The last shot of the Civil War was fired, not on an obscure battlefield, but in the ice-locked Sea of Okhotsk off Siberia seven months after Lee’s surrender. The last armed Confederate cruiser was the C.S.S. Shenandoah, a beautiful but dangerous vessel which scattered and burned the New Bedford whaling fleet in Arctic waters. She was the last cruiser sent to sea by James Dunwoody Bulloch, the captain who built the Confederacy’s navy in the shipyards of Europe.
Constructed at a cost of £53,715, the Shenandoah captured thirty-eight ships and burned thirty-two. She inflicted damage to Union commerce which was officially judged at $1,361,983. She took 1,053 prisoners. In fact, she took so many her skipper, Lieutenant-Commanding James Waddell, had to rig a chain of whaleboats that could be towed along by his vessel, to accommodate captured Union seamen and the crews of the whalers he had burned.
A few years after the war, Waddell wrote his account of the Shenandoah’s great cruise, and it is published here complete for the first time. He tells of his own career in the United States Navy and in the Confederate Navy, and also of the events leading up to his taking command of the Shenandoah.
About James D. Horan
James D. Horan, a novelist and historian distinguished for his knowledge of the American West and of the Civil War, wrote more than thirty books of fiction and nonfiction. He was the recipient of many awards, including the Edgar Allan… More about James D. Horan