THE CONFEDERATE CRUISER SHENANDOAH IN THE MERSEY.
Considerable excitement was caused on "Change" yesterday morning by
circulation of the report that the Confedcrate cruiser Shenandoah,
of whose exploits amongst
the American whalers in the North Pacific
so much has been heard, was passed about 8 o'clock
by the steamer
Douglas at anchor at the bar, of Victoria Channel, apparently waiting
water. By many the report was discredited, it being thought
that those on board the Douglas
were in error, and had mistaken some
other crafi for the celebrated ex-Confederate cruiser.
At half past
ten, however, all doubts on the point were set at rest, with the
steaming up the Victoria Channel with the Palmetto flag
flying from her masthead.
proceedings of this cruiser have caused much anxiety amongst
commercial men. Afier Richmond
was taken, and when the Government
of the, Confederate States was considered a thing of the
Captain Waddell startled those who trusted their merchandise on
board American ships,
by misbeleiving, or affecting to misbeleive,
that the Confederate States had been broken up;
and continued his
depredations upon peaceflil merchantmen. This conduct caused much
among the American merchants and shipowners, and one or
two of the fleetest ships in the
United States navy were sent in
pursuit of the Shenandoah.
She, however, succeeded in
eluding the vigilance of her pursuers, and
the last that was heard of her whereaboutswas that
she was off
St. Lawrence in the Arctic Sea. Aiid that in that locality she
had destroyed 10
whalers, most of which had cargoes of oil,
and were bound for the United States. She was then
steering in a
southerly direction, and there can be liffle doubt that she was
course towards England.
The career of this vessel has
been somewhat eventful. She
formerly belonged to the British Government,
was known as the Sea King, and sailed from
London; a short time before
the close of the American war. She went over to Brest, having
some officials connected with the Government dockyard. It was then
stated that she
was intended for a Confederate cruiser, and much
indignation was expressed, that she should
have been allowed to leave
a British port, and that Government officials should have been
to have anything to do with the transaction.
On her arrival at Brest, the
French Government having been acquainted
of the purpose for which she would be used, those in
charge of her found
it desirable to leave the port as early as possible, which they did
without being able to complete either her armament or her fittings.
reverses that the Confederacy had sustained, there
were men who professed to be hopeflil of
the tiltimate success of the
cause, Grant and Sherman might obtain victories in the field, but
the American mercantile marine could be harassed, if the commerce of
the Northern cities
could be hampered and the interests of capitalists
thereby affected, it was argued that a blow
would be struck in favour
of the South, which would counterbalance the success of the Northern
Looking at the matter from this point of view, it was determined by
"hoped against hope", to arm the Shenandoah, fit her out
as a first class cruiser, and let her
loose upon American merchant
shipping. She was accordingly met at Madeira, by a steamer,
was stated had sailed from Liverpool, and her armament, after some
was put aboard. A short time after, she was heard of at
Melbourne, where she put in for
supplies. At that port she coaled,
and took in the supplies necessary for the continuance of
The action of the Colonial Government was much blamed in this matter,
and it was
urged by friends of the North, that it was a breach of
international law, to allow such a
vessel as the Shenandoah, to go
into a port belonging to a neutral power and refit, so as
her to continue her depredations upon peaceful merchantrnen. On the
however, it was contended that, while she lay in Melbourne
she was closely watched, that she
was not allowed to take on board
any munitions of war, that steps were taken to prevent the
of her crew, and that she was only permitted to take on board such
make such repairs, that would enable her to continue her
voyage in safety, to what might be
a neutral port.
The vessel sailed from Melbourne, and when next heard of was in the
Ochatak Sea and in Behring Straits, where she did much damage to the
American whaling vessels. It is said that she destroyed 37 American
vessels in all, and it is well known that in consequence of her
depredations, insurance on certain freights were with difficulty
effected, and that sperm oil advanced considerably in pnce - in some
cases from £70 to £120 per ton.
Captain Waddell, the commander of the Shenandoah, states that the
last vessel he spoke to was the Barracouta, of Liverpool, bound for
San Francisco. He met this vessel at sea on 3rd of August, and leamed
from the captain that the cause of the South was irretnevably lost.
Captain Waddell, on hearing this news, expressed his intention to
proceed to England, and arrived off this port yesterday morning.
He then took a pilot on board, and, fmding the intelligence he had
received from the captain of the Barracouta as to the subjugation
of the South undoubted, he desired the pilot to take his ship alongside
one of her Majesty's vessels of war, if there were any in port.
The Shenandoah was taken up the river at high water, and, according
to the instruction given to the pilot, she was moored alongside the
Donegal. A crew from that vessel was placed on board her, and the
customs authorities having been communicated with, some officers
belonging to that department were also placed in charge.
Soon after the surrender of the vessel, Captain Waddell and several
of his officers and crew went on shore.
Since the defeat of the South, the flag of the Confederation has
seldom, if ever, been seen on the Mersey. As i~ijght be expected,
therefore, the appearance of a steamer in the river flaunting the
Palmetto excited considerable attention, and, as we have stated,
some apprehension was felt as to the intention and destination of
the redoubtable stranger.
The Shenandoah is a smart, handsome
looking craft, with black painted hull and unmistakably rakish rig,
and appears to be altogether a quick and serviceable vessel. She has
a crew of 130 men, and a ballast of coals.
At the present juncture, when so many knotty points of international
law are at issue between this Government and the United States, and
when the maintenance of amicable relations between the two countries
is so much to be desired, and is so essential to the welfare of both,
the absence of the Shenandoah from this port was more to be desired
than her presence. There can be little doubt that after the necessary
formalities are gone through, the vessel will be handed over to the
United States authorities. However, some question may arise as to the
detention of her crew, a subject that may lead to misunderstandings
that had better been avoided.
It is understood that a representative
of the American Government at this port has been, since the arrival
of the vessel, in communication with the customs authorities. It is
also stated, that certain commercial houses, who were said to be
deeply interested in the success of the Confederacy, were engaged
yesterday in making enquiries in regard to the Shenandoah.
Liverpool Mercury Thursday 9th Nov. 1865.
PAROLE OF THE CREW.
The government have at length taken a decided step in regard to the crew of this vessel. For the last two days the authorities in Liverpool have been in communication with the Secretary of State in reference to the detention of the ship and her crew. The Government seem to have been decided as to the necessity of retaining the vessel, pending an inquiry as to the action which her commander and crew have taken during the last few months, but there seems to have been some doubt as to the proper course to adopt with reference to the men on board. On inquiry at the CustomHouse yesterday morning, we were informed that the authorities had not received further instructions as to the vessel or her crew.
However, about 6 o`clock last night a telegram was received from Government by Captain Paynter, of her Majesty’s ship Donegal, to whom the Shenandoah was surrendered, that the whole of the officers and crew, who were not British subjects were to be immediately paroled. Captain Paynter immediately proceeded to the Rock Ferry slip, and applied for a steamboat. The Rock Ferry steamer Bee was placed at his disposal by Mr. Thwaites, in which he immediately proceeded alongside the Shenandoah. Captain Paynter went on board and communicated to the officers the object of his visit. The crew were mustered on the quarterdeck by the officers of the ship, the roll book was brought out, and the names of the men called out as they occurred. As each man answered to his name he was asked what countryman he was. In not one instance did any of them acknowledge to be British citizens. Many nations were represented among them, but the majority claimed to be natives of the Southern States of America or "Southern citizens". Several of those however, who purported to be Americans, had an unmistakably Scotch accent, and seemed more likely to have hailed from the banks of the Clyde than the Mississippi. Captain Paynter informed the men that by order of the Government they were all paroled, and might proceed at once to shore. This intelligence was received by the men with every demonstration of joy, and they seemed to be delighted at the prospect of leaving the craft in which they had hoped to be able to assist the Southern Confederacy. They commenced to pack up their bedding and other articles as fast as possible, and conveyed on board the Bee, which was to take them to the landing stage. Before leaving the vessel, however, they gave three lusty cheers, for Captain Waddell, their late commander. Captain Waddell, in feeling terms, acknowledged the compliment, and said that he hoped the men would always behave themselves, as brave sailors ought to do. The men then went aboard the Bee, and were conveyed to the landing stage. This separated the Shenandoah and her crew, and the vessel now rides at anchor in the Sloyne in charge of some men from the Donegal, under the command of Lieutenant Cheek.
The arrival of the late crew of the Shenandoah caused no small stir. People were surprised to see the landing of a number of swarthy-complexioned, weather-beaten men, dressed in grey uniform, and wearing eccentric looking hats and caps. When it became known that they were the crew of the notorious cruiser, a large crowd of persons assembled, who stood watching the sailors as they were taking their baggage on shore. Some people were desirous of knowing their cause of leaving the vessel, and their intended movements, but the sailors were discreetly silent, and the questioners were not able to pump much out of them. They were for the most part, able bodied, determined looking fellows, and would, no doubt, have proved themselves equal to the work they had in view.
It has been stated that Captain Waddell, and several officers and crew of the Shenandoah went on shore before the parole was received. This, we are assured, is not the fact, and that none of those on board (except for three who escaped) left the vessel until they were paroled.
It is stated that the Shenandoah has about 35 chronometers on board, a large quantity of cabin furniture and some oil. All the guns of the Shenandoah are stowed away in her hold.
The vessel continues to be an object of curiosity to crowds of people on the banks of the river, and the passengers on board the ferry steamers.
From the Liverpool Mercury 10th Nov. 1865
The following letter is said to have been addressed to Earl Russell by Capt. Waddell, who commanded the Shenandoah.
"To the Right Hon. Earl Russell, H.B.M. Minister for Foreign Affairs."
Steamer Shenandoah, Nov. 5
I have the honour to announce to your lordship my arrival in the waters of the Mersey with this vessel, lately a ship of war in my command, belonging to the Confederate States of America.
The singular position in which I find myself placed, and the absence of all precedents on the subject, will, I trust, induce your lordship to pardon a hasty reference to a few facts connected with a cruise lately made by this ship. I commissioned the ship in October 1864, under orders from the naval department of the Confederate States, and in pursuance of the same commenced actively cruising against the enemy’s commerce.
My orders directed me to visit certain seas in preference to others. In obedience thereto I found myself in May, June and July of this year in the Oshtok sea and the Arctic Ocean. Both places, if not quite isolated, are still so far removed from the ordinary channels of commerce that months would elapse before any news could reach there as to the progress or termination of the American war.
In consequence of this awkward circumstance I was engaged in the Arctic Ocean in acts of war so late as the 28th June, in ignorance of the series of reverses by our arms in the field, and the obliteration of the Government under whose authority I had been acting. This intelligence I received for the first time on communicating at sea, on the 2nd August, with the British barque Barracouta of Liverpool, 14 days from San Francisco. Your lordship can imagine my surprise at the receipt of such intelligence, and I would have given it little consideration if an Englishman’s did not confirm the war news, though from an enemy port.
I desisted immediately from further acts of war, and determined to suspend further action until I had communicated with a European port, when I would learn if that intelligence was true. It would not have been intelligent in me to convey this vessel to an American port, simply because the master of the Barracouta had said the war was ended. I was in an embarrassing position. I diligently examined all the law writers at my command, searching for a precedent for my guidance in the future control, management, and final disposal of the vessel. I could find none: History is, I believe, without a parallel. Finding the authority questionable under which I consider this vessel a ship of war, I immediately discontinued cruising, and shaped my course for the Atlantic Ocean.
As to the ship’s disposal, I do not consider that I have any right to destroy her or any further right to command her. On the contrary, I think that as all the property of the Confederate Government has reverted, by the fortune of war, to the Government of the United States of North America, therefore this vessel, inasmuch as it was the property of the Confederate States, should accompany other property already reverted.
I have, therefore, sought this port as a suitable one "to learn the news," and, if I am without a Government, to surrender the ship, with her battery, small arms, stores, tackle, and apparel complete to Her Majesty’s Government, for such disposition as in its wisdom should be deemed proper.
I have the honour to be,
very respectfully, your lordship’s obedient servant,
Jas. I. Waddell, Commander.