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.
May 5, 1864
– Ironclad CSS Union Blockading Squadron Albemarle: One Ship vs. a
Historical Event: The Battle of Albemarle Sound was a rare event in the Civil War, as it was one of the few times a Rebel fleet initiated combat, let alone sortied to break the Union blockade in an amphibious operation, no less. On
May 5, 1864, however, the Confederate Navy did just that, sending
its newest and most feared ironclad ram, CSS
Albemarle, into the body of water for which it was named.
came down the Albemarle Roanoke River with the gunboat CSS Bombshell
and the troopship CSS Cotton
Planter. The goal of the
operation was to recapture the key and thus break the
Union blockade on port
of New Bern North Carolina. As Commander J.W. Cooke brought the ironclad
out into the Sound, he found Captain Melancton Smith and his fleet of eight
Union warships waiting for him.
Although heavily outnumbered as well as out-gunned, Cooke plowed ahead,
confidant that Union shells would bounce off the thickly-armored, sloping
casemate of the CSS
Cooke’s faith in his warship was well placed, for the Yankee guns (even those firing 100-pound shot ) did little harm.
Albemarle carried only two guns, 6.4-inch Brooke Rifles, but Cooke used
them to good effect, gingerly moving them on their pivots to fire out of the
six gun-port positions. The captain of the
Sassacus, frustrated and declaring that he might as well have been
“firing blanks,” poured on the coal, built up to a speed of nearly a dozen
knots and rammed the Confederate ram, knocking her so hard as she nearly
foundered. Cooke, however, righted his
ship and poured fire at point-blank range into the Union vessel, causing many
casualties and inflicting heavy damage.
Three other Union double-ender side-wheel gunboats circled about, adding their fire but each taking more damage than they gave. USS Wyalusing and USS Mattabesett gave covering fire as USS Miami, armed with a spar torpedo, moved in for the attack, but Cooke evaded successfully. Unfortunately, his consort,
Bombshell, being a mere gunboat, was so badly pounded that she was
forced to strike her colors. At that the
troopship turned about and Cooke retired, his reason for fighting the Union
fleet now moot.
is one of the many named ships in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas. Represented by a counter and card (CSN Card 75) she is one of the most
powerful warships in the small but plucky Confederate Navy. While the gunboat that accompanied her and
the types of Union warships they fought on Albemarle May 5, 1864 are represented by generic counters of their
type, many another individual Yankee man-o-war is present with its own card and
counter, as are the big Dahlgrens and other “Yankee Guns” they carried (USN Card 3). New Bern
is a key port in the game, as it was in the war, and holding on to or
recapturing it is of great importance in Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.