USS Gertrude (1863)

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United Kingdom
Name: Gertrude
Owner: Thomas Begbie, London
Builder: Barclay, Curle and Company, Glasgow
Yard number: 100
Launched: 25 November 1862
In service: January 1863
  • by United States Navy
  • 16 April 1863
United States
Name: USS Gertrude
Launched: 1863
Acquired: 4 June 1863
Commissioned: 22 July 1863
Decommissioned: 11 August 1865
Struck: 1865 (est.)
Fate: sold 30 November 1865
United States
Name: Gussie Telfair
  • George Wright/J T Wright Jr, New York
  • California & Mexico Steamship Company, San Francisco
  • F Barnard & Company, San Francisco
Acquired: 30 November 1865
Fate: wrecked 25 September 1880
General characteristics
Displacement: 350 tons
Length: 156'
Beam: 21'
Depth of hold: 11'
Speed: not known
Complement: not known
  • two 12-pounder rifles
  • six 24-pounder howitzers
Armour: iron

USS Gertrude (1863) was the British blockade-running steamship Gertrude captured by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was placed in service by the Navy as a gunboat and assigned to patrol the southern coast of the United States for ships attempting to run the Union blockade of Southern ports. She was later the American merchant ship Gussie Telfair until wrecked in 1880.

Blockade runner C.S.S. Gertrude[edit]

The iron-hulled steamer Gertrude was built in Whiteinch, Glasgow, Scotland as Yard No.100 at the Clydeholm yard of Barclay, Curle & Company as an American Civil War blockade runner and launched on 25 November 1862.[1][2][3] Along with her sistership Emma, she was built for Thomas Stirling Begbie, a London shipowner and merchant.[1] Gertrude was measured as 278grt and 191nrt, with dimensions 164.4 feet length overall, 21.2 feet beam and 12.2 feet depth.[3] She was powered by 2-cylinder oscillating engine of 100nhp, made by John Scott's Greenock Foundry Company, Greenock.[1][3]

Gertrude made her first run of the blockade from Nassau, Bahamas to Charleston, South Carolina, arriving 16 March 1863, and returned safely with 820 bales of cotton.[1][4] On her next trip, Gertrude had barely left Nassau when she was chased and captured on 16 April 1863 by the gunboat USS Vanderbilt off Eleuthera Island, Bahamas.[1][5]

United States Navy service[edit]

Purchased from the New York City Prize Court by the United States Navy on 4 June 1863, Gertrude was fitted out at New York Navy Yard and commissioned there on 22 July 1863, Acting Master Walter K. Cressy in command. Assigned to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron under Rear Admiral David Farragut, Gertrude arrived off Mobile, Alabama, in early August and on 16 August captured the Confederate blockade runner Warrior following a 9-hour chase.

After taking her prize to New Orleans, Louisiana, Gertrude was assigned to blockade duty off that port. She served as a blockading ship, alternating between New Orleans and Mobile, until May 1864, and was credited with the capture of schooner Ellen on 16 January 1864. During this period she also spent short periods at Ship Island, Mississippi, and New Orleans for repairs.

Texas coast operations[edit]

Beginning in May 1864, Gertrude was assigned to blockade the Texas coast, and spent most of the next year off Galveston, Texas. She visited blockading stations off Sabine Pass and Velasco, Texas, and took blockade runner Eco off Galveston 19 February 1865.

Gertrude also captured over 50 bales of cotton 19 April 1865 which were thrown overboard by famous Confederate blockade runner Denbigh during her escape from the blockading fleet.

Post-war decommissioning, sale, and subsequent career[edit]

Gertrude decommissioned 11 August 1865 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was sold 30 November at New York City to George Wright. She was redocumented Gussie Telfair in 1866 and sailed as a merchantman until 1878.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

  1. ^ a b c d e Graham, Eric J. (2006). Clyde Built : Blockade Runners, Cruisers and Armoured Rams of the American Civil War. Edinburgh: Birlinn. pp. 78–84. ISBN 978-1-84158-424-9. 
  2. ^ Wise, Stephen R. (1991). Lifeline of the Confederacy : Blockade Running During the Civil War (Pbk ed.). Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press. p. 302. ISBN 0-87249-799-2. 
  3. ^ a b c "Gertrude". The ClydeBuilt Ships. Caledonian Maritime Research Trust. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Wise, Stephen R. (1991). Lifeline of the Confederacy : Blockade Running During the Civil War (Pbk ed.). Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press. p. 252. ISBN 0-87249-799-2. 
  5. ^ "Gertrude". DANFS. Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 14 May 2016. 

See also[edit]