Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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R. R. Cuyler (screw gunboat)

(Screw Gunboat: tonnage 1,200; length 237-; beam 33-3-; draft 17-; speed 14 knots; armament 8 32-pounders, 2 rifles)

The president of the Central Georgia Railroad.

R. R. Cuyler, a steamer built in 1860 by Samuel Sneeden of New York for H. B. Cromwell & Co., served on that company's New York, Havana, and New Orleans line until laid up in March 1861 at the start of the Civil War. Then chartered by the War Department, she transported New York State militiamen to Washington and returned to New York where she was acquired by the Navy in May 1861, although not formally purchased until August.

In early June, R. R. Cuyler departed New York under the command of Capt. Francis B. Ellison. On the 9th, she arrived at Key West, whence she proceeded north for blockade duty off Tampa. Although plagued by the presence of small pox among her crew, R. R. Cuyler participated in the capture and burning of Finland in Apalachicola Bay on 26 August. On 22 November, while operating near and in the Mississippi, she intercepted and assisted in the capture of the steamers A. J. View and Henry Lewis. In December, the sloops Advocate, Express, and Osceola and the schooners Delight and Olive met a similar fate. On 20 January 1863, off Mobile Bar, R. R. Cuyler seized the schooner J. W. Wilder. Two months later, she captured the schooner Grace E. Baker off Cuba, and on 3 May, the schooner Jane at sea..

Stationed off Mobile Bay during May, R. R. Cuyler captured the steamer Eugenie and the schooners Hunter and Isabel. On 14 July, the steamer Kate Dale joined her list of prizes. After that capture, the gunboat was ordered to join in the search for the Confederate raider Tallahassee. While proceeding on that mission on 4 December, she stopped the steamer Armstrong and after a search revealed contraband cargo, seized the vessel.

Following the end of the Civil War, R. R. Cuyler returned to New York where she was decommissioned on 1 July 1865 and sold at auction on 15 August to Russel Sturgis of New York. In December 1866, she was purchased by the Republic of Colombia and, after arrival at Cartagena, renamed El Rayo. She remained in Cartagena Harbor, the subject of a diplomatic dispute following a change of government, from February to September 1867. In mid-September, she was blown from her moorings during a storm and grounded on a coral reef where she was abandoned.

Published: Wed Aug 26 07:55:26 EDT 2015