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 Rams at
“The Mosquito Fleet” (CSN Card 81) represents the rag-tag little squadrons the South hastily cobbled together to defend their ports from the Union Navy. One such force supported the ironclad
CSS Manassas in the battle at Forts Jackson
and St. Philip below New Orleans in
late April 1862.
Manassas is represented in the game (as CSN Card 71), the vessels that accompanied her are represented by
the generic Gunboat counters, one or two of which may be added to a Confederate
defense by play of The Mosquito Fleet
(CSN Card 81). General Mansfield
Lowell had purchased and armed 14 civilian craft for his flotilla in the late
winter of 1862 – but was ordered to send more than half of them upriver to
Memphis to join Commander Montgomery’s river defense force (see my posting for
July 15: http://markgmclaughlin.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-ships-of-rebel-raiders-gunboats_15.html)
When David G. Farragut and his massive Union fleet made their move on the forts below his city,
had only six of his armed riverboats left, a force that even the Confederate
secretary of war lamented was “a peculiar one.”
(Lowell himself admitted that his group had “little or no discipline”
and was “too much ‘steamboat’ and too little of the man-of-war’ to be very
effective.” Still, when Farragut’s
gunboats and screw sloops broke through the barrier of Hulks, Rafts and Chains (as represented in Rebel Raiders by CSN Card 110)
Lowell and his makeshift flotilla
were there to meet him.
While the turtle-shaped ironclad
CSS Manassas was the spearpoint of Lowell’s
counterattack against the screw sloops (notably the massive USS Mississippi –
represented in the game by USN Card 23),
his gunboats closed with their Union counterparts. The J.C.
Breckinridge and Governor Moore
worked together to each ram and sink the USS Varuna, then headed for the USS Cayuga – but were driven off by the
fire of another Union gunboat, USS Oneida. (USS
Cayuga broke through the line of Rebel ships, surprised five companies of
militia in their camp, who after taking a few rounds from the gunboat became
the first Confederate regiment to surrender to a Union gunboat).