CSS Tuscaloosa

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
Career Confederate Navy Jack
Name: CSS Tuscaloosa
Commissioned: June 21, 1863
Fate: Seized December 17, 1863
General characteristics
Displacement: 350 tons
Propulsion: Sail
Complement: 15 officers and men
Armament: 2 x 12 lb rifled brass guns

The CSS Tuscaloosa was a ship captured by the Confederate States Navy, during the American Civil War, and was originally known as the American bark Conrad. While en route from Buenos Aires to New York with a cargo of wool and goat skins, she was captured by the CSS Alabama on June 20, 1863 during the CSS Alabama's South Atlantic Expeditionary Raid. Being fast and well adapted for a cruiser, Capt. Raphael Semmes, CSN, commissioned her the next day as a cruiser and tender to the Alabama, renaming her Tuscaloosa. Two rifled brass 12-pounders and a plentiful supply of rifles, pistols and ammunition were transferred to her with enough provisions for a 3-month cruise. Lt. J. Low, CSN, with 15 men, was ordered on board with instructions for an African cruise in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope.

On July 31, 1863 Tuscaloosa captured the American ship Santee with a cargo of rice and bonded her for $150,000. On August 8, Low brought his ship into Simon's Bay in South Africa, departing thence for a 90-day cruise during which he stopped at Angra Pequena, Southwest Africa, to discharge Tuscaloosa's cargo of wool and goat skins. On November 19, 1863 he put into St. Catherine's, Brazil, for supplies but was not allowed to purchase them and was informed he must depart before nightfall.

From there Tuscaloosa returned to Simon's Bay on December 26, 1863 only to be seized the next day by British authorities as an uncondemned prize which had violated the neutrality of Her Majesty's Government. They ordered her to be held until properly reclaimed by her original owners. Lieutenant Low and his men left the ship and an officer and men from HMS Narcissus were placed on board. Her owners did not reclaim her and in March 1864 she was released by the British authorities. The Confederate States Navy was in no position to reclaim her, and so after the war, she was turned over to the Union Navy.


  • This article contains public domain material from the Naval Historical Center.
  • Hearn, Chester G., Gray Raiders of the Sea, Louisiana State Press, 1996. ISBN 0807121142
  • Luraghi, Raimondo, A History of the Confederate Navy, U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1996. ISBN 1557505276