Gray Harbor felt his own eyes narrowing in appreciation of the empress’ analysis. Chisholm had become a significant seapower only during the reign of King Sailys, yet Sharleyan clearly appreciated the way in which the command of the sea, properly applied, could hold even the most massive land power in check. She understood, he thought — understood the mobility advantages, the defensive possibilities, the way in which seapower made the most economic use of available manpower practical.

“Under the circumstances,” the empress continued, “I believe it behooves us to think in terms of encouraging Gorjah to accept the peaceful amalgamation of his kingdom into the Empire. I would hope that the fact that Cayleb saw fit to marry one of his adversaries, and to unite our house by marriage with that of yet another of his adversaries, as well, would already suggest to Gorjah that a resolution which leaves him not simply with his head, but even his crown as our vassal, is within the realm of possibilities. If we can contrive to offer him further motivation to consider such an outcome, I believe we certainly ought to be doing just that. Would you not agree, My Lord Gray Harbor?”
“Most assuredly I would, Your Majesty.” Gray Harbor half-rose from his chair to bow to her across the council table. “It simply hadn’t occurred to me to consider it in quite the terms you’ve just used. Nor, to be frank, would it have occurred to me to consider whether or not what happened in Ferayd would be likely to affect his thinking.”
“Nor to me, I confess, Your Majesty,” Archbishop Maikel said, his expression wry. “Yet, now that you’ve mentioned it, I must admit your point could be very well taken. On the one hand, what Domynyk did to Ferayd must weigh in the thinking of anyone who finds himself opposed to Charis, especially if he has cities in reach of the sea. No one will want the same thing to happen to one of his seaports, after all.
“At the same time, however, there’s the moral dimension to consider, and despite his ready acquiescence in the Group of Four’s plans, King Gorjah has never struck me as being willfully morally blind. The evidence of the Inquisition’s direct and intentional complicity in the Ferayd Massacre, and our much more measured response to it, won’t be lost upon him. Coupled with your own marriage to His Majesty and the generous terms granted to Emerald, it is, in fact, very likely he would believe, on the one hand, that any terms you and His Majesty chose to offer him would be honored, and, on the other hand, that Ferayd proves you are not, in fact, the slavering monsters the Group of Four has sought to portray in its propaganda. And, for that matter, I have no doubt Gorjah will be personally revolted by Graivyr and his fellows’ gloating pride in their part in mass murder. I don’t say he’ll be inspired to spontaneously offer his allegiance to Charis, but I do think it’s entirely possible his mind will be inclined towards accepting Charis’ sovereignty when the time comes.”
“I hope you’re correct about that, Your Eminence,” Sharleyan told him. “And my point is simply that if you are, the time to begin preparing the ground is now.”
“As you say, Your Majesty,” Gray Harbor replied.
“Excellent. Now,” she continued more briskly, “given Admiral Rock Point’s return, we find ourselves with considerably greater naval strength in home waters. It seems to me that it would be an unthrifty use of that strength to let it sit idle. I realize it’s winter, and that Charisians seem to lack a Chisholmian’s taste for winter weather,” she smiled, and this time one or two of the councilors laughed out loud, “yet it occurs to me that we might find employment for some of our cruisers completing the hunt for Delferakhan shipping wherever it may be found. In addition, however, I see no reason not to use some of them to make life as unpleasant as possible for the Group of Four in the Markovian Sea and the northern Gulf of Tarot, as well. I see no need to cast our net for Siddarmarkian merchantmen, or — especially — for those Charisian ships which seem to be flying Siddarmarkian flags these days. Nonetheless, all of our intelligence reports indicate that the Group of Four’s naval building programs are continuing to accelerate. I think it would be an excellent idea to disrupt the flow of strategic materials.”
She turned her head to look at Ahlvyno Pawalsyn, the Baron of Ironhill. Ironhill was the Keeper of the Purse, effectively the treasurer of Charis.
“I see from the report you handed us yesterday, My Lord, that even though Clyntahn’s distrust for Siddarmark is excluding the Republic from their building programs, they seem to be buying a great many of the naval stores they need from Siddarmarkian sources?”
“That’s correct, Your Majesty,” Ironhill said. “And even more from Fallos.”
“Well, in that case, I believe we should do something about that. I don’t imagine any of those naval stores are moving in those Charisian ships flying Siddarmarkian flags?”
“Ah, no, Your Majesty,” Wave Thunder replied with a crooked grin. “I think the ‘owners’ of those particular ships feel it might be . . . impolitic. For that matter, it would appear Clyntahn’s distrust of Siddarmark extends to keeping Siddarmarkians as a group as far removed as possible from their ship building projects. At any rate, Magwair is using almost exclusively non-Siddarmarkian bottoms to move his more critical naval stores. In fact, his quartermasters are avoiding Siddarmark-owned ships even when that policy occasions significant delays in delivery times.”
“How very thoughtful of him,” Sharleyan murmured with a lurking smile. Then she straightened in her chair and glanced at Gray Harbor again.
“My Lord,” she said, “I realize we already have privateers operating in those waters. Nonetheless, I want you to instruct Admiral Rock Point to deploy as many of his cruisers as he deems prudent to those same waters with orders to take, burn, and destroy any shipping employed by Vicar Allayn and his associates on their naval projects.”
“As you wish, Your Majesty.” Gray Harbor’s inclined head indicated as much approval of his instructions as obedience to them, and she smiled fleetingly at him.
“And if we’re going to employ our Navy most profitably, My Lord Ironhill,” she said, turning back to the keeper of the purse, “we’re going to have to come up with ways to pay for it. I’ve reviewed your latest revenue proposals, and I believe most of your points are well taken. However, I’d like you to consider in somewhat greater depth the possible impact on our own carrying trade of the new export duties you’ve sketched out. My concern is that although the rate doesn’t seem excessive, it will nonetheless drive up the prices our manufactories are forced to charge to foreign customers. At the moment, given the Group of Four’s efforts to close all mainland ports against us I’m loath to adopt any measure of our own which might chill our markets. And, to be honest, I think I’d prefer to avoid setting a precedent of export duties any sooner than we have to. Had you, perhaps, considered increasing import duties rather more, instead? I suspect we would be better placed to absorb even a substantial increase in the prices of luxuries, and more moderate increases in the cost of raw materials and foodstuffs, than we would be to absorb a drop in foreign demand for our own goods.”
Ironhill’s eyebrows arched in mingled surprise at her perceptiveness and respect for the point she’d raised, and Gray Harbor leaned back in his own chair with a faint smile. Ahlvyno Pawalsyn was one of his closer friends, and he respected the baron’s mind. At the moment, however, the Keeper of the Purse’s surprise frustrated the first councilor almost as much as it amused him.
Come on, Ahlvyno, he thought sardonically. You’re smarter than that. God knows, you’re ten times as smart as White Church, at any rate! I know she’s young, I know she’s foreign-born, and I know she’s female. But you — and the rest of the Council — better start figuring out that it’s entirely possible she’s even smarter than Cayleb, and at least as forceful. Because, trust me, anyone who doesn’t figure that out is really, really not going to enjoy what she does to him.
The earl propped his elbows on the arms of his comfortable chair, crossed his legs, and watched the young woman seated at the head of the table effortlessly controlling and directing almost twenty men, the youngest of whom was probably at least twice her own age.
Those idiots in Zion haven’t got the least idea of what they turned loose against themselves when they pissed her off, he thought gratefully and perhaps — just perhaps — a tiny bit complacently. They may think they’ve seen bad, already. They’re wrong about that, though. They haven’t even begun to see bad yet . . . but it’s coming.

About Eric Flint

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40 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — snippet 34

  1. Bret Hooper says:

    “take, burn, and destroy any shipping employed by Vicar Allayn. . . ” Why not instruct Admiral Rock Point to place the captured ships in the care of some specially created ‘privateers’, who would supply prize crews and see to the salvage operations and remit a portion of the proceeds to the Imperial treasury?

  2. E says:

    Hmm… I dare say Sharleyan is going to question the source of the intel she relies on soon.

  3. robert says:

    @2 Merlin probably knows what is coming and that is why he wanted her to know everything. But like his sudden appearance at King Harold’s (foo on all that dopey spelling) side when he was supposed to be thousands of miles away, when something similar happens while Sharly is in trouble, she will not be too surprised, either.

    And now we also see what she has in mind for Tarot. She is several moves ahead of everyone else.

    @1 I think she expects there to be way too much to do and does not want to have the navy take the time to salvage what they are destroying.

    The stuff about import vs. export duties is a bit silly. No one who has risen to be the equivalent of Secretary of the Treasury will be ignorant of the basic economics involved there. Strawman stuff. Silly.

  4. Bret Hooper says:

    @3 robert: You are surely right about too much to do, which is why I suggested specially created ‘privateers,’ who would not have to meet the standards for navy personnel, e.g. elderly sailors who couldn’t handle active fighting, but could become prize crews, and some of whose wives and grandchildren could sort out the cargos, etc.


  5. E says:

    @4 Two words: Merchant Marines. By using their standard traders as auxiliary crews for captures, Charis can basically generate its own cycle for captured vessels and new traders (at least as far as captured galleons goes). Charis simply captures a ship, Captains are authorized to contract traders to return them to Charis, and they take inventory and assign vouchers for rewards upon successful delivery of a prize or send a ships representative to command the prize and crew as well as supervise proper treatment of prisoners. An alternative would simply be to dispose of non-strategic ships cargoes in whatever port accepts them… ironically if they dispose of resources in Siddarmark they might end up having the church pay twice or many times over for a single cargo that just keeps falling into Charis’ hands. Now, if Charis were to come across something like, say, tea from Harchong harvested on the backs of slaves, then they could have a little harbor party and dye the waters brown in protest for the sake of their fellow man.

  6. Robert Krawitz says:

    Prize crews probably need even more specialized training and skill than sailors who are going to simply destroy shipping. They have to be prepared to put down attempts by very motivated sailors on the captured ships to retake said ships.

    It’s also possible that her motivation is to make it absolutely clear that as a matter of policy Charis will enforce blockade against the Go4. Privateers provide plausible deniability — by refusing that out, Sharleyan is making it very clear to all that this *is* Charis’s policy, no questions about it.

  7. Elim Garak says:

    @3 I think you are right about the strawmen. I’ve noticed several of them in the last few snippets. Starting from Merlin’s failure to realize basic and obvious political moves and strategies, and continuing to the orders about shipping, etc.

    Is DW running out of ideas, or is this all a somewhat clumsy exposition – a way to explain things to the reader? In many ways the entire series is a variant of the Armageddon Inheritance storyline, with a pinch of Aide from the Belizarius. And some things from the Roger MacClintock books. In Armageddon Inheritance have a world killing species, a planet full of Luddites, a technology proscribing religion, and a technologically advanced party attempting to bring change through a religious war. The parallel between Aide and Merlin is obvious. Etc.

  8. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Are DW’s detractors running out of ideas for their complaints? In many ways just about every other time I come here there’s somebody complaining about how this is like Armageddon Inheritance. Yeah. It is. So what? Yaaaawnnn. Wake me when somebody comes up with a new complaint… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………..

  9. @8 Worse, there are ships. And they shoot at each other. This is just a variation on Honor Harrington. Why not list as a Chisholm Admiral newly promoted another name from science fiction, the distinguished Captain Hornpiper (no, I did not make that up, and his interaction with the green man was a wonderful short story in F&SF that even my father, a Hornblower fan who did not enjoy science fiction, liked.)

    The Treasurer being slow to take an idea from the wrong quarter is real human nature. Consider how well modern management theories worked at Toyota and GM.

    By the way, there is no obvious reason why what is left of the Chisholm navy cannot be active in these deeds. They are as good as what the enemy deploys, and seem to be neglected.

  10. erispope says:

    Of course it’s somewhat clumsy exposition… to us. And yes, perhaps the Treasurer should be able to to figure out that an import goods tariff is a better strategy than one on exports.

    However, it may also be argued that people are people and most people don’t react well to change. Hence, the Treasurer is still living a bit in the old days, when the rest of the world had no reason to stop buying goods from Charis, as long as it was the cheapest. Now there are political considerations to make, which is not necessarily something that you’d have to think of from a pure economic angle.

    Personally, I want to read more about smart enemies – or better yet, smart neutrals (such as Siddarmark).

  11. Pyrrhic says:

    Dear fellow snippet-addicts:

    Personally, I thought it was a nice point (and rather unlikely, contrary to other commenters positions) that the Empress brought up the import duty point. If we look at our own history, we will find that, as late as Tudor times, in England, trade was not just looked down on but much internal (ie domestic) trade was illegal – although it went on, of course. Latin America, to this day is still burdened by a “Mercantilist” heritage in terms of trade and regulation, which was the prevailing economic orthodoxy till well after Tudor times all over Europe. That heritage was well exemplified by the phenomenally economically successful (LOL) Spanish Empire. The notion of trade being intrinsically ‘good’ or at least wealth creating/maximizing is a very modern concept whose lineage can really, only, be traced as far back as Adam Smith in the “Wealth of Nations.” Kings and Princes, until very recently had essentially no notion of economics and thought selling or granting monopolies was good policy.

    One of the most curious things about Charis is how modern its notions about trade and wealth creation are. Let me note, too, in passing that until the industrial revolution, economies did not steadily grow, it was closer to a zero sum game. Furthermore, in pre-industrial economies there is little free capital to sustain activities such as war. Just look at how slender the resources to wage war were for most medieval kings or the difficulties the Roman Empire had in paying its standing armies. This will be a problem for the church on the mainland, once its stores of wealth are dissipated since its ability to raise FREE cash-flow will be severely limited and it is free cash-flow that has to pay for all those non-economically productive military assets. Most revenue in pre-industrial economies goes just to sustaining the existing population and infrastructure.

    Just a few thoughts…


  12. lockswriter says:

    And the Church, with its mandatory 20% tithes and high-interest loans, has got to be a bigger economic black hole than anything the pre-modern world ever had to deal with.

  13. gustav says:

    The mainland realms are probably experiencing massive inflation:

    1) International transport capacity has been reduced due to privateers, closed ports etc. This drives up the cost of using the remaining transport capacity. Most captains will probably only agree to sail with a cargo if they receive a massive bonus to compensate for the risk of losing their ship or life.
    2) Availability of goods from a major manufacturing center as Charis has been reduced due to trade boycot. Local replacement industries take time to build and will be more ineffective due to lack of technology and trained labors.
    3) The church is using lots of stored gold to buy goods and services for military activities. This has the same effect as a central bank printing money in order to buy goods, because it increase the amount of currency in circulation without increasing production capacity.
    4) Mainland productivity could be falling, lack of transportation capacity makes it diffucult to move surplus resources to areas where there is a lack of those resources. Military duty will affect the labour force there are available for agricultural work. Ferayd was probably a big shock for the population in realms with coastal cities. Those realms are probably increasing their land forces, because they need to develop the capacity to repel coastal invaders before the inflict massive damage on local infrastructure.

  14. robert says:

    @11 You are correct, except Spain was an economic powerhouse only because it looted the colonial empire it controlled. Nothing was made of all that wealth pouring in except luxury for the nobility and the adventurous and financing wars in northern Europe. By the 19th century, with the colonies becoming independent, Spain was finished and by the time the Peninsular War ended she was a poverty-ridden backwater.

    @9 One assumes that the Chisholm navy is needed at home to protect Chisholm. So far, anyway.

    @6 Exactly. That is why prize crews were always from warships. But then again, unless you are prepared to murder all the survivors, even the capture, burn and destroy strategy is tough to implement.

  15. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Robert, they can always destroy the ships and capture the crews and load them on board. Put them in a cell (if you have one) or a cargo hold or bind them and leave them lying in a corner. Something like that.


  16. robert says:

    @15 Until they run out of room or food, although one assumes that there will be supply ships nearby to replenish the consumables and munitions. Then they have to stop the commerce raiding and find a port to unload the poor merchantmen who have been held captive so long.

    After enough of that there will probably not be any merchantmen willing to serve the Church chartered ships. Tut, tut.

  17. E says:

    “Coupled with your own marriage to His Majesty and the generous terms granted to Emerald, it is, in fact, very likely he would believe, on the one hand, that any terms you and His Majesty chose to offer him would be honored, and, on the other hand, that Ferayd proves you are not, in fact, the slavering monsters the Group of Four has sought to portray in its propaganda.”

    —->Husband for Zhanayt?

  18. KenJ says:

    RE: Chisolm’s navy.

    It would be beneficial for a swapping out of personnel between Charis and Chissolm branches of the Navy.

    The Chissolmians deployed on Charis ships will be getting valuable on-the-job training in modern ship handling and warfare and Charrisian sailors would be available to help upgrade and modernize the Chissolm side.

  19. KenJ says:

    @17 I would say a better match would be Hektor Jr.

  20. My point is that Chisholm has the only non-obsolete galleys on Safehold. They are not obsolete because they only go up against other galleys, against which they are effective, so therefore you might as well work them into the ground as commerce raiders rather than simply scrapping them.

    The Empress should have an extremely good idea of what competent spies can learn, so therefore any use of exotic data however sourced is hazardous to secrecy.

    Sooner or later, the Empress is going to try that ‘is that not so’ line on a Whitechurch who has some backbone and some rational arguments, notably ‘after the Gang of Four is replaced, it would be better to face people who do not have personal grudges against us, for example because we hanged their immediate relatives, justly or not.’

  21. DouglasWM says:

    @11, regarding Charis’ modern notions of trade and “wealth creation”: That probably comes from the Monastery of Saint Zhernau, by way of several of the Ahrmahk kings who were “in the know.” I wouldn’t put it past Weber to actually have Adam Smith be included in the Saint Zhernau documents, for exactly the reason you referenced him.

  22. E says:

    @21 The concept of overarching trade and the wealth of nations could have arisen from the Church itself since it is a hegemony that has primarily financial and spiritual power.

  23. Virgil says:

    First pooint to make:
    All this “strawman” people you that post here are a very minor part of a minority. You are knowledgeablt about DW writings, the historys he uses for his ideas, the economics of warfare. But and this is a large one. DW now has a fan base that the vast majority don;t know these things. They read him for the pure enjoyment of reading. And while I’m not claiming he’s writing down to their level he must take in to fact that they just don;t know the facts that many, but still minority, do know.

    That said, “privateers” while many maybe and can be patriots most are in for the profits. These are very effected for economic warfare and when a war is long there are time to build specific ships for this type of warfare. These ships are good against relatively unarmed merchant ships but in most case can not face even a lightly armed naval ship. So the are only found in quanity in “pirates” supported lands in a general peaceful era. A world war such as this is turning into there will be at this time any large quanity of privateers ships handy.

    “take, burn, and destroy any shipping employed by Vicar Allayn. . . ” what [art of this did you not understand, ship do not go to sea equip to convert merchant ship tpo war ship, All prize unless warship to begin with would have to go to a repair dock for conversion to even privateer… gun ports, guns, lareger crew quarters, etc…

    And there will be prizes lots and lots, the crew of these ship will be making prize money hand over hand. and just think all that cargo for ship build being diverted back to Charis for their use.

    The last two “… burn and destroy…” basical come into effect two ways. Rules of Engagement. this relieves the ships captains of worry over civilian crew that might go down with the ship that are sunk. and secondly No prize crews to sail the ships home. so if you can’t capture or man the ships destroy them. She covered everything that the navy needs in general orders.

  24. Virgil says:

    my spoligize for the misspell words and left out ones my eyesight is really bad at this time High blood sugar.

  25. Willy says:

    The American navy in both the Revolution and the War of 1812 was crippled in part by the need to compete for crews with privateers, the stoories of successful rich captures by by the latter drove everyone to sea in whatever could float, including dingies. For the Imperial Navy a better use of the sailors from Royal Navies of Chisholm and Emerald is use them in thenew ships and sell the galleys to privateers.

    The navy can help support the privateers by siezing issolated anchorages around the world the privateers, and the navy, can leave or send prizes to be sold.

    The crews from captured ships were usually stuffed into the least valuable ship and told that land was ‘that way.’

  26. Bret @1&4:
            For a privateer, capturing ships is worth it.  For a kingdom, destroying a large number of ships quickly is frequently better than trying to recruit and feed large crews, capture enemy ships, man them, sail them home, sell them, and get your prize crew back to the hunting grounds.

            Destroying large numbers of enemy merchant ships, and their cargoes, will seriously interfere with the Group of Four’s naval build-up, make other nations and their ship-owners reluctant to cooperate with the Church, drive up the price the GoF has to pay for transportation, increase the price of naval stores as the destroyed ships need to be replaced, and force diversions of ships out of regular cargo carrying to make up for the destroyed shipping, thus lowering the tax revenues and general wealth of the enemy nations.  Finding excuses not to carry naval stores for the GoF’s buildup will become attractive, and to switch their registration, thus getting people started along the path of defying the Church.  Charis’s ship owners will be able to charge more for their ships’ carrying capacity too.  The indirect effects make destruction the overall better strategy.  (See the history of the War of 1812, and the Confederate raiders during the Unpleasantness of 1861-’65).

  27. Chuck S. says:

    One important feature of the American revolution; politically connected incompetent war ship captains were repeatedly given commands, costing at least half of the State navy losses in the revolution. Privateering captains who did not produce were promptly replaced by the owners.

    During the war of 1812 a number of privateers “broke the rules” about privateers engaging heavily armed merchant ships and even small warships. The crews had personal reasons for wanting to fight the Brits, even when the profit motive was weak. Hardly a privateer sailed that didn’t have a few former pressed sailors on board. Charisian sailors have a similar motive after the Ferald massacre.


  28. E says:

    The Church isn’t impressing Charisian sailors into their service, they’re trying to kill them.

  29. Peter Z says:

    Stephen @26. I have a couple of caveates I would toss out to your conclusion. One is the disparity of productivity between Charis and everyone else. Mainland produced gargo represents a much larger amount of labor than the equivilent gargo produced in Charis. Simply destroying it will send prices rocketing everywhere, as you posted. Capturing it and reselling it forces the Church to subsidize the Charisian expansion. They have to repurchase those captured goods, perhaps several times, because they don’t have the excess productive capaity to reproduce those goods 2-3 times to buid each ship. Creating overland transportation routes would add a similar multiplier to the resources used per ship. So, simply destroying enemy gargo does drive up the costs but it also forces the creation of alternative transport routes. This only redirects economic resoures within their economies.

    Capturing the cargo and reselling it at some other location than the designated one still forces the Church to pay more for the cargo, but it also directs a significant amount of Church funds outside Church friendly economies. The Church allied economies will face dwindling liquidity to ramp up production, even if they could ramp up. The Church’s war will effectively export much the production it represents to Charis generating a negative trade balance and cashflow for Church allies. This won’t happen if the gargos are simply destroyed.

    So, while I would agree that destruction of cargos represents a much smaller investment, the returns on capturing cargos are enormous and well worth the investment. Sharley could use Emeraldian and Chisholmian sailors for this. Those economies are still much less efficient than Charis. The new labor saving devices and more rational Charisian management principles will free up a huge amount of Emeraldian and Chisholmian labor. They have to be employed somewhere and more capital is needed to upgrade their economies.

    All in all I don’t see how Sharley can pass up capturing a significant number of enemy ships. Not capturing those ships will place her Empire at risk of starving for capital as the new devices circulate.


  30. Palmer Sperry says:

    The obvious thing (from where we’re sat over here in the cheap seats! :-) would be for the Church to start convoying their shipping. All the standard advantages and disadvantages would apply – lower losses, but reduced throughput.

    Merlin + SNARCs could obviously negate much of this, but I suspect that would be a step way too far at the moment.

  31. robert says:

    “with orders to take, burn, and destroy any shipping employed by Vicar Allayn and his associates on their naval projects.”

    I wish she had said “take, burn OR destroy…” Then this argument over privateering, what to do with captured merchantmen, etc. would be moot. The rules of engagement she has given Rock Point are too vague and she will need to clarify them for him. Also, it is clear that DW would rather his good guys AND his bad guys save the lives of enemy sailors whose ships have been destroyed. They did it in OAR and it was a given in the Harrington series.

  32. E says:

    Now, now, just because they’re at war isn’t any reason they shouldn’t get along…

  33. gustav says:

    Convoys is only effective if you have war ships to escort the convoy and there seem to be a true lack of war ships in church supporting countries with the ability to fight charisian privateers

  34. Jgnfld says:

    Disagree… convoys also work on the same principle as schools of fish: no targets most of the time followed by a plethora too big to deal with when the school is found.

  35. Bob G says:

    @34 We’ve already seen what happens to a convoy. The one heading for Farhid, with something like 6 galleons and about that many galleys. The galleys wound up as little more than target practice.

    I will admit that one cruiser against that convoy would have been marginal at best, but that’s why you keep your forces spread out enough to spread a wide net, but concentrated enough to communicate. It would have taken a while to concentrate forces, but their speed advantage and firepower would neutralize 5-to-1 odds in raw ship counts.

  36. robert says:

    @35 But the secret is out on gun mounts and powder bags. However, galleys can’t take the weight of very many guns and they will only have some superiority in inshore conditions.

  37. Brian Busse says:

    @36 We haven’t heard much about exploding shells lately, but it should nicely re-tip the scales if/when the other navies send “modern” warships out to play. That speculation and the others above are interesting mental exercises, but the reality is that DW has a human drama to tell, and the events are shaped to set the stage for the human interaction storyline he wants to tell. Haarold could have been saved with ease, invisibly and plausibly with Merlin’s remote resources. At key points, Charisian gunfire could “get lucky” with OWL/Merlin intervention. Church communications in any form, intercepted and/or replaced at will. The artificial bandwidth restriction of OWL data into Merlin or other parties hands could be lifted, etc… So the real question of how events are going to unfold isn’t about practicalities, it’s about where he wants to drive the human story. Which human elements will drive the bus? Sharleyan’s intelligence, Hektor’s idiot son, Hektor’s smart daughter, the G4’s internal enemies in the church, other secular rulers, loyalists in Charis….. I can’t wait to find out…

  38. E says:

    I wonder if Weber ever reads these forums and if he does does he ever go “Damn! I’m becoming predictable!”

  39. Peter @ 29:

            Usually, the return on captured cargo is not worth it for a government.  Leaving aside the obvious (rations, powder, sail & lines, etc., which the ship needs to stay at sea), the time required to take a prize into a port, sell it, and retrieve the crew is just too great to bother with.  Look at the map of Safehold.  It’s likely to be a long way back to the Charisian Empire, and closer ports are either enemy held, or pretending to be at least neutral.  Secret cargo disposal is slow and cumbersome.

            Further, once you turn your prize with prize crew loose, you run a significant risk that the prize will encounter an enemy warship, resulting in a permanent loss of your own sailors, and the recapture of the prize.

            There will sometimes be high value cargo that’s worth taking into port.  There’s likely to be high value pickings on board a ship that are worth tucking away in the hold.  But the experience of the War of 1812 was that far more damage was done to the enemy by cargo destruction than cargo capture.  Even some privateers, in it mostly for profit, were finding cherry-picking the cargo and destroying the low-value stuff was more profitable than bringing in every prize.  Look it up if you’re really interested.

    Robert @31:

            Oh, saving the lives of the enemy crews is easy.  Keep them prisoner on board your ship till you start to get overcrowded.  Then, the next ship you take, throw the cargo, armaments, and a lot of the rations overboard, put the captured crews on board, and point them at the nearest landing.  If you’re close enough to shore when you take a ship, put them in the life boats and let them go ashore that way.  This was also standard practice by the commerce destroyers in 1812 and The Late Unpleasantness.

    Jgnfld @ 34, Bob G @35:

            It’s not all that easy to keep ships without radios spread out far enough to be sure of spotting a convoy, yet close enough to be sure of being able to signal everyone in your “rake” that you’ve spotted prey.  And when the wolf-pack does close in, it opens holes for other ships/convoys to get through.

            Precise modeling is difficult, as we need to know how many prey ships there are likely to be in transit at any one time, what Safeholdian navigational practices are, where the cargo ship chokepoints are and what can be done to avoid them, and other things.  But the overall experience of the French Revolutionary & Napoleonic Wars, and the two world wars was that convoying was very much worth it, even when the raiders could massacre the convoys they caught.

            But it’s going to take time for the enemy to figure this out, and work out proper convoy doctrine.  And organizing merchant captains, historically, has been an exercise in herding cats, at least until the most stubborn ones are dead or beached because they lost their ships.  I wouldn’t expect to see convoys for some time.

    Death to the Group of Four!

  40. Me @ 39:

            OOPS!  What I meant to say about the things that a ship needs to stay at sea is that by parasitizing her captures for water, rations, etc., a raider’s time on station is much, much higher as a percent of total time afloat.  Which in turn leads to much more damage done to the enemy, and far more cargos to pick through in search of the really high-value merchandise.


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