Tunis Augustus Macdonough Craven was born into a naval family at Kittery, Maine, 11 January 1813. He entered the Navy as a midshipman in February 1829 and was attached to the coast survey in 1837, which brought him multiple commands.

At Key West when the Civil War began, he commanded Crusader, Tuscarora and monitor Tecumseh—the latter attached to Admiral Farragut's squadron, then preparing to enter Mobile Bay.

In the van during the attack, 5 August 1864, Commander Craven was eager to engage Confederate ironclad Tennessee, and ordered Tecumseh out of the buoyed channel. Immediately she struck a moored “torpedo.” As Craven stepped back to allow his pilot to precede him in abandoning, Tecumseh sank with him still below.

Commander Craven’s brother, Thomas Tingey Craven, retired as Rear Admiral.