Saturday, July 6, 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 Osceola

The USS Osceola  (USN Card 9).  Built in Boston as a “fighting tow,” she took part in operations on the James River and against Fort Fisher in 1864.  Capable of speeds of up to 15 knots, the heavily armed (nine guns) warship also helped clear a minefield and supported the landing of Union troops at Bermuda Hundred.

As part of the North Atlantic Squadron the ship was also part of the inshore blockade, and had many an encounter with enemy vessels, one such instant Commander Clitz, then officer commanding, describes in a report he send to Admiral David Dixon Porter on November 1, 1864.

“I have to inform you that yesterday at 11 o’clock a.m., when in latitude 33 55’ N., longitude 75 45’ W.,  discovered black smoke bearing N.W., distant about 15 miles.  Gave chase immediately and continued to do so until about 8:45 p.m. The chase was a side wheel steamer, painted white, with two masts and two smokestacks.  She was either a blockade runner or a privateer, I think the later, as her decks were crowded with men.   When first discovered she was steering towards Wilmington (N.C.) but we pressed her so hard she was compelled to change her course to every point of the compass.  At sunset we were about 4 miles from said steamer, opened fire with the forward 100-pounder Parrot rifle, firing five shots; finding that they fell short, discontinued the firing, but continued to follow until the time above mentioned, when we lost her in a fog bank.
            “We kept up a uniform speed of 13 ½ knots during the entire chase.

            “I think that I can safely say but for the darkness and fog it would have been our good fortune to have captured her.”

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