Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 48

Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 48

“We’re allocating that fuel in addition to the coal for her normal steaming radius, Your Grace. Our calculations indicate that one of the new ships ought to be good for about five thousand miles at twelve knots under steam alone. Assuming average weather conditions, she’ll probably be able to maintain sixteen knots under sail and steam combined at an economical rate of fuel consumption. With the propeller raised, she should still be able to maintain between six to ten knots under sail alone — possibly as much as fourteen or fifteen in blowing conditions, given her size and ability to carry more sail than anything smaller. Her maximum speed under steam is actually going to be almost twenty knots, but her endurance at that speed will drop catastrophically.”

Several of the faces around that table looked stunned, perhaps even incredulous, at those numbers. Of course, twenty Safeholdian knots was also twenty miles per hour, not the twenty-three miles per hour twenty knots would have been back on a planet called Earth. Still, it was an unheard-of speed for any ship.

“In addition to being the biggest and the fastest ships in the world,” Olyvyr continued, “they’re going to be the toughest. We began our original plans for them before Ehdwyrd’s artificers came up with steam engines, when we would’ve had to power them by sail alone. That also means we started on them before he began experimenting with nickel steel and hardening plate faces with his new quenching procedures, as well. At that point, we’d estimated it would take at least twelve inches of cast iron armor to stop one of Ahlfryd’s projected ten-inch rifles firing solid wrought iron shot at short range. Ehdwyrd’s ‘face-hardened’ plate is much tougher than that; we should be able to use as little as eight inches, probably even less. Our current calculations are that three inches of Howsmynized Nickel plate will stop anything the Navy of God has, even at point blank range, but we’re going to go ahead and design to defeat our own guns, so we’ll use six inches and back it with twelve inches of teak to help damp the shock of impacting shot.

“For the riverine vessels, we’d probably go with something more like three-inch armor and backing of six inches. I’d prefer thicker, but that probably won’t be practical on their displacement — we’ll know better once we actually start looking at them — and we’re already set up to produce three-inch plate, since Ehdwyrd chose that thickness to perfect his new techniques and he’s actually got several hundred tons of it sitting at the Delthak Works right now. Actually, what I’m more worried about is the thinner backing. The new plate’s no where near as brittle as iron, so we’re not as concerned about its shattering under the impact, but the cushioning effect should help prevent the securing bolts from shearing.

“I assume any river vessels will be armed with existing guns, at least in the interim. Assuming the projected weights for the new guns hold up, the ocean ironclads should have twelve eight-inch in each broadside and a pair of ten-inch on pivot mounts, one each forward and aft, all of them behind armor. The masts and rigging will be vulnerable, of course, but these ships are designed to move and fight under steam, so the loss of a mast or two won’t be a major handicap in battle. Since we don’t have a design for the riverboats yet, I can’t estimate building times on them, but I estimate we can launch the first blue-water ship between six months and a year from the day we lay her down. And under the circumstances,” he sat back in his chair with an expression of profound satisfaction, “I don’t think Zhaspahr Clyntahn will like her one bit.”

“No, they aren’t,” Cayleb agreed, and his expression had hardened. It was his turn to look around at the others, his brown eyes grim. “And just in case the bastard doesn’t get the message on his own, Sharleyan and I have decided what we’re going to name the first three ships.” The others looked at him, and he smiled coldly. “We thought we’d begin with the King Haarahld VII, the Gwylym Manthyr, and the Lainsair Svairsmahn.” The eyes around that table turned as hard as his own, glittering with approval. “If he doesn’t quite grasp what we intend to do with them from the first three names,” Cayleb continued, “I’m sure he’ll get the point when we sail them and a dozen more just like them clear up Hsing-wu’s Passage to Temple Bay and start putting the troops ashore.”

* * * * * * * * * *


Ehdwyrd Howsmyn lowered his glass as the deep voice spoke in his ear plug. The ironmaster was alone in the study of his Tellesberg townhouse, the last of his daily correspondence spread across the desk before him, and it was very late. Rain battered the roof and cascaded in torrents from the eaves and wind and rain ruled the night outside his windows, lit by an occasional flash of lighting and rumble of thunder, but inside those windows was an oasis of comfort, so quiet between thunder grumbles he could head the crisp ticking of the clock in one corner. The light of sea dragon oil lamps gleamed on the frames of paintings, polished the deep-toned leather of hundreds of book spines with a burnished glow, and pooled golden in the Chisholmian whiskey as he set the glass on his blotter beside one of the neat stacks of paper. There were quite a few of those stacks. He seldom had much time to spend in the luxurious townhouse these days, and even when he did, the correspondence followed him wherever he went.

“Merlin?” He cocked an eyebrow in mild surprise. He’d left the day’s final conference with the seijin less than five hours ago. “Has something come up?”

“More a matter of something occurring to me that I should’ve thought of five-days ago,” Merlin replied, and Howsmyn heard a note of genuine chagrin in his voice.

“Which would be what, exactly?” the Charisian inquired.

“Ironclads. To be specific, river ironclads.”

“What about them?”

“When you were all discussing them this morning as I stood ominously guarding the door, my brain was on autopilot. In fact, I was actually using the time to review some of the take from the SNARCs rather than concentrating on what all of you were saying.”

“I’m crushed to learn our conversation was insufficiently scintillating to hold you riveted to our every word,” Howsmyn said dryly, and Merlin chuckled over the com.

“I’ve discovered the lot of you are all grown up — or close enough I can trust you to talk things over without me, anyway. Besides, we’d already discussed everything I knew was going to come up, so I figured you could play without adult supervision this once.”

“You have a true gift for flattering my ego, don’t you?”

“If I told you and the others how good you really are, you’d all be impossible to live with. That wasn’t the reason I commed, though.”

“So what was the reason?”

“Exactly how much of that three-inch armor plate do you actually have?”

“Um. I’d have to check the inventories to be sure. A fair amount, though. Probably close to fourteen or fifteen hundred tons, I suppose. Might be a little more or a little less. Frankly, I haven’t worried too much about the actual quantities, since there wasn’t any rush. It’s too thin for those five thousand-tonners Dustyn’s come up with, for one thing, and I know we don’t have anywhere near enough to cover them even if we wanted to use multiple layers to build up the needed thickness. And Dustyn hasn’t even started the design on the riverboats. For that matter, we won’t be starting construction on any of them until one of the other foundries is ready to start casting the frame members. Why?”

“Because I’ve got another question for you, to go with the first one. How much of it would it take to armor one of your steam-powered river barges?”

Howsmyn blinked.

“I don’t know,” he said slowly. “I never thought about it.”

“Neither had I, until this evening,” Merlin told him. “I’ve been thinking all along in terms of purpose-built ironclads, and going at it this way, we’d have all the wooden hull worries Dustyn was talking about But those barges are pretty damned heavily framed, given what you wanted them for in the first place. I’m willing to bet they’d hold up at least as well — probably better — than the steamboats the Americans converted into ironclads on the Mississippi in the American Civil War. And unlike Dustyn’s designs, they already exist. All we’d have to do would be slap the armor on them.”

“I think it’d be a little more complicated than that,” Howsmyn said dryly. “I don’t really know about your ‘Mississippi’ conversions — I take it that was a river back on Old Earth? — but I’m willing to bet they hit the odd little problem along the way. On the other hand, you have a point about the fact that the barges already exist.”

He pulled out a blank sheet of paper, slid his abacus in front of him, and began jotting numbers.

“They’re a bit bigger than the standard mainland river barges, you know,” he said as his pen scratched and abacus beads clicked busily. “We don’t have anywhere near the dependency on barge traffic they do, and we haven’t got anywhere near the same number of canals. A lot of their canals are over five or six hundred years old, though, and making any major changes in them would be an incredible pain, so they worry a lot more about barge interchangeability than we do. The newer canals mostly have bigger locks to let them use bigger barges for purely local traffic, but one of the really old trunk lines — like the Langhorne — can’t accept ‘outsized’ barges. Since barge owners never know when they’re going to have to use one of the lines with smaller locks, they tend to build small unless it’s for purely local use, like the wheat trade out of Tarikah via the Hildermoss and the New Northland Canal. That limits their really long-haul barges to about a hundred and twenty-five feet. We didn’t have to worry about fitting through something like the Langhorne, though, so we just stole the plans for the New Northland’s locks when we built the Delthak canal.”


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132 Responses to Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 48

  1. Spktyr says:

    So, getting close to immediate-pre-Dreadnaught ships now…

    • Frank says:

      Ah, but we need to secure a mainland fuel source for those dreadnaughts. The would be glacierheart. To do that we must control the access to that province. Canals must be controlled. Thus ironclad canal boats.

  2. cutter says:

    Instead of using regular guns, I think they should rig mortars. If we lobe exploding shells over I serious doubt they would be ready with over head protection. I mean if I were them I would expect cannons not mortars. The only thing I’d worry about is blasting the bottom out. What do you guys think?

    • JimHacker says:

      a ship is not a stable platform. Unless you have gyroscopic fire control, attempting to hit a moving wooden sailing galleon with mortar fire would be like trying to swat a wasp with a baseball bat. In a pitch black room. And they would be completely safe once they got under your firing arc.

      • JimHacker says:

        sorry, meant to read ‘with mortar fire from a ship’

        Obviously, mortar fire from land is much more accurate and would be effective.

        • alcheon says:

          mortar fire from a river barge might be a more viable option, it’d certainly be a more stable fire platform than a sea vessel

          • JimHacker says:

            But then the restrictions of brown-water boats come in. A river-boat armed with only mortars could be easily trapped, boarded and swarmed under by an enemy force under the mortar’s firing arc.

            • MCT says:

              I highly doubt they’ll just be armed with mortars, they’ll probably have a mix of regular cannos aswell if they do put mortars on river boats.

              I wish they’d also figure out how to build their own organ guns or even machine/gatling gun…and I don’t see why they’re not using actually bullets yet, since they’ve got a functional primer now, they could just attach the primer on one of their paper wrapped rounds and make a firing pin instead of still using a cocking mechanism to fire a round.

              • JimHacker says:

                1) The things is that mixing armanent types generally makes your boat less effective at the task you want it to do. Also, rivers and canals tend to go through the lowest point in an area so there won’t be good line of sight for aiming mortars and firing arcs may well be impeded. Mortars on boats are just a bad idea.

                2) Jacketed rounds are a way off. They need to be able to demonstrate gradual imrpovements and it also makes sense to introduced advantages over the enemy one at a time.

              • Userunfriendly says:

                I keep thinking of the “splat” guns from S.M.Stirling and David Drake’s “General” series…each “magazine” could be a number of simplified breechs with cap and ball. More complex than using full bullets, but without the capability to make drawn brass rounds yet, completely workable. And a hell of a nasty surprise to any would-be boarders.

            • You’re all missing the essential detail here–the recoil of the mortar is, by definition of the weapon, directed as much vertically as it is horizontally. This requires a MUCH more heavily constructed ship for a given size and displacement, so heavy in fact that there is little room for conventional armament carried for self-defense. The standard practice was to use a second ship, usually one similar to a collier, to carry the shot and powder for the “bomb ship,” as the type was generally known, since the heavy framing necessary to mount and support the mortals (which could weigh as much as 7 tons each, left little room for stores. In terms of the ICN, this places an unrealistic manpower demand on a navy already stretched painfully thin of personnel. Given that three things–1) that the wire-wound guns, with their much longer range, are about to be introduced; 2) that range will out-range any mortar; and 3) experience on Terra, which will be available to Seamount by whatever surreptitious means necessary (probably Howsmyn and Olyvyr), found that by increasing a conventional long gun’s elevation to 30 degrees, effective plunging fire could be achieved without having to resort to specialized gunforms and ships–are currently in confluence, the need for ship-mounted mortars will vanish before it truly becomes apparent. In a way, this is one of the few disappointments of the Safehold series–events are moving so fast, with technological breakthroughs being made so rapidly, that entire classes of truly fascinating weapons are simply being bypassed because they’re obsolete even by the time their could be drawn up.

  3. Spktyr says:

    I think naval mortars turned out to be an utter disaster in Terran naval history and that experiment doesn’t need to be run again.

    • MCT says:

      I would think they could use motor to siege cities no? If you anchor the ship, you’re basically not moving and the town/building aren’t moving either, wouldn’t motor be accurate-ish under those circumstances?

      • JimHacker says:

        But what’s the advantage of having special mortar boats instead of having normal mortars, loading them onto a barge for transportation, unloading near the target, situate them at the site with optimal sight lines, firing arcs and range and then using them? There isn’t much advantage – and specialist mortar barges would have several disadvantages as pointed out above.

        • MCT says:

          Using a scout and signal light to confirm target would better than deploying field motar, there’s a chance of cavalry charging the motar crews, unless you put them on a hill and guard it with infantry, but if you put it on a boat then cavalry can’t get to them nor can infantry without getting onto a boat and rowing to it…

          And simply using a field motar on a boat is a pretty good idea.

          Isn’t the point of using motar to fire around obstacles? It uses an arc to fire shells anyways, so I don’t think using motar on a boat in a river even though is at the lowest point of terrain would matter much so long as you anchor yourself and get a scout unit to confirm target acquisition. It would prevent any risk of cavalry charge or infantry assault and thus you won’t have to deploy your own land army just to defend the motar crews. I still maintain that attack a heavily armored and armed boat on a river is a very daunting task and would require multiple units of field gun and or assault boats. Remember how difficult it was for the Delfrakians to stop the Sar assault/rescue of Irys and Davin, and they didn’t have anything close to armor or cannons on their launch boats, and don’t forget they were paddling upriver too…they only sustained casualty because they decided to go to shore. It would be very hard to deploy field guns ahead of time in order to catch the barge and even then the barge can just steam a kilometer or two in another direction to avoid contact or use the motar to bombard at a standoff range, it’ll probably use encredible amount ammunition but you’d think they’d have a supply ships somewhere it’d be pretty pointless if they shoot themselves dry within an hr…

          • MCT says:

            Assume the speed of 12 knots as the highest under their steam engine, the barge will pretty lightning fast compared to their ability to push those field guns to a new location in order to shoot the barge, it would basically be pointless, they would have to deploy such a large force just to force a battle on the barge that they’ll have to capture 2 locks up and down stream cut off any supply ships that could re-arm the riverine ironclad and then if they’re lucky they can keep pounding it on shore with field guns until they penetrate the barge’s armor, but if they’re unlucky and the river is too wide to get accurate range, they’ll have to swarm the barge with assault boats full of infantry, they’ll sustain such a high number of casualty that river would literally run red, then again they have the number to throw at the barge, and if they get really lucky they may even capture new technology, that’s probably the most dangerous thing that can happen, cuz even if the crew scuttle the ship, the could drains the river using the locks and investigate the wreck…

            Thus in the end, a land force escorting the barge and capture/fortify locks will be require, that’s gonna be a pain I don’t see how they get around that. In order to keep supply the troops and providing ammunition to both the ship, forward column and each fortified lock.

            • JimHacker says:

              You don’t chase the canal boat with artillery! You set up ambushes in the best places in advance and let them come to you. And as has already been stated in the text: many of the canals on the ‘mainland’ are rather narrow.

          • JimHacker says:

            Yes, the point of a mortar is to fire over obstacles. But it isn’t always that simple. For example, reverse inclines can make a shot impossible. Given that a canal restricts your possible firing positions, there are lots of ways mortars could be put at a disadvantage given local geogrpahy.

            As to the fact that deployed mortars on land are at risk of cavalry attack, well why on earth would you send canal-boats with mortars to bombard a city when you didn’t have other forces inthe area? Sending canal boats alone into enemy territory (except when supported as part of an offensive) is just asking for trouble.

            The Delfrakans were responding on a shoe-string to reports of a few boats going upriver. As soon as the church becomes familiar with the threat of the canal-boats they will start taking precautions and thinking up ways to respond and neutralise them. If you have reason to believe that a canal boat may be coming up your canal in a month or so it would be easy to emplace gun and prepare an ambush. There aren’t all that many canals and so there aren’t all that many possible routes. it should actually be possible to prepare a couple of ambush sites alongside every single canal in SoS territory

            • Randomiser says:

              Seems to be deep confusion going on about the scenario envisaged; navigable rivers and canals are very different from the military viewpoint. Rivers don’t have locks, they are too wide and for the same reason they are fairly difficult to block. Hence a nice big river might be a good playground for one of these boats. The enemy have to have boats of their own to assault it and a steam craft’s speed is going to make it very difficult to get at. Canals, by definition, are much narrower, and have locks and other obstructions. On a canal a boat is going to be very vulnerable without proper support, the infantry can jump on to it from the bank or at worst will just need to drop some planks to bridge the gap. (Posters are remembering that the machine gun is on the ‘yet to be invented’ list? Until it is, swarming assaults are still going to be feasible)

              • JimHacker says:

                You are right that the problems would be diminished on large rivers, but is it practical to restrict the new brown-water boats so much? I suspect that you would often find you had to use the nrrower rivers or canals if you wnated to get to where you were needed.

              • MCT says:

                I suppose we’re getting ahead of ourselves, first the Gof4 won’t have that many boats in canal or river at this point since it’s still frozen, and besides the barges aren’t going to be deployed in this book, right? But then Merlin decides to mention about armoring the barges, so you think maybe they’ll have it ready by the end of this book?

                I don’t think the Gof4 armies will be able to penetrate that deep into Siddermark and control the rivers, in fact I’ll be surprised if Eastshare doesn’t get there in time to halt their armies’ advance, since up to this point we’re still talking about civil war and no outside forces have been introduced yet let alone ones armed with riffles. So it wouldn’t be a stretch that the Siddermark armies and locals with EoC help could capture and control most of the canals first.

              • JimHacker says:

                I suspect we might see the barges towards the ned of the coming book, and see the rest of the innovations appear in the next.

                I think the TL armies will be able to penetrate pretty far. Even ignoring those Siddarmarkians who went over in SoS, the Temple Loyalist armies are much close to Siddarmark than Eastshare. They aren’t going to be able to march all the way to Old Province (remember that the country Siddarmark is the sixe of a large Earth continent) but they should certainly be able to consolidate their SoS gains and perhaps even push a little before meeting the ICA on the field of battle. They may run into the Imperial Marines with their Mahndrayns a little earlier though. Won’t that be a nasty surprise?

              • Spktyr says:

                And even for some little time after. Though I’d guess the Gatling gun isn’t far off and I wouldn’t be surprised if a steam-powered Gatling gun shows up not terribly long after.

          • Spktyr says:

            Using a field mortar on a boat was such a good idea that the US Navy tried the idea out on some patrol boats – the PTF class, hulls 11-26.

            Several self-sunk boats later…

            Yeah, a boat is a terrible mortar platform if you’re trying to hit something.

  4. Frank says:

    We are going to drive a barge right up the canal from siddermark to the front lines. A mobile armored forward base gun platform. Very wicked. This is gonna be fun.

    • Spktyr says:

      Oh, very. It will be like the advent of tanks, only since they have a lot more canals, WORSE for the enemy due to the increased firepower and loiter time. And the organic infantry.

      • Allan G says:

        So long as no one drains the canal. (that happened in both the first and second world war.) In that case canals make good trenches and anti tank ditches.

        • MCT says:

          speed is going to be key if they want to control the river, given that there are so many locks, chances are they’ll have to have cavalry escort moving along with the river ironclads.

          • JimHacker says:

            We’ll probably see cavalry alongside the canals but also barges just behind with detachments of infantry which can be landed if the cavalry run into anything.

            • MCT says:

              U think they’ll build tanks once they get breech loading cannons?

              It’d be fun if they armored a purpose built tank chassi, but a steam engin in it, build a turret and put steel plates on it. It wouldn’t have to be a very high dragon power engine, just enought to make it move and unleach it on a open battle field since both sides will most likely be looking for open terrain to use their rifles. The only think that might be a problem would be magazine space and road condition? If they hit any pot hole I think they tank is doomed.

  5. Bill says:

    I’m confused which way things are going . . . it sounds to me like we’re going immediately to full up iron protected warships capable of broadsides using exploding shells from breech loading rifled barrels. A true killer to be sure.

    I understand that Charis has limitations of quantity – so wouldn’t it be better to make some Monitor types ? I think they would use a lot less raw materials, guns, crew, etc. Nothing CoG has will touch them – so they could go into harbor and destroy Thirsk’s fleet. The action would take more time to complete than the full up warship; but if they can’t be hurt then they will get the time it takes.

    Once EoC has destroyed all of the ships being built – a few ships to police the building yards would have all the time required in order to prevent new ones from getting launched. The problem is to cover all the building sites.

    It seems to me that it is preferential to get a lot more of smaller, less powerful units out there instead of a few awesomely huge category killers.

    Or possible-maybe-perhaps that is why we are starting to hear about plating the river-barges ?

    • ElimGarak says:

      The problem I suspect is that the Monitor types are not ocean-capable. The original Monitor sank in rough seas. And Monitor ships won’t be able to carry as much fuel. They also won’t have the sails as a backup.

      Besides, large ships will allow Charis to transport more troops and equipment, and will provide incredibly powerful artillery platforms to cover those troops. A Monitor type ship won’t be able to handle that duty.

      • Matthew says:

        The other reason is that even with an up-sized more seaworthy type of monitor like craft it’s still completely dependent upon coaling stations.

        • Guys and dolls, give it up. Monitor-types are a strategic and tactical dead-end–witness how quickly they vanished here on Terra, with only the Yankee navy building them in any numbers, and then never bothering to replace them in kind once they had rotted and rusted apart by the mid-1880’s. Even the RN revival of the type in the Great War was seen as a one-off aberration, dictated by a singular set of tactical circumstances (a projected invasion of Germany’s North Sea coast or Baltic coast) that never came about. The fact that the type wasn’t resurrected in the Second War should establish that failure of the entire concept. The ships described by Olyvyr in the first five paragraphs are logical extensions of the basic HMS Warrior design of 1860, and are roughly contemporaneous with the best late 1870’s RN designs. The biggest failure of the Monitor type is its shallow draft–ideal for harbor- and coast-defense, but making them useless to a blue-water fleet, which is vital at all times to the survival of the EoC. Monitors are one of those fascinating little cul-de-sacs with which military and naval history are littered, but clearly, whether due to subtle but careful nudging by Merlin or because between them Howsmyn, Seamount, and Olyvyr are perceptive enough to recognize on their own, the ICN has already, in terms of design philosophy, moved well beyond them.

          • Spktyr says:

            Actually, the monitors weren’t dead ends. Sure, as surface combatants go, they were too specialized and were a dead end there. But what the monitors really were were the point at which we started to see *submersible* combatants be considered and developed as a serious weapon. After all, the Monitor and its progeny were basically semi-submersibles already.

            The expertise John Ericsson gained from the development of the Monitor went on to greatly assist John Holland in his development of the first practical submersible – Holland used Ericsson as a consultant and advisor early on.

    • frederic says:

      On Earth, Monitor was built only after the first ocean going armored capital ship, La Gloire, was launched.

      Prior to this, there were self-propelled armored floating batteries, used in the crimean war, but they were not really ocean going vessels (i.e. they had to be towed on any distance).

      • La Gloire was a joke, and a bad one at that, given that she was a series of half-arsed compromises–wooden-framed, wooden planked hull with armor plating bolted to it–armor that would have cracked under the impact of British 32-pound shot, an undersized main battery, underpowered and with too small a sail plan. I suspect their lordships in HM Admiralty were falling about all over the shop, losing bladder control as they laughed until they hurt themselves, especially when they knew that Britain’s response was already under construction. In 1860 the Royal Navy launched a ship that has come to be regarded as “the first battleship of the modern age,” HMS Warrior. Though she resembled a conventional wooden-hulled ship-of-the-line, with three square-rigged masts as well as a steam engine, in every aspect of her design and construction that mattered she was a complete break with the naval traditions of the past. Truly steam-powered, with the masts rather than the engine meant for auxiliary power, screw-propelled, mounting guns that fired explosive shells rather than solid shot, and built of iron from the keel up, Warrior was faster, more maneuverable, better protected and more powerfully armed than any of her contemporaries. She embraced the best of the successful new technologies of the Steam Age, making every other warship in the world obsolete, and introduced what would be for the next nine decades fundamental elements of warship design. The Yankee “Monitor” was a harbor- and coast-defense design that was never intended to be part of a blue-water fleet, something Warrior was purpose-built for. Monitor gets all of the attention because she was the first dedicated iron-clad (as opposed to a conversion like the CSS Virginia) to see combat.

        • Spktyr says:

          Warrior wasn’t completely armored – they went to a central “citadel” armored area due to weight and many parts of the ship had no armor. Notably the bow and stern had no armor, so her steering gear and propulsion system were very, very vulnerable, among other issues. Many of her main deck guns also had no armor protection whatsoever.

          It was perhaps a good thing that Warrior was never called upon to go into combat.

    • gamarus says:

      The problem is one of mission – and distances. Charis is concerned with projecting power to a coastline – not protecting said coastline and while the US monitors might have been more seaworthy than one would expect their operational range can’t have been impressive. Fine if you are patrolling and protecting a harbour but a handicap if you are forced to coal in open water. IIRC during WWII three destroyers were lost in a typhoon simply because they ran out of fuel and thus steering capability.

      The Charisian ironclads are clearly built to operate on a global scale just like the early British ironclads they are going to look like (all though they will be carrying armour of wastly superior quality). Their sails should enable them to operate independently of replenishment – but I suspect they won’t.

      Regarding the barges; it sounds as if they will be used in the mainland channels, both interdicting Church supplies and guarding Siddermarkian and Charisian supply routes. Of those missions holding the channels open for their own supplies will be the hardest task if the Church cavalry shows just a modicum of initiative.

      • MCT says:

        I don’t see what the Church cavalry can do to river ironclads, the best they could do is get field guns to try and sink em, but since they’re armored, I don’t see how. I’m sure if they try to swarm em they’ll have to catch the ironclad first given it’s steam power, they’ll have a hard time doing that, and the gun crews aren’t exactly just going to watch them do it either, they’ll be shooting at them…

        So there’s really no possible way to destroy the river ironclads, impede their progress yes, in fact they could send a huge army to sit and defend the locks and prevent the ironclads from steaming up river…but that will basically blocade their own supply line and hold up a large enemy force while the EoC army can go somewhere else and just have the ironclad sit there since nothing can really stop it from loitering in the area.

        • JimHacker says:

          AoG guide to dealing with Charis’s new canal-boats:
          Step 1:Work out which route the canal-boats will be taking
          Step 2: locate an area on that route where the canal passes through or near woodland or other difficult, easy-to hide-in terrain
          Step 3: Block the canal – if possible keep the obstruction under water so that it isn’t obvious to scouting cavalry. hopefully, the canal boat might even run into unawares.
          Step 4: If the canal is actually running through woodland, cut a tree so that it can be lowered behind the trapped barge to prevent escape. Otherwise you’ll have to be quick.
          Step 5: Emplace and camouflage field pieces aimed at your trap
          Step 6: Hide troops in the woods. Preferably infantry (or both)but if there aren’t any handy then have to make do with just cavalry.
          Step 7: Wait for the canal boat, trigger the trap, board and swarm under.

          Don’t chase them, let them come to you! They can only go up or down the canal.

          • KenJ says:

            Another thing to remember about steam powered anything is that they have a noticeable vulnerability: Specifically the stacks. If you knock out/damage the stack, the furnace won’t draw as much air therefore won’t burn as hot and won’t boil enough water to create the steam pressure to work. There have been cases of steam engines being disabled that way with RIFLE fire.

        • gamarus says:

          I agree that Church cavalry would have next to no chance of sinking an ironclad with a conceivable field gun. Stopping or at least impeding one should be fairly simple, just by chopping down a few trees, perhaps drag them together in a solid snag and any ironclad would need an rather large escort on the bank. More permanent damage to locks would demand support from combat engineers capable of making emergency repairs to the lock.

          Or just go for the soft targets, the supply barges transporting whatever supplies the Charisian and Siddermarkian armies need further on. My knowledge of the American Civil war is limited, but I seem to recall that pure raids on supply depots by cavalry were quite effective and tied down large troop concentrations.

          Oh, one last nasty option or group of options would be obstacles left submerged aimed at ripping the bottom out of a barge or true mines even. Ram a line of say 20cm (8″) tree trunks into the bottom, with half a meter or so of water hiding them and wait in ambush until the ironclad impales itself or if the obstacle is detected, till an attempt is made at removing it, then charge, shoot some sailors and scamper off.

          • MCT says:

            Damn! that might actually be what the Gof4 field commander will do to stop the barges.

            But we forget, any trap they are luckly to pull will be detected by owl’s snarcs. Making obstacles by cutting down trees is very possible, but they’ll have to send instruction by semaphore to alert the forces and the man on the ground would have to do it fast before the barges show up. They would have to basically cover the entire river with trees to trap the barges. Don’t forget Charisian scouts are better than the Gof4 armies in detection, chances are they’ll spot the field guns hiding in the woods, it’s not just gonna be one or 2 field gun, they’ll need a several battery to have any chance in sinking the ironclad, thus a remarkable amount of soldiers and crews would be in the area, the scouts will spot them right away, nevermind owl’s snarcs.

            If they do fill the river with trees, it will impede and possibly stop the barges from stream further up river but by doing so, they’re basically going to cut their own supply line as well, no telling how many detachment of soldiers will be in the field, they’ll all need supplies on both sides.

            Still the nightmare scenario would that they decide to destroy the locks. Hence speed will determine who gets river control. I still believe the barges will be able to travel faster than the Gof4 land forces, it’ll take time for them to first react to the presence of new ships, then send info back to command, command rally enough forces and send them to key point of the river to take control of lock and deploy its forces and build their trap, but that takes enormous amounts of time.

            How fast can a land army travel compared to a barge that can do 12 knots/12 kilometer? Since they not going to be using sails and I don’t they they’ll be able to maintain 12 knots constantly, let’s say 6-8 knots as their average? You think a land army can beat them to a location and lay a trap?

            Of course yes, they could alway wait for the barge to come to their location, but doing so will enable the EoC to capture addition locks on fortify addition points depending on how far the Gof4 armies have marched inland in Siddermark, the EoC could potentially cut off enemy armies and strike at the supply line by landing soldiers on land, even even capture their supply on river.

            • MCT says:

              What worries me most is that they’ll actually using explosive mines. If they nails tree trunks into the river bed, those can still be detected, I’m thinking they’ll have a leading launch boat guiding the barges, and are the barges flat bottom? if they are, the tree trunks would have to be pretty tall.

              And if they do drive tree into the riverbed, I’m sure owl will spot them and mark the area, chances that they’ll miss them doing it is unlikely since thus far, in almost every engagement, Merlin have guided and provided intel ahead of time.

              Worse comes to worse, they could always use their cannons and blow the obstruction out of the well since they’ll have impact shells by then.

              So the Gof4’s only option would be to either destroy the locks, or throw 10 thousand soldiers, or possibly an even large force, a force of overwhelming number to stop/capture/destroy the barges.

              • JimHacker says:

                You make some good points but a few things for you to consider:

                1) There is only so much intel from the snarcs that can be passed on (especially as the conflict is expanding and including more people – from army commanders to the Siddarmarkians) and it will need to come with an explanation of how the EoC got it.

                2) Given that the barges will be moving rapidly the thoroughness and range of their accompanying cavalry’s scouting is going to be limited. This will be especially true in enemy territory as any scouting/escort force will be strictly tied to the barges. If troops/field pieces are well hidden then they are unlikely to be detected before they are right on top of them. You can scout more thoroughly, but then you have to move your whole convoy more slowly.

                3) The Temple loyalist armies will be using the canals too. Simple logistics demand it. Therefore, their armies will be almost certainly already concentrated around the canals. Therefore, its not going to be a case of them trying to get to the canal. Its going to be a case of them marching their forces down the canal while the EoC marches its forces up the canal. The race will decide how far up or down it they meet, not whether they will miss an interception. Once the TLs know about the barges, theywill probably march forces down the canal until they are a couple of days away from the Charisians, then set their ambush, then let the Charisians come to them. Sorry if I wasn’t clear before but I wasn’t arguing that they should let the canal boats come to them in the strategic sense, only the tactical.

                4) Impact shells will almost certainly detonate on contact with the water. If you want to blow up underwater obstacles with shells then you would have to use time-fused shells, but i’m not sure how effective even that would be.

                5) I think that 10000 men or more to ambush a couple of barges is much more than needed. But even if that was necessary, the TL have a few million.

              • MCT says:

                I really hate how the Gof4 have unlimited manpower.

                10 k soldiers might be alot, but given that they’re already march along the river, I’d think they might even have more since logistic dictate that the bulk of their army will have to stick withing reasonable distance of the canal and or river.

                I find it hard to believe they’ll be able to ambush or lay a trap and hid near canals, chances are the roads along side the canals will be pretty flat and absent of trees, since most of it would’ve been cut down to build the canal.

                I think we shouldn’t underestimate the EoC’s willingness to go without barge / river transport capability, while it’ll slow the supply line and get themselves cut off highly possible, we’ve seen how Caleb was willing to steal a march on Garvei in Corrisand, he could decide to trap the enemy one lock down the canal and attack from up and down the canal simultaneously until the other side gives up and surrender because of their lack of supply, however at that point, it’s down to who runs out of supplies first or who’s able to win the battle decisively. Given their tech advantage, surveillance and cuz they’re the good guys, no doubt the EoC army will win and gain control of said lock.

                Realistically I think we’ll only read about 1 major battle concerning the river ironclads and the capture of canal locks. Weber’s faily stingy when it comes to battles in his books but I suppose he gets away with it cuz they’re so intense…

              • MCT says:

                I think they’ll send more than a couple of barge, possibly a dozen, since they’re easier to build and no point in bring just a few if the army needs as much tranport ships as possible, chances are they’ll have a dozen of river clads, and a couple of dozens of supply barges stuff to the gills with troops, they can land troops once they see that the next lock is controlled by the enemy in strenght.

                They don’t have true impact shells yet, they’re using a ball and will fly foward to ignite the shell. So it could be possible to shell tree trunk in the water. Worse comes to worse they don’t even have to fire into the water, they could get someone to dive and plat explosives, that’ll depend on how deep the water is, but it’s definately possible.

                I think it’s reasonable to require 10 000 men to engage the riverclads, I mean they’ll have a dozen of them at least and the’ll have the escorting cavalry. The riverclads will probably stuffed with marines too…so yeah 10 k isn’t too unrealistic, but yeah I do hate how the Gof4 have unlimited cannon fodder.

              • JimHacker says:

                You are right that its unlikely for there to be woods right next to a canal, but I would think that there are probably places along the canal where there is good cover within say 1 mile. If a couple of barges were to get stuck on an obstruction and then 3000 troops were to pour out of nearby cover and make for the canal at best speed I reckon they might have a decent chance of success.

                It depends a lot on whether the Charisians decide to divide the ironclads into pairs or threes so they can tackle multiple canals or if they decide to concentrate and focus on one.

                While Charis may be willing to leave the canals for a while, they are still going to be tied tothem. Ithink MWW gave 500 miles as a reasonable range for draft dragons to be able to transport supplies away from a canal-head.

                If the impact with water doesn’t detonate one of the Charisian impact shells then the second impact with the obstruction certainly won’t detonate it. Consider how much water will brake its velocity.

              • MCT says:

                There’s still a chance that the fuze won’t blow right away, the ball has to fly forward and ignite it, given the velocity which the shell is traveling, and we’re talking about a river or canal depth, the shell won’t need to go very far, while yes it’s highly likely that the shell might explode when it hits water, but it still will take at least 1 sec for it to explode, we’re talking about a very small object that’s traveling very fast and it’s pretty heavy, I don’t thinking hitting the water will cause enough force to abrutly shake lose the ball, and slowing the shell fast enough to cause the ball to fly foward and immeadiately explode the shell…but its likely to happen, still there’s a chances, worst comes to worst they can use the tradition round shots shells, or simply plant it by hand with a diver…

              • MCT says:

                I don’t think, or at least I hope they don’t split the forces up trying to get to multiple locks, I mean wouldn’t the canal proceed linearly? It’s possible to have canals split off but that’s alot of constructions when you already have 1 perfectly working canal route, why split off?

                And even if it does split off, why would you the EoC split off its forces like that, given the numerical inferiority, and their requirement of land escort, they’ll have to split the cavalry up too, and then double the logistical problem while defending twice as many locks in diverging canals.

                3000 men charging withing 1 km distance to a canal while the river clads are stuck, that’s possible but I don’t think 3000 men is enough cuz there will be at least half a dozen riverclads and then there will be lots and lots of supply ships filled with marines aswell, I mean why would then travel seperately, the supply ships we require escort anyways and the river clads will need the supplies, so 3000 assault won’t be enough i think, and let’s assume 6 riverclads have 50 marines each firing 4 rounds a minute, that’s 6X50X4 = 1200 shots per minute, at 200 to yards distance, and let’s assume they get 50% accuracy, so the enemy will sustain 600 casualty, so every minute 600 men get’s hit while charging, their charge will last 5 minutes in terms of their number. While I’m over simplifying, chances are after the initial shot, the accuracy will go down by half and thus halve the enemy casualty number, still it’ll take more than 5 minutes to making a 200 yard charge under fire, over land and then across water…and the riverclads will have cannons too…

                We’re not even counting the other supply ships with their marines onboard who aren’t gonna stand around and do nothing…while the canal is small, this also give the EoC perfect field of vision and close range killing field, there’s not where to hide for both sides, but at least the EoC can hide behind the bulwark and the riverclad’s armor.

                Also once the soldiers get in water, the riffle are gonna be useless, so assuming they use some sort of wood plank to connect and reach the ironclad, picture castle sieges where enemy soldier try to climb and scale the walls using their ladders, same principle here sort of, all it will take is for the EoC to push the planks off, or better yet move the ironclad slight side ways, the canal is built to enable 2 way travel, at least that’s why I’d do, cuz it’d be pretty stupid if it could only fit exactly 1 barge going 1 way.

                So ultimately my point is it’s not impossible to swarm the riverclads in a canal, it’s just really hard and it’ll require at least double the number of soldiers, like I said, 10 000 men isn’t really that unrealistic.

              • JimHacker says:

                Remember that they are only building 6 of these ‘riverclads’ so 6 is the maximum not the minimum, although obviously they will likelybe supported bysupply and troop barges. The reason I’m hypothesizing that they might split up is because these canls are a network in muchthe same railways are a ntwork. They fork off, join up etc. There has been speculationthat Charis will split its forces into two armies: one to try to retake the northern provinces, one to head off the desnairian and dohlaran armies to the south. If they gave each army 3 ‘riverclads’ that’s a lot more ‘ambushable’. Also, a general marching towards his primary objective along a canal might conceivably decide to detach a riverclad and small force to head down one of the forks to deal with an important secondary objective without slowing the bulk of his force.

                There will likely be more riverclads later, but to begin with there will only be 6. If they stay concentrated they can only be used rarely. If theyare dispersed they can come ino play more often and may well be more useful – but they will be much much more vulnerable.

      • Gamarus, your comment about the three USN destroyers is particulary relevant to the entire discussion of the “virtues” of monitor types. The three DDs were lost not because they ran out of fuel, but because their fuel reserves got so low that the ships’ drafts were reduced to the point where they became unstable, and thus turned turtle. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the shallow draft of the Monitor-type, while inherently a virtue in coast- and harbor-defense, is a liability where a blue water fleet is concerned. As you very perceptively pointed out, the EoC is more concerned with force projection, which requires a blue-water fleet, rather than coast protection, in which case there is no requirement for monitors in the fleet mix.

        • gamarus says:

          Thank you for the correction regarding the destroyers.

          • Garamus, I hope you understand I wasn’t simply nit-picking there. The point I wanted to make was the danger of shallow draft in open water. The effect would have been the same had those three DD’s run out of fuel–no propulsive power, no steering way, no steering way, the ship gets broadside onto the seas and sooner or later she will turn turtle. So you were quite right in that chain of reasoning. I mentioned the real cause of the DD’s loss because it highlighted the dangers of shallow draft in the open ocean. Those ships were lost because they were riding so high–a consequence of their shallow draft, the result of low fuel–that as they rolled in the waves created by the storm, at some point each one reached a moment where her metacentric height met or fell below her center of gravity. Once that happens to a ship, there is no recovery from it, no way, no how. Period. Righting moment is irrecoverably lost and over she goes.

    • Chris says:

      We’re starting off with “La Gloire” and/or “HMS Warrior/Erebus” types here. although “Warrior” was a much larger ship >9,000 (long)tons and carried 110lb Whitworth breech-loaders as part of the broadside armament. Despite the size and power of the ship she was “only” rated as a frifate because all the guns were on one gun-deck.
      (She still is afloat, moored neat HMS Victory and is an impressive sight)

      The turret took time to be adopted especially for ocean-going types that were first fully rigged for sail to get the necessary cruising range.

      HMS Devastation/HMS Thunderer of 1871 were the first to dispense with sail rig although they were riggeg to allow the crew the then compulsory sail drill.

    • MCT says:

      I think there’s good reason to have both blue water ironclads and riverine ironclads, in terms of casualty, if they didn’t have blue water ironclads, they’ll be force to use the war galleons, and thus take casualty when fighting the God navy ships when next they decide to launch another sea mission, having the new ships would probably prevent any lost of ships in battle given their superiority.

      While having the riverine ironclads would help logistic in the mainland and blocade Gof4 armies’ supply, it’ll also be able to lay siege to fortresses and cities. Considering most cities are built near rivers, the river ironclads are mobile forts without having to worry about infantry support.

      • JimHacker says:

        Unsupported river ironclads are surprisingly vulnerable especially if the river or canal isn’t particularly wide.

        • Spktyr says:

          That depends on the design and armor of the river ironclad and the weight of the guns being brought to bear on it. The CSS Tennessee, for example, had some rather nasty anti-boarding technology: “Hello, Mister Unwanted Boarder, have some superheated steam in your face!” It also had some really stupid design errors that placed its steering linkage (chains) in unarmored troughs in the rear hull. The enemy forces shot away its steering chains and the ship was compelled to surrender as it wasn’t going anywhere.

          In fact, I can’t recall a single time when shore forces were able to successfully board and capture an ACW riverine ironclad that hadn’t been damaged by naval gunfire before hand.

          • JimHacker says:

            That is true. Unfortuntely its not so indicatiove of circumstances on Safehold. ACW ironclads were generally deployed on rivers. As America had only recently been colonised, and then with the invenion of railways, canals were never as important (and thus never extensively developed) in America as they were in Europe or they are in Safehold. I have to admit that the chances of shore forces taking an ironclad on a river are much much worse unless the ironclad does something like running aground. If you take a look at the Safehold maps, there are lots and lots of crucial canals running through Siddarmark. Not so many Mississipis.

    • JeffM says:

      Perhaps you missed the part about sending a dozen or more of these to visit the Temple? That’s the ultimate goal.

      • MCT says:

        Hmm? I thought they were sending the blue water Ironclads, what’s the point of send the river clads? Zion is right in front of Temple Bay, no need for going up the river no?

        • JimHacker says:

          Actually, it isn’t ‘right in front of temple bay’ even if it looks like that on the map – remember that Safehold isn’t a region but an entire planet. That said, I agree that its the blue water ‘battleships’ that they’re planning on sending.

          • MCT says:

            I get the impression that it is, when Angelic Pharsan? I forgot her name, the lady who rescued Stoner and who ran the brothel, when Zhevons/Merlin went to rescue her and the families of the reformist circle, they sorta made it seem like the city is right at waterfront, while granted the actually Temple is probably several kilometers away, it’s still pretty close. Besides I doubt they’ll actually bombard the Temple even if they could which I think it’s out of their range, the Rakurai won’t let it happen, since the sleepers are beneath the Temple, anything that happens to it will be destroyed by the weapon in the sky, that is what I assume anyways.

            I still think the Temple is very near the Temple Bay, maybe 100 km proximity to the waterfront?

            Why would they build the temple so far inland in ther first place, access to water would be so difficult. I mean why place it between Lake Pei and Temple Bay in the first place, they could have put it somewhere ridiculously far inland.

            Besides judging by Earl Coris’ voyage it seemed darn close to water, given how they sailed across frozen water to get their.

            • JimHacker says:

              The city of Zion is right nex to a massive inland lake which freezes over in winter. Im not sure just how far it is from temple bay, but Weber did tell us once. 100 miles seems familiar.

  6. Nico de Lange says:

    You know, in the past I have always maintained that I love the sociological aspects of the Honorverse & Safehold novels best, but it occurs to me that I really am a junky for Mr Weber’s incredibly dry (one could almost say ‘British’) sense of humour as well:

    ““I’ve discovered the lot of you are all grown up — or close enough I can trust you to talk things over without me, anyway. Besides, we’d already discussed everything I knew was going to come up, so I figured you could play without adult supervision this once.””

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      I read that, and I enjoyed the humor of it, but then I thought that maybe it was also a foreshadowing — Merlin’s inattention or, better yet, distraction could get him severely injured or someone in the inner circle killed. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but reflecting on it made me think that some foreshadowing was involved in that dialogue. What do you think? Am I reading too much into it?

      • MCT says:

        Yes, I believe you are, Merlin was on autopilot, doesn’t mean he wasn’t actually paying attention, we know he can multitask. Besides he’s not the only guard on duty, but I do find it disconcerting that all the power/leaders are in one place, I mean 1 bomb and it’s all over. I’m surprise we don’t see anymore suicide bombers or assasins though, then again it just happen last book so maybe you do have a point, Merlin could drop the ball at the worst moment…but that’s unlikely though…maybe…perhaps…nah…really?

        • MCT says:

          Damnit! Now I think someone’s gonna die now, you got me paranoid about assasins in the shadows!

          I’m still really pissed about losing Norman and Grey Harbor, Green Mountain not so much since he’s not technically dead yet…

          Come to think of it, I was realy angry when Harold died, there was so much left for him to do, but I guess without him dying, we wouldn’t get to see Caleb’s developing into a king, emperor, etc…

          • MCT, I’m with you–I really miss Nahrmann, though in no small part because of what Nico enjoys so much that got this thread started. The banter between Nahrmann and Merlin, or Nahrmann and Cayleb, or all three when they were together, was priceless entertainment. All three were, each in their own way, champion wise-arses.

            • MCT says:

              Those were funny moments, it’s just not the same without Norman and Grey Harbor, they so entertaining, I wonder why Weber chose to kill them off, I was hoping that Merlin could’ve saved Norman at least…but i guess its not meant to be…sigh

              • JimHacker says:

                I reckon nahrmahn is going to make a reappearance in VR.

              • MCT says:

                You know, that would be very cool getting normal in VR, and logically following this thought through how cool would it be if Owl figures out how to make another Pica and put Norman in it, we know Merlin has tried to make copies of himself, both physically and personality wise. But that’s just wishful thinking…or is it???

              • JimHacker says:

                Given that OWLwould have to risk scrapping Merlin’s PICA and its 10-day workaround if he built another PICA i don’t think its going to happen.

      • JimHacker says:

        We’ve been told before that Merlin sees no risk in reviewing things whilst acting as bodyguard. His inhuman tability to multitask, his thought-speed processes and his reaction times mean that even when he is focusing on something else he is still more vigilant than a human bodyguard.

        • MCT says:

          Agreed, and seriously what are the other guards doing? It doesn’t always have to be Merlin that stops assasins, while we like to see him in action, it’d be more realistic if the other guards earn their pay.

          On another thought, I don’t know why but even though merlin is a in male form, I’ve always thought of him as a woman, while he is a she, but still, am I making any sense?

          I’m surprise we haven’t seen any akward moments where women try to seduce Merlin or him getting into a relationship? I mean it’s been 5 years…

          • JimHacker says:

            I think Merlin lets Zhevons express that part of his character.

            I think Weber made some really ineresting choices and gave us someone who is effectively a transgender character.

            • Shade says:

              He did… however he really doesn’t play with it as much as I’d like. The funniest scenes regarding pyschological vs physical sex/gender were in the first book. After that it seems to have become much less pronounced. Which in my opinion is too bad. There’s so many opportunities that have just been ignored *sigh*

              • JimHacker says:

                My feeling too. In part, i think its because in bk1 Nimue felt uncomfortable in her male skin. By now ‘she’ is Merlin, not just p[retending to be him.

                But it is still more interesting than simply going with an originally male character.

  7. Bill says:

    I wonder if the barges are going to be dismantled and shipped as kit to rebuild into a ironclad gunboat in Siddermark?

    • JimHacker says:

      I doubt. I expect they’ll simply be shepherded across the seas.

    • MCT says:

      I doubt they’l disasemble the river barge/riverine ironclads once they’re complete, won’t it make more sense to just sail them to Siddermark? I’m thinking they’re almost as big as schooners no? If schooners can sail all the way to the Gulf of Dholar, I think they can make the distance to Siddermark.

      • Necros Xiaoban says:

        Barges tend to be very ‘flat’, without depth of keel, which makes it difficult for them to resist rolling in heavy seas. I wonder though if the design for the pendulum guns could be adapted to allow the barges to pull an anchor under the centerline to stabilize them.

        If Charis’ main issue is a lack of coaling stations, not availability of coal itself, then they ought to be able to load the barges and make full steam all the way to Siddarmark.

        • MCT says:

          Or, they could just load several merchant galleons with coal and rendevous whenever they’re out of fuel…I mean they’ve got tons of transports. It’d be silly to think they could restock up on coal once they’re in Siddermark and not bring some coals in their own transport…I’d think they’d also be bring supplies like amunition, food stuff, riffles, black powder, extra rigs, sails, wood, field pieces and the new motars for the army, etc…

  8. Randomiser says:

    Very surprised no-one is picking up on, “I’m sure he’ll get the point when we sail them and a dozen more just like them clear up Hsing-wu’s Passage to Temple Bay and start putting the troops ashore.” given the speculation about attacking Zion a couple of snipets ago. Of course the quote both suggests its on the agenda and that it won’t happen for quite a while – until they can mass a fair number (15 suggested) of the new ships all in one place to do it. Not in this book I imagine, so maybe that makes it too dull for comment?

    • MCT says:

      Hmm…too far off to really comment I guess? That’ll basically be the end of the series, I’m not sure but I read somewhere that the series will end with 8 books, this one being the 6th, they’ll have to defend Siddermark, formalize alliance in book 7 and also getting Corrisand to get with the program besides paying lip service. I guess in book 7 it’s going to be mainly Naval battles, against Mr. Thirsty and employing riverine/blue water ironclads?

      We’ve always assumed that they’ll land troops and attack Zion directly, but I guess were more interest in how we get there than when we get there, I think by then, the people in cryostasis will wake up and I figure pick the Gof4’s side and use the Rakurai to destroy EoC’s invasion, and then Merlin goes into the temple with a pocket nuke…?

      On another thought, on the book’s cover, you see merling wielding his sword in a battlefield, and the Recon Skimmer flying overhead, you think they’ll use it to bombard the enemy? Thus far the Rakurai hasn’t done anything yet, what are the chances that it’ll react if it detect the Recon Skimmer opening fire in a battle field where explosions are going over all over the place, with lots and lots of smoke to block out sattelite imagery and hopefully the Recon’s stealth could fool Rakurai’s Ai into think it’s just part of the native’s gun fire?

      • JimHacker says:

        All the covers have the skimmer hovering over a citgy, zapping a ship etc. Its artistic license, not something that happens in the book :)

        I wouldn’t be so sure about the 8 books thing. IIRC it was originally meant to be 5 or 6 books, but the plot-line of ‘book 1’ ended up taking all of book 1 and book 2. It was then re-plotted out for 8 books. If you look at the rest of Weber’s work, i think it’s probably a safe guess that the trend has continued through the rest of the series. Personally, i think it might go on for a little more than 8 books.

        • MCT says:

          That would be nice, it’d be sad if it ended at book 8, but then again, got to wait 1 year for every book that’s torture.

          I supose the Honor Harrington series will have to tie us over for half of the year.

  9. MCT says:

    I think it’ll take them 2 years to build 15 total, since this first batch will basically run their bank, and resources dry, they’ll probably only be able to continue construstions after the Siddermark situation is settled. Therefore, it’s only gonna happen in book 8 or maybe we’ll see them sail to Zion at the very end of book 7? I doubt it though since i’m pretty sure Caleb and Sharleyane will have to travel back to Tellesberg, and travel for them is a pain, 6 months if I remeber correctly?

  10. MCT says:

    You know they could also intruct Tarot to build them the Riverine Ironclads and ship the steam engine and steel plating to Tarot and assemble there and then just sail the river ironclads accross the Taro Channel, that’ll save on coal and the risk of sinking in the sea…

    Then again, Merlin’s idea is simply to slap on the armor on their current barge? so I don’t know, there’s a distinct possibility that they will be employing riverine ironclades once Caleb reaches Siddermark in this book?

    • JeffM says:

      I don’t know about “when Cayleb reaches Siddarmark”, because I think he’s about to leave. But perhaps about the same time the Army reaches central Siddarmark.

      What catches my attention is what this does to Hawsmyn’s production–I thought these were the barges he’d be using to carry ore to Delferahk?

      • MCT says:

        Oh yeah, but I guess he could always build more, then again I think it’s more important that they get the barges to Siddermark asap rather than holding them back just cuz Hawsmyn needs them to move iron ore around. Besides they only have 1 steam barge so far no?

        They could always build more…

        What I find most ridiculous is how Eastshare and Kent’s going to march all the way up Raven’s Land and down to Southern Siddermark to fight the Dholarian and Desnarian armies, that’s a long long way to go…I’m skeptical about how they’ll be able to make it on time for spring, given that spring is so close already no?

  11. MCT says:

    Is it just me or Weber is speeding up the timerate?

    First we see them sending off a convoy, then we see Stoner having received the convoy and crying in the church, then we’re informed that Caleb’s gonna be leaving to Siddermark within the next couple of weeks.

    You know what, they may in fact complete the first 6 ironclads by the end of the book.
    That means they’ll at the very least have riverclads in mid construction too or possibly even have a few to deploy in Siddermark.

  12. MCT says:

    Is this going to be the last Snippet we get before the book is on sale?

    I can’t remember but have they mentioned that they have infantry mortar?

    I’m kinda disapointed that they’re not planning to put turrets on the 6 ironclads when they’re planning to engineer a screw that could be lifted above the water, isn’t that infinitely more complicating than building turrets for the cannons?

    Do they have breechloading cannons yet? Is that what they were talking about or am I just hoping they’ve glossed over the subject?

    • JimHacker says:

      They are in the process of developing breach-loaders. I expect that the battleship class but not the barge ironclad class will end up with breachloaders. We’ve been told that we are going to see pivot mounts, but if by turreted you mean that they can be elevated to mortar/modern naval rifle-esque angles then this is very unlikely. Except for specialist ships for taking out land fortifications (like the angle gun ships) this would certainly be useless for blue water vessels and I’m pretty sure the same is true for brown-water vessels. Until you develop some method to counteract the rocking of the gunplatform (eg gyroscopic fire control) any gun at such an elevation is so innacurate its useless.

      • MCT says:

        No, not that modern, simply a cannon behind a steel box that can swivel and elevate slightly, I mean they have swivels even in the second book, now that they have steel, and cranks to elevated field artillery, it’s simply a matter of putting all the peices together once they figure out how to breechload.

        I’ll admit, it’ll be something very crude, but do-able and it would provide better range in terms of firing arc, by that I mean, the ship won’t need to turn on its broadside to fire all the time, granted the turret won’t extend their range since their accuracy is still what? at least 400 yards minimum? We know Alfred was able to shoot what 4 miles away on land with field guns? So in the best condition at sea, while anchored what’s their accurate range????? Anyone know?

        • JimHacker says:

          I reckon that even anchored in best conditions at sea they won’t be able to hit a thing over 600 yards away an effective range 400 yardsand optimal at 200 perhaps? But you don’t want to anchor in a sea battle. You want to keep moving, and then your effective range comes right back down to 300 yards max and 100 optimal.

    • MCT, the retractable screw was in use about twenty years before the first gun turret was constructed–from an engineering standpoint that is a relatively simple problem. Mounting turrets on ships, though, is a very tricky, complex proposition, as you have to essentially build the ship around the turret trunks and their associated machinery. The exact location of the turret siting can critically affect a ship’s stability and seaworthiness. There’s a heckuva large learning curve here for people like Olyvyr, and despite all the “help” from OWL, they aren’t going to simply take an AI’s word for something as critical as a warship design. If you look closely, you can see where every “innovation” in design, methodology or even technology that Merlin has introduced has been in some way a logical extension of existing designs and methods, even if they push the envelope a bit. But turrets as we know them have no conceptual foundation in Safehold, no “starting point” in existing designs from which to extrapolate the idea. In point of fact, here on Earth the idea of turrets grew out of barbettes, which grew out of the casement idea, which was an outgrowth of the broadside, each time the purpose being to reduce the area requiring armor protection while at the same time improving the arcs of fire of the main guns. The Yankee Monitor was a one-off in that regard, and even then look at all the difficulties Ericsson had in getting her built, in no small part because people had a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea of a moving gun turret.

      • MCT says:

        What do you know, learn something everyday!

        I had no idea the retractable screw came before turret usage. Still you’re absolutely right about the step by step improvement of their technical development. I’m just hoping they’d jump to making turret, I mean it’s not TOTALLY out of the blue, the idea of protecting a cannon’s there already, and they’re applying armor to ships and given that they’re already thinking of putting their broasides behind armore and the fact that they already have swivel cannons, you would think Merlin would go, “Wouldn’t it be nice to build a armor cassing around a cannon and make so that you can swivel and elevate the cannon at the same time?” wink wink, nudge nudge at Housman.

        Having said that though, I’m thinking of very crude turrets, once that essentially turn by cranks and muscle power. They would however be able to elevate slightly, I mean even their cannons now could be elevated slightly using a peg, nevermind the ones that Alfred? What’s his name? the artilerist? have already made field guns that can be cranked up and down. While field guns are light, still you’d think they could just make a better cranking system.

        I still don’t see why accuracy would be such a big problem that they would require gyroscopic fire control at this point, right now their accuracy is around what 1km? Not even? I don’t think they need such advance fire control yet.

        How hard is it to put a cannon inside a metal box that can swivel? I’m thinking of something very crude here.

        As for the placement of turrets, yes I agree, didn’t think of the difficult it would take to put it on deck especially with all the sail rigs in the way and I’m still not sure how big the ship is, I know he displaces 5000 tons and its 300 feet long, but it’s hard to conceptulize especially with all the sails in the way.

        • JimHacker says:

          MCT, fire control on ships is not simply to calculate ballistics like it is on land.

          Land provides a stable platform. A ship is not a stable platform. It is not simply moving on the heading of the ship, it is also rolling. And, depending on the vagaries of wind, wave and tide, it is also possibly cork-screwing as well. How vigorously the boat is rolling obviusly depends on circumstances, but i believe that as much as 30 degrees wouldn’t be especially unusual.

          Now if you imagine that you were to aim your guns so that they would hit your target direct centre of the hull if you fire when your own ship is exactly level. Say your target’s hull extends 20m above water with an extra 40m of mast and your aim is perfect. At 200m you would miss the enemy hull if you were off by 3 degrees but if you overshot within 15 degrees ypu might hit the rigging. At 500m if you overshot less than 6 degrees you might hit rigging and you would need to be less than 2 degrees off to hit the hull even with perfect aiming. For this reason, pre-fire control ships time their fire on the ‘uproll’ or ‘downroll’ in order for gunners to take the effect into account. Accuracy over range degrades very quickly as small errors are exacerbated. This is why the Charisian captains withhold their initial broadside (the most devastating) until the range is less than a hundred yards, even though they consider max range (the range at which they can expect some hits) to be 300 yards. This is why the Charisians decided not to introduce rifled naval guns before. Rifled naval guns don’t make all that much difference in naval combat because naval gunnery is so inherently innacurate. Rifled guns do make lots of difference on land, and they were concernd what would happen if stable, rifled cannons on TL shore were given the opportunity to engage their rifle-armed ships. The shore batteries would have an effective range measured in thousands of yards, the ships would have an effective range of hundreds of yards

          Gyroscopic fire control changes everything. Gyroscopic fire control does not aim for you. It automatically fires your gun at a specific point in your roll (normally the midpoint), thus simulating a stable platform. This finally makes calculating your ballistics, or even using calculated ballistics and mechanically assisted/automated aiming, an effective thing to do.

          This is one of the most important differences between land and naval gunnery.

      • KenJ says:

        The blue water class will at least have Pivot guns: (turret guns without the armored “turret”) I suspect that the later builds may end up all steam with true turret mounted “broadsides”

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      MCT, there will be two more snippets. One to finish this chapter and one that’s a single chapter.

      • MCT says:

        That is AWESOME!

        I feel like such an addict right!

        I wonder if the book might come out on sale in Ebook format on the coming Monday night around 12 am?

        • msj says:

          Hah! I won the “Barnes and Noble Early Lay-down Sweepstakes”. I went in to the bookstore yesterday and there was the book in all it’s glory. I will refrain from any spoilers!

  13. Wallace says:

    Courtesy of George R.R. Martin: In one of his “Tale of Fire and Ice” series, he had Tyrion Lanister block a harbor with a heavy chain that could be raised and lowered, trapping a fleet behind it. Such a device would be far more practical than trees or rocks in the bottom of a river or canal, and as effective, while leaving the canal available for local use. Detection of such devices would depend on use of Snarcs or scouting parties (as on Corisande concerning semaphore sites).

    The “splat” gun (from “The General” series) would require heavy transport on land to provide useful quantities of ammunition. Thus, the ship development will establish total domination of the Safehold seas by Charis, but it takes infantry to seize and hold land, and the products from such territory, be it foodstuffs, timber, metal ores, or manufactured goods. Infantry is also necessary to guard supply lines on land. Therefor, (absent the very unlikely defection of nations on Howard) this conflict must inevitably turn toward land battles, and the development of more deadly weapons for land armies must come to take precedence over seapower, in which Charis already holds enormous advantage.

    More efficient metods of mass killing of troops will be required to overcome the manpower advantage of the Group of Four.

    • MCT says:

      That would have to be some really thick chains, it’ll have to be pretty long too. But won’t cannon fire be able to blow it up? Besides why put a chain, when the land troops will most likely fortify a lock? Either the EoC will have to deploy land troops to capture or assault those location, I don’t think there’s much point to putting up a chain when you’ve got such a huge army at your disposal.

      Have we ever done that before in Terran history? I’m guessing we have, but a chain seems so fragile no matter how thick it is. Explosive shells would make quick work of it no?

      • Spktyr says:

        Harbor chains were a staple of naval warfare until the past century. They were used back as far as Ancient Greece, as I recall, and one of the major features of the harbor at Constantinople was the giant chain they used to keep unwanted ships out.

        Portsmouth in the UK also had a defensive harbor chain, and some of its links still exist:


      • Aaron says:

        Harbor chains have actually been used to protect Constantinople. Shooting a chain with mass canon fire is very difficult bordering on impossible. Also simply hitting the chain does not guarantee the chain will break; the chain should just absorb the hit if there is slack in chain.

      • Spktyr says:

        Oh, and the only reason they aren’t around any more was that the submarine became a viable weapons system and a chain suddenly became rather useless. They were replaced with harbor nets, with the mesh being too tight for most submarines to pass through with the net erected. Prior to the air elements of the Pearl Harbor raid showing up, a Japanese mini-sub was caught trying to enter the harbor through the nets, but was caught between two of them and destroyed by depthcharging. Two others did get through the nets, though. A similar attack was carried out at Sydney, but one of the subs ran afoul of an anti-ship/anti-sub/anti-torpedo harbor net.


      • JimHacker says:

        Ithink you may be misunderstanding the size of these chains. The metal is generally about as thick as your forearm.

        I like the idea of chains for defending their bases etc, but deploying a chain forward dooesn;’t look like it would work to me.

  14. arrrgh says:

    3 probably useless ways to take out a chain?

    A small suicide boat loaded with explosives,maybe as a shaped charge? Explosives don’t work well on that sort of thing, but maybe enough would have a chance? It would designed to get caught on the chain, and then blow up.

    Or, a ship loaded with thermite? Again, I doubt it would work, just throwing it out there.

    Of course, or a ship loaded with acid, but I think that would take too long to work, and would need acid that is lighter than saltwater and viscus to avoid being instantly diluted.

    • Spktyr says:


      1: Safehold tech is not of the level to make shaped charges yet. Further, harbor chains could be truly enormous, with solid steel or iron links the thickness of your arm, your leg, or thicker. Blowing them apart was a task even WW2 plastic explosives had enormous problems doing – safer and more certain to capture the chainhouse and lower the chain.

      2: Safehold doesn’t have thermite, and the burning thermite would tend to flow off the ROUND links into the depths of the sea.

      3: Okay, seriously? These chains didn’t float on top of the water, they were sub-surface by a little. The acid wouldn’t do anything significant if it floated on top of the water, except maybe at the ends, except you’d shoal your ship before you got close to where the chain came out of the water.

  15. George Phillies says:

    Chains: They worked well to hold the Hudson River against a British fleet, though you needed a fort at each end.

    To hold canals, draining a section likely works well.

  16. arrrgh says:

    They could make both shaped charges and thermite, they just need to ‘invent’ them. But yes, I was assuming explosives would be unlikely to work…..with one caveat.
    They would also just need an excuse, even if faulty, that would be cover for a laser etc to do the actual cutting.

    I was thinking that it would not float 100% on the surface, just that it would be in the top 10? meters or so of the water column. Even some oil leaks don’t all float on the surface, ie that shale oil goop.
    Even if its heavier than water, the acid would just have to be viscus enough to stay together, and coat the chain as it sinks past. Of course, given that its slow acting, you probably need divers to attach some slow leaking containers underwater, at night, and come back a month later.
    Of course, I did assume acid would be the least likely to be useful idea.

    • MTC says:

      Very cool Spktyr, awesome pic, and I didn’t realize chains were used that much to protect harbors and such.

      Even though chains would work, is it really worth the effort? I’ll conceed that it might work if they put one up in a river, but it’s gonna have to be a pretty long and thick chain, which I suppose that what they would make to make the trap in order to impede the riverclads for their swarming tactic.

      However they will most likely have to anchor or attach the chain at 2 different points, wouldn’t it be easy to spot that? But I guess that’s besides the point, I still maintain that owl and his snarcs will spot them putting up the chains, given how Merlin has always been there to guide their forces from the front, and I would think capturing and steaming up a canal would make him extra careful, besides now there’s Rock Point and Earl Green Valley that can access the snarc take besides Caleb and Merlin of course.

      In the unlikely event that all of them drop the ball, and the scout element cavalry/launch boat to determine the depth and pilot miss the chain since it’s hanging subsurface in the water, it’s not going to break the barge, it’s simply gonna stop it for the moment until they figure out how to cut the chain.

      Since explosive and massive cannon barrage isn’t going to working given the slack in the chain, I would think once they confont the chain and bounce backwork, they will figure out where the chain’s been connect onshore, then use the cannons to bombarb the hidden enemy force and capture the onshore location where the chain’s attached and then proceed to cut or destroy.

      The outcome will be the massacre of the land force given the snarc’s heads up advantage, and the armor on the riverclad, also its cannons and the marines onboard as well as the cavalry’s Maughdryn? riffle will make short work of the enemy.

      We go back to the point where any type of ambush will be very bloody on the Gof4′ side, and my guess is they will require an enemy force of 10 000, I could be way off, but i’m being greed and heavily biased for the EoC.

      Then again, why go through all that trouble and not just drain a key section of the canal and fortify like there’s no tommorrow with 50 000 men, and mount field guns along the lock and then deploy a chain as well and wait for the EoC riverclads to show up. Isn’t that the whole point of a riverclad, they are using it as troo transport and also as a river front siege platform? But then I’m assuming the EoC will likely deploy maybe 6-10 Marines to try and capture that section of the canal.

      I’m still pretty skeptical of Eastshare and Green Valley’s progress, given the distance they have to travel, I suspect they’re not going to make it, and Caleb will get there first, I still doubt they employ riverclads in this book, but I could be totally wrong given how Merlin just suggest Houseman to “slap on some armor”. But it would be a nasty surprise for the other side though.

      The things I’m looking forward too/my wish list;
      -Infantry Mortar
      -Field Gun, true artillery if that makes sense
      -The new Breachloading riffles
      -Riverclads if they build them in time
      -Blue water ironclad by the end of the book
      -Total destruction of Desnarian and Dholarian armies
      -Formal alliance with Siddermark
      -Irys, Davin and Earl Coris going home to Corrisand and full accept the EoC
      -Merlin in action on the battlefield

  17. MTC says:

    Oh and I’m surprise Merlin hasn’t figure out or suggest they making organ guns yet.
    Volley guns, and then gatling gun, while that will depend on when they’ll go to full jacketed ammunition, but they’re not really that far off now that they have a working primer, I don’t see how they haven’t figure out to making a shell for a bullet as well, since they’ve alreay figured out how to do explosive shells, while the shells are different components, it’s pretty obvious since both contain black powerder.
    Once they figure out how to make a bullet, the next logical step is making a bolt system in a riffle and then I believe a magazin or clip will be pretty straight forward, that’s when they can kill on a massive scale, hence the gatling gun…

    • Spktyr says:

      Organ guns have a bunch of disadvantages – I suspect the first to appear will be the Gatling type, and they need to get their rifle tech up just a touch more before they can use it – they really need to get to falling-block and not just rolling block rifles first.

  18. tootall says:

    Some Barnes and Nobles have the book and are selling it.

    • MCT says:

      WHAT”!! That has to be a mistake!
      Or are they selling them online and read to ship and arrive at your door on the 18th? Otherwise I feel, cheated…

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        MCT, it’s common for “Brick and Morter” bookstores to have the books available before the release date.

        Now the on-line bookstores mostly won’t ship it until the release date.

        Normally (for “Brick and Morter bookstores”) the release date isn’t a “don’t sell before this date” thing.

        If they have it in before that date, they can and will sell it.

  19. tootall says:

    Read This

    If anyone cares, release dates are always Tuesdays. For folks like Nora Roberts- nobody sells until the release date- With Weber- as Drak says -they’ll sell it whenever it comes in. HFaF, my brick and mortar bookstore didn’t get it until that Thursday. Frustration city.

  20. George Phillies says:

    On the humorous side, one of the cabal could discover late 20th century ideas for ammunition that was a bullet, a propellant, a detonator, and very little else—no brass — and fail to discover that they were a bit tricky to make to work. Steel rope for ships, as well as for barbed wire, needs more metal production .

    • Spktyr says:

      They would need to perfect plastic explosive first. Also, every description I’ve ever read of caseless ammo was accompanied by a description of just how hard it is to make work.

      Which is a shame, because it’s a good idea.

  21. George Phillies says:

    Spktyr, you see my point. The Cabal tries to invent a weapon that cannot be made to function in the real world, but has all this great historical literature describing it.

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