Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, 1863: Ex-Blockade Runner USS Granite City Takes a Prize

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 14, 1863:  Ex-Blockade Runner USS Granite City Takes a Prize

Historical Event:  On this day in 1863 the Federal gunboat (and former Rebel blockade Runner) USS Granite City captured the Confederate Blockade Runner Terista off the mouth of the Rio Grande.  The gunboat, ironically, would end the war once again running under Rebel colors...

Game Connection:    Running the blockade to bring in vital Victory Points that can be used to purchase additional ships, batteries, cards and counterattacks is a key plank in the Confederate strategy in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, just as intercepting those blockade runners is a major goal for the Union player.   In the game the Confederate player builds ships to run the blockade while the Union builds and moves ships to blockade stations off the Confederate ports and into coastal sea zones outside of those ports – eventually hoping to seal off the Confederacy with two layers of interceptors.

The USS Granite City began the war as a Confederate blockade runner, SS Granite, but was captured by USS Tioga on a run in from the Bahamas in 1863.  Purchased by the Navy and rechristened with a USS in front of her name (as there was already a sloop named USS Granite, the "City" was added), she was armed with six 24-pound howitzers and a rifled gun and sent to the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, where she arrived just in time to participate in the ill-fated Sabine Pass adventure.  Under heavy fire, USS Granite City barely escaped that disaster, and after repairs was sent to patrol the Texas coast, where she captured several blockade runners, including the Terista, which was packed with nearly 300 bales of cotton.

USS Granite City twice supported the landing of a small raiding force of Union troops in early 1864, but during a third operation in April of that year was so heavily damaged by defending Confederate batteries that she was forced to strike her colors.   The Confederates stripped her of her guns and turned her back into a blockade runner, sending her in and out of Galveston on multiple runs…until one foggy night in January 1865 when she was run down and chased onto the rocks by USS Penguin.  The ship broke apart, never to sail again under any flag.

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