C.S.S. Teaser



[Picture of Brooke rifle on bow of Teaser]

Bow of Confederate gunboat Teaser, Lt. Hunter Davidson, captured by U.S.S. Maratanza on July 4, 1862. (Source: LOC [LC-B815-0481] 590K Tiff. Gibson, James F., b. 1828, photographer. 1862 July 4.) Medium image

[Picture of deck of Teaser]

Deck of Confederate gunboat Teaser, captured by U.S.S. Maratanza, showing damage from shell fire. (Source: LOC [LC-B815-0483] 505K Tiff. Gibson, James F., b. 1828, photographer. 1862 July 4.) Medium image

See the images at the Naval Historical Center. 

The CSS Teaser was a screw tug of 64 tons with a length of 80', a beam of 18', a depth of hold of 7'. She was armed with one 32-pounder rifle and one 12-pounder rifle. From the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships:

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.

See also the mention of her in the article "Air War over Virginia" in Civil War Times, October 1996.

John P. Royall (of "Riverview") owned the Teaser before its purchase by Virginia (email from Madeleine Eckert, September, 2000).


Commanding officers of the Teaser included [Capital Navy: John M. Coski]:

Unfortunately, I have not yet collected the names of the other crew. Any help would be appreciated.

CSS Virginia
Copyright 1998-2003 by Mabry Tyson