going up Hudson’s River.”

General Clinton nods his head by way of reply, then says “God’s arm strike with us, sir.”

Time: 6:30 PM

The British artillery fire continues until sundown, and for some little time thereafter. After the skies darken, the plan to move the bulk of British forces aboard ship and divide them for simultaneous landings on the colonial flanks is put into place. Unbeknownst to the British commanders, General Garrity’s observers in the balloon are equipped with night vision devices. They instantly see what the British are up to and send word back to General Garrity’s command post.

A feral grin crosses General Garrity face as he thinks to himself ‘a clever plan; it’s probably what I would do if I were in their position.’ A messenger is sent to General Washington’s headquarters with a document that reads as follows:

‘Sir, I have the honor to report that my observers have seen that much of the British force is moving to board ships in the East River. I believe that they may try to move and flank us. I respectfully request that you send out cavalry patrols to gain an appreciation of where the British might try to land on the left flank; will do likewise with the Black Horse Cavalry on the right.’

After the document was sent off, General Garrity calls for his executive officer and says “Jim, send word to the shipyard. Tell them to execute Operation: Nemo after sunset tomorrow.”

“Copy that, sir.”

Operation: Nemo
Date: August 15th, 1776
Location: the waters of the East River, adjacent to Manhattan Island
Time: sunset

In the aftermath of the meeting with David Bushnell on July 12th, General Garrity ordered that the construction of Bushnell’s vessel take place with all possible speed. Operations began in a dis-used corner of the Fraser Brothers shipyard on the west bank of the East River near Harlem Heights; David Bushnell and his staff are being assisted by General Garrity’s mechanics, carpenters and blacksmiths in the construction of a craft that has the potential to change naval warfare forever; the first practical submarine.

The vessel is in the form of an elongated barrel, with a center section measuring six feet in diameter and thirty feet long; the nose is rounded and the tail tapered in order to streamline it and to make the vessel more seaworthy. The hull is fabricated from stout oaken staves softened by steaming, fastened together in a jig, left to cool then fastened together in the manner of an ordinary barrel by wrought-iron hoops; the hull is waterproofed on the inside by brewer’s pitch (ordinarily used to line the inside of beer barrels) and on the outside by regular pitch.

Inside the hull, there is a forged-iron crankshaft which extends out of the rear end and is attached to a propeller; this arrangement is turned by four men who sit on a bench provided for that purpose. The helmsman sits at the rear of the vessel and takes his orders on making course changes from the commanding officer; this individual sits at the front of the vessel underneath a small, tower-like structure into which his head and shoulders extend. The structure is leak-proof, and is fitted with small, round windows on all sides so the commander can see where the vessel is going and if there are any other craft nearby. In this, he is aided by his seat, which is mounted don a swivel so it can turn in whatever direction is needed.

Aside from giving instructions to the rowing crew and the helmsman, the commander’s job involves operating the vessel’s diving apparatus (the bow-mounted diving planes) and the ballast system. Additionally, the commander is responsible for attaching the vessel’s explosive charge to the hull of the target. Given that British ships have copper sheets nailed to the bottoms of their hulls, the charge is attached by ramming it against the target; this triggers a second, smaller charge of explosive. This second explosive drives an iron spike into the timbers of the target ship’s hull; the spike serves to attach the explosive charge by a short length of line.

The explosive charge consists of 200 lbs of TNT in a waterproofed (made so by the application of brewer’s pitch) wooden barrel, weighted to be neutrally buoyant and to float just below the surface. When the barrel is attached to the target, the vessel’s commander pulls a lanyard that activates a clockwork detonation mechanism which will set off the explosive charge after a pre-set delay; this allows the vessel to withdraw to a safe distance before the charge explodes.

In another part of the shipyard, the first explosive charge is being made by two of General Garrity’s ordnance men. The TNT is carefully melted, then poured into the barrel and allowed to cool. Once the explosives have solidified, the clockwork detonating system is attached to the outside of the barrel and the safety is engaged.

Among the people attached to David Bushnell’s staff is Sgt. Ezra Lee from the Continental Army. By mutual agreement between Bushnell and General Garrity’s engineers, Sgt. Lee was chosen to command the submarine (now named the ‘Turtle’); five other men were chosen to make up the rest of the Turtle’s crew. Over the next two weeks, the six men underwent an intensive training program during which all phases of the Turtle’s operation were practiced at length.

When word was received from General Garrity on August 14th to execute Operation: Nemo, Bushnell wasted no time in getting the submarine into the water and armed. In order to save the energy of the Turtle’s crew, the vessel was towed out into the East River at 6:30 PM and brough to a position where the river’s current would take the submarine downstream toward the British fleet. When the Turtle was ¾ mile from the ships, Sgt. Lee submerged his vessel so that he and his crew could make their attack run.

Slowly, stealthily, the Turtle crept up on the anchorage of the British fleet. Operating under the assumption that the largest vessel present would be the fleet flagship, Sgt. Lee surfaces the Turtle until the viewports in the conning tower are just barely above water. Before very long, the target is sighted.

The vessel in question is HMS Eagle, a 64-gun 3rd-Rate ship-of-the-line and flagship of Admiral Richard Howe. Presently, the ship is at anchor while the Admiral and his officers are directing the loading of General Howe’s troops aboard the other ships of the fleet. By 11:00 PM, the Turtle is just 100 yards away; aboard her, Sgt. Lee positions his vessel for attack.

Aboard ship, General Howe is conferring with his brother the Admiral about the plan to use the fleet to land troops behind the colonial lines. Below HMS Eagle’s waterline on the ship’s starboard side, the Turtle comes into contact with the target’s hull. The point of contact is the tip of an eight-foot wooden spar, and the end of which is a small, powder-filled cartridge attached to the end of an iron spike. There is a ring attached to the shaft of the spike; a mooring line runs from the spike to the wooden barrel containing 200 lbs of TNT and the exploder mechanism. When the spar hits HMS Eagle’s hull, the impact sets off the powder cartridge, drives the iron spike through the exterior copper sheeting and into the timbers. Once the spike is in place, Sgt. Lee pulls the lanyard to activate the explosive charge’s clockwork detonator mechanism; before the Turtle put off from shore, the delay was set at 90 minutes. Carefully, Sgt. Lee backs the Turtle away from the British ship and heads back towards shore.

The noise created when the spar hits HMS Eagle’s and the powder cartridge goes off is a loud ‘THUMP’. Immediately, the deck watch raises the alarm and runs to both sides of the ship to see if anything is amiss. Shortly thereafter, a midshipman comes to HMS Eagle’s great cabin and reports to Admiral Howe. He says “begging your pardon, sir. That noise we heard a short time ago seems to have come from a piece of driftwood which floated into the ship’s hull on the aft quarter of the starboard side; no damage was done.”

“Very good, Midshipman Price. You may return to your duties.”

“Aye, sir.”

Admiral Howe and his brother return to their conference; General Howe says “Richard, you will command that part of the fleet which will sail up the East River. I will command the ships which will sail up Hudson’s River from HMS Erebus; we should plan to sail at dawn”

“Very good, William. Together, we’ll land troops behind both flanks of the colonial army and cut them off from any avenue of retreat.”

“Indeed. Between the two of us, we’ll show those damnable colonials the meaning of the king’s name.” The meeting comes to an end, and General Howe is piped off HMS Eagle. He returns to HMS Erebus and begins to issue the necessary orders for his part of the operation. Back aboard HMS Eagle, many of the crew are settling down for the last night they will ever see.

Time: 9:15 PM

The clockwork detonator attached to the explosive-filled barrel performs its design function and causes a spring-loaded plunger tipped with a firing pin to fly forward and strike a percussion cap. In turn, the percussion cap goes off and causes the charge’s blasting cap to detonate the main charge of 200 lbs of TNT. The barrel containing the explosives was anchored to the hull of HMS Eagle, and floating five feet below the ship’s waterline; the magnitude of the blast was such that it ripped a thirty foot hole in the ship’s hull. Due to the incompressibility of water, the rebounding pressure wave from the explosion caused even more damage to the ship’s timbers. Not suprisingly, HMS Eagle begins to sink almost immediately.

One moment, Admiral Howe and his officers were talking in the great cabin. The next, they were all violently thrown from their seats arund the captain’s table. The admiral himself escaped with bumps, bruises and a concussion; however, some of the other officers weren’t quite so lucky. The ship’s sailing master suffered a broken collarbone and a dislocated right shoulder, while HMS Eagle’s captain suffers from a number of broken ribs from the impact of being thrown against the wall of the cabin. The other officers present suffer numbers of other injuries.

Below deck, the situation for HMS Eagle’s crew is dire. Most of the men in the immediate vicinity of the blast were killed, either by the blast or by drowning from the sudden inrush of cold water. Only those officers and men on those portions of the upper gun deck, quarterdeck and foredeck farthest from the blast are in a position to escape. HMS Eagle takes a severe list to starboard and then begins to heel over as she sinks. Of her original complement of 300 men, nearly 200 are killed or wounded.

Not surprisingly, the other ships in this part of the fleet are in an absolute panic over what happened. A number of them open fire with their guns, thinking that some Colonial warship managed to get close undetected and open fire. Aboard others, jumpy sentries and members of the deck crew open fire with muskets and swivel guns at imaginary threats on the East River.

Author:  jemhouston [ Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Better than the Hunley did

Author:  Garrity [ Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

jemhouston wrote:
Better than the Hunley did

Yep. H.L Hunley sank USS Housatonic with a charge of 90 lbs of gunpowder contained in a copper cylinder. Turtle did for HMS Eagle with 200 lbs of TNT; it probably wasn't more that 30 seconds before HMS Eagle began to sink. The clockwork delay mechanism was included to allow the Turtle to escape, otherwise it would have been sunk along with its target.

That bit about the incompressibility of water is the literal truth.

Author:  jemhouston [ Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Hunley sank also

Author:  Garrity [ Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

jemhouston wrote:
Hunley sank also

Yes, it did. Recent analysis of artifacts from the Hunley indicate that the vessel was just 20' from USS Housatonic when the spar torpedo went off. It is thought that that the shockwave from the blast knocked out the crew; they died without ever waking up.

Author:  Garrity [ Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Operation Nemo: Aftermath
Date: August 16th, 1776
Location: the East River, off the shores of Manhattan Island
Time: 10:00 AM

In the aftermath of the sinking of the British flagship HMS Eagle, Admiral Richard Howe gathers the ship’s remaining officers. Rather than call off the landing attempt, he orders “let the wounded and the dead be taken ashore and attended to. What happened to the flagship could only have been some damnable Colonial trick; therefore, I want a line of picket boats thrown out above and below the fleet. Have them crewed by troops from the some of the regiments aboard ship. Let their instructions be that any vessel or other craft not flying the British flag is to be fired upon without warning. Indeed, it be better that we shoot first and ask questions later, rather than to risk another such sinking.” To a man, the assembled officers respond “aye, sir.”

Word is passed to the other ships in the fleet of the change in command, and of Admiral Howe’s intention to go forward with the landing. Within the next two hours, picket boats are placed upstream and downstream of the fleet. In addition to a full squad of soldiers in each boat, there is also a swivel gun in the bow. Next, a fast packet boat is sent to General William Howe’s ships in Hudson’s River in order to carry word of what happened, and to say that all due precautions should be taken. Below Harlem Heights, orders are passed for an artillery bombardment to be opened against the colonial works. Battery after battery of British artillery thunders forth, the intention being to deceive the Colonial army that a frontal assault is imminent.

Unfortunately for the redcoats, the all-seeing eye of General Garrity’s reconnaissance balloon is still aloft. The two observers see and document everything within their field of view, then send it via telegraph to the ground station. Immediately, a dispatch rider is sent with the information to General Garrity at the Continental Army’s headquarters; he arrives just as the British guns open fire.

Along with General Washington, those officers present include General Artemas Ward, General Israel Putnam, General Nathaniel Greene, General Henry Lee, Colonel Henry Knox, Surgeon-General John Morgan and Quartermaster-General Thomas Mifflin. Together, General Washington, General Garrity and the upper echelon of the army’s command staff are conferring on what to do next when a headquarters orderly comes up and says “begging your pardon, sirs; this dispatch just arrived for General Garrity.” Washington nods, and the document is handed to Garrity. He reads it and says “General Washington, my observers relate that the British flagship HMS Eagle has been sunk by my submarine and that the British are on the move; apparently, the loss of that ship hasn’t dissuaded them from continuing with their plans.”

“Of course, sir; what better evidence could there be than the firing against our lines…”

“Yes, sir. My observers relate that the British fleet has divided itself into two separate bodies; one is moving on the East River and the other on Hudson’s River. I believe that the artillery barrage against our front lines is merely a ruse, meant to draw our attention there and away from our flanks. I believe that the true thrust of the attack will come when the redcoats land on Manhattan Island behind our right and left flanks, then come at us from the rear.”

General Garrity’s words cause much excited discussion among Washington’s officers; Washington allows the discussion to run its course for the next several minutes, then silences it with a wave of his hand…

“This is grave news indeed, sir. Can your troops not hinder the British advance, as they did in the late action on Long Island?”

“Yes, sir. I’ll begin by saying that the correlation of forces arrayed against the Continental Army is adverse in the extreme; even with the losses that my brigade inflicted on the redcoats, they still outnumber us by an unhealthy four-to-one. This being said, I will post four hundred of my men on the front lines; to bolster them, I respectfully request that Colonel Morgan’s regiment of riflemen be tasked with providing additional support. Together, he and I will use the superior range and accuracy of our weapons to discomfit the British where and when we may.”

“What of your other troops?”

“Sir, two of my artillery batteries will stay in position to reinforce Colonel Knox’ artillery. The remainder of my men will be divided into two separate bodies of 1,000 men each. As soon our cavalry tells us where the British are actually going to come ashore on Manhattan Island, they and my other two batteries will position themselves so as to oppose the redcoats when they actually do come ashore. Furthermore, my flying artillery and the Black Horse Cavalry will conduct raids at selected points to keep the British off-balance. Even so, these efforts are but a temporary measure.”

“How say you, General Garrity?”

“Sir, a wise man one said ‘quantity has a quality all its own.’ The British must not be allowed to cut off our ability to retreat; all of what I have proposed thus far is but a delaying action. I respectfully advise that you give orders for the army to retreat up Manhattan Island, into Westchester County and cross over Hudson’s River into the town of White Plains.”

“I understand, General Garrity. You’ll not have to worry about the British coming up Hudson’s River; you’ll please recall that I had troops from Pennsylvania undertake the construction of a pair of forts on either side of the river. Fort Washington is sited on the highest point of Manhattan Island, while Fort Lee is directly across from Fort Washington atop the New Jersey Palisades; these fortifications are so stout and so well-located that they can resist any force the British send against them. For now, I and my other officers will take counsel and give due regard to your recommendations; you’ll have my decision within the hour.”

“Very good, sir. In the meantime, I will dispose my troops so as to be able to move at a moment’s notice. Additionally, I will have the reconnaissance balloon remain on station until the bulk of the Continental Army begins to move out. The intelligence thus gathered will be of critical importance in determining when the British have committed themselves to their landings.”

“Very well, sir. You have my permission to proceed; make haste, I pray you.”

General Garrity salutes smartly, then leaves Washington’s command tent. General Washington now turns to his other officers and says “gentlemen, I would have your thoughts on the situation facing us.” Colonel Knox replies “sir, what General Garrity says makes good sense to me. If we were to stand and fight, the British would surround us and destroy the Continental Army in detail.”

“Very well, Colonel. General Ward, what say you?”

“Sir, my first impulse is to defy the British by standing and fighting them. However, such action would be foolhardy and dangerous in the extreme. If the army is lost, then our cause is lost; surviving to fight another day should be our first, last and only concern.”

“Thank you, General Ward. General Greene?”

“General Washington, I am of the opinion that General Garrity has sufficiently made his case to the point where you must give the order to withdraw.” Surgeon-General Morgan and Quartermaster-General Mifflin nod their heads in agreement with General Greene’s pronouncement. Seeing the looks on his officers faces is all the encouragement that Washington needs, so he says “this is a grave duty that fate has placed upon me; I see no other way out than to do as General Garrity suggests. General Ward?’


“Send word to all commands that they are to make ready to move out as soon as possible. Colonel Knox, you are to coordinate with General Garrity’s artillery and put down such fire as will convince the British to think that we mean to stay and fight. Colonel Morgan’s riflemen and General Garrity’s detachment will operate in support of you.”

“Very good, sir.”

Washington dismisses his staff with the pronunciation “go with God, gentlemen.” The officers file out of the command tent and dispose themselves to carry out General Washington’s orders. Over the next three days, the Continental Army’s camp is consumed with activity as tents are struck and supplies, rations & rations are packed up. All the while, Colonel Knox’ and General Garrity’s artillery are keeping up a furious barrage at the British positions below Harlem Heights. There are several forays by British skirmishers in order to gather intelligence of the Colonials’ intentions, but these are driven off handily by long-range rifle fire.

The observation crew in General Garrity’s reconnaissance balloon reports that British ships are continuing to move up the East River and Hudson’s river. These reports keep coming until the second day, at which time it is judged necessary to bring the balloon down and pack it away for later use. At David Bushnell’s secret shipyard on shores of the East River, there is a brief consideration on repeating the Turtle’s earlier attack; this idea is quickly dismissed because of the heavy presence of picket boats out in front of the British fleet. Therefore, the Turtle is dismantled and the pieces burned to keep them out of British hands. The remaining four explosive charges are re-purposed into floating mines. These are fitted with contact fuzes and released up-river of the British ships; the intention is that they should float downstream, come into contact with British shipping and explode. Only two of the four floating mines have any effect, resulting in the destruction of HMS Cerberus (a 28-gun 6th rate ship-of-the-line) and one of its tenders. The other two are destroyed by fire from alert sentries in the picket boats.

On August 19th, the British intentions become clear when the first landing boats come ashore at Throgs Neck in Westchester County. Opposing them are 2,000 men and two batteries of artillery from General Garrity’s brigade, with his flying artillery and the Black Horse Cavalry operating in support. Garrity’s defense is so stoutly-conducted that the British commanders quickly withdraw to seek another landing along the shores of Long Island Sound. Six days later, the British again come ashore, this time at a location called Pell’s Point (three miles north of Throgs Neck).

In this action, General Garrity’s men are reinforced by a further 750 troops under the command of Colonel John Glover. Together, they fight the British from behind the stone walls that are common in the area. Canister and grape from Garrity’s howitzers (along with explosive shells from his rifled guns take a severe toll on the attacking British. As each position is over-run, Garrity and Glover make a fighting withdrawl to the next wall in line.

The effects of the colonial defense are such that the British eventually break off the assault and withdraw back to the beach on which they landed. Now that British advance up Hudson’s river is stalled because of the heroic resistance of Forts Washington and Lee, General Washington is able to evacuate the entire Colonial army across Hudson’s River and into the town of White Plains.

Author:  jemhouston [ Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Think I've been in White Plains back in the 60s

Author:  Garrity [ Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

jemhouston wrote:
Think I've been in White Plains back in the 60s

Quite a few changes between now and then, right?

Author:  jemhouston [ Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Operation: Holdfast, a 'Crime Time' Spinoff

Garrity wrote:
jemhouston wrote:
Think I've been in White Plains back in the 60s

Quite a few changes between now and then, right?

According the area relatives, not all are good or desirable. NYC is the 8000 lbs. gorilla shaking the rest of the state.

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