Saturday 2 December 2023

Don Marco da Pattaya counterattacks at Kupang, parts 1 & 2

Part 1 - the battle of Cape Solamoe

You’ll all no doubt have vivid recollections of the fall of Kupang, reported by Mark back on 2020. 

Galleys & Galleons - The Siege of Kupang (part 1)
Galleys & Galleons - The Siege of Kupang (part 2)
Galleys & Galleons - The Siege of Kupang (part 3)

This Portuguese base on the NW coast of Timor was a vital part of their control of the Spice Islands. Its capture by an unholy alliance between the Sultan of Songkhla and the knights of St Michael of Singapore was a serious strategic blow to Portuguese ambitions in the East Indies.

But now they’re planning a comeback. The enemy alliance has frayed. The fortress of Kupang has never been properly restored since the siege. It is now in poor condition and ill-defended, according to intelligence reports. The indigenous population is hostile to the Songkhka occupation on religious grounds thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the Jesuit missionaries.

Don Marco sails from Malacca with an invasion squadron comprising -

1 x Galleon (Santa Caterina da Goa)
Q3 C4: Chaser guns, Drilled soldiers, Galleon rigged, Master gunner, Trained gun crew

3 x Fragatas ( Sa Barbara, Sao Jorge, Sao Martinho)
Q3 C3: Chaser guns, Galleon rigged, Master gunner, Trained gun crews

1 x Carrack (Sa Isabella das Indias)
Q4 C5: Drilled soldiers^, High castles, Merchantman, Reinforced hull, Sluggish, Square rigged

2 x Requisitioned merchant junks (Ginger Jar, Hainan Trader)
Q4 C3: Drilled soldiers^, Merchantman, Reinforced hull, Square rigged

^ Drilled soldiers on the carrack and junks are the invasion landing force.

The defenders get enough warning to decide to meet the Portuguese at sea, off Cape Solamoe, aiming to disrupt the reconquista attempt before it reaches Kupang. They have the following ships, under the command of Presha Abdul Kadir (the Mudir of Kupang) -

2 x Songkhla galleys (Srivijaya, Songkhka)
Q3 C3: Drilled soldiers, Galley, Swashbucklers, Yare

1 x Galeass (Banda Aceh)
Q4 C5: Drilled soldiers, Bow guns, High castles, Sluggish, Square rigged, Sweeps, Veteran NCOs

2 x Wako allied pirate junks (Bamboo Shoot, Bean Sprout)
Q2 C2: Derring-do, Intimidating, Lateen rigged, Reinforced hull, Yare

The defenders are outnumbered but the Portuguese are hampered by the transport ships.


The two squadrons sighted each other mid-morning near the Deserted Islands, Cape Solamoe bearing due E about 3 leagues, and the wind a fresh breeze from the ENE. The Portuguese came on in two columns: the fighting ships in the windward column with Sa Caterina leading the frigates, and the transports in the leeward column. The defenders were in rough line abreast, galleys on the R and Wako on the L.

After 2 turns here’s the position. Wind direction is from top R to bottom L, so the Portuguese are broad reaching  / running and the defenders are close hauled (not the galleys obviously, which are under oars) -

And a low level view from the maintop of the Banda Aceh (with enemy Wako junks out of view to the L).

On turn 3 the Sa Caterina opened fire on the galley Srivijaya, inflicting 2 damage, but also rolling turnover. 

The Wako junks continued on course towards the Portuguese transports in the lee column, but the closer junk fired a full broadside at the Sa Caterina (but too far to count as raking fire) but the shot bounced off the big galleon. The Banda Aceh galeass (under sails) advanced but couldn't shoot. The galleys failed to move (rolled turnover) and their shooting was equally ineffective.

Turn 4. The Sa Caterina continued forward remorselessly, and poured a full broadside into the Banda Aceh at point blank range, but inflicted only 1 damage on the giant. The next in line, Sao Martinho, fired at the Srivijaya, inflicting a 3rd damage on the galley. Sao Jorge, third in the line, came abreast the galley Songkhla, and inflicted 1 damage. Over in the leeward column the two transport junks shortened sail, though the Sa Elizabeth ploughed forward.

The Wako junks stuck to the knitting, altering course slightly to port and piling on speed (close hauled to broad reaching) to close the transports. But before this, Bean Sprout used an available activation to put a raking shot into Sa Caterina from right under its bows, causing the Galleon 1 damage. The galley Songkhla closed towards the frigate Sao Jorge and also inflicted 1 damage from close range shooting. Srivijaya likewise closed to shoot at Sao Martinho but missed. Lastly, Banda Aceh got in a close range shot at Sa Caterina. The shooting was ineffective but the giant Galeass then contacted  the Galleon and grappled it. 

The next photo shows the end of turn 5. I have left a shooting smoke marker at the point where Bean Sprout raked Sa Caterina.

Turn 5. As boarding hadn’t commenced, Sa Caterina used its 2 activations to pour a raking full broadside into the Banda Aceh. The modified shooting scores were 11-3 so the Banda Aceh took 3 damage. This took her to total 4 damage, and she sank. I ruled this snapped the grapples so the Sa Caterina got to sail on. The Sao Martinho then sank the Srivijaya. The Sao Jorge took the Songkhla to 3 damage total, and the Sa Barbara, last frigate in line, came abreast of the crippled galley and sank it too.

Here’s the end of turn 5 (Portuguese bound). The Songkhla appears to be still afloat but only because I ran out of wreck markers. A remarkable demonstration of Portuguese gunnery. It’s striking what close range raking full broadsides directed by master gunners will do.

The two Wako junks will turn tail and flee now, as they know what’s good for them. They briefly considered a fast descent on one of the transport junks, but the rear frigates can change direction and be on their tails before they can fight their way on board to capture and loot it.

Don Marco surveys the scene from the quarterdeck of Sa Caterina. He twirls his mustachios, regards himself in the full-length mirror next to the binnacle, and then gives orders for the squadron to make best speed to Kupang.

Part 2 - the landing at Lasiang beach

After destroying the defending naval squadron off Cape Solamoe, the Portuguese invasion force anchored off the coast, about half a league east of Kupang, without further incident. The Council of War decided to land the troops at Lasiang, where there was a suitable sandy beach with open flat country inland, establish an onshore logistical base, before marching along the coast to Kupang.

The previous battle was fought using the Galleys & Galleons naval rules and now I’m switching to HoTT for the land action.

The invasion force comprised -

1 x HrG (Don Cristobal da Crespo and staff)
4 x Bd (Sword & Buckler men)
4 x Sh (Crossbows & Arquebusiers)
1 x Cl (representing the Church Militant)
1 x Lu (Scouting party)

As the landing was still under way the troops came under attack from part of the Kupang garrison, which had marched along the coast, comprising -

1 x HrG (Somsak Prapanimit)
2 x Rd (Mercenary Javanese cavalry)
3 x Sp (Songkhla regular infantry)
3 x Wb (Mercenary Thai warriors)
2 x Sh (Bows & Arquebusiers)


First ashore were Don Cristobel and his staff, and the militant cleric & acolytes. They encountered the Kupang advance guard, a couple of mounted elements.

Over the next few turns both sides built up their strength as reinforcements arrived, from offshore or along the coast, until on turn 4 the Portuguese struck. On their R (the Kupang L) they destroyed a Kupang Sh, and on the L (Kupang R) they recoiled an Rd element. The geometry of this meant both Kupang Rd elements ended up partly within a palm grove. Although they extricated themselves before the Portuguese Lu could take advantage.

The Kupang army counterattacked, but wasn’t able to dent the Portuguese line. Then in the Portuguese bound of turn 6 things took a decisive turn, as the they brought down a Kupang Rd element, and a column of 2 x Wb. 

Progress score after 6 turns: 8-0 Portugal.

So on turn 7 the defenders launched a desperate attack, almost suicidal, committing all their remaining troops. But although Don Cristobel himself was recoiled by the Kupang Rd, and the Kupang Sp recoiled a Portuguese arquebusier element, the last Kupang Wb fell to the Portuguese Bd, as the score ticked over to 10-0 Portugal.

In their own bound the Portuguese did just enough to finish the job, destroying the remaining Kupang Rd, taking the final score to 12-0.

A convincing win for the invasion force. The Kupang survivors must flee: either back along the coast to Kupang; or into the hinterland where unfriendly locals will give them a “warm” welcome.


So the landing force is safely ashore and has routed the force sent to throw it back into the sea. The necessary supplies can now be landed without interference, and a palisaded base built. Then the expedition can move to recapture the fortress of Kupang.

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