Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Gunboats

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 Unadilla : From Charleston Runners to Chinese Pirates

USS Unadilla (USN Card 17) was one of the first of nearly two-dozen of the “90-day gunboats” churned out by Union naval yards during the first months of  the war.  Built and launched in New York, the nearly 700-ton warship could move under steam or sail (as her sail plan was that of a two-masted schooner)  and could make 10 knots.  She carried five guns, including an 11-inch Dahlgren.  In January of 1862 she and USS Pembina fought a naval battle against five armed gunboats, three of which were damaged before the Rebels withdrew.

In addition to fighting other warships, bombarding forts and floating batteries and other combats, USS Unadilla captured many a blockade runner off Charleston, the Mary Teresa being her first catch in May 1862. (Hence her plus 2 advantage on the “Speed” die – which is rolled to intercept blockade runners.) Among her many prizes was the Princess Royal, which was carrying English-built steam engines for Confederate ironclads.   After the war the USS Unadilla was sent to the Far East to fight Chinese pirates.  Her last voyage was to Siam in 1868 – where after seven years in service the “90 day gunboat” was condemned as being too unseaworthy to risk a return voyage.

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