Search for the Jeff Davis

Friday, August 5, AD 2011

I recently wrote about William Tillman and his encounter with the Confederate privateer Jeff Davis, and that post may be read hereThe above video clip is from a film on the search for the sunken Jeff Davis.

The Jeff Davis was constructed in 1845 and began her nautical life as the merchant vessel Putnam, a 187 ton brig.  Used as an illegal slaver under the name of the Echo, she was captured by the USS Dolphin on August 21, 1858.  Sold by the US government to a  Captain Robert Hunter, a Charleston man, she regained the name Putnam until the advent of the Civil War, when she was rechristened as the Jeff Davis.  Armed with five 60 year old British iron cannon, Jeff Davis embarked on a brief but successful career as a Confederate privateer.

From June 18, 1861-August 18, 1861, the Jeff Davis captured nine Union merchant vessels.  Her career came to a sudden conclusion when she ran aground and sank on August 18, 1861 as she was entering the harbor at Saint Augustine, Florida.  None of the crew was lost, but the Jeff Davis sank beneath the waves.