Monday, July 8, 2013

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,  

July 8, 1863 – The Surrender of Port Hudson:  The Father of Waters Runs Free

            Historical Event:   The fall of Vicksburg greatly impacted the morale of the defenders of Port Hudson, the last major Confederate fortification on the Mississippi.  After months of siege by General Nathaniel Banks’ Union forces, Confederate General Franklin Gardner finally agreed to surrender his hungry, beleaguered garrison of 6,000 – less than half of whom were deemed fit to hold a rifle. 
            Gardner and his men had fought well – repulsing numerous attempts by the Union Navy to pass the batteries.   They scored a signal success on March 14, 1863 when they sank the USS Mississippi (which appears in the game as USN Card 23).  She was lost when Admiral Farragut (who appears as a leader in the game as well as on USN Card 1- Damn the Torpedoes- and USN Card 33 – The Grand Fleet) tried to fight his way past the batteries, lashing ironclads to one side of his big ships for their protection, and transports and supply ships to the far side for theirs.  Only the USS Hartford  (his flagship, which appears in the game as USN Card 37) made it past the guns on the bluffs.

            (See the illustration below: Color depiction of the Seige of Port Hudson during the Civil War entitled, "Battle of Port Hudson" published by L. Prang & Co., Boston, c.1887)

            The fall of Port Hudson opened the last 40 miles of river to the Union, thus allowing Lincoln to proclaim that as of this date “The Father of Waters Flows Unvexed to the Sea.”

            Game Connection:   Although due to the scale of the map Port Hudson itself is not in the game (it is represented along with its sister fortress of Baton Rouge, which lies 25 miles downriver, by a space named for the later) the capture of the Mississippi in its entirety is represented.  Opening up the river not only fulfills one of the key Union conditions for victory, it also greatly increases the supply attrition roll for the South – a phase that bleeds the Confederacy of Victory Points earned through running the blockade and raiding.  As those Victory Points may also be traded in for additional forces (ironclads, batteries, counterattacks, more ships, cards), losing those additional points each turn due to the Union capture of the river makes it noticeably more difficult for the South – whose interior is now open to attack from Union armies marching east from the Mississippi ports.



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