CSS Indianola?

OldReliable1862

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
Here's another alternate history "mini-scenario," this time focusing on the Vicksburg campaign.

Most of us likely know of Admiral Porter's clever plan to scare off the Rebels attempting to salvage the grounded ironclad Indianola, constructing the dummy ironclad Black Terror. It attracted the fire of the Vicksburg batteries and successfully alarmed General Carter L. Stevenson, who ordered the Indianola destroyed. He later realized he had been fooled, but it was too late, and the salvage crew had burned the ship.

However, what if the Vicksburg batteries manage one or two lucky hits on the Black Terror and set her ablaze? What would be Porter's next move to try and stop any efforts to salvage the ironclad?
 
Last edited:

OldReliable1862

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
Paging @Mark F. Jenkins and @rebelatsea

The Indianola was stuck in several feet of mud - surely she must have taken at least some damage when she grounded herself. Assuming Porter decides not to risk pitting either his ironclads or the rams against the Vicksburg batteries and the Rebels can tow her up the Red River (to Shreveport?), it would likely take at least a few weeks to repair her and scrape a crew together.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
Well... firstly, we need to separate the two occurrences. The "dummy" was likely conceived of before the Indianola even ran the batteries (and not by Porter-- at one point, he referred to it as "Bache's dummy," possibly pointing to naval officer George Bache as the originator). The basic idea (which was done a second time with the Lafayette) was that, like a good magician, you show the audience the real thing and then play switcheroo... for the Indianola, the real thing ran the battery, and then a few nights later something similar "ran" by, with the stated intent of making the Confederates waste ammunition and maybe even burst a gun. With the Lafayette, the gunboat didn't run by Vicksburg, but dropped down and shelled the upper batteries the day before the "Quaker Lafayette" was sent past. Porter says (or at least strongly implies) that the "Indi-dummy" was intended to make the Confederates panic and blow up the Indianola, but that was very much after-the-fact, during Porter's campaign to take full credit. (And if it had been an abject failure, you can bet Porter would have somehow turned out to have been many miles away from the project...)

(Porter used a dummy a third time, while pushing up the Cape Fear River toward Wilmington in 1865. Since he had only one monitor, the Montauk, he had a fake one built. The dummy monitor, dubbed "Old Bogey," was known to the Confederates, but at a distance it could still be hard to tell which one was the real one and which one the fake, so it still served a purpose.)

With reference to the damage grounding, riverboats ran aground all the time, and any well-built one could stand some time high and dry and recover... although there is some question as to whether the term "well-built" could be applied to the Indianola.
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
Well... firstly, we need to separate the two occurrences. The "dummy" was likely conceived of before the Indianola even ran the batteries (and not by Porter-- at one point, he referred to it as "Bache's dummy," possibly pointing to naval officer George Bache as the originator). The basic idea (which was done a second time with the Lafayette) was that, like a good magician, you show the audience the real thing and then play switcheroo... for the Indianola, the real thing ran the battery, and then a few nights later something similar "ran" by, with the stated intent of making the Confederates waste ammunition and maybe even burst a gun. With the Lafayette, the gunboat didn't run by Vicksburg, but dropped down and shelled the upper batteries the day before the "Quaker Lafayette" was sent past. Porter says (or at least strongly implies) that the "Indi-dummy" was intended to make the Confederates panic and blow up the Indianola, but that was very much after-the-fact, during Porter's campaign to take full credit. (And if it had been an abject failure, you can bet Porter would have somehow turned out to have been many miles away from the project...)

(Porter used a dummy a third time, while pushing up the Cape Fear River toward Wilmington in 1865. Since he had only one monitor, the Montauk, he had a fake one built. The dummy monitor, dubbed "Old Bogey," was known to the Confederates, but at a distance it could still be hard to tell which one was the real one and which one the fake, so it still served a purpose.)

With reference to the damage grounding, riverboats ran aground all the time, and any well-built one could stand some time high and dry and recover... although there is some question as to whether the term "well-built" could be applied to the Indianola.
That is precisely why I opened my reply with the word "When".
 
Top