(ScTug: t. 64; l. 80'; b. 18'; dph. 7'; a. 1 32-pdr. r., 1 12-pdr. r.)
CSS Teaser had been the aging Georgetown, D.C., tug York River built at Philadelphia. Purchased at Richmond by the State of Virginia in 1861, she was assigned to the naval forces in the James River with Lt. J. H. Rochelle, Virginia State Navy, in command. Upon the secession of that State Teaser became a part of the Confederate Navy and continued to operate in Virginia waters. With Lt. W. A. Webb, CSN, in command, she took an active part in the battle of Hampton Roads, Va., on 8-9 March 1862, acting as tender to CSS Virginia. She received the thanks of the Congress of the Confederate States for this action.
Teaser was a pioneer "aircraft carrier" (balloon ship); she also became a pioneer minelayer when ordered 17 June to assist Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Under Lt. H. Davidson, CSN, she was used by the Confederate Naval Submarine Battery Service to plant and service "torpedoes" (mines) in the James River. While engaging Maratanza at Haxall's on the James 4 July 1862, a Union shell blew up Teaser's boiler and forced her crew to abandon ship. When seized by Maratanza, Teaser was carrying on board a balloon for aerial reconnaissance of Union positions at City Point and Harrison's Landing. Teaser was taken into the Federal Navy, and sold at Washington, D.C., on 24 June 1865.
Surviving records of CS Cutter Teaser are limited to an order of 19 August 1863 from Adm. F. Buchanan, CSN, to Acting Master D. Nichols, CSN, Mobile: "You will proceed to sea in the cutter Teaser and cruise between this port and the Mississippi River for the purpose of destroying or capturing any of the enemy's vessels or boats you may fall in with. Should you succeed in making any captures you will convey them to a safe port, and on your arrival you will make a full report to me of your cruise." Scarcely more than a month later, Nichols captured "a new and very fast screw steamer," the Leviathan (q.v.), and nearly escaped to sea in her through Southwest Pass, 22 September. His daring exploit was reported by his captor, Capt. W. M. Walker, commanding USS De Soto, who enclosed a copy of Nichols' brand new commission, dated 5 August, as "acting master (without pay) in the Navy of the Confederate States" and the articles of enlistment of his crew. Captain Walker, who won the 35-mile, life-and-death race, noted in his report to Secretary Welles, "I feel great satisfaction in announcing this success, for when the Boston, a very much inferior vessel, was carried off some months ago by a similar enterprise we soon fell upon her track, and thus had the opportunity of witnessing the desolation she had spread in her path, blackening the seas in her wake with the charred memorials of many fine ships. I shall send the Leviathan with her desperate band to New Orleans."