Searching for Confederate raiders, 1861–1864
Later that month, Tuscarora sailed for Southampton, England, under orders to capture or sink the cruiser CSS Nashville. Nashville had run the Union blockade on 21 October and docked at Southampton after crossing the Atlantic, becoming the first vessel to show the Confederate flag in English waters. She finally weighed anchor and departed on 3 February 1862, but Tuscarora was unable to pursue her as English law required that two belligerent vessels leave port separated by not less than 24 hours. Disgusted, Comdr. Craven sailed for Gibraltar where, upon his arrival on 12 February, he found the raider CSS Sumter — Comdr. Raphael Semmes in command — anchored.
For almost two months, Craven and Semmes exchanged verbal broadsides both with each other and with the British authorities. Semmes then cleverly feigned preparations for departure, only to abandon Sumter in port on 11 April. Tuscarora remained at Gibraltar until relieved by her sister ship, Kearsarge, on 12 June. She put in at Cadiz, Spain, on 18 June, for repairs.
On June 23, she received orders to sail immediately for England and to deploy off the coast in search of the recently launched Confederate raider CSS Alabama. Tuscarora reconnoitered the southern coasts of England and Ireland and scoured the Irish Channel without finding any trace of the vessel. On 26 August 1862 she docked at Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland, but was ordered to leave despite a gale. Three days later, she came in to Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire)for supplies and repairs. While there, she was under observation from HMS Shannon (1855) and HMS Ajax (1809). She left shortly and returned to Spanish waters in September. She cruised off the Azores during October, but again found nothing. On 1 December 1862, Tuscarora was ordered to remain off the European coast and to protect American shipping. On 15 March 1863, she reported that she had no intelligence that Confederate vessels were operating in her area. She returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard later that month.
Tuscarora left Philadelphia on 6 June 1863, bound for the New York Navy Yard. She got underway again on 14 June to search for the bark CSS Tacony and patrolled off Bermuda before putting into Hampton Roads for supplies on 22 June. Two days later, she headed north and cruised between Cape Henry and the coast of Nova Scotia before arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 12 days later. During her time at sea, she failed to locate Tacony. During August, Tuscarora searched for Confederate raiders off the Grand Banks, Newfoundland, but encountered none before she returned to Boston on 3 September.
Early in October, Tuscarora left Boston for duty with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She arrived off Wilmington, North Carolina, on October 7 and was ordered to Beaufort, North Carolina, where she served as a storeship. The vessel subsequently returned to Boston and was decommissioned there on 4 June 1864.