Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Ironclads

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 III – The Rebel Ironclads: CSS Manassas  - Dewey and the 1st Rebel Ironclad

The cigar-shaped turtle-shelled iron-sheathed ram CSS Manassas (CSN Card 71 in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas) “amounted to the war’s first ironclad,” says Princeton professor and noted historian James McPherson in his new book, War Upon the Waters

The former Mississippi River towing boat was one of three ironclads the South was hurriedly constructing at New Orleans in the late winter and early spring of 1862.  When the Union fleet began to steam upriver, however, only one – CSS Manassas – was ready for action.  (CSS Mississippi was under construction and although CSS Louisiana was fully armed her engines were not working properly – so she was towed downriver to serve as an armored floating battery). 

On April 18 the Union began bombarding Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and on the 24th the West Gulf Squadron under Farragut (USN Card 1) aboard USS Hartford (USN Card 37) made its move.  The CSS Manassas went out to meet them, supported by half a dozen little gunboats and rams and some fire rafts.  Farragut saw the fearsome monster and signaled to Captain Melancton Smith aboard USS Mississippi (the largest ship in the U.S. Navy, and USN Card 23) to “run her down.”

In their game of “naval chicken” the commander of the ironclad blinked first, and as he veered off the mighty USS Mississippi riddled her with a broadside at 50 yards.  The solid shot pierced her boilers, and CSS Manassas caught fire and sank.

Little Known Fact:  conning the USS Mississippi was a young, 24-year-old lieutenant – George Dewey, of “You may fire when ready, Gridley” fame at Manila Bay in 1898.

No comments:

Post a Comment