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CSS SHENANDOAH detained in Williamstown, Victoria, 1865

Date: 16 February 1865
Overall: 227 x 281 mm, 0.004 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00017800
Place Manufactured:Sydney

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    Wood engraving of the CSS SHENANDOAH detained on the patent slip in Williamstown, Victoria. The engraving was printed in the Illustrated Sydney News on 16 February 1865. It depicts the controversial visit of the Confederate raider CSS SHENANDOAH to Victoria in 1865 towards the end of the American Civil War.
    SignificanceThe SHENANDOAH provides maritime historians with one of the few examples of technological advances in ship design of the mid 19th century. Only a few clipper ships were equipped with steam.
    HistoryThe CSS SHENANDOAH was a 790 ton steamer that entered Confederate naval service on October 14 1864 under the captaincy of James I Waddell. The primary objective of the SHENANDOAH during the American Civil War was to strike Union whaling fleets in the Bering Sea. Melbourne was seen as a convenient port for the SHENANDOAH to reprovision on its way to the Bering Sea, so on January 25 1865, the SHENANDOAH sailed into Hobsons Bay, Victoria.

    At the start of the American Civil War, Queen Victoria had issued a proclamation of neutrality towards both the Confederates and the Unionists. Following the arrival of the SHENANDOAH, there were calls for the Victorian colonial government, headed by Governor Sir Charles Darling to enforce this neutrality. There was also pressure from the United States consul William Blanchard who insisted that the Confederate crew of the SHENANDOAH should be arrested as pirates. This was ignored by Sir Charles Darling who was satisfied with the request from the SHENANDOAH for neutrality in order to be able to effect repairs. The SHENANDOAH subsequently moved into dry dock in Williamstown to effect repairs.

    The day after the SHENANDOAH's arrival over 7000 people travelled from Melbourne to view the ship. There was plenty of local interest in the ship's arrival and several 'offical functions' where held, including a gala ball in Ballarat. During its month long visit, SHENANDOAH divided Australians on whether to support the ship, and also provoked a war between the local Victorian press. The Age condemned the Confederates while The Argus were vocal in their support for them.

    The possibility that the SHENANDOAH could recruit British subjects during its time in dry dock in Victoria created tension between the Governor Sir Charles Darling and the United States consul William Blanchard. Despite Captain Waddell ordering his crew to deter all British recruits, and searches of the vessel by 200 Australian police and 50 troops, 42 British subjects were still recruited in Victoria.

    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.
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    Web title: CSS SHENANDOAH detained in Williamstown, Victoria, 1865

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