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The Shenandoah in a gale.

At Christmas, 1864, we had rounded Cape Hood Hope and were nearly due south of the Island of Madagascar, when the Shenandoah was put upon her mettle in a very heavy gale. I find the following entry in the log on that day:

From 4 to 8 A. M. fresh gales from the southwest; very heavy sea running; shipped several seas; 5:20 wind increasing, close-reefed main topsail; 5:30 battened down hatches.


Which meant a state of utter discomfort—no fires, nothing cooked. This gale appears to have commenced on the 24th, and lasted to some part of the 26th of December.

A Skipper's Plucky wife.

On the 29th we captured the bark Delphine, from Bangor. The captain had his wife on board, and there was so much sea on that we had to hoist her over the side. She was a woman of some culture, [122] attractive in appearance and very decided. Probably if she had been in command the Delphine would have escaped—she said so. There was a stiff breeze blowing and I think the Delpine was the faster ship. As it was she declined to respond to the conventional blank cartridge and only luffed up when a shot from one of our Whitworths passed between her fore and mainmast.

Desolate Isles in the Indian Ocean.

In the Indian Ocean, about three thousand miles due south of the Island of Ceylon, by themselves, are the islands of Amsterdam and St. Paul's. We sighted St. Paul's on the 2d of January. A boat with some of the officers made an excursion ashore. It returned with a quantity of fish caught in a very short time, also a penguin, a curiosity at close quarters, to most of us. This was the only land we had seen since leaving Tristan da Chuna on the 4th of December. The harbor reminds one of the crater of a sunken volcano. It was a desolate looking place, occupied by three Frenchmen. It seemed so far away from everywhere. The effect was oppressive. It was a relief when the boat was hoisted and the ship filled away on her course.

John Bull could not Scare Captain Waddell.

In about three weeks we came to anchor in the harbor of Melbourne, Australia. Our machinery needed repairs and the supply of coal was low. While at this port, party feeling about our war ran up to fever heat. Captain Waddell received a number of anonymous letters threatening the safety of the ship, and other letters warning him to be on the lookout for torpedoes, etc. Many of our crew deserted, and great inducements were offered for all of them to do so. However, we were not at all embarrassed by this, for about forty ‘stowaways’ appeared on deck when we got to sea and more than made up for our losses. At one time things looked very squally, as if the end had come then and there. While in the dry dock, the government insisted upon searching the ship, it having been reported that we had increased our crew by the shipment of men since our arrival (which was untrue), and when the permission to search was refused, all work was suspended leaving us with our machinery in pieces, high and dry in the dock. Captain Waddell at once informed the government that unless we were permitted to complete our repairs, he would abandon his ship to them and take his officers [123] and crew to England. The sequel to all this was that in four days, we were at sea in thorough repair, with a good supply of coal, and altogether in first class trim for cruising.

While at Melbourne the officers were the recipients of invitations to a number of very handsome entertainments, and to one exceptionally so at Ballarat, a mining town about forty miles from the coast.

Burned four ships at Ascension.

After leaving Melbourne we cruised towards the coast of New Zealand, and then to the northward and eastward, among the Fiji, Gilbert and other groups of the East Indies, expecting at any moment to sight some of the whaling fleet. In this we were disappointed, and it was not until we reached the Ascension Island, just north of the Equator, between the Caroline and Marshall groups, that we found and burnt four ships at anchor in the harbor. From Ascension we shaped our course for the Okhotsk Sea, a noted whaling ground, but after cruising along the coasts of Kamschatka and Siberia, and around those waters for three weeks, we only succeeded in getting the old bark Abigail. She was a veteran in whaling voyages, having been launched very early in the century, but from her officers we learned that most of the fleet had gone farther north.

Scouring the Arctic Ocean.

Although not on the programme, Captain Waddell concluded to push on to the Arctic Ocean. On the 22d of June we had reached latitude 62° north, and then we fell in with the ships William Thompson and Euphrates, both whalers. We burnt them, and on the 23d we captured two more ships. This day was made additionally eventful by crossing the 180th meridian of longitude, making that week eight instead of seven days. We had two Fridays and two 23d days of June. We made this addition to avoid being twenty-four hours ahead of time when we got home, as it happened to Phineas Fogg in his trip ‘Around the World in Eighty Days.’

Nine whalers burned in one day.

Hardly a day passed now that we did not capture several vessels until the 28th, when the climax was reached in eleven prizes. Nine of them were burnt and two bonded. After this no other captures were made.

Some writer soon after the war, in giving full play to his pen, refers to the 28th of June, 1865, in these words: [124]

The last act in the bloody drama of the American civil war had been played. Widely different were the armies that witnessed the opening and the closing scenes. The overture was played by the thunder of artillery beneath the walls of Sumter, with the breath of April fanning the cheeks of those who acted their parts while all the world looked on. The curtain finally fell amid the drifting ice of the Arctic seas. Burning vessels formed a pyrotechnic display such as the children of men have seldom looked on, while a grim and silent cruiser that had even then no government or country, and two weather-beaten whalers, filled with despondent prisoners, were the only audience.

Inside the Artic circle.

The 29th June found us inside the Arctic circle. From the time of entering the Okhotsk Sea we had been constantly meeting fields and floes of ice, which by making frequent detours we had succeeded in either passing through or around, but now it became impossible to proceed farther north. A solid barrier of ice as far as we could see arrested our progress. It was perpetual day; we were on the borders of the land of the midnight sun and had no use for either lamp or candle. South of us was Behring Straits, one of the gateways to the cemetery for Arctic explorers, and only a few degrees north, afterwards, in 1879, the Jeannette, under De Long, was forced to make her first halt on an expedition which resulted so disastrously to most of its participants.

Sad news from the Confederacy.

As there was now but little probability of doing much more in the Arctic, Captain Waddell headed the Shenandoah to the southward, hoping to capture a California steamer between San Francisco and Panama. But on the 2d of August, when nearly west of the Sandwich Islands, we fell in with the English bark Baracouta, thirteen days from San Francisco, bound for Liverpool, and learned for the first time of the colapse of the Confederacy. Had she been an American ship the chances are she would have been burnt, that is it would have required something more than the mere statement of the captain of an American vessel to convince us that the war was over. We had heard through some of the whalers captured in the Arctic, from San Francisco papers dated the 15th April, of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, and of the disastrous events up to that date, but General Johnston was still in the field with his army. He did not [125] surrender until the 18th April, and Kirby Smith until the 26th of May.

Without a country and without a flag.

This information naturally effected a complete change in our status. It not only deprived us of the authority for being at sea, but actually prohibited our being there at all. The commissions of Captain Waddell and his officers, literally speaking, were now ‘not worth the paper they were written on.’ We were without a country and without a flag. The ship itself had become the property of the United States.

‘And freedom with her banner torn but flying.’

It is true that the Shenandoah had the Confederate flag flying three months after, when we came to anchor in the Mersey, off Liverpool, but this was much a matter of sentiment, a sort of loyalty which you show to a friend in trouble, and in whom you still believe.

Surrendered to the British at Liverpool.

The ship was now put upon a basis of peace, the guns were dismounted and stowed below; so, also, were the small arms. The smokestack was whitewashed, and to the outsider we must have presented the appearance of a rather trim looking merchantman. Our course was shaped for Liverpool, where we arrived without any mishap on the 6th of November, 1865, having made a complete circuit of the globe. After some little delay the English government accepted the surrender of the Shenandoah, and the officers and crew were permitted to go ashore.

Thirty-eight vessels captured in all.

The Shenandoah captured in all thirty-eight vessels. Scharf, in his history of the Confederate navy, states that the sum total of the claims filed against England with the Geneva Tribunal on account of eleven Confederate cruisers was $17,900,633, and all but $4,000,000 of this having been caused by the Alabama and Shenandoah; that the actual losses inflicted by the Alabama were $6,547,609, only about $60,000 greater than those charged to the Shenandoah, that no indirect or consequential losses were allowed by the tribunal. In the ‘United States case’ it was alleged that in 1860 two-thirds of the commerce of New York was carried on in American bottoms, but in 1863 three-fourths was carried on in foreign bottoms; that from 1861 [126] to 1864, inclusive, 715 American vessels of 480,882 tons were transferred to the British flag to escape capture.

Followed the example of the United States.

The Alabama, Shenandoah and Florida were the only vessels recognized by the Geneva Tribunal in the adjustment of the losses. While the commanders of Confederate cruisers have stated that the destruction of private property and the diversion of legitimate commerce was not a pleasant duty, ‘in their wars the United States had always practiced this mode of harassing an enemy, and had indeed been the most conspicuous exemplars of it that the world ever saw.’

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