previous next

Career of the Shenandoah. [from the Sunday news, Charleston, S. C., February 3, 1895.] the terror of the Arctic seas captured Thirty-eight whalers, and destroyed Shipping valued at nearly $7,000,000.

A graphic account of the Cruise of the great commerce Destroyer, from the time of her fitting out near Funchal, Madeira, October, 1864, to her surrender to the British at Liverpool, November, 1865.

By Lieutenant John Grimball, C. S. Navy.

With a summary afforded by the naval records office at Washington.

On the 6th October, 1864, the Confederate steamer Florida was captured at Bahia, a neutral port, in violation of an agreement which, to all intents and purposes, amounted to a flag of truce. This loss of the Florida, not known to us for weeks after, left the Confederacy without a cruiser afloat; but on the 7th, the very next day, the Sea King sailed from London to assume her place on the high seas, as the Confederate steamer Shenandoah, with instructions to visit the whaling grounds and destroy the American whaling fleets. These vessels were owned principally in the New England States, and at one time had been a source of great revenue and at all times an element of much pride to that section of country. The officers were brave and experienced men, exceptionally good sailors and navigators, and they carried their ships without hesitation anywhere and everywhere in pursuit of their game, and often as fast as they filled up with oil the cargo would be transferred to an empty ship and sent home, and then the hunt would be resumed by the same ship, and so on for years.

From London, the Sea King went direct to Funchal, Madeira, where her purchase was to be completed by her transfer to the Confederate government. There she signalled the steamer Laurel, at anchor in the harbor, waiting with officers and munitions of war, she having arrived two days before from Liverpool. The Laurel was a [117] blockade runner, commanded by Captain Ramsey, a young Englishman of energy and resources.

Capt. Ramsey's brilliant Ruse.

When the authorities at Funchal objected to our presence in the harbor, and seriously and persistently insisted that the Laurel should proceed at once to sea, Ramsey was ready with a broken piece of machinery, without which he insisted that his engines could not be made to move. The delicate and tedious work of repair was entrusted by the authorities to their own workmen on shore, so anxious were they to get rid of us. While they were still hammering away the Sea King arrived and signalled, and the Laurel steamed out to join her.

Not far from Madeira, and of the same group, is the Desertas, and under the lee of that uninhabited rock both vessels anchored, and all guns, supplies, etc., were transferred from the Laurel to the Sea King; whereupon the first entry in the log of the Shenandoah was made as follows:

at sea, October 19, 1864.
Having received everything from the steamer Laurel at sea, put ship in commission as Confederate States steamer Shenandoah, and shipped twenty-three men, as petty officers, seamen, firemen and coal heavers. Weighed anchor at 2 P. M., and at 6 o'clock parted company with the Laurel, when we hoisted the Confederate ensign for the first time. At 6. 15 stood under steam to the southward and westward. Pleasant weather, with heavy swell from northward. Wind northeast.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Clay Ramsey (3)
Shenandoah (1)
John Grimball (1)
Funchal (1)
Irvine S. Bulloch (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: