Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9, 1864 – CSS Squib vs. USS Minnesota: Tiny Confederate Torpedo Boat Attacks Giant Union Frigate

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 9, 1864 – CSS Squib vs. USS MinnesotaTiny Confederate Torpedo Boat Attacks Giant Union Frigate 

Historical Event:   Under the cover of darkness on April 9, 1864, six Rebel sailors under the command of Lt. Hunter Davidson quietly steamed their tiny little torpedo launch out into Hampton Roads to strike one of the largest and mightiest men-o-war in the Union fleet: the great USS Minnesota.  The aptly named CSS Squib carried but a single spar-mounted torpedo, while the Yankee warship mounted 47 guns of many calibers.  The small armored launch struck home, caused something of a panic aboard the great steam frigate, and got away – no mean feat in the middle of a Union squadron.   The USS Minnesota also survived, suffering more embarrassment than damage.

USS Minnesota was one of the largest of the pre-war frigates.  She was the flagship of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, sank or captured 22 blockade runners and added her guns to the bombardments of Fort Fisher.  In March 1862 she fought heroically against the CSS Virginia when the iron monster made its first foray.  Despite being driven aground, the USS Minnesota kept on fighting, with her gunners firing over 500 rounds at the Rebel ironclad during that two-day battle. 

CSS Squib was one of a class of fast little torpedo boats, a cousin to the more famous CSS David, which attacked the USS New Ironsides in Charleston Harbor in October 1863 – and with considerably more effect, doing enough damage to put the big ship out of action for a time.

Game Connection:  Union frigates play many roles in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.  Like USS Minnesota, they bombard Confederate port batteries, intercept blockade runners and even hunt down the raiders for whom the game is named.  The Confederates have many weapons at their disposal to try to break the blockade, among them the CSS Squib’s cousin, CSS David, which appears in the game as CSN Card 63.  Her target, USS New Ironsides, is also in the game, as a counter and as USN Card 26.

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