Sunday 3 December 2023

Don Marco da Pattaya counterattacks at Kupang, parts 3 & 4

Part 3. The siege of Kupang fortress

A couple of weeks have passed since the Lasiang landing and battle. Instead of following up the defeated Songkhla defenders at once, the Portuguese have completed a palisaded base and moved in the supplies necessary to support the army. Now it’s all done and Don Cristobel Da Crespo has left a small garrison and led his men to the fortress of Kupang. 

A contingent of Timorese natives has joined the expedition, led by the missionaries. 

The remaining Songkhka garrison has withdrawn into the fortress. Since it was captured over three years ago nothing much has been done to repair the damage, except a hastily-built and incomplete palisade in front of the breach. The Portuguese had been counting on this, it’s why they havn’t brought up siege artillery.

As Don Cristobel is making his dispositions, a message arrives from Don Marco: the Sultan of Songkhka has sent a large relief force, and it has been sighted at Utara Pulau, to the SW. He’s going to wait for it at Hatong Point, which it must pass to reach Kupang.

Don Cristobel decides to assault the fortress rather than passively besiege it to starve out the defenders. If he can capture it he’ll be in a better position should the worst happen and Don Marco be defeated at sea.

The Portuguese have 32AP to assault and capture the fortress -
1 x HrG (Don Cristobel da Crespo & staff)
5 x Bd (Sword & buckler men)
4 x Sh (Arquebusiers  & crossbowmen)
6 x Hd (Timorese native auxiliaries)
1 x Pd (Inspirational missionary leader of Timorese)

The Kupang defenders have only 20AP following their heavy losses at Lasiang - 
1 x BdG (Somsak Prapanimit & staff)
4 x Sp (Songkhla regular infantry)
2 x Bd (Mercenary samurai)
2 x Sh (Arquebusiers & bowmen)
+ field defences & positional advantage


Here’s a view of the opening positions. Don Cristobel is naturally attacking at the place where the fortress wall was breached three years ago by siege artillery. The defenders have covered the actual gap with a palisade but adjacent heavily damaged sections of the bastion have not been repaired.

The Portuguese advanced on a wide front so as to attack all along the wall and try to over-stretch the defenders. It took a while to get all the attacking elements into position. No doubt the PIP shortage reflects some hesitation about the risks of the forthcoming attack. 

On turn 6 the first wave of attacks goes in. The defenders get +2 (to combat and shooting) when actually defending the line of the walls. The attackers can use 2 PIPs per element to use scaling ladders to offset the defenders’ advantage by +1. Also any recoil of an enemy element defending the walls may optionally be followed up.

In the centre the Japanese mercenaries threw back the Timorese assault on the palisade. But on the L one element of Portuguese forced the defending Sp back from the wall and followed them up. They didn’t use scaling ladders but clambered over the ruins of the wall and then got a really favourable combat roll.

But on the next turn the attackers who had got over the wall were pushed back out by the defending Sp, and the Timorese, renewing their attack on the palisade, received their first loss. 

Action then switched to the R end of the attack. The Portuguese finally rolled enough PIPs to get two Bd  elements over the wall at an undefended section using ladders. The nearest defending element (Sh) attacked but it was a drawn combat. 

The Portuguese escalade on the R gained momentum as another element (Sh) got over using a ladder, and the Bd already across defeated the defenders opposing them, destroying a defending Sh and recoiling the Sp. Over on the L the Portuguese Bd again broke through. The valiant Timorese kept up their attack on the palisade but succeeded only in losing another element.

The defenders are under heavy pressure now as Don Cristobel’s “broad front” tactic seems to be working. They desperately need sone better PIPs, and combat luck, to throw back the attackers. 

It’s turn 9 now - as far as I can tell, lost track a bit - and the defenders got 6 PIPs. 

On the L the defenders pull extra elements from either side to overlap and friction attack the Portuguese Bd who have broken through. They don’t get the wall bonus because the defending Sp have been recoiled from the wall … and the Portuguese win the combat.

On the R the defenders move up their BdG (Somsak) but he cannot get into combat contact this time. They move their only other elements over here into line, to avoid losing the rear one to an uncompletable recoil … and indeed the Portuguese win this fight too …

… and then go on to roll 5 PIPs for their own bound, using them to reinforce their existing breakthroughs. On the L the defenders prevent any further Portuguese success, but in the R a defender Sp falls to a friction attack. In the C the Timorese have paused their assaults on the palisade, and one of the Samurai Bd has been diverted to help contain the Portuguese threat on the L.

After 9 turns the progress score is 2-4 Portugal. Both their losses are Hd. The Defenders are down by 1 x Sh & 1 x Sp.

Turn 10, and the defenders get another 6 PIPs. BdG Somsak attacks the Portuguese Sh who have scaled the wall to the R of the palisade, and destroys them. The second Samurai Bd comes up in support, leaving the palisade undefended. There’s only 1 other defending element on the R - a Sp company - and it goes down to a Portuguese Bd with a horrible combat roll. Over on the L the defenders again try an overlap + friction counterattack, and again fail as the Portuguese Bd recoils it. 

The Portuguese use their meagre PIPs this bound to make an overlap attack on the defending BdG. It’s a drawn combat.

Turn 11. This time the defenders have ony 1 PIP. The second Samurai Bd comes to help Somsak, but both defending Bd are recoiled by the Portuguese Bd. Then the Portuguese get 6 PIPs and use them to get 2 x Hd over the palisade on ladders. And in the Bd fight nearby the samurai are recoiled again but Somsak and his entourage stand their ground.

Turn 12. The defenders throw everything at the Portuguese breakthrough on the L. Another overlap + friction attack. And this time it works. The Portuguese Bd element that has clambered through the gap in the wall is destroyed. On the R Somsak is overlapped by two Portuguese Bd, and again fights them to a standstill.

The Portuguese get another ration of 6 PIPs. Right-o, thinks Don Cristobel, time for the final push. On the L the attack is not renewed. But in the C the two Timorese Hd who got over the palisade last time move into the rears of the two defending Bd (Somsak himself, and the Samurai) who are also attacked from the front by the Portuguese Bd. Lastly Don Cristobel himself, and the Missionary Pd, prepare to escalade the walls next turn.

Somsak Prapanimit the defending BdG falls in combat, as does the adjacent Samurai Bd. 

The scores tick over to 10G-6 Portugal. So that’s a Portuguese win. 
 Don Cristobel has taken back the fortress of Kupang at a cost of 1 x Sh, 1 x Bd, 2 x Hd elements. The Songkhla defenders lost 1 x BdG, 1 x Bd, 2 x Sp, 1 x Sh.

The surviving defenders will mostly be taken prisoner, though no doubt some will escape on fishing boats from the harbour below the fortress. That helps solve the problem of where the forced labour will come from, to move up the supply dump from Lasiang, and start the job of rebuilding the fortress, now back in Portuguese hands.

That only leaves the question of what is happening out at Hatong Point. All Don Cristobel and his men can do about that is cross their fingers and hope. While getting on with the looting of course.

Part 4. The battle of Hatong Strait

Don Marco ordered his squadron to sail SW, to Hatong Point, at the entrance to the strait the enemy would have to pass through to reach Kupang.

His ships were much the same as at the battle of Cape Solamoe, except that the transports no longer counted drilled soldiers, these being with Don Cristobel da Crespo at the siege of Kupang. And with the addition of Moscato, which had brought the intelligence of the Songkhka squadron. Total = 379 points.

1 x Galleon (Santa Caterina da Goa) (106)
Q3 C4: Chaser guns, Drilled soldiers, Flagship*, Galleon rigged, Master gunner, Trained gun crew [* Don Marco is a Middling commander, he says he has a headache today]
3 x Fragatas (Sa Barbara, Sao Jorge, Sao Martinho) (60 x 3)
Q3 C3: Chaser guns, Galleon rigged, Master gunner, Trained gun crews
1 x Carrack (Sa Isabella das Indias) (35)
Q4 C5: High castles, Merchantman, Reinforced hull, Sluggish, Square rigged
2 x Requisitioned merchant junks (Ginger Jar, Hainan Trader) 20 x 2)
Q4 C3: Merchantman, Reinforced hull, Square rigged
1 x Merchant brig (Moscato [Nutmeg]) (18)
Q3 C2: Lateen rigged, Master gunner, Merchantman

The Songkhla squadron (410 points) was commanded by Muezzinzade Ali Pasha, and comprised -

2 x Galeasses (Hat Yai*) (72), (Banda Aceh) (50)
Q4 C5: Bow guns, Drilled soldiers, Flagship*, High castles, Square rigged, Sluggish, Sweeps, Veteran NCOs [* Muezzinzade Ali Pasha is a Swaggering commander]
4 x Songkhla galleys (Ayutthaya, Borobudur, Songkhla, Srivijaya) (48 x 4)
Q3 C3: Drilled soldiers, Galley, Swashbucklers, Yare
2 x Knights of St Michael galleys (Corona, Stella Artois) (48 x 2)
Q3 C3: Drilled soldiers, Galley, Swashbucklers, Yare
The Knights are reluctant allies of Songkhka, and not fully trusted. 


As Don Marco had foreseen the two squadrons met in the Hatong Strait. The wind was steady from the West.

After 3 turns we see the Portuguese coming on from the N in columns, and the Songkhla squadron in textbook galley linear formation with the galeasses out in front.

On turn 4 the fragata Sao Jorge tried a ranging shot (full broadside at 2L) on the galeass Banda Aceh, but no hits were observed. Most of the galleys have fallen behind now, as the galeasses lumbered ahead (came off the wind slightly to increase speed) while the galleys ended up on the wrong side of an early turnover.

Turn 5 started well for Songkhla as the Banda Aceh closed the Sa Barbara and fired its huge bow guns at point blank range, inflicting 1 damage point and wounding the captain. Most of the galleys bent to their oars and rushed towards the action, but those on the R of the line, and the other galeass, were stranded by turnover except for a 1S sailing move by the Hat Yai.

Fortunately for the Sa Barbara it had a competent 1st Lieutenant. So the ship altered course to starboard so as to slide past the bow of the Banda Aceh, and sailed past, delivering a full broadside into the clumsy giant as it went. The shots bounced off the hull.

The Sao Jorge came up and fired at the galley Ayutthaya, inflicting 1 damage, and the Sa Caterina began to pass between the two galeasses, inflicting 1 damage on Banda Aceh. The Portuguese merchants continued their slow movement forward (square riggers, close hauled).

Turn 6. The Songkhla galleys engaged the enemy more closely. In shooting, the galley Ayutthaya inflicted 1 damage on the frigate Sao Jorge. The Borobudur grappled and boarded the Sa Barbara over the bows, a wave of swashbucklers taking the small frigate to 3 damage total. The galley Songkhla tried to board the galleon Sa Caterina (Don Marco’s flagship) but failed to gain a foothold as the fight was a draw.

The Red markers show damage points. I’m about to run out of Red, so will substitute 3 Red (crippled) by 1 Green. The Yellow markers show grappled ships, with boarding actions under way in both cases. Blue marks captured ships.

In the Portuguese bound the Sa Barbara struck to the Borobudur (Blue marker). The fight between the Sa Caterina and Songkhla continued, each vessel now has 1 damage apiece. The frigates Sao Jorge and Sao Martinho poured fire into the galleys Ayutthaya (crippled, rudder stuck) and Corona (1 damage).

Turn 7. Sa Caterina is now being boarded by the galley Songkhla and the galeass Banda Aceh. Action was desperate with multiple rounds initiated by each attacker. At the end of the bound Sa Caterina has 3 damage and the attacking vessels have two each. Then the flagship galeass Hat Yai activated, and rolled tuatara eyes. It sailed slowly into contact with Sa Caterina but can do no more. The other not-yet-activated Songkhla vessels are also all rendered helpless by this.

Naturally the Portuguese seized this potential get-out-of-jail card with both hands. The Sao Jorge sank the crippled Ayutthaya, and the Sao Martinho crippled the Corona. The Sa Caterina decided not to use its two activations, so all sides in the boarding fight paused to regroup.

Turn 8. This time the Hat Yai grappled and boarded the Sa Caterina, but this failed and the Hat Yai took 1 damage. The Songkhla then resumed the boarding fight, but it also lost and went to crippled status. The Banda Aceh then stepped up. It also lost, and also goes to crippled status. I don’t know what they’re drinking on the Sa Caterina, but I want some. On the R the laggard galleys finally move up to engage the slowly-approaching Portuguese merchants. On the L the surviving galleys took evasive action.

The Portuguese carrack Sa Isabella finally gets into action, contacting and grappling the galley Srivijaya. No AP to board this bound though. The merchant junk Ginger Jar grapples and boards the galley Stella Artois (which had contacted the GJ last bound). The Ginger Jar takes 1 damage. Elsewhere the Hat Yai finally overwhelms the last defenders of the Sa Caterina, capturing the Portuguese flagship. Portuguese shooting from the frigates and brig is a failure.

Turn 9. Srivijaya boards the Sa Isabella, fighting multiple rounds. After the blood has been mopped up the carrack has taken 1 damage and the galley has 2. The boarding fight between Stella Artois and Ginger Jar goes two rounds in this bound, with the score 1-1 (so GJ now has 2 damage and SA has 1). Over on the L the Borobudur gets ready to engage the frigates, while the crippled Corona, failing an All at Sea roll, turns hard to starboard and rows into the distance. In the centre the melee around the Sa Caterina starts to untangle. The Hat Yai reels in its grapples and uses sweeps to move back. Songkhla and Banda Aceh do likewise, both successfully activating while crippled.

The Portuguese frigates take the Borobudur to 2 damage. Sa Isabella goes two boarding rounds with Srivijaya, inflicting another damage (Srivijaya is now crippled). Hainan Trader contacts Stella Artois but cannot grapple the galley. Ginger Jar continues the fight, but loses again and is now crippled.

Here’s a summary of after 9 turns.

The Portuguese have lost the galleon Santa Caterina (Don Marco’s flagship) and the fragata Santa Barbara, both captured by the enemy. Total 2/8 ships and 166/379 points (44%). They also have the merchant junk Ginger Jar crippled and probably about to be captured which would take them to 3/8 and 49% losses.

Songkhka have lost 1 galley sunk (Ayutthaya) and 1 captured (Srivijaya) . Total 96/410 points (23%). But they also have several crippled ships: Banda Aceh, Corona, Sangkhka, totalling another 36%, or 5/8 & 59%.

Counting ships that are intact or have no more than 1 damage (so capable of effective ongoing action) the Portuguese have 2 frigates, 1 merchant brig, 1 carrack, 1 merchant junk (5/8 ships, 193/379 = 51%. Songkhla has I galeass (flagship), 1 galley (2/8 ships, 120/410 = 29%).

Takeaway: it’s been a bloodbath but the Portuguese have won.


I set up some contingent dice rolls to see what would happen, including one side or both breaking off, the other side giving chase, recapture of prizes, and a storm brewing. So here’s the end story. 

The Songkhla survivors broke off the action and the Portuguese let them go without pursuit. Both Portuguese ships captured by the enemy were retaken (the Sa Caterina was retaken by its own crew who broke out from below decks and overcame the prize crew). Don Marco is apparently unhurt. The Sa Caterina and Ginger Jar have only superficial damage suffered in the boarding fights, so can be operational again soon enough. But damage to the Sa Barbara was more serious.

A storm blew up overnight in which the captured galley had to be abandoned and sank, as did the frigate Sa Barbara. It’s likely at least some of the crippled Songkhla vessels -those damaged by gunfire rather than in boarding fights -  would also have sunk in the storm as they made their getaway, but this is not known.

BTW I had also built in a contingency for the galleys of the Knights to retire from the action, or change sides, if (for example) the Songkhka flagship was sunk or captured. In the event this contingency never arose. But it explains why these galleys were spread out among the Songkhla vessels, not deployed on their own.


So Don Marco has succeeded recapturing the fortress of Kupang for Portugal, and defeating the attempted counter stroke by Songkhka. His stock will be higher than ever at Sagres and Goa. He instructs his Secretary to start preparing appropriate despatches, carefully minimising the contribution of Don Cristobel. And he relaxes in his stateroom, on his favourite ottoman, leafing through the latest parade armour catalogues from Augsburg and Milan. A good months work.

Cheers from Pattaya

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