Rebel Raiders on the High Seas is a strategic game of the Civil War which focuses on the role of the navies on the rivers, along the coasts and on the oceans. While most ships are represented by generic counters for Ironclads, Blockade Runners, Gunboats, Screw Sloops and, of course Raiders, there are cards and corresponding counters for many individual vessels. This series presents those cards and offers a glimpse into the history of these storied ships.
Part II – The Gunboats: USS/
Queen of the West - A Gunboat Under Two Flags
While many blockade runners were caught by the
and turned into gunboats, the USS Queen
of the West, is unique – this Union gunboat was captured by the South and
turned against the Yankees on the Mississippi.
Known as “Ellet’s Ram” this ship (represented in Rebel Raiders as (USN Card 38) was a side wheel steamer built at
before the war. Colonel Charles Ellet,
Jr, fitted her out as a ram and led her and other ships in the attack on Memphis
in June 1862. Ellet was mortally wounded
but his ship fought on. A month later,
along with the ironclad USN Carondelet
(USN Card 15) and the timber-clad
gunboat USS Tyler (USN Card 18) she engaged the Rebel
ironclad ram CSS Arkansas (see my posting of July
11). The fight went badly for the Union,
although the USS Queen of the West
limped away and lived to fight another day.
Unfortunately, that other day was
February 2, 1863.
The valiant ship rammed the Rebel armed of steamer
City in a
battle fought under the guns of the fortress for which that Confederate ship
was named. The USS Queen of the West took heavy damage and was set afire in at
least two compartments. She fought on,
however, driving ashore two more Confederate gunboats – the steamers O.W. Baker Moro and Vicksburg .
She then went up the Beruick Bay Red River and on Valentine’s
Day she captured yet another Rebel vessel – the steamer Era No. Unfortunately as she
reached Gordon’s Landing on the Black River she was
ambushed by Confederate artillery – at which point she struck her colors.
The Confederacy wasted no time in raising its own flag over the vessel, but went against all naval custom and instead of renaming her ran her as
CSS Queen of the West. She fought well for the South, until she ran
into a trio of Union warships on on Atehafalaya
River April 14, 1863.
Battered and set afire, she drifted with the current until running
aground and exploding.