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Photograph, the Rebel Gunboat CSS Teaser

 
Photograph, the Rebel Gunboat CSS Teaser (Image1)
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Item Number: AP685
 

 



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This gunboat served both the Confederate and Union navies during the Civil War

The "Teaser" was built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was purchased by the State of Virginia in 1861, and she was assigned to the naval forces in the James River, Va., with Lieutenant James Henry Rochelle, of the Virginia State Navy, in command. Upon the secession of Virginia from the Union, the "Teaser" became known as the "CSS Teaser" and was a part of the Confederate States Navy, and continued to operate in Virginia waters. With Lieutenant William A. Webb, C.S. Navy, in command, she took an active part in the Battle of Hampton Roads, Va., on March 8-9, 1862, acting as tender to the "CSS Virginia," commonly known as the "Merrimac." She received the thanks of the "Congress of the Confederate States of America" for this action which resulted in the first clash of ironclad warfare when the "USS Monitor" squared off against her much larger opponent, the "CSS Virginia." Captured by the Union navy, on July 4, 1862, the "Teaser" became re-named the "USS Teaser," and was assigned to the Potomac Flotilla. "Teaser" regularly patrolled the waters of the Potomac River from Alexandria, Virginia, south to Point Lookout, Maryland to enforce the blockade by preventing a thriving trade in contraband between the Maryland and Virginia shores. On September 22, 1862, she captured the schooner "Southerner" in the Coan River. On October 19th, while operating in the vicinity of Piney Point, in St. Mary's County, Maryland, she captured two smugglers and their boat as they were nearing the exit of Herring Creek, and preparing to cross the river to Virginia. On November 2nd, near the mouth of the Rappahannock River, she surprised three men attempting to violate the blockade in a canoe. "Teaser" took them prisoner and turned their contraband over to pro-Union Virginians living on Gwynn's Island. Four days later in the Chesapeake Bay, "Teaser" took the sloop "Grapeshot" and captured her three-man crew. By December 1862, she had moved to the Rappahannock River with other units of the Potomac Flotilla to support General Ambrose E. Burnside's thrust toward Richmond. On December 10th, she exchanged shots with a Confederate battery located on the southern shore of the river about three miles below Port Royal, Virginia. After Burnside's bloody rebuff at Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13th, "Teaser" and her colleagues returned to their anti-smuggling duties along the Potomac. "USS Teaser" joined "USS Primrose" to make March 1863 an active month. On March 24th, the two ships sent a boat expedition to reconnoiter Pope's Creek, Virginia. The landing party found two boats used for smuggling and collected information from Union sympathizers in the area. Almost a week later, on the night of March 3031, they dispatched a three-boat party to Monroe's Creek, Virginia. The previous day, a Federal cavalry detachment had surprised a smuggler in the area; and, though the troops captured his goods, the man himself escaped. Boats from "Teaser" and "Primrose" succeeded where the Union horsemen had failed, and they gathered some intelligence on other contraband activities as well. In April 1863, the "Teaser" left the Potomac River for duty with Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee's North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, at Hampton Roads, and on April 17th, she joined the "USS Alert" and the "USS Coeur de Lion" in an expedition up the Nansemond River west of Norfolk, Virginia. However, she ran aground, damaged her machinery, and had to retire from the action. By mid-summer, the "Teaser" was back in action on the Potomac, and on the night of July 27th, she captured two smugglers with a boatload of tobacco in the mouth of the Mattawoman Creek just south of Indian Head, Maryland. She destroyed the boat and sent the prisoners and contraband north to the Washington Navy Yard. During the night of October 7th, "Teaser" and another flotilla ship noticed signalling between Mathias Point, Virginia, and the Maryland shore. The two ships shelled the woods at Mathias Point, but took no action against the signalers on the Maryland shore other than to urge upon the United States Army's district provost marshal the necessity of constant vigilance. On January 5, 1864, "Teaser" and the "USS Yankee" landed a force of men at Nomini, Virginia to investigate a rumor that the Southerners had hidden a large lighter, and a skiff capable of boating 80 men there. The force, commanded by the "Teaser's" commanding officer, Acting Ensign Sheridan, U.S. Navy, found both boats, destroyed the lighter, and captured the skiff. During the landing, Confederate soldiers appeared on the heights above Nomini, but the gunboats dampened their curiosity with some well-placed cannon shots. In April, the "USS Teaser," "USS Yankee," "USS Anacostia," "USS Fuchsia," and the "USS Resolute" accompanied an Army expedition to Machodoc Creek, Virginia. At 5:00 a.m., on April 13th, the five ships cleared the St. Mary's River in company with the Army's steamer "Long Branch" with a battalion of soldiers under the command of General Edward W. Hinks. "Long Branch" landed her troops at about 8:00 a.m. while the five ships covered the operation. A group of Confederate cavalry appeared on the southern bank of the Machodoc, but retired when "Teaser" and "Anacostia" sent four armed boat crews ashore. The landing party captured a prisoner, probably a smuggler, and a large quantity of tobacco. By April 14th, General Hinks' troops reembarked in "Long Branch" and headed for Point Lookout, Md. "Anacostia" accompanied the Army steamer while the other four warships investigated Currioman Bay and Nomini. They returned to St. Mary's, Virginia that afternoon to resume patrols. During the summer of 1864, "Teaser" was called upon to leave the Potomac once more. On this occasion, the Union forces needed her guns to help defend strategic bridges across the rivers at the head of Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore, Maryland, against General Jubal A. Early's raiders. On July 10th, she departed the lower Potomac, rounded Point Lookout, and headed up the Chesapeake Bay. That night, she had to put into the Patuxent River because of heavy winds and leaks in her hull. Before dawn the following morning, she continued up the bay. During the forenoon, the leaks became progressively worse and, by the time she arrived off Annapolis, Maryland, she had to remove her exhaust pipe for temporary repairs. Early that evening, "Teaser" reached Baltimore where she put in for additional repairs. The gunboat did not reach her destination, the bridge over the Gunpowder River, until late on July 12th. She was too late; the bridge had already been burned, and she returned to Baltimore immediately to report on the bridge and to pick up arms and provisions for the vessels stationed in the Gunpowder River. When she arrived back at the bridge, she found orders to return to the Potomac awaiting her. "Teaser" departed the northern reaches of the Chesapeake and reported back to the Potomac Flotilla at St. Inigoes, Virginia on the St. Mary's River in late afternoon on April 14th. For the remainder of the War Between the States, "Teaser" and her flotilla-mates searched the Potomac, and contributed to the gradual economic strangulation which brought the South to its knees by April 1865. Less than two months after General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, the "Teaser" was decommissioned at the Washington Navy Yard on June 2, 1865. Sold at public auction at Washington to Mr. J.P. Bigler, the gunboat was re-named the "York River" on July 2, 1865, and she served commercially until 1878 when she retired from service.

Albumen photograph taken by the U.S. Government Photographer during the war. View No. 483. Caption: Rebel Gunboat Teaser. This view shows the destruction by the bursting of a 100 pound shell, July 4, 1862, when this boat was captured by the U.S. gunboat "Maritanza." The albumen photograph measures, 3 1/4 x 3 1/8, and is mounted to a 7 x 4 1/2 card. Imprint of Taylor & Huntington, Hartford, Conn. The War For The Union, Photographic History, 1861-1865.


Light age toning and wear. Very fine. Desirable image of a gunboat that served both the Confederate and Union navies during the Civil War.



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