Forgotten Battles of the American Civil War
Forgotten Battles of the American Civil War

Forgotten Battles of the American Civil War

Larry Holzwarth - November 24, 2021

Forgotten Battles of the American Civil War
The Confederate commerce raider CSS Shenandoah effected most of its captures long after the Confederacy had collapsed. US Navy

20. The CSS Shenandoah fired the last shot of the Civil War

When the Confederacy collapsed in the spring, 1865, CSS Shenandoah was several months into a commerce raiding voyage. It proved to be one of the most successful of the war. Although its commander, Lieutenant James Waddell became aware of the end of the Confederacy in May, he opted to continue his raiding throughout the summer, capturing and burning primarily American whaling ships near the Aleutian Islands. As it became evident Shenandoah needed a refit, Waddell considered his options. Return to an American port was likely to lead to charges of piracy, since his logs clearly indicated he knew the war was over when he made several of his captures. In August, 1865, Waddell steered his ship around Cape Horn and returned to Liverpool, England, requesting parole for himself and his crew from British authorities. The British complied, despite vigorous American protests.

In November, 1865, the British turned the ship over to the American government, which sold it to a Liverpool merchant. Eventually it became the property of the Sultan of Zanzibar. As animosity towards former Confederates waned in America, most of its officers and crew returned to the United States. Captain Waddell, who presided over the last surrender of a Confederate force during the Civil War, returned to America in 1870. After serving in a merchant service for some time, he retired from the sea and became an official in the state of Maryland, charged with enforcing oystering regulations in the waters of the state. During its career, Shenandoah captured, sank, or burned 38 American ships, none of them warships of the Union Navy. Most of them were destroyed after Waddell learned of the surrender of the Confederate Armies and the capture of Jefferson Davis.

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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“The Battle of Tebbs Bend, July 4, 1863”. Joe Brent, Tebbs Bend – Green River Bridge Battlefield Association. Online

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“Aldie – June 17, 1863”. Article, American Battlefield Trust. Online

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“Chantilly | Ox Hill”. Article, American Battlefield Trust. Online

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“Shenandoah 1864 – 1865”. Article, Naval History and Heritage Command. Online

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