Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9, 1864 – CSS Squib vs. USS Minnesota: Tiny Confederate Torpedo Boat Attacks Giant Union Frigate

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

April 9, 1864 – CSS Squib vs. USS MinnesotaTiny Confederate Torpedo Boat Attacks Giant Union Frigate 


Historical Event:   Under the cover of darkness on April 9, 1864, six Rebel sailors under the command of Lt. Hunter Davidson quietly steamed their tiny little torpedo launch out into Hampton Roads to strike one of the largest and mightiest men-o-war in the Union fleet: the great USS Minnesota.  The aptly named CSS Squib carried but a single spar-mounted torpedo, while the Yankee warship mounted 47 guns of many calibers.  The small armored launch struck home, caused something of a panic aboard the great steam frigate, and got away – no mean feat in the middle of a Union squadron.   The USS Minnesota also survived, suffering more embarrassment than damage.

USS Minnesota was one of the largest of the pre-war frigates.  She was the flagship of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, sank or captured 22 blockade runners and added her guns to the bombardments of Fort Fisher.  In March 1862 she fought heroically against the CSS Virginia when the iron monster made its first foray.  Despite being driven aground, the USS Minnesota kept on fighting, with her gunners firing over 500 rounds at the Rebel ironclad during that two-day battle. 

CSS Squib was one of a class of fast little torpedo boats, a cousin to the more famous CSS David, which attacked the USS New Ironsides in Charleston Harbor in October 1863 – and with considerably more effect, doing enough damage to put the big ship out of action for a time.

Game Connection:  Union frigates play many roles in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.  Like USS Minnesota, they bombard Confederate port batteries, intercept blockade runners and even hunt down the raiders for whom the game is named.  The Confederates have many weapons at their disposal to try to break the blockade, among them the CSS Squib’s cousin, CSS David, which appears in the game as CSN Card 63.  Her target, USS New Ironsides, is also in the game, as a counter and as USN Card 26.








Friday, April 4, 2014

April 4, 1864 – Congress Says “No” to Rebel-Friendly Maximilian

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

April 4, 1864 – Congress Says “No” to Rebel-Friendly Maximilian


Historical Event:  Alarmed by Napoleon III’s declared intent to crown Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico, on April 4, 1864 Congress passed a joint resolution deploring the French intervention in that country and added that the United States would not “acknowledge any monarchical government” which would be installed “under the auspices of any European power.”   The French and notably Maximilian himself were sympathetic to the Confederacy, and French ports in Europe, her colonies and Mexico were havens for Rebel blockade runners.   Mexican President Benito Juarez, who led the fight against the French interventionist forces, was an admirer and ally of President Lincoln.  Both men believed France harbored imperial ambitions that would extend beyond Mexico, and that Napoleon III and Maximilian might ally with the Confederacy.

Game Connection:   France and Maximilian are both represented in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.  Confederate Blockade Runners may be built in and load cargo in France and Mexico, and while in play the Maximilian Card (CSN Card 61) provides additional benefits including a modifier to the Confederate Supply attrition die roll and a free Blockade Runner every turn.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1, 1864 – Make Ready the CSS Albemarle!

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game,GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

April 1, 1864 – Make Ready the CSS Albemarle!


Historical Event:  On April 1, 1864 the new Confederate ironclad ram, the CSS Albemarle, was towed to Hamilton, North Carolina, in preparation for the attack on the Union base and squadron at nearby Plymouth.  That operation and the ensuing naval action on April 19 would show that Union fears and concerns about the “monster” were fully warranted. (More on that later in the month), although worries that she might steam out into the Chesapeake and then up the Potomac to bombard Washington were purely the stuff of nightmares – but nightmares that nevertheless led the Union to take extraordinary measures to take her out.


Game Connection:  The CSS Albemarle is only one of the many great ships which play a role in my strategic Civil War naval game Rebel Raiders on the High SeaThe powerful ironclad ram is represented by its own counter and card (CSN Card 75), which reflect its abilities, real and feared.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 20, 1864 – CSS Alabama Returns to Cape Town

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

March 20, 1864CSS Alabama Returns to Cape Town


Historical Event:  On March 20, 1864 the Confederate cruiser CSS Alabama returned to Cape Town, from which she departed the previous August to go raiding in the Indian Ocean, Straits of Malacca and as far as Borneo and Singapore.  Pickings had been slim; only nine Union ships had been found in those seven months, compared to the 55 captures CSS Alabama had made in the nine months before setting out from Cape Town.)

 Captain Raphael Semmes and his crew were again hailed as heroes by the people of Cape Town, but they found British officials far less welcoming.  Much had changed in the last half year, and Semmes and his ship were both worn and in need of rest and a refit.  Unable to find either in Cape Town, and forewarned not to go to England and risk being seized, four days later Semmes set his course for France.  CSS Alabama would take only two more prizes on what would become her final voyage, for shortly after arriving in Cherbourg she would be challenged by USS Kearsarge, which the raider fought in an epic and fateful duel in June 1864.


Game Connection:  The CSS Alabama is not only one of the ships for whom the game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is named; she graces the cover.  The Confederate cruiser appears in the strategic naval game as a unique counter and card (CSN 63).  The many oceans of the world are presented on the map for CSS Alabama to raid – provided she can stay clear of the Union warships sent to hunt her down – among them, USS Kearsarge – as represented by USN Card 14.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sherman Takes Command

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History  

 -Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

March 18, 1864Sherman Takes Command


Historical Event:  Promoted to lieutenant general in early March and ordered East, U.S. Grant officially turned over command of the Military Division of the Mississippi to William Tecumseh Sherman on March 18, 1864.   While Grant made plans for a coordinated offensive in Virginia, Sherman organized his forces for the invasion of Georgia – which would lead to his capture of Atlanta and the subsequent March to the Sea.


Game Connection:  Although Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is primarily a strategic naval game of the Civil War, the land war is represented.  Sherman and Grant, as well as their Confederate opponents, are present (Sherman is USN Card 50).  These generals grant additional dice, re-rolls and other bonuses in land combat.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16, 1864 – “That Devil Forrest” Rides for Kentucky – and on to Ft. Pillow

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

March 16, 1864 – “That Devil Forrest” Rides for Kentucky – and on to Ft. Pillow


Historical Event:  On March 16, 1864 General Nathan Bedford Forrest led his famed cavalry command on a month-long raid that would take him through Tennessee and into Kentucky, where he twice attacked Paducah on the Ohio River.  Rebuffed there, Forrest sent most of his division back South while with about 1,500 horsemen continued to lead pursuing Union troops on a wild chase as he headed for Fort Pillow.  There, on April 12, Forrest defeated the defending regiment of U.S. Colored Troops – several dozen of whom were killed allegedly after they surrendered.  The “Fort Pillow Massacre” left a stain upon the honor of General Forrest, whose own reports of the incident are at best ambiguous. 



Game Connection:  Although Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is primarily a strategic naval game of the Civil War, the land war is represented.  General Nathan Bedford Forrest appears in the game as CSN Card 85, and the diversionary nature of his raids are reflected in the penalties applied to one Union land attack when played.  






Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 12, 1864 – Red River Campaign: Disaster in the Making

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

March 12, 1864Red River Campaign: Disaster in the Making


Historical Event:  On March 12, 1864 a score of Union ironclads and gunboats began what would become an ill-fated campaign on Louisiana’s Red River.  Sailing in support of the invading army of General Nathaniel Banks, the fleet would eventually become trapped as water levels fell and Confederate resistance under Kirby Smith rose.  Only by dint of an engineering miracle that included the building of a dam would the fleet be saved.

Additional Event:  On this date in 1864 two blockade runners lowered their colors.   The sloop Persis surrendered to USS Massachusetts in Wassaw Sound, Georgia and the schooner Marion was captured by USS Arostook near Velasco, Texas.

Game Connection:  In Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, Blockade Runners like the Persis and Marion play a vital role in bringing in cargo to keep the South in the war.  To stop them the Union player deploys screw sloops, like the USS Massachusetts and gunboats, like the USS Arostook.  The sloops tend to stay offshore in the outer ring, while the gunboats patrol the blockade stations directly opposite the key Confederate ports.    While the above-named ships themselves are represented by generic ship counters of their type, many of their sister ships appear as named counters and on corresponding cards in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

The Red River campaign is represented by a space on the map and a card played by the Confederates (CSN Card 76 – Red River Fiasco).  This is a design choice because few Union players would otherwise voluntarily commit such large forces, including their precious ironclads, to the complicated and highly problematic scheme concocted by Union General Henry Halleck.