During the Civil War, one of the biggest threats for plantations along the Rappahannock River was the Union Gunboats that patrolled the waterway.
According to Wikipedia:
“A gunboat was usually a small undecked vessel caring single smoothbore cannon in the bow, or just two or three such cannons. A gunboat could carry one or two masts or be oar-powered only, but the single-masted version of about 15m (49ft) length was most typical. Some types of gunboats carried tow cannons, or else mounted a number of swivel guns on the railings.
The advantage of this type of gunboat were that since it only carried a single cannon, that cannon could be quite heavy- for instance, a 32-pounder- and that the boat could be maneuvered in shallow or restricted waters, where sailing was difficult for larger ships. A single hit from a frigate would demolish a gunboat, but a frigate facing six…
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