Tuesday, July 16, 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: The Mosquito Fleet (Continued):  “Old Buck” at Mobile Bay

“The Mosquito Fleet” (CSN Card 81) represents the rag-tag little squadrons the South cobbled together for the defense of Memphis and Mobile Bay.  Civilian vessels to which a gun or two and crew were hastily added, and to which bales of cotton, stacks of lumber or other makeshift defenses were added, these hopelessly outclassed and outgunned little ships and their brave crews performed far better than any could expect or demand. 

Commander James Montgomery led one of these rag-tag fleets at Memphis (see yesterday’s post), while Admiral Franklin Buchanan or “Old Buck” as he was known to his former comrades in the U.S. Navy, led a similarly cobbled-together fleet at Mobile Bay in August 1864.   In addition to three gunboats (one of which, CSS GainesCSN Card 72 is in the game) Buchanan at least had the mighty ironclad ram CSS Tennessee as his flagship  (also in the game as CSN Card 86). 

Unfortunately, just as Montgomery’s fleet was outmatched by Colonel Charles Ellet’s ironclads and rams at Memphis in June 1862, so was Buchanan’s force outnumbered and outclassed by the massive force Admiral David G. Farragut brought into Mobile Bay.

Farragut, like Buchanan, is represented by a stand-up Leader counter and Fleet Command Box – as well as three cards in the deck:   “Damn the Torpedoes…Full Speed Ahead” (USN Card 1),  The Grand Fleet (USN Card 33) and his flagship, USS Hartford (USN Card 37).    Another of Farragut’s ships that fought in the battle, USS Brooklyn (USN Card 13) also appears in the game.  All told, Farragut had a dozen big warships, four ironclads and a pair of gunboats to battle “Old Buck,” and to batter through the extensive harbor defenses (which, in Rebel Raiders, would be represented by three Battery counters for the Confederacy as well as such defensive cards as “Infernal Machines” (CSN Card 56)

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