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.






Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New PRSM Review on Amazon: "Most fun I've had in a long time"

New PRSM Review on Amazon: "Most fun I've had in a long time"

Thanks to "Jaycee" of Central Mass. for this great review of the novel based on the Princess Ryan's Star Marines game....
Most fun I've had in a long time!, July 23, 2013
By Jaycee (Central Mass, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Princess Ryan's Star Marines: Save the Princess! (Paperback)

I found myself quickly wrapped up in the crew of the Schenectady as they found themselves in unplanned action against the enemy (no spoilers here) and the book IS a page turner fueled by the light hearted but relentless action of this very light infantry unit. From the get go, I was rooting for the Star Marines as they found themselves with their backs to the wall and as I finished Part One of the book, I found myself wanting more. More! Some books are hard to get into for a variety of reasons, but this isn't one of them. This book is just the opposite and it literally pulls you along as you read the story. It's a book I highly recommend for a fun romp in the 23rd century. And I hope Mr. McLaughlin delivers the second book sooner rather than later because it's better that way!

..for this and more reviews of Princess Ryan, please go to:  http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Ryans-Star-Marines-Save/product-reviews/1466218487/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_summary?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1


Monday, July 29, 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 Roanoke  The “Acme” Ironclad – A great idea that worked – in theory


“Great ideas that work – in theory” is the motto emblazed on the crates of the Acme Company from which Wile E Coyote of Looney Tunes orders strange devices in his never-ending efforts to catch The Roadrunner.  If Acme made an ironclad, it would have been the USS Roanoke (USN Card 20 in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas).

Originally built as a steam frigate in 1855 and successful in catching blockade runners early in the war, she was chosen for a pilot conversion program and rebuilt not just as an ironclad but as a massive triple-turreted ocean-going ironclad.  The decision to do so was made by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles (USN Card 29), whom Chief of Steam Engineering Benjamin F. Isherwood convinced 10 days after the Monitor vs Virginia (USN Card 19 vs CSN Card 70) clash that reconstructing USS Roanoke into a seagoing ironclad would be faster and cheaper than designing a new vessel from the keel up.

USS Roanoke was the first ship to ever have a third turret.  Each had a pair of matching guns (Dahlgren 15 and 11 inch guns and 150-pounder Parrot rifles (Yankee Guns - USN Card 3 and John Dahlgren, USN Card 31). Each turret had 11 inches of armor.  She had belt armor as thick as 4.5 inches in some parts, plus 1.5 inches of deck armor.  This added so much weight, however, that she displaced about 6,400 tons – half again what she had displaced as steam frigate (and she was a big, modern frigate to begin with – and when initially launched sank and had to be refloated).

As the Brooklyn Navy Yard neared completion of the project, the Navy decided to add a ram – making it not only an ocean-going ironclad monitor, but one that could also ram its prey.   Unfortunately, all of this weight made her too slow to do so – and while she could briefly push ahead in good conditions at 8.5 knots, her best sustainable speed was only 7 knots – slower than she had been as a steam frigate.

In addition, the weight made the ship so unsteady that as her captain lamented in order to fire the guns he had to “secure them with pieces of timber to prevent them fetching away.” (Three of the six guns dismounted because of the recoil the first time they were fired). When the guns fired, moreover, the ship would roll so dangerously as to “preclude the possibility of firing her guns at sea.”

The turrets were also so heavy that, even with additional boilers added just to power them, they took five minutes to make a full rotation.


Having built a massive monster that was slow, unsteady, unsafe and useless in combat, the Navy sent her to Hampton Roads to defend the harbor, where she sat out the remainder of the war.






Saturday, July 27, 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 Monitor – Pulling Its Punches vs. CSS Virginia

The ironclad USS Monitor is of course represented in Rebel Raiders  (by USN Card 19) as is its opponent in the classic duel at Hampton Roads, CSS Virginia (CSN Card 70).

So much has been written on those ships and their epic if inconclusive battle, but what is often lacking from accounts is WHY that duel was so inconclusive.  The answer, as historian James McPherson points out in his recent book, War Upon the Waters, is that neither ship was properly prepared to fight the other.

The Union Navy distrusted John Ericsson, who designed and built the USS Monitor, because in 1844 a gun he had invented exploded during a trial on the USS Princeton – killing the secretaries of BOTH the Army and the Navy.  When Ericsson told them the pair of 11-inch Dahlgrens aboard his new warship could handle a powder charge of 45 pounds they balked – and issued an order that no more than 15 pounds of powder be used.   As a result, the 170-pound projectiles fired by the USS Monitor’s guns hit with far less force – merely cracking the armor on the CSS Virginia, rather than punching through it  (as later tests with a full charge demonstrated).


The CSS Virginia, however, was equally unprepared for the fight – instead of iron bolts or solid shot, she loaded up with only explosive shell – the perfect weapon to blow apart and set afire the wooden warships of the type she had encountered the previous day.   When these shells struck the Union ironclad, they did only superficial damage (except for fragments that entered through viewing slits and other openings (one such fragment temporarily blinded  USS Monitor’s commander, Lt.  John Worden who was peering through the slit in the pilothouse when it hit).






Friday, July 26, 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 Carondelet  “Pook’s Turtle” vs. Hood
  
USS Carondelet (USN Card 15) was a City-Class ironclad built in the Missouri city for which it was named.  One of the shallow-draft “Pook’s Turtles” designed by Samuel Pook, she was commissioned at Cairo in January 1862 and was one of the first and most powerful ships in the Western Gunboat Flotilla of Flag Officer Andrew Foote (who is one of the Union leaders in Rebel Raiders).

The ironclad fought at Forts Henry and Donelson , Island No. 10, and Memphis, and was badly damaged in a close action duel with the Confederate ironclad CSS Arkansas on the Yazoo River.  She was repaired in time to run the guns at Vicksburg in April 1863 (see U.S. Postage stamp shown below), and was also part of the Red River Fiasco (represented in the game by CSN Card 76).


USS Carondelet survived that disaster, and went back up the Cumberland in December 1864 to duel with Rebel artillery during the Nashville campaign – and later pouring heavy fire into the flank of John Bell Hood’s army when General Thomas counterattacked.  (Hood and his last, desperate effort to turn the tide are represented by CSN Card 89, which bear’s the luckless general’s name).




Thursday, July 25, 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 III – The  Rebel Ironclads: CSS Tennessee – “Old Buck” vs. Farragut

The CSS Tennessee (CSN Card 86 in Rebel Raiders) features in perhaps the most famous naval action painting of the Civil War:  the “Damn the Torpedoes” by William Heysham Overrend, or as it is formally known “An August Morning with Farragut: the Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.

David Glasgow Farragut (a leader in Rebel Raiders and USN Card 1) is in the rigging of the USS Hartford (USN Card 37) as she fires a broadside into the CSS Tennessee, aboard which is Confederate Flag Officer Franklin “Old Buck” Buchanan (also a leader in Rebel Raiders).    Historians Craig Symonds, who wrote a biography of Buchanan, and James McPherson, who chose the Overrend painting as the cover for his new War Upon the Waters,  told an audience in New York last October that they believe Farragut and Buchanan actually saw one another through the smoke at that moment as depicted in the painting….and that Farragut’s “damn” comment (if he indeed said it) was directed as much at his Rebel nemesis as the naval mines (torpedoes) in the bay.

This was not the first time “Old Buck” had led a force into battle aboard an ironclad – he was aboard the CSS Virginia (CSN Card 70) the first day of the Battle of Hampton Roads (he was wounded, however, and was not aboard her the next day when his ship faced the USS Monitor (USN Card 19).  Buchanan climbed out of the safety of the ironclad to stand on her deck firing a musket at Union snipers – and was himself hit in the process. 

CSS Tennessee, like CSS Virginia, was designed to ram as well as to duel with Union warships.  Unfortunately, like so many Rebel ironclads, she had weak engines (as represented in the game by USN Card 47 – Engine Breakdown).  When “Old Buck” tried to ram USS Hartford at Mobile Bay, Captain Percival Drayton was able to maneuver out of the way – yet it was a close miss, for Drayton’s gunners were able to peer down into the hatches of the Rebel monster as they unleashed a mighty broadside into her.  Farragut himself was nearly wounded, as a rifleman aboard CSS Tennessee stuck out his gun and shot at the Union officer.  (As McPherson notes: “If the shooter had managed to hit him, Farragut would have been a martyred hero like Horatio Nelson at Trafalgar instead of merely the hero of Mobile Bay.”)


As CSS Tennessee slid past the Union flagship, Farragut ordered Drayton to turn and to follow her – and signaled USS Brooklyn (USN Card 13) to also engage her.   Buchanan managed to get his ship under the guns of Fort Morgan, but then turned around for another run at USS Hartford – two Union monitors (USS Manhattan and USS Chickasaw) intervened, pouring  solid shot from 15-inch guns and 11-inch bolts, respectively, into the ironclad.  The USS Winnebago, like USS Chickasaw a double-turreted monitor, joined in.  Pounded and rammed repeatedly by these five powerful Union ships, CSS Tennessee was reduced to a shattered hulk,  and “Old Buck,” similarly wounded, struck her colors.







Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Gamers Are Saying about Rebel Raiders:



“Fun and pretty darn grounded historically;”  “what an ingenious game!” 

“Simple to play, very good for solitaire…thanks for taking the risk and breaking new ground.”

 Gamers continue to say good things about Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.  Here are just a few comments we have received this week:

Panzer Digest magazine: “Fun and pretty darn grounded historically;” 

-“Katie and I welcome Mark McLaughlin – designer of that truly awesome game at GMT: Rebel Raiders.  It’s both fun and pretty darn grounded historically considering the scale – and keeping it playable!”


Michael Syrett  (from Scotland):   “Simple to play, very good for solitaire…thanks for taking the risk and breaking new ground.”
  
“As a veteran board gamer and purchaser of GMT products (I have 30 of your games), I’d like to congratulate Mark McLaughlin and Fred Schachter on their excellent new offering Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.  The naval war between the States has been the one aspect of ACW gaming that has been sadly neglected.  This game, along with Iron & Oak, more than fills the gap.  It is simple to play, very good for solitaire – yet covers most of the key events.  It is right up there among my top five favourite games.  Many thanks for taking the risk and breaking new ground.”
  
Paul Pressler (on Consimworld):  “what an ingenious game!”  “We have had a really great time!”

 My brother and I just finished playing four straight games of Rebel Raiders starting in 1861 each time.  We have had a really great time!  What an ingenious game! It’s easy to play but really brings out a flavor for the war and covers aspects of the war never covered by other games on the war.  Covering the Blockade Running, Confederate Raiders aspects of the war lets the war be seen in its full international scope, which helps one to fully understand the conflict.  Good job on that!  The assortment of Confederate and Union cards was well thought out and guaranteed that each game was different from the other.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

 Princess Ryan's Star Marines "highly recommended" "Romp in the 23rd Century"




A fan of the game just posted this about my  Princess Ryan's Star Marines novel:


"I found myself quickly wrapped up in the crew of the Schenectady as they found themselves in unplanned action against the enemy (no spoilers here) and the book IS a page turner fueled by the light hearted but relentless action of this very light infantry unit. While I would have preferred the crew I loved for so many years, I was still able to root for the Star Marines as they found themselves with their backs to the wall and as I finished Part One of the book, I found myself wanting more. Some books are hard to get into for a variety of reasons, but this isn't one of them. This book is just the opposite and it literally pulls you along as you read the story. So, cover and cast aside, it's a book I highly recommend for a run romp in the 23rd century."

The "crew I loved for years” by the way IS in the book (as the dramatis personae notes), but they show up later, during the big battle scenes  (these include Captain Bob “Buckets of Blood” Watts,  Lt. Crystelle,   Sergeant Marty “Steel Dome” Fanalon and, of course, “Hank the Tank,”  who appear as Marines in the deck of cards in the game).  Many of the sites on the game board are in the book, as are many of the weapons depicted on the cards and the enemies from the Black Guard deck  (the “suicide fappers” being a personal favorite).

The reviewer did prefer the cover of the game to that of the novel, but the book cover is my son’s homage to the cover for the original miniatures’ game “Princess Ryan’s Space Marines” done by William Lindsay more than 20 years ago.  That game, by the way, was playtested by the real Bob Watts and Hank the Tank Martin, and was produced by  Marty Fenelon of Simtac, Inc.

So, a big thanks to the reviewer, Jaycee Rabidushominis, for an honest and balanced commentary...as the marines say "It's better that way!"

...and PS:  Jaycee followed up later with:   

Chris and I have been playing Mark McLaughlin's Princess Ryan's Star Marines since the late 90s. Advertised as a card and board game, it is a thrilling romp where a light infantry squad has to battle through ever changing (that's what the cards are for) hostile territory to rescue the damsel (i.e. Princess Ryan) before it's too late (there is a timer but the good guys do get some breaks). It's our most played game over a two decade period. That game is now the subject of a novel by the same Mr. McLaughlin and it is a lot of fun to read. The game is sadly out of print but the novel is available!




Monday, July 22, 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 III – Rebel Ironclads: CSS Ablemarle – “SEALS” vs. an  “Unsinkable Ram”

Though she bore only two guns – a pair of fine 6.4-inch Brooke Rifles mounted on pivots - the “unsinkable ram” CSS Ablemarle (CSN Card 75 in Rebel Raiders) was very well protected, with a thick bunker and iron shutters for her gun ports.  An officer aboard the USS Miami, one of a pair of double-ender Union gunboats the Rebel ironclad dueled on the Roanoke River in April 1864, reports firing over 30 shots at point-blank range into the armored beast – “but they had no effect on her.”   One of those shots was an explosive anti-personnel shell personally fired from the bow gun by USS Miami’s captain.  The shrapnel bounced off the armor and killed the Union officer.  His ship retired but its companion, USS Southfield, went down, holed by the CSS Ablemarle’s ram.   The ram then went on to support the Confederate ground attack to regain the town of Plymouth – the only such combined arms operation involving a Rebel ironclad in the war.

 A month later CSS Ablemarle broke out into the Sound for which she was named, only to be swarmed by six Union gunboats.  She took over 60 hits, but it was only when her smokestack was so badly damaged her engines could not draw oxygen that she turned back to Plymouth.  Fearful that she would emerge again, the Union developed a bold plan worthy of a WW2 commando raid or a modern SEAL team operation.

Lt. William Barker Cushing, renowned for several cutting-out expeditions (one of which had captured a Confederate general) developed a plan to plant a torpedo in her hull.  He and 15 men went up the Roanoke on the night of October 27, 1864 in a small cutter.  The guards on the ram spotted them and her gunners sank the cutter – but not before Cushing had planted his torpedo – which ripped a hole in the waterline “big enough to drive a wagon” through.




Sunday, July 21, 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 III – The Rebel Ironclads: CSS Manassas  - Dewey and the 1st Rebel Ironclad

The cigar-shaped turtle-shelled iron-sheathed ram CSS Manassas (CSN Card 71 in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas) “amounted to the war’s first ironclad,” says Princeton professor and noted historian James McPherson in his new book, War Upon the Waters

The former Mississippi River towing boat was one of three ironclads the South was hurriedly constructing at New Orleans in the late winter and early spring of 1862.  When the Union fleet began to steam upriver, however, only one – CSS Manassas – was ready for action.  (CSS Mississippi was under construction and although CSS Louisiana was fully armed her engines were not working properly – so she was towed downriver to serve as an armored floating battery). 

On April 18 the Union began bombarding Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and on the 24th the West Gulf Squadron under Farragut (USN Card 1) aboard USS Hartford (USN Card 37) made its move.  The CSS Manassas went out to meet them, supported by half a dozen little gunboats and rams and some fire rafts.  Farragut saw the fearsome monster and signaled to Captain Melancton Smith aboard USS Mississippi (the largest ship in the U.S. Navy, and USN Card 23) to “run her down.”

In their game of “naval chicken” the commander of the ironclad blinked first, and as he veered off the mighty USS Mississippi riddled her with a broadside at 50 yards.  The solid shot pierced her boilers, and CSS Manassas caught fire and sank.

Little Known Fact:  conning the USS Mississippi was a young, 24-year-old lieutenant – George Dewey, of “You may fire when ready, Gridley” fame at Manila Bay in 1898.






Saturday, July 20, 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 III – The  Rebel Ironclads: CSS Virginia

…and why the iconic duel with the USS Monitor was such a “dud”


“The CSS Virginia was not the first ironclad warship in history, nor in the Civil War, nor even in the Confederacy,” notes historian James McPherson in his new book War Upon the Waters, but she is the most famous.  CSS Virginia, which is represented in Rebel Raiders by its own counter and card (CSN Card 70) is best known for being the Confederate side in the first duel of ironclad warships (her opponent being the USS Monitor – also represented in Rebel Raiders by a counter and card (USN Card 19).

Built up from the captured bones of the USS Merrimack in Norfolk, the CSS Virginia mounted six 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbores (three per side) and four Brooke rifles (a pair of 7-inchers forward, a pair of 6.4-inchers aft).  The iron casemate, which was rolled out in a single piece at Tredegar Iron Works (represented in Rebel Raiders by the production rules and CSN Card 95) was bolted onto the hull and then pierced to allow the placement of the guns. She also mounted a seven-foot iron ram (which nearly proved her undoing when it got stuck into the USS Cumberland whom she rammed in the Battle of Hampton Roads in March 1862).

“A novelty in naval construction,” as Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory called her (Mallory is also in Rebel Raiders as CSN Card 78) she took on the Union blockading fleet in Hampton Roads, sinking the USS Cumberland, compelling the USS Congress to strike her colors and forcing the USS Minnesota to run aground.  It was upon returning the next day to finish off the last of those when she met the USS Monitor

Unfortunately (or, rather, fortunately for the crews) neither ship was at her best in that fight.  The Union shells were charged with only 15 pounds of powder out of fear they would blow up in the guns (later tests showed they could handle three times that amount) and the Confederates brought only explosive shell, not solid shot or iron bolts, as they expected to face only wooden warships.  As a result although they battered away at each other, scoring hit after hit, neither could inflict any serious damage on the other.

Although technically a draw, CSS Virginia did retire to port – never to fight again.  She was burned by the Rebels to prevent her capture by Union forces advancing on Norfolk.







Friday, July 19, 2013

The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Gunboats

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 II – The Gunboats:  A Victory for The Mosquito Fleet Rams

Not all of the Confederacy’s gunboats were more boat than gun, to paraphrase one of their commanders.  The Rebel River Defense Fleet under Captain James Montgomery (who appears in Rebel Raiders as one of the two Confederate naval leaders counters) had one very good day – that day was May 10, 1862, in what became known as “The Battle of Plum Point Bend.”

In preparation for the attack on Fort Pillow, the Union ironclad USS Cincinnati was escorting a mortar boat (of the type portrayed in Rebel Raiders by USN Card 2 – David Dixon Porter & His Little Mortar Boats) when they were suddenly surprised by all eight ships of  Montgomery’s flotilla.  Three rams steamed quickly to hit the USS Cincinnati in succession (CSS General Price, CSS General Bragg and CSS General Sumter).

 The Union ironclad USS Mound City tried to come to the aid of the sinking USS Cincinnati, but was in turn set upon by another ram,  CSS General Van Dorn, which despite being pounded by “broadside after broadside” from the Union warship, as an officer aboard recalled, the Rebel ram came on, struck and “tore away nearly half of our forecastle (and) opened an awful hole in our bows.” To save the ship and crew, the captain of the USS Mound City ran her aground on a sandbar.

 Montgomery, promoted to flag officer for his victory, upon his return to Memphis boasted that after Plum Point Bend the Union fleet would “never penetrate farther down the Mississippi.”

He was wrong.  The Union raised the USS Cincinnati and repaired both her and USS Mound City, brought in their own rams  (as depicted by USN Card 38 – USS Queen of the West or Ellet’s Ram) and drove down the river to take on Montgomery and his Mosquito Fleet (CSN Card 81) in full view of the citizens of Memphis.  Montgomery went out to meet them, bravely announcing as he left the dock that “you may see Lincoln’s gunboats sent to the bottom by the fleet which you have built and manned.”

That was June 6, less than a month after his victory at Plum Point Bend.  Within minutes of the engagement three of his eight ships were sunk; the other five, with Montgomery aboard, fled downriver, the Yankees in hot pursuit.  During the 10-mile running fight four of the Rebel ships were sunk; only the CSS General Van Dorn got away.







    

Thursday, July 18, 2013

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,  

July 18, 1863 – Glory: Admiral Dahlgren & the 54th Mass. at Battery Wagner

            Historical Event:  The gallant charge of the 54th Massachusetts, so poignantly portrayed in the movie Glory, took part on this day in 1863.  Rear Admiral John Dahlgren sent his ironclads and gunboats of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron close in to support the attack on Battery Wagner on Morris Island in Charleston Harbor.  His ships  at times came as he notes in his memoirs within 300 yards of the fort.   

            To support the attack Dahlgren sent in ten ships:  six ironclads (USS Montauk, USS Ironsides, USS Kaatskill, USS Nantucket, USS Weehawken and USS Patapsco) and four gunboats (USS Paul Jones, USS Ottawa, USS Wissahickon and USS Seneca).

            Here, from his Memoirs, is Admiral Dahlgren’s account of what he witnessed that day:

            “The ironclads battered Wanger almost out of shape, and in the afternoon of that day the flag monitor ‘Montauk’ lay only three hundred yards from the sea-face of the work; not a gun was fired from it; not a head visible to my glass as I stood with other officers outside, watching the first symptom of renewed resistance.

            “Our column came up, but it was too dark to discern objects from the vessels, and after a fierce and resolute effort the column fell back with a loss of 1,500 men.

            “The assault could derive no aid from the fire of our guns, because it was impossible to distinguish our troops from the enemy.”   (Italics are Dahlgren’s).



            Game Connection:    John Dahlgren, one of the first admirals ever created for the U.S. Navy, has his own card (USN Card 31) in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, and the revolutionary weapons he created (among them the Dahlgren gun) are also represented (USN Card 3 – Yankee Guns).  Both are important cards for a Union player who will need to send his fleets of ironclads and gunboats to destroy the batteries at Charleston to help clear the way for an assault – hopefully one that will end more fortuitously than the gallant but doomed charge made by the 54th on this day, 150 years ago.






The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Gunboats

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 II – The Gunboats: The Mosquito Fleet Rams at New Orleans

“The Mosquito Fleet” (CSN Card 81) represents the rag-tag little squadrons the South hastily cobbled together to defend their ports from the Union Navy.  One such force supported the ironclad CSS Manassas in the battle at Forts Jackson and St. Philip below New Orleans in late April 1862.

While the CSS Manassas is represented in the game (as CSN Card 71), the vessels that accompanied her are represented by the generic Gunboat counters, one or two of which may be added to a Confederate defense by play of The Mosquito Fleet (CSN Card 81).   General Mansfield Lowell had purchased and armed 14 civilian craft for his flotilla in the late winter of 1862 – but was ordered to send more than half of them upriver to Memphis to join Commander Montgomery’s river defense force (see my posting for July 15: http://markgmclaughlin.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-ships-of-rebel-raiders-gunboats_15.html)

When David G. Farragut and his massive Union fleet made their move on the forts below his city, Lowell had only six of his armed riverboats left, a force that even the Confederate secretary of war lamented was “a peculiar one.”  (Lowell himself admitted that his group had “little or no discipline” and was “too much ‘steamboat’ and too little of the man-of-war’ to be very effective.”  Still, when Farragut’s gunboats and screw sloops broke through the barrier of Hulks, Rafts and Chains (as represented in Rebel Raiders by CSN Card 110) Lowell and his makeshift flotilla were there to meet him.

While the turtle-shaped ironclad CSS Manassas   was the spearpoint of Lowell’s counterattack against the screw sloops (notably the massive USS Mississippi – represented in the game by USN Card 23), his gunboats closed with their Union counterparts.  The J.C. Breckinridge and Governor Moore worked together to each ram and sink the USS Varuna, then headed for the USS Cayuga – but were driven off by the fire of another Union gunboat, USS Oneida.  (USS Cayuga broke through the line of Rebel ships, surprised five companies of militia in their camp, who after taking a few rounds from the gunboat became the first Confederate regiment to surrender to a Union gunboat).


Lowell fought on, sending fireships down the river, but after the USS Mississippi’s guns pummeled and set afire the CSS Manassas, the fight was over.  Farragut  (USN Card 1) in the USS Hartford (USN Card 37), along with the USS Brooklyn (USN Card 13) and the rest of the fleet steamed forward, the forts already partially silenced by David Dixon Porter and his Little Mortar Boats (USN Card 2).   From there, it was on to New Orleans for the Union fleet.   As for Lowell, all but one ship in his Mosquito Fleet was lost.







Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Gunboats

 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 II – The Gunboats: The Mosquito Fleets Swatted:  Du Pont, Port Royal & Roanoke Island

“The Mosquito Fleet” (CSN Card 81) represents the rag-tag little squadrons the South hastily cobbled together to defend their ports from the Union Navy. While Montgomery at Memphis and “Old Buck” at Mobile put up grand if doomed fights (see my blog postings for July 15 and 16, respectively), the Mosquito Fleets at Port Royal and Roanoke Island never even had a chance.

The term “Mosquito Fleet” dates from the Mexican War, when the U.S. Navy formed a “Mosquito Division” of steam gunboats for coastal patrols and close in operations around Vera Cruz.   Its first known application in the Civil War came when a Union naval officer spied Commander Josiah Tatnall’s Rebel Squadron during the attack by the Navy in Port Royal Sound on November 7, 1861.  Tatnall, ironically, had commanded one of the ships of the “Mosquito Division” off Vera Cruz (USS Spitfire).

For the operation against Port Royal Captain Samuel Francis Du Pont  (represented in Rebel Raiders by USN Card 54) had amassed what historian James McPherson in his new book War Upon the Waters describes as “the largest fleet in American history to that time: seventeen warships with 157 guns, twenty-five colliers and supply ships, and thirty-three troop transports carrying 12,000 soldiers and 600 marines.”

(In order to place Du Pont on at least equal footing with the major general commanding the Army units, President Lincoln authorized his promotion to the rank of “Flag Officer,”  thus making Du Pont, the senior captain in the Navy, America’s first de facto admiral - he would eventually be promoted to rear admiral in July 1862.

Commander Josiah Tatnall had far, far less to defend Port Royal.  His small flotilla of six ships, most converted tugs, mounted less than a dozen guns among them – and weak guns at that.   Du Pont pealed off five of his gunboats to drive them back up the Beaufort River while his main battle fleet pounded Forts Walker and Beauregard into submission.

Three months later, another Mosquito Fleet tried to oppose the Union landings at Roanoke Island.  Captain William F. Lynch led eight small gunboats against Commander Stephen Rowan’s 13 much larger Union gunboats.  (These were part of Commander Louis M. Goldsborough’s flotilla that was supporting the landing by General Ambrose Burnside on the island).


Lynch sought to slow the Yankees with sunken hulks (similar to the Hulks, Rafts and Chains of CSN Card 110).  He fought valiantly, but briefly, and after one of his ships was sunk Lynch began to retire from the unequal contest.  Rowan, however, was not about to let him retreat.  He signaled his ships to “Dash at the enemy” and “dash” the Yankee gunboats did, chasing the Rebels up to Elizabeth City and the Dismal Swamp Canal, sinking six of the seven retreating Rebels in the process – thus in effecting “swatting” the mosquitoes by the very swamp from which they had spawned.





The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Gunboats

  
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 II – The Gunboats: The Mosquito Fleet (Continued):  “Old Buck” at Mobile Bay

“The Mosquito Fleet” (CSN Card 81) represents the rag-tag little squadrons the South cobbled together for the defense of Memphis and Mobile Bay.  Civilian vessels to which a gun or two and crew were hastily added, and to which bales of cotton, stacks of lumber or other makeshift defenses were added, these hopelessly outclassed and outgunned little ships and their brave crews performed far better than any could expect or demand. 

Commander James Montgomery led one of these rag-tag fleets at Memphis (see yesterday’s post), while Admiral Franklin Buchanan or “Old Buck” as he was known to his former comrades in the U.S. Navy, led a similarly cobbled-together fleet at Mobile Bay in August 1864.   In addition to three gunboats (one of which, CSS GainesCSN Card 72 is in the game) Buchanan at least had the mighty ironclad ram CSS Tennessee as his flagship  (also in the game as CSN Card 86). 

Unfortunately, just as Montgomery’s fleet was outmatched by Colonel Charles Ellet’s ironclads and rams at Memphis in June 1862, so was Buchanan’s force outnumbered and outclassed by the massive force Admiral David G. Farragut brought into Mobile Bay.


Farragut, like Buchanan, is represented by a stand-up Leader counter and Fleet Command Box – as well as three cards in the deck:   “Damn the Torpedoes…Full Speed Ahead” (USN Card 1),  The Grand Fleet (USN Card 33) and his flagship, USS Hartford (USN Card 37).    Another of Farragut’s ships that fought in the battle, USS Brooklyn (USN Card 13) also appears in the game.  All told, Farragut had a dozen big warships, four ironclads and a pair of gunboats to battle “Old Buck,” and to batter through the extensive harbor defenses (which, in Rebel Raiders, would be represented by three Battery counters for the Confederacy as well as such defensive cards as “Infernal Machines” (CSN Card 56)






Monday, July 15, 2013

The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Gunboats


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 II – The Gunboats: The Mosquito Fleet- Montgomery at Memphis

“The Mosquito Fleet” (CSN Card 81) represents the rag-tag little squadrons the South cobbled together for the defense of Memphis and Mobile Bay.  Civilian vessels to which a gun or two and crew were hastily added, and to which bales of cotton, stacks of lumber or other makeshift defenses were added, these hopelessly outclassed and outgunned little ships and their brave crews performed far better than any could expect or demand. 

The two Confederate naval officers who led those forces --- Commander James Montgomery at Memphis and Admiral Franklin Buchanan at Mobile Bay – are both represented by stand-up Leader counters and Fleet Command Boxes on the lower left of the map.  (Players may take a stack of ships and place them in a Fleet Command Box and replace them on the map with the corresponding Leader – there are two such for the South, four for the North).

Montgomery had eight ships in his “Mosquito Fleet” at Memphis in June 1862.  Undergunned and underpowered, they were no match for Colonel Charles Ellet and his seven ships, which included five ironclads and two rams.   (Two of those ships, the  ironclad USS CarondeletUSN Card 15 – and the ram, USS Queen of the WestUSN Card 38, are in the game).    Needless to say, Montgomery, though gallant, did not prevail.






Sunday, July 14, 2013

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.  

July 13, 1863 merits a second entry (in addition to yesterday's post noting the start of the New York draft riots)...and ps: Happy Bastille Day!

July 13, 1863 – (Part II) – “Infernal Machines” Sink Union Ironclad

            Historical Event:    The ironclad USS Baron de Kalb was sunk this day 150 years ago by a Confederate “infernal machine” (a “torpedo” as they called it but what we today would dub a naval mine).   The ironclad was part of the Union force that captured Yazoo City  (on the river of the same name) during the mopping up operations that followed the surrender of Vicksburg and Port Hudson (see my blog entries for July 3 and July 8, respectively:    http://markgmclaughlin.blogspot.com/2013/07/this-day-150-years-ago-in-rebel-raiders.html   and http://markgmclaughlin.blogspot.com/2013/07/dedicated-to-civil-war-episodes-battles.html

            Game Connection:    Ironclads are vital to the Confederacy to defend its ports and for the Union to battle through the batteries, sink Rebel ships and clear the way for the Army to land during an assault in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.   Whether fighting into an ocean port or up or down the Mississippi or Yazoo, the Union player does have to take into account that the Rebel player can play many cards to impede his progress.  One of those is Infernal Machines (CSN Card 56). 



            

Saturday, July 13, 2013

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,  

July 13, 1863New York City Burns – the Draft Riots

            Historical Event:   On July 13, 1863 names were pulled from a drum in New York City to fill a draft for the Union Army.  As the rich could buy their way out of service and freed Blacks were excluded from conscription, poor whites – most of them Irish immigrants – felt the draft unfair.  What began as a protest against the draft turned into a riot, and one further fueled by racial tensions as more than a dozen Blacks were lynched and the Colored Orphans’ Asylum set ablaze.  Troops, including several New York regiments that had fought at Gettysburg only 10 days before, were called home to restore order, which they did by July 16, but only after more than 100 people had died and 20 times that many or more had been injured.

            Game Connection:   “Northern Draft Riots” is one of the “Pro-Confederacy Optional Rules” available in the Playbook for Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.  The likelihood of the riots occurring is directly related to how well (or, more accurately, how poorly) the North is doing in the war.  Should they occur, that turn the Union may not purchase additional assaults or buy extra cards, due to the disruption and distraction of riots in New York (along with growing anti-war sentiment in other Northern cities).

Note the drawing below that was originally featured in The Illustrated London News in July 1863:


            For more on the Riots, see my article on examiner.com:    http://www.examiner.com/article/150-years-ago-this-weekend-new-york-burned



Friday, July 12, 2013

The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Gunboats


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 II – The Gunboats: USS/CSS Queen of the West - A Gunboat Under Two Flags

While many blockade runners were caught by the Union and turned into gunboats, the USS Queen of the West, is unique – this Union gunboat was captured by the South and turned against the Yankees on the Mississippi

Known as “Ellet’s Ram” this ship (represented in Rebel Raiders as (USN Card 38) was a side wheel steamer  built at Cincinnati before the war.  Colonel Charles Ellet, Jr, fitted her out as a ram and led her and other ships in the attack on Memphis in June 1862.  Ellet was mortally wounded but his ship fought on.  A month later, along with the ironclad USN Carondelet (USN Card 15) and the timber-clad gunboat USS Tyler (USN Card 18) she engaged the Rebel ironclad ram CSS Arkansas (see my posting of July 11).  The fight went badly for the Union, although the USS Queen of the West limped away and lived to fight another day.

Unfortunately, that other day was February 2, 1863.  The valiant ship rammed the Rebel armed steamer City of Vicksburg in a battle fought under the guns of the fortress for which that Confederate ship was named.   The USS Queen of the West took heavy damage and was set afire in at least two compartments.  She fought on, however, driving ashore two more Confederate gunboats – the steamers O.W. Baker Moro and Beruick Bay.  She then went up the Red River and on Valentine’s Day she captured yet another Rebel vessel – the steamer Era No.  Unfortunately as she reached Gordon’s Landing on the Black River she was ambushed by Confederate artillery – at which point she struck her colors.


The Confederacy wasted no time in raising its own flag over the vessel, but went against all naval custom and instead of renaming her ran her as CSS Queen of the West.  She fought well for the South, until she ran into a trio of Union warships on Atehafalaya River on April 14, 1863.  Battered and set afire, she drifted with the current until running aground and exploding.