Wednesday, July 31, 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 IV– The Union Ironclads :   USS Lehigh- The Medal of Honor Ironclad

No ship in U.S. Naval history has had more crew members receive the Medal of Honor for a single action than the ironclad monitor USS Lehigh.  Among the five was one with a name he had – and did – live up to:  Seaman Horatio Nelson Young.

When John Dahlgren (USN Card 31) took over command of the Union the fleet opposite Charleston from Samuel Francis DuPont (USN Card 54) in the summer of 1863, he brought with him an exceptionally powerful new ironclad monitor: the USS Lehigh (USN Card 22).  Mounting a 15-inch Dahlgren smoothbore and an 8-inch (or 150-pound) Parrott Rifle inside a turret protected with 11 inches of armor, USS Lehigh was one of the lead ships in Dahlgren’s repeated attempts to knock out Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, two of the most important of the man guardians of Charleston Harbor.  

The ironclad engaged with Sumter many times between September 1 and late November, including engaging in an almost daily duel over a three week period.  On November 16 the ship was so badly pounded that she was driven aground – and it was for freeing her while under deadly fire that Seaman Young and four other crewman were honored with the nation’s highest decoration.

(See the photo below, courtesy of the Naval Historical Society, which shows the numerous dents on her turret from that fight).

Sent back to Port Royal for repairs, the Medal of Honor ship returned to duty off Charleston in January, where she continued to pound away at Rebel batteries and forts until the city succumbed to Sherman’s advancing armies.

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