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Tuscaloosa

 

(Bark: t. 500)

 

The American bark Conrad, en route from Buenos Aires to New York with a cargo of wool and goat skins, was captured by CSS Alabama on 20 June 1863. Being fast and well adapted for a cruiser, Capt. R. Semmes, CSN, commissioned her the next day as a cruiser and tender to the Alabama, renaming her Tuscaloosa. Three 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 31 July Tuscaloosa captured the American ship Santee with a cargo of rice and bonded her for $150,000. On 8 August, 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 19 November 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 26 December only to be seized 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.

 

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(IrcRam: l. 152'; b. 34; dph. 10'6"; dr. 8'; s. 3 k.; cpl. 120; a. 1 6.4" r., 3 32-pdr. [planned]; type Heavy Albemarle)

 

CSS Tuscaloosa, an ironclad floating battery, was launched at Selma, Ala., 7 February 1863. She was designed as a ram to mount four guns and to have the protection of 4-inch iron plating supplied by Schofield & Markham and Shelby Iron Co.

 

Engined before launching, Tuscaloosa proceeded under her own power to Mobile for completion. Under Commander C. H. McBlair, CSN, she served in the Mobile area until Mobile's capitulation on 12 April 1865 when the Confederates sank her in the Spanish River 12 miles north of the city.