Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30, 1864 – Union Fleet Escapes Red River Trap via “Bailey’s Dam”

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.

April 30, 1864 – Union Fleet Escapes Red River Trap via “Bailey’s Dam”

Historical Event:   As if the Union campaign up the Red River had not been enough of a failure, falling waters trapped the fleet above the rapids at Alexandria.  Faced with the ignominious choice of either surrendering or scuttling the ships, Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter eagerly agreed to a scheme by a lieutenant colonel from the 4th Wisconsin, Joseph Bailey, to build a dam to raise the river.  Construction began on April 30. While Bailey built his dam and its attendant structures, Porter’s sailors lightened their vessels by unshipping many of their heavy guns and even removing some of the armor from the ironclads.  Two weeks later, with Confederate troops fast approaching, most of the fleet managed to ride the rapids to safety before the dam collapsed.   Porter, saying he was done with rivers, sought and took command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Game Connection:  The Red River campaign is represented by a space on the map and a card played by the Confederates (CSN Card 76 – Red River Fiasco).  This is a design choice because few Union players would otherwise voluntarily commit such large forces, including their precious ironclads, to the complicated and highly problematic scheme concocted by Union General Henry Halleck.  Admiral Porter is also represented in the game, both as a stand-up leader and as a card (USN Card 2 – David Dixon Porter & His Little Mortar Boats).

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