This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raiders’ History
-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game,
Raiders on the High Seas.
February 17, 1864 – Rebel Submarine Hunley Sinks Union Housatonic
Historical Event: On
February 17, 1864 the Confederate submarine CSS
Hunley attacked and sank the Union screw sloop USS Housatonic in Charleston
harbor. This earned the USS
Housatonic the dubious distinction of being the first warship ever sunk
by a submarine. Unfortunately for the
crew of the CSS
Hunley, they did not live to celebrate their victory, as the tiny
vessel was dragged to the bottom as the warship went down. The wreck of the CSS
Hunley was found on the seaward side of the sunken sloop. Evidence suggests
that the spar torpedo used to sink the Union vessel detonated while still
attached to the submarine, and that the concussion from the blast may have
knocked Lt. Dixon and his seven submariners unconscious – sending them into a
slumber from which they never awoke.
The Union warship was not chosen at random. She was one of the most powerful, formidable and successful vessels in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In January 1863, for example, the USS Housatonic captured the famous blockade runner Princess Royal as it attempted to enter
Charleston. The Confederates sent two ironclads out of
the port to try to save the Princess Royal, which was carrying
what was then described as “the war’s most important single cargo of
contraband” – engines and armor for a new ironclad that was to be built in the
city. They were driven back by the
firepower of the USS Housatonic’s mighty guns, which included a 100-pound Parrot
and an 11-inch Dahlgren.
Game Connection: The
Hunley, which proved deadly to over 20 sailors during her sea trials
and one and only combat voyage is represented in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas
Card 73. Her partner in death,
Housatonic, is represented by USN Card 27. The Union vessel is definitely one worth
sinking, as it is especially good at intercepting the Blockade Runners upon
whom the South – and the Southern Player in Rebel Raiders – depends.