Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Adieu, CSS Georgia, Adieu

 Adieu, CSS Georgia, Adieu

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raider’s History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

May 21, 1864 – Iron-Hulled Raider CSS Georgia Sold

Historical Event:   The CSS Georgia was not the most famous of the dozen cruisers that set out to raid Union commerce, but the raider did have a unique and colorful if short-lived history.  First of all, she had an iron hull.  This made her stronger and more formidable as a warship than her wooden-hulled cousins, yet it also made her more difficult to service, as once befouled she could only be scoured clean in a full service dry dock.  In March 1863 Confederate agents purchased the newly completed vessel, then called the Japan, from the yards in Dumbarton, Scotland.  A month later after receiving her guns, she was rechristened CSS Georgia and for the next six months cruised the South Atlantic.  The raider took only nine prizes before limping into Cherbourg, France in October 1863.  An initial plan to transfer her armaments to CSS Rappahannock did not come to fruition, and rather than risk their ship being seized, the Confederates decided to sell her off.   In May 1864 she was towed to Liverpool, where despite the objections of the American ambassador the Confederates were on June 1 able to sell her off to a buyer who planned to use the CSS Georgia as a blockade runner.  On her first and only voyage as such that August, she was intercepted and seized by the USS Niagara.   Sold as a prize of war, she entered the merchant service in Boston, was later sold to a Canadian firm and steamed on as SS Georgia until foundering on a pile of rocks off the coast of Maine in 1875.

PS:  CSS Georgia was one of very, very few blockade runners taken in foreign waters.  As she had been a raider, the CSS Georgia (even though unarmed at the time) was considered a warship and the USS Niagara gave chase when she left England, running her down four days later off the coast of Portugal.  Almost all other blockade runners that were captured were seized within sight of the American coast.

Game Connection:  Although the CSS Georgia herself is not individually represented in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, there are six generic Raider counters for her and her cousins – as well as special counters and cards for her more famous and more effective relatives, notably the CSS Shenandoah (CSN Card 64) and CSS Alabama (CSN Card 63), the later of which’s picture graces the cover of the game.   The Confederate raiders are prickly thorns in the side of the Union, and if left unchecked can contribute greatly to the Southern Cause.   (CSS Georgia image below, a sepia wash drawing from 1895 by artist Clary Ray is from the Navy Art Collection)

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