The USS Crusader was a screw steamer, 169 feet long, 28-foot beam, 92 crew and mounting four 32-pdr. guns, eight 24-pdr. guns and one 12-pdr.. It was built by civilians and originally named Chowan and then Southern Star before being chartered by the U.S. navy in 1858 to become part of a fleet assembled to sail to Paraguay to settle some differences.
Afterwards, the Navy purchased the Southern Star outright and renamed her the Crusader. It was commissioned 11 June 1859, with Lt. J.N. Maffitt in command. It joined the Home squadron in suppression of the African slave trade and apprehended four slavers and one pirate ship.
From 16 March to 28 August 1861, it was stationed in the Gulf of Mexico and captured two vessels to prevent their being used as Confederate privateers. This is when Lt. Maffitt returned to the North and turned his ship over to the U.S. Navy before resigning and going South to join the Confederate Navy.
The Crusader was then decommissioned and refitted before joining the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and operating off the South Carolina coast where it participated in two engagements with land forces. On 22 September 1862 it joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and primarily operated in the Chesapeake Bay area, capturing 5 vessels.
It was decommissioned 22 September 1862 at Washington Navy Yard and sold the next month.