The first USS Badger, named after a burrowing mammal, was an auxiliary cruiser of the United States Navy. She was built in 1889 by John Roach and Sons in Chester Pennsylvania as a merchant ship and bore the name Yumuri. She was purchased for use in the Spanish-American War by the US Navy on 19 April 1898 and converted to an auxiliary cruiser at New York Navy Yard. She was recommissioned 25 April 1898 as USS Badger; Commander A. S. Snow commanding, she joined the North Patrol Squadron.
From 1 July to 18 August 1898 Badger served on the blockade of Cuba. On 26 July 1898, off the Dry Tortugas, she seized a Spanish tug with two vessels in tow, each with a quarantine flag hoisted. They were given medical assistance, provisioned, and kept in port until 3 August when a prize crew was put aboard the tug to sail her to New York. The other two vessels with 399 prisoners of war were sent to Havana.
Badger left Guantanamo Bay 18 August 1898 with a contingent of Army troops, landing them at Montauk Point, N. Y., 24 August. Badger remained on the east coast until 26 December 1898 when she sailed to the Pacific, arriving at San Francisco 15 April 1899. From there she carried the Joint High Commission to Samoa (26 April-13 May 1899) and then cruised in Samoan waters. Following her return to Mare Island Navy Yard 14 August 1899, she cruised along the Pacific coast until 6 October 1899 with the Oregon and California Naval Militia.
Decommissioned 31 October 1899, Badger was transferred to the War Department 7 April 1900.