Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10, 1864 – USS Iron Age Lost on Blockade Duty

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.

January 10, 1864 –  USS Iron Age Lost on Blockade Duty

Historical Event:  On January 10, 1864 the 420-ton Union gunboat USS Iron Age ran aground and was lost while trying to salvage a Confederate blockade runner at Folly Inlet, South Carolina.  The Confederacy hailed its loss, for the USS Iron Age had been one of the two warships that in November had captured the pride of the Rebel blockade runner fleet, the CSS Robert E. Lee.

Game Connection:  The USS Iron Age is one of many classes of warships represented by the generic Gunboat counters in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.  The principal role of these ships is to man the Blockade Stations off Confederate ports, where they can attempt to intercept Rebel Blockade Runners as they bring vital cargo back home to aid the Southern war effort.  Many of the more famous individual ships involved in this duel are represented by cards and counters in the game, including the CSS Robert E. Lee – (CSN Card 69 pictured below)-, which the USS Iron Age (along with another Gunboat, the USS James Adger) captured off the North Carolina coast on November 9, 1863.

The USS Iron Age was built in Kennebunk, Maine and in the late summer of 1863 was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. On her first week on station she gave chase to a Blockade Runner and forced the Rebel ship to run aground while seeking the protection of the Confederate guns of Fort Fisher.  The USS Iron Age participated in a raid that destroyed Rebel salt works at Bear Inlet, and with USS James Adger captured the famous CSS Robert E. Lee – one of the few Blockade Runners that was actually part of the Confederate Navy.

In January 1864 the Union squadron gave chase to the Blockade Runner Bendigo, which ran aground off Holden Beach in Lockwood’s Folly Inlet, S.C.  The USS Iron Age was then sent in to frustrate Confederate efforts to offload the valuable war supplies it had loaded at Nassau in the Bahamas and to prevent the Rebels from refloating the Bendigo.  Unfortunately, however, the Yankee ship also ran aground – and the vessels sent to save her were driven off by Confederate guns, including a battery of 30-pounders.  Rather than let her fall into Rebel hands, the captain of the Gunboat set her afire – and when flames reached her magazine in the pre-dawn hours of January 11, the USS Iron Age exploded.

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