Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10, 1863: CSS Alabama Raids the Sunda Straits: Burns Clipper Ship

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

November 10, 1863CSS Alabama Raids the Sunda Straits: Burns Clipper Ship

Historical Event:  On this day in 1863 while on patrol in the Java Sea, the Confederate Raider CSS Alabama ran down, caught and burned the merchant Clipper Ship Winged Racer.  The chase ended in the Sunda Straits, where Captain Raphael Semmes forced the merchantman to surrender. She was carrying a valuable cargo of jute, sugar and hides.  The next day Semmes caught another Yankee merchantman, the Contest.  She was bound for New York, and packed with unique goods from Japan.

Game Connection:  CSS Alabama is represented in Rebel Raiders by a counter and card (CSN Card 63) and also appears on the box cover.  Raiders like CSS Alabama roam the oceans hunting Union merchantmen and when successful gain Victory Points for the South.

CSS Alabama was the most successful of the dozen Confederate Raiders.  During her 22-month career she made seven major cruises, conducting raids from New England to the South Atlantic and from the Gulf of Mexico to the South Pacific – rounding the Cape and raiding in the Indian Ocean on her way east.  The raider intercepted and boarded over 400 ships, and captured or burned 65 Union merchant or passenger ships.   By the spring of 1864, however, the ship (and its weary and ailing captain) was badly in need of repair and refit, and the CSS Alabama put into port in Cherbourg, France.

The USS Kearsarge (USN Card 14) followed, and its captain issued a challenge to Semmes, whom the Federal government and Union newspapers derided as a “pirate.”   His sense of honor as a naval officer piqued, Semmes responded to the taunts by sailing out on June 19 to do unequal battle.  Semmes fought his ship for nearly an hour against the much more heavily armed Union warship whose Yankee Guns  (USN Card 3)   

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