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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Fox

 

A small carnivorous mammal common throughout the world. Two United States Navy schooners were named for this animal.

 

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Gustavus Vasa Fox, born 13 June 1821 at Saugus, Mass., was appointed midshipman 12 January 1838. During the Mexican War, he served in the brig Washington in the squadron of Commodore Perry and took active part in the second expedition against Tobasco, 14-16 January 1847, which resulted in the capture of that town. He was in command of several mail steamers and after his resignation 30 July 1856, engaged in the manufacture of woolen materials.

 

At the start of the Civil War he volunteered for service. He was given a temporary appointment in the Navy and was sent in the steamer Baltic to the relief of Major Robert Anderson and the remnant of his command in Fort Sumter, and brought them away. On 1 August 1861, President Lincoln appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy, an office which he held until the close of the Civil War. In 1866, he was sent on a special mission to Russia and conveyed the congratulations of the President of the United States to the Czar upon his escape from assassination. His voyage was made in the monitor Miantonomah which was the first vessel of this class to cross the Atlantic. He died 29 October 1883 at Lowell, Mass. Torpedo Boat No. 13 and DD-234 were named for Gustavus Fox.

 

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Printed sources list a schooner Fox as a naval vessel in the period 1817-21, but no information concerning such a ship is contained in the official manuscript records.

 

II

 

(Sch: t. 80; dr. 8'6"; a. 1 12-pdr. how., 1 12-pdr. r.)

 

The second Fox, a schooner, was built in 1859 at Baltimore, Md.; used as a blockade runner by the Confederates under the name Alabama; captured 18 April 1863 by Susquehanna; purchased from the prize court 6 May 1863; renamed Fox, her former merchant name; and first put to sea 10 June 1863, Acting Master A. Weston in command.

 

Assigned to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron, Fox sailed out of Key West throughout the remainder of the war. Her primary duty was as tender to the ordnance ship Dale and other large ships, but in her patrols alone and with the squadron, she shared in the capture of several blockade runners sailing out of Havana, Sailing alone, on 20 December 1863 she discovered a side wheel steamer grounded at the mouth of the Suwanee, and after firing on her, sent a boarding party which found the steamer's crew had fled. Finding the engine room flooded and the job of getting the steamer off beyond her limited capacity, Fox burned her to prevent her further use by the Confederates.

 

Four days later, again sailing alone, Fox encountered a British schooner from Havana in the Suwanee, and after firing several shells, boarded her and took her prize. On 18 April 1864, Fox chased a British schooner until the schooner's crew ran her aground and abandoned her. A party from Fox boarded and burned the blockade runner. Again she took a prize singlehanded on 1 May, when she apprehended a sloop running the blockade off Cape Romano, Fla. Her first prize in 1865, taken 23 January, was another British blockade runner out of Havana. On 2 March, Fox chased a schooner ashore in Deadman's Bay. The blockade runner's crew set her afire, but part of her cargo of cavalry sabers and farming equipment was saved from the flames by Fox's boarding party. Several times during these years boat parties from Fox destroyed valuable salt works ashore, such expeditions combining with her captures to make hers a most significant role in the total effort to cut the Confederacy off from key supplies.

 

Detached from duty 1 June 1865, Fox was sold 28 June 1865.