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Carte de visite photograph of Lieutenant James Waddell

Date: 1865
Overall: 102 x 60 mm
Image: 94 x 56 mm
Medium: Photograph, paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00044579
Related Place:Hobsons Bay,

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    This carte de visite photograph depicts Lieutenant James Waddell, Commander of the Confederate warship, CSS SHENANDOAH. It was taken during the Civil War period, while the SHENANDOAH was docked in Melbourne. The photograph shows him in full uniform and was taken by Batchelder & O'Neill, 41 Collins Street East, Melbourne. A carte de visite photograph was a small photograph, the size of a visiting card, which was popular during the late 19th Century. Waddell and the SHENANDOAH departed Australia shortly after this photograph was taken.

    SignificanceConfederate raider CSS SHENANDOAH caused significant disruption and damage to Union whalers during the American Civil War under the captaincy of James Waddell. Most of the destruction was carried out after the vessel left the Australian port of Hobsons Bay, Victoria in early 1865 where it had arrived to restock and conduct repairs. SHENANDOAH's sensational visit to Melbourne divided public opinion and caused tensions between the US consul who called for the arrest of the crew and the Victorian government who wished to maintain Britain's stance of neutrality on the war.
    HistoryThe CSS SHENANDOAH was a 790 ton steamer that became one of the most famous vessels of the Confederate Navy and controversially visited Australian shores during the late stages of the American Civil War.

    The American Civil War lasted for four years between April 1861 and April 1865 and was fought between the American southern states (the Confederacy), and the Union, the 25 states who supported Abraham Lincoln and the federal government. As the Confederate forces had very little naval strength and were unable to support a battle at sea, they instead worked to destroy as many merchant and whaleships as possible in an effort to cripple the Northern economy. In October 1864 Captain James Waddell took command of SHENANDOAH, and with this purpose in mind captured eight vessels within six weeks, most of which he scuttled and set alight.

    In January 1865, SHENANDOAH was discovered to have a damaged propeller and on 25 January, SHENANDOAH entered the Australian port of Hobson’s Bay, Melbourne. The Australian authorities tentatively allowed Waddell and his men to enter the port and restock, mindful of Britain’s commitment to a neutral stance on the war, but in opposition to the complaints of the US Consul. During SHENANDOAH's month long visit, Waddell and his crew divided the Australian public on whether or not to support the vessel and crew. Publicly SHENANDOAH was a popular tourist attraction and the day after the vessel's arrival over 7000 people travelled from Melbourne to view the 'pirate ship'.

    SHENANDOAH left Melbourne in February 1865 and Waddell, reluctant to contradict Britain’s Foreign Enlistment Act by employing British subjects and despite the fact that 17 of his crew had deserted in Australia, rejected a great number of offers from locals who were keen to join him. Once SHENANDOAH was out to sea, however, around 45 Melbourne stowaways emerged and enlisted. That Waddell must have known of these stowaways and perhaps even actively recruited them during his stay in Australia remains a subject of debate.

    After leaving Australia SHENANDOAH next travelled to the Bering Sea where Waddell and his crew captured a further 30 ships. Altogether SHENANDOAH captured 38 ships and 1,053 prisoners – all without the loss of a life.

    On November 1865, seven months after the end of the American Civil War, Captain Waddell surrendered the SHENANDOAH in Liverpool, England. Unaware that the war had ended, SHENANDOAH had continued to attack Union whalers in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, and in doing so, had fired the last shot of the Civil War.

    Several years later, in 1871, a tribunal was set up in Geneva to assess the United States’ claim against Britain for damages inflicted on American shipping by British-built or assisted Confederate ships. In the case of SHENANDOAH the tribunal found Britain responsible for all acts committed by the ship after leaving port in Melbourne restocked, repaired and (possibly) re-crewed.

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