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The Shenandoah in the Mersey

The Illustrated London News, vol. 47, no. 1343, p. 494.

November 18, 1865


The arrival of the late Confederate cruiser Shenandoah in the port of Liverpool, and her surrender by Captain Waddell to the commander of H.M.S. Donegal, Captain Paynter, by whom, in obedience to the orders of our Government, she has since been given up to the consular agents of the United States Government, have been already made known to our readers. We give an Illustration of this famous vessel, formerly named the Sea King, built at Glasgow, in 1863, by Messrs. Alexander Stephens and Sons, on the composite principle introduced by them, which consists of an iron frame planked with rock elm below the water-line and with teak above. Her dimensions are 220 ft. in length, 32 ft. 5 in. in breadth, and 20 ft. 5 in. in depth; her tonnage is 1018 tons register, or 1180 tons builders' measurement. She was rigged as a full clipper-ship, and fitted with engines of 200-horse power by Messrs. A. and J. Inglis, of Glasgow. She was first chartered by the British Government to take out troops and a battery to New Zealand; thence she proceeded to Hankow and Shanghai, loaded a full cargo of teas, and made the passage home to London in seventy-nine days, inclusive of five days' coaling on the voyage. On her arrival at London the was chosen by Confederate agents, bought by a Liverpool man, and cleared ostensibly for Bombay. She was met off Madeira by the Clyde-built screw-steamer Laurel, which had also been purchased by a Liverpool man, and had been sent from that port with the armament of the future Shenandoah. After taking on board her stores and guns, the Shenandoah hoisted the Confederate flag; the master, Corbett, who took her out to Madeira, having a bill of sale made out in his favour, returned and said he had sold his ship. The Shenandoah, having started on her destructive mission, did vast damage to the commerce of the Northern states, as long as the war lasted. About the beginning of this year, she suddenly turned up at Melbourne, and, after receiving a fresh stock of supplies, sailed for the North Pacific, where, notwithstanding that the commander was repeatedly told by the masters of neutral vessels whom he met on the high seas that the war between the North and South had terminated, he refused to believe them. Long after Lee's surrender and Davis's capture, Captain Waddell sunk, burned, and otherwise destroyed whole fleets of whalers in the Ochotak Sea and Behring's Strait. Nothing more was heard of the Shenandoah until her arrival a fortnight since in the Mersey. She had no guns on deck, all her armament being stowed away below in boxes. The crew of of the Shenandoah numbered 133 men; and as soon as she was surrendered, Captain Waddell and some of the officers separated. Since setting out on her work of destruction, the Shenandoah had destroyed thirty-seven vessels, the majority of which were whalers, and these were destroyed after the cessation of hostilities. To show how the operations of the Shenandoah affected the sperm oil market, we may state that her depredations amongst the whaling fleets has caused sperm oil to run up from £70 to £120 per ton, and it is likely to advance still further, as, until the news of the surrender of the Shenandoah reaches the port whence whalers depart, the Arctic seas will certainly be bare of the customary amount of whaling vessels. Captain Waddell, who has written a letter to Lord Russell to explain his conduct, states that the last vessel he spoke was the Barracouta, from Liverpool for San Francisco, from which he learnt that the South was really and truly defeated. On this he at once stowed away his guns and ammunition in the hold, and steered for Liverpool, stopping at no other port.

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