Monday, October 28, 2013

150 years ago today in Rebel Raiders - Last Raid of the CSS Georgia

Historic Event:  On October 28, 1863 the Confederate commerce raider CSS Georgia finished her first and only cruise, limping into the French port of Cherbourg with her bottom so badly fouled that she was deemed no longer fit for military duty.  Her commander, Commander William L. Maury agreed to have her decommissioned and to sell her off, but first removed her armament for transfer to another raider, CSS Rappahannock, which he had purchased through Confederate agents in Britain.

CSS Rappahannock was ordered seized by the British government, but Rebel agents managed to get her underway in late November 1864 and made it out of English waters – only to develop engine trouble in the Channel.  She was commissioned while at sea and made it to Calais – but before she could be armed with the Georgia’s guns the French government ordered her detained.  The Rappahannock never sailed under the Rebel flag again, nor did Georgia’s guns ever fire again.

The CSS Georgia had only a brief career – purchased in Britain and armed and commissioned at sea in April 1863, she too nine prizes during her six month cruise in the Atlantic. Maury removed their cargoes and set the ships afire, causing over $400,000 in damages to her Yankee owners.  (Image below is a photograph of an artwork, mounted on a carte de visiteproduced by Rideau, Cherbourg, France, circa 1863-64, and is part of the U.S. Navy Historical Center's collection).

CSS Georgia and CSS Rappahannock in Rebel Raiders

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. Neither CSS Rappahannock nor CSS Georgia are represented by a named counter, but are represented by one of the generic Raiders counters. The purchase, detention and eventual seizure of the CSS Rappahannock is represented in the game, for all Raiders are built in one of the two European ports on the map (England, or France & Spain).  Through play of USN Card 55 – Diplomatic Pressure – a die is rolled for each Raider and Blockade Runner in one of those ports:  on a 1, 2 or 3 it is seized, as was CSS Rappahannock, and on a 4,5, or 6 it is forced to sea, where it may be hunted by any waiting Union warships.

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