CSS Rappahannock

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CSS Rappahannock
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Victor
Ordered: 15 May 1855[1]
Builder: Money Wigram & Son, Blackwall
Cost: £45,450[1]
Laid down: 24 May 1855[1]
Launched: 2 November 1855[1]
Commissioned: 1 April 1856
Fate: Sold to R Gordon Coleman as Scylla in November 1863 and resold later the same month to the Confederacy
Career Confederate Navy Jack Confederate Navy Jack
Name: CSS Rappahannock
Commissioned: November 1864
Decommissioned: April 1865
Fate: Turned over to United States
General characteristics
Displacement: 857 tons
Length: 200 ft (61 m)
Beam: 30 ft 2 in (9.19 m)
Propulsion: 2 steam engines

CSS Rappahannock, a steam sloop-of-war, was built in the River Thames in 1855 as an Intrepid-class gunvessel for the Royal Navy and named HMS Victor. Although a handsomely modeled vessel, numerous defects occasioned her sale in 1863. An agent of the Confederate States Government purchased her ostensibly for the China trade, but British authorities suspected she was destined to be a Confederate commerce raider and ordered her detention. Nevertheless, she succeeded in escaping from Sheerness, England, on November 24, with workmen still on board and only a token crew. Her Confederate Naval officers joined in the English Channel.

When he bought her from the Admiralty through his secret agent on November 14, Commander Matthew F. Maury had intended Rappahannock to replace the unwanted, iron CSS Georgia and was about to transfer Georgia's battery to her. She was ideal for a cruiser—wooden hull, bark-rigged, two engines and a lifting screw propeller—but she was doomed to serve the Confederacy no more glamorously than a floating depot.

She was commissioned a Confederate man-of-war underway, but while passing out of the Thames Estuary her bearings burned out and she had to be taken across to Calais for repairs. There Lieutenant C. M. Fauntleroy, CSN, was placed in command.

Detained on various pretexts by the French Government, Rappahannock never got to sea and was turned over to the United States at the close of the war.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Winfield, Rif; Lyon, David (2003). The Sail and Steam Navy List, 1815-1889. Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1861760326. 

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

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