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Incens’d with indignation they stood Unterrify’d, and like a comet burn’d That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge In th’ arctic sky, and from their sails bare Shake pestilence and war.

CSS Shenandoah Pencil sketch of the ship, from the inside cover of a notebook kept by her Commanding Officer, James I. Waddell. The original artwork is at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

CSS Shenandoah, a 1160-ton screw steam cruiser, was launched at Glasgow, Scotland, in August 1863 as the civilian steamer Sea King. After the Confederate Navy secretly purchased her, she put to sea in October 1864, under the cover story that she was headed for India on a commercial voyage. Sea King rendezvoused at sea off Madeira with another ship, which brought Confederate Navy officers, some crew members, heavy guns and other equipment needed to refit her as a warship. This work was completed at sea under the supervision of C.S. Navy First Lieutenant (later Commander) James Iredell Waddell, who became the cruiser’s first Commanding Officer when she was commissioned as CSS Shenandoah on 19 October.

Waddell took his ship through the south Atlantic and into the Indian Ocean, capturing nine U.S. flag merchant vessels between late October and the end of 1864. All but two of these were sunk or burned. In late January 1865, Shenandoah arrived at Melbourne, Australia, where she was able to receive necessary repairs and provisions, as well as adding more than forty “stowaways” to her very short-handed crew. Following three weeks in port, the cruiser put to sea, initially planning to attack the American south Pacific whaling fleet.

However, discovering that his intended targets had been warned and dispersed, Waddell set off for the north Pacific. He stopped in the Eastern Carolines at the beginning of April, seizing four Union merchantmen there and using their supplies to stock up for further operations. While Shenandoah cruised northwards in April and May, the Confederacy collapsed, but this news would spread very slowly through the distant Pacific. Following a month in the Sea of Okhotsk that yielded one prize and considerable experience in ice navigation, she moved on to the Bering Sea. There, between 22 and 28 June 1865 the now-stateless warship captured two-dozen vessels, destroying all but a few. Soon afterwards, Waddell started a slow voyage towards San Francisco, California, which he believed would be weakly defended against his cruiser’s guns.

Though Shenandoah‘s late June assault on the whaling fleet was accompanied by many rumors of the Civil War’s end, she did not receive a firm report until 2 August 1865, when she encountered an English sailing ship that had left San Francisco less than two weeks before. Waddell then disarmed his ship and set sail for England. Shenandoah rounded Cape Horn in mid-September and arrived at Liverpool in early November, becoming the only Confederate Navy ship to circumnavigate the globe. There she hauled down the Confederate Ensign and was turned over to the Royal Navy.

CSS Shenandoah Hauled out for repairs at the Williamstown Dockyard, Melbourne, Australia, in February 1865. Note Confederate flag flying from her mizzen gaff, and fresh caulking between her planks. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

The last shot : the incredible story of the C.S.S. Shenandoah and the true conclusion of the American Civil War    New York : Ecco, c 2005 Lynn Schooler United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Naval operations, Confederate Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 308 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 307-308) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Blending high-seas adventure and first-rate research, The Last Shot is naval history of the very first order, offering a riveting account of the last Southern military force to lay down its arms.

Destruction of Whale Ships off Cape Thaddeus Arctic Ocean June 23 1865 by the Conft Stmr Shenandoah Colored lithograph of an artwork by B. Russell, depicting CSS Shenandoah’s assault on the U.S. whale ships in the Bering Sea area. Individual items shown are (from left to right): brig Susan Abigail (burning); ship Euphrates (burning–distant); CSS Shenandoah; ship Jerah Swift (burning–distant); ship William Thompson (burning–distant); ship Sophia Thornton (burning); whaleboat going to warn other whalers (very distant); ship Milo which carried the destroyed vessels’ crews to San Francisco; ice in the distance. Collection of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Following orders received the previous autumn, the Confederate raider Shenandoah fell upon a fleet of whalers out of New England working the waters near Alaska’s Little Diomede Island. More than two dozen ships went down in a frenzy of destruction that occurred three months after the South’s official surrender.

Lynn Schooler re-creates one of the most astonishing events in American military history — a final act of war that brought about the near-demise of the New England whaling industry and effectively ended America’s growing hegemony over worldwide shipping for the next eighty years.

Commander James Iredell Waddell, CSN Photographed in Confederate Navy uniform, circa 1864-1865. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

James Iredell Waddell was born in Pittsboro, North Carolina, on 13 July 1824 and joined the Navy as a Midshipman in September 1841. His nearly two decades in the U.S. Navy included early service in USS Pennsylvania, Mexican War operations off Vera Cruz aboard USS Somers, a tour off South America in USS Germantown, an assignment as a Naval Academy instructor, eastern Pacific duty in USS Saginaw and a cruise with the East Indies Squadron with USS John Adams. Lieutenant Waddell resigned his commission while returning home in the latter ship late in 1861 and was dismissed from the U.S. Navy in January 1862.

In March 1862, Waddell was appointed a Lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy. Sent to New Orleans, he was assigned to the incomplete ironclad Mississippi until her destruction in late April. The next month, while serving as an artillery officer ashore, he participated in the battle between Confederate shore batteries and Federal ironclads at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. He had more shore battery service at Charleston, South Carolina, during the rest of 1862 and into 1863. Sent abroad in March 1863, First Lieutenant Waddell was stationed in England awaiting the availability of a seagoing position.

That opportunity finally arrived in October 1864 at sea in the central Atlantic, where he converted the English steamer Sea King to the Confederate cruiser Shenandoah. As her Commanding Officer, Waddell made a long and productive cruise through the south Atlantic, across the Indian Ocean and into the north Pacific. In the Arctic waters there, he devastated the United States flag whaling fleet during June 1865. However, by then the Civil War had been effectively over for more than two months and, when he received confirmation of this fact in early August, Waddell disarmed his ship and took her back to England.

Waddell did not return to the United States until 1875, when he became captain of the commercial steamer City of San Francisco. He later was in charge of the State of Maryland’s oyster regulation force. James Iredell Waddell died at Annapolis, Maryland, on 15 March 1886.

Former Confederate Naval Officers At Leamington Spa, England, Autumn 1865, following the return of CSS Shenandoah. Those present include former Assistant Surgeon Edwin G. Booth (seated), and (standing, left to right):
former Acting Master Irvine S. Bulloch (of CSS Shenandoah); former Passed Assistant Surgeon Bennett W. Green; former First Lieutenant William H. Murdaugh; and former Passed Assistant Surgeon Charles E. Lining (of CSS Shenandoah) U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Irvine S. Bulloch was born in Georgia and entered the Confederate States Navy from that state in August 1861 as an Acting Midshipman. He served initially in CSS Savannah, then went to sea for a cruise in Nashville in 1861-62. Next posted to CSS Nansemond in the James River area, he was sent abroad in mid-1862. Joining CSS Alabama in the Azores, he soon earned promotion to Acting Master and served as the ship’s Sailing Master during her long cruise against Federal shipping. Following Alabama‘s loss in the 19 June 1864 battle with USS Kearsarge, Bulloch was assigned to CSS Shenandoah and served in her to the end of her career in late 1865. Following the Civil War, he lived in Liverpool, England, where he worked as a cotton-broker.

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