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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Deer

 

(SwStr: t. 857 [771]; l. 238'; b. 26'2"; dph. 17'10"; dr. 7'6"; cl. Owl)

 

Deer was the last ship of the first class of steel blockade runners procured for Secretary of the Navy Mallory by Comdr. James D. Bulloch, CSN, in United Kingdom shipyards; four hulls were bought in Liverpool, well along on the ways at Jones, Quiggin & Co., and finished up on schedule without alterations; Deer was Hull No. 170. The financial raison d'etre of these vessels is explained in Commander Bulloch's letter to Secretary Mallory 15 September 1864: that they "are not*** to be paid for out of the funds of the Navy Department, but the cost of construction and outfit is provided for by the Treasury Department, through its financial agent, General C. J. McRae***the management and navigation of the ships to and from the Confederate ports will be under the control of the Navy Department."

 

Deer carried a particularly sensitive Navy cargo on her maiden voyage out of Liverpool, early in November 1864: "goods***almost exclusively for submarine defense," consigned to Comdr. Hunter Davidson, CSN, the torpedo (mine) specialist, and an "Ebonite machine" for Comdr. Matthew F. Maury.

 

Her second trip, Deer was not so lucky: Running into Charleston with a valuable load of copper and arms, 18 February 1865, her lookout failed to spot a trio of monitors, USS Canonicus, Catskill and Monadnock, lying across the channel entrance; the fleet Deer submitted to the ultimate humiliation of surrendering to slow "cheese boxes on rafts." The prize court in Boston sold Deer to Nickerson's line of steamers whom she served locally as Palmyra; resold to the Argentine in June 1869, she disappears from the registers before 1875.