Skip to main content
Related Content
  • Boats-Ships--Support Ships
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials
(Gbt: dp. 1,630; l. 254'; b. 32'1"; dr. 14'2"- (mean); s. 16k.; cpl. 197; a. 4 5")

Carl Schurz, a liberal forced to flee Germany after the 1848 revolution, was born at Liblar on 2 March 1829. In 1852, he emigrated from England to the United States where he influenced American thought for more than half a century. He worked as a writer, editor, and speaker on behalf of: emancipation, a workable and equitable post-Civil War reconstruction program, civil service and Indian policy reform, preservation of the public domain, the development of national parks, the Liberal Republican movement, and the Anti-Imperialist movement. He achieved much of his influence in his journalistic career which ranged from editing a German language weekly in Wisconsin to editing the New York Evening Post. He was a major contributor of editorials to The Nation and Harper's Weekly. He also served as Minister to Spain under Lincoln, as a general in the Union Army, as Senator from Missouri from 1869 to 1875, and as Secretary of the Interior in the Hayes administration. Carl Schurz died at New York on 14 May 1906.

Schurz was launched on 18 October 1894 as SMS Geier, an unprotected cruiser, at Whilhelmshaven, Germany. Three years later, she was ordered overseas for duty as a gunboat in the German colonies. When World War I broke out in August 1914, she was en route from Tanganyika to Tsingtao to join Adm. von Spee's Far Eastern Squadron. Since British, French, and Japanese warships threatened further progress toward her destination, she commenced elusive tactics. In early September, she captured a British freighter, Southport, at Kusaie in the Eastern Carolines; -disabled- the merchantman's engines; and steamed on. However, the freighter's crew repaired the damage; and Southport sailed to Australia where she reported the German gunboat's presence in the Carolines. For another month, Geier eluded her hunters; then, in need of repairs and short on coal, she headed for neutral territory. On 17 October, she put into Honolulu. After her arrival, two Japanese ships-the battleship, Hizen (ex Retvian), and the armored cruiser, Asama began patrolling outside the three mile limit to await Geier's sortie. On 8 November, however, the United States interned the gunboat.

On 6 April 1917, the United States entered the war. Geier was seized and refitted for United States Navy service; renamed Schurz on 9 June; and commissioned on 15 September 1917, Comdr. Arthur Crenshaw in command.

On 31 October, Schurz stood out of Pearl Harbor to escort Submarine Division 3 to San Diego. Arriving on 12 November, she continued on with the submarines, K-3, K-4, K-7, and K-8, in early December. At the end of the month, the convoy transited the Panama Canal, whence the gunboat and her charges moved northwest to Honduras. On 4 January 1918, Schurz was relieved of escort duty; and, after carrying the American consul from Puerto Cortes to Omao and back, sailed for Key West. From Florida, she shifted to New Orleans and, on 1 February, sailed for Charleston, S. C., and dry docking.

Assigned to the American Patrol Detachment, Schurz departed Charleston toward the end of April and, for the next two months, conducted patrols and performed escort duty and towing missions along the east coast and in the Caribbean. On 19 June, she departed New York for Key West. At 0444 on the 21st, southwest of Cape Lookout lightship, she was rammed by the merchant ship, Florida. Florida hit Schurz on the starboard side, crumpling that wing of the bridge, penetrating the well and berth deck about 12 feet, and cutting through bunker no. 3 to the forward fire room.

One of Schurz's crew was killed instantly; twelve others were injured. Schurz was abandoned. Three hours later, she sank.

The name Schurz was struck from the Navy list on 26 August 1918.