Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 17, 1863 – “Swamp Angel” In Place To Shell Charleston

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas,  

August 17, 1863 – “Swamp Angel” In Place To Shell Charleston

            Historical Event:   On this day in 1863 Union forces completed one of the most amazing engineering feats of the war.  They unveiled a massive siege gun, which would earn the nickname “Swamp Angel,” as they readied a new bombardment of Charleston and its defenses.  The huge 8-inch 200-pounder Parrot Rifle was installed in secret by soldiers who worked nights in 30-man teams to create a road and gun platform in a swamp by vertically driving huge logs 20 feet through the soft mud into the sandy substratum below, then adding a layer of pine logs, earth and sand bags on top.  It took 450 men to drag the 12-ton gun into position (which they did in two parts, the heavier carriage first, then the barrel) – and then to ferry powder and shot and shell – including incendiary rounds filled with a combustible fluid of gun-designer William Parrot’s own invention -  “Solidified Greek Fire.”    Firing would commence on August 21, with devastating and demoralizing if not decisive effect - and would conclude two days later when a the breech exploded, dismounting the gun.  That final shot, however, the 36th launched by the mighty weapon, hit its target.  The "Swamp Angel" never fired again - her position being taken over by a pair of giant siege mortars.

            Game Connection:    Attacking Confederate ports is a tough job for the Union, especially if they are as heavily fortified as was Charleston.  Massive mortars and huge guns like the “Swamp Angel” were often used to aid the Army and the Navy in its attacks, and are represented by USN Card 48 – Siege Train.  As the card (see below) notes, when used successfully, it is returned to the player's hand for use on another turn.

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