Friday, March 28, 2014
On May 6th, 1801, Lord Thomas Cochrane, commanding the diminutive 14 gun brig HMS Speedy, came across the 32 gun Spanish xebec frigate El Gamo. Instead of withdrawing before the dramatically superior force, Cochrane attacked the Spanish ship in a direct assault, bringing Speedy so close that Gamo's guns could not fire down in to her, while Speedy's elevated guns sent shot crashing up through the crowded decks. As the Spanish crew attempted to organize a boarding party, Cochrane stood off again and fired in to the massing boarders. He repeated this process several times and then, with a numerically inferior crew, boarded El Gamo and captured her, garnering a great deal of fame for himself and his ship.
I've had an interest for some time in representing El Gamo, but could find little information on what exactly a xebec frigate was. Clearly it had to be something larger and more formidable than the typical xebec rigs that were so common in the Mediterranean. Several of the guys over at TMP's Napoleonic Naval board squared me away, informing me that this type of vessel was in fact square rigged as any other frigate of the day, and owed its xebec name to certain hull characteristics - specifically the narrow prow and long raised poop deck.
I've used Langton Miniatures' 32 gun xebec frigate model, but since that comes with a xebec rig, I've added a 'small frigate' mast and sail package to it. Rob Eubanks at Waterloo Minis was a big help there, for which I am grateful. I did however leave the lateen on the mizzen mast, and left off the mizzen topgallant, as that is what I see represented in some of the paintings of the ship.
And here is a picture painted by the famous Antoine Roux: