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.
January 30, 1864 – Pickett
and the Pirates: Cutlasses and the
Charge that Wasn’t
Historical Event: On January 30, 1864 General George Pickett, eager to erase the perceived stain upon his honor and restore his reputation after the doomed if gallant charge at Gettysburg, marched his division out of Kinston, North Carolina with the intention of regaining the port of New Berne for the South. His three brigades of infantry and small force of cavalry contained only about 4,500 men, but were supplemented by 14 pieces of artillery and Colonel John Taylor Wood’s piratical rowboat flotilla – a ragtag force of local men armed with old naval cutlasses and antique muskets.
Pickett did advance upon the Union positions of General I.N. Palmer, but decided they were too strong to attack head-on (proving he had learned something going up that long, low slope toward the Copse of Trees the summer before). Instead, he pinned his hopes on taking out the Union warships that were supporting Palmer and his 3,000 troops. In the early morning hours of February 2 Wood’s cutlass-wielding pirates performed a successful “cutting out expedition” to board and capture the USS Underwriter, one of four armed steamers that were anchored in the Trent and Neuse Rivers in support of Palmer’s defenses. Unable to build up steam in the cold boilers in time so he could get underway and attack the rest of the Yankee flotilla, however, Wood burned the warship. He and his men made their way back to Pickett’s lines, but with the Union forces now on alert and still backed by three other gunboats, the longhaired Confederate general felt it best to retire.
Game Connection: In Rebel Raiders as in the war, New Berne is an important port for blockade runners, especially those on the more lucrative run to and from
Europe. It also provides a beachhead for an attack up
into Goldsboro, from which the Yankee army can either threaten Richmond or
strike south toward the port of Wilmington and from there down the coast toward
Savannah and Charleston, to take those key cities from the land side. Taking back New Berne or any other key city
or port captured by the Union can throw off the Union timetable and gain
valuable time for the Confederacy, and to do so the Southern Player can
purchase a Counterattack in the build phase – or play one of the cards (such as
CSN Card 103 – Uprising or 107 – The
South Shall Rise) that allow for a Counterattack (and one hopefully more
successful than the abortive attempt led by Pickett at New Berne).