Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The moment the sun rose, the boom of cannons firing broke the ocean’s silence. The one that fired first was the merchant vessel called the Happiness. However, they lost whatever hope they had when they saw the Jackdaw raising its black flag. To make sure that the cargo on their ship was safe from plunder, they had deliberately chosen a less popular shipping line to travel on and was mum about their route so far.
Their voyage was smooth for about a month, with no encounters of any pirates whatsoever. Just when they thought that they were out of the red, the Jackdaw spotted them. Alas, their effort was all but wasted.
With help from the sunlight, they could finally see the true form of the Jackdaw. Some of the crew instantly knew that they were going to lose the battle, losing their last straw of hope once they confirmed that the ship in pursuit of them was indeed a battleship. The unfortunate incident in Charleston was now widespread amongst the colonies. Two governor-generals and a high-ranking officer were killed on that night. At the same time, the entire Charleston suffered the relentless attacks from cannons. This could be one of the most severe incidents happening in the New World. There were even hushed whispers that the navy lost a corvette that night as well.
As compared to what happened in Charleston, few paid much attention to the corvette. When the merchant ship’s crew saw the Jackdaw, they started to realize that this ship could actually be the lost navy corvette. Undoubtedly, the combination of pirates and a heavily armed corvette had the merchant ship’s crew believing that this might genuinely be the end of thier road.
That said, those who decided to commit their careers to the ocean were no cowards. Though they knew that they could not outgun the Jackdaw, they would instead take their chances and try to defeat it regardless. After all, the ship’s cargo was valuable enough for them to protect it with their lives.
Unfortunately, most of their shots missed their targets with only one cannonball managing to fly pass the gunwale. Pumped up with adrenalin, the newly recruited cannoneers were eager to return fire.
“Captain, do we attack now?!”
“Hold your horses for a little while more.”
Now that Jackdaw had entered the Happiness’ effective range, they should be able to return fire. However, accuracy wouldn’t be that great, where the cannons would lose their effectivity once they were too far away from their targets. If the distance was right, though, the Jackdaw could easily destroy a merchant ship with one volley of shots. This could prevent them from turning the battle into an endless exchange of fire. Before getting closer to them, the Jackdaw had to endure the attacks from their enemy. The good thing was that it should be strong enough to do so.
Soon, the Happiness was poised to launch the second wave of attacks. This time, their experienced cannoneers managed to land a few accurate shots on the Jackdaw. Three cannonballs landed on the gunwale, and another landed on the mainsail. Fortunately, this did little to damage the vessel, allowing her pirates a little room for relief.
The third wave of cannonballs were incoming. This time, the Jackdaw had gotten really close to the Happiness. Their offense had managed to put a few holes on Jackdaw’s deck, however, with a cannonball managing to find its way to a spot unprotected by iron plates. Seconds later, seawater started to gush into a cabin that was located at the lowest deck of the Jackdaw. Immediately, the carpenter grabbed his tools and started to fix the leak.
At that moment, more and more of the Jackdaw’s crew urged Zhang Heng to return fire. Even Billy could not help but stare at his captain. Still, he did not say a single word. Zhang Heng had participated in quite several battles while he was serving on the Sea Lion. This was his very first time orchestrating his own battle. Back then, he simply needed to protect himself and eliminate all enemies that got close to him, and once his flanks were clear, he could lend a hand to his allies as well.
He was only required to pay attention to the continually changing circumstances when he helped to take down the Scarborough. Also, in an ordinary battle, all he needed to do was to pay small attention to a number of things that happened around him, similar to his battles in the Soviet Union.
Right now, he was commanding an entire battleship. He needed to figure out how to win the battle at the lowest possible cost. Undeniably, the Jackdaw had way more potent firepower than the Happiness. However, the Happiness had more experienced cannoneers. If only he could pull closer to his enemy, it would be hard for the Jackdaw’s cannoneers to miss their target.
That was why Zheng Heng took the risk of getting closer to the Happiness. During the fourth wave of attack, some of the pirates on the deck were injured. Even Zhang Heng’s arm was sliced by a ricocheting splinter. Still, he remained his calm, continuing to observe the enemy through a pair of binoculars. He could see that their cannons were being reloaded at an incredible speed and were now about to launch their fifth wave.
Finally, Zhang Heng broke the silence and gave his crew a new command.
“Slow down the ship! Hard to starboard!”
The crew had been anxiously waiting for Zhang Heng’s command, and the moment they got the order, they used the shortest time possible to retract the sails to cut some speed. As a result, the maneuver managed to dodge the fifth wave of cannonballs. At the same time, the Jackdaw pulled up to the Happiness’ side.
In this era, chase guns were mounted on the bow and stern of some sailing ships and would only be used in an emergency. Side cannons were still their primary weapons. That was why the sailors from Happiness had to make sure that their hull faced the target before they could launch an attack. Once they were locked in a state of battle, it would be hard for them to maneuver the ship.
As of now, the pirates on the Jackdaw held massive grudges against the Happiness after enduring four waves of consecutive attacks. The moment Zhang Heng permitted them to open fire, the pirates mercilessly lit their cannons and fired with everything that they had. Though half their shots missed their mark, the other half of the cannonballs were more than sufficient to cause massive damage to the Happiness.
One of the 24-pound cannonballs managed to hit their secondary mast. Two sailors were crushed to death by the falling pillar. After witnessing the Jackdaw’s overwhelming firepower, the sailors on the Happiness were in a state of panic. However, some were still adamant about returning fire. Unironically, they were overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of cannonballs that were launched at them.
Even so, if Zhang Heng hadn’t ordered his pirates to adjust the cannons to a higher trajectory, they would have destroyed the Happiness during the second wave of attack. Just as expected, the sailors on Happiness finally accepted that they could never defeat the Jackdaw. More of their crew would die if the battle were prolonged.
In the end, they chose to surrender.
Zhang Heng was not as excited as the pirates on his ship because he knew that they were just about to encounter the real danger. According to the intel given by Carina, there were about 30 sailors on the Happiness. The worst part was, there were also 20 young navy officers on board as well. Clearly, the crew on the Jackdaw were outnumbered.