The Beaufort was originally part of the North Carolina Navy. When the state sold her five ships to the CS Navy on 12 July 1861, she did so with the stipulation that the Beaufort would stay under her control until 20 August 1861. She was commanded by Lt. Commanding Robert C. Duvall, formerly of the US Navy. He had been dismissed from the US Navy in 1860 due to an incurable illness. He applied for a commission in the CS Navy but was turned down for the same reason.
When the appointed time came to turn the vessel over to the CS government, Duvall tied her to the dock in New Bern and left the ship. His crew left with him. During the two weeks the Beaufort was crewless in New Berne, Hatteras fell to Union forces and Commodore Samuel Barron was captured. Flag Officer William Lynch was named as Barron’s replacement on 3 Sept. 1861. On 2 Sept. 1861, Commodore French Forrest send Lt. William H. Parker from Norfolk by rail to New Bern with orders to report to Commander Arthur Sinclair and to assume command of the Beaufort. Parker found a few officers aboard upon his arrival but no men.
It is uncertain who was recruiting sailors for the Beaufort prior to Parker’s arrival, but two crewmen had already been shipped before Mid. Charles K. Mallory came aboard on 29 August 1861. Thirteen sailors were shipped within a week of Lynch’s arrival. Many of the crewmen were former members of the crews of prizes caught off Hatteras and brought to New Berne. With the blockade and the battle at Hatteras, commerce ground to a halt and these foreign sailors were stranded in New Berne. Fourteen of the crew signed on for the war; six were still on the Beaufort’s crew list on 15 Dec. 1863.
On the 11th of September, the Beaufort was ordered to stand guard at the mouth of the Neuse River. By the time Parker received his orders, he had shipped his fourteenth crewman. The Beaufort remained stationed there for the remainder of September and the entire month of October except during frequent trips to New Berne for fuel, supplies, and repairs and one side trip to Jacksonville, NC, on the New River. Parker reported his crew had but one American; the rest were Englishmen, Swedes, and Danes. The Englishmen had both served in the Crimean war in the British Navy and were experienced gunners, a welcome addition to the crew.