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Letter sent to the Victorian Governor General regarding the SHENANDOAH incident

Date: 1864 - 1865
Overall: 220 x 341 mm
Medium: Ink on white paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Letter
Object No: 00006322

User Terms

    This letter from E Cardwell to the Governor General regarding the SHENANDOAH was written on 26 April 1865. It was published in the Victorian Government Gazette, dated 1864 - 1865. The SHENANDOAH was the last of the trio of Confederate raiders, including the FLORIDA and ALABAMA, who visited Melbourne in January/February 1865 prior to its pacific cruise in search of Union whalemen during the American Civil War.
    SignificanceThe SHENANDOAH incident was the most significant event of Australian/American interaction during the Civil War period. It had diplomatic and social implications that lasted for years after the event.
    HistoryThe CSS SHENANDOAH was a 790 ton steamer clipper who entered Confederate 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 Behring Sea. Melbourne was seen as a convenient port for the SHENANDOAH to reprovision on its way to the Behring 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 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, 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.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Letter from E Cardwell to the Governor General about the SHENANDOAH incident

    Web title: Letter sent to the Victorian Governor General regarding the SHENANDOAH incident

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