The CSS Shenandoah while in port in Australia. (Wikimedia Commons)
After circumnavigating the globe, a journey more than 58,000 miles, the CSS Shenandoah steamed into Liverpool, England a year and one month after first departing the British port, only this time to surrender to the British Navy. After finally confirming the rumors that had been spreading among their captured whalers, thanks in large part to a British vessel who presented Commander James Iredell Waddell with a newspaper from San Francisco describing the Confederacy’s demise, Waddell knew surrender was his only logical option. While prepared to surrender, Waddell feared that turning himself over to the United States government may have resulted in his execution as a pirate, and thus he immediately went to work disguising the Shenandoah while steaming for a friendly port. Stowing his 10 guns below decks, repainting the hulls, and even altering the ship’s sails, Waddell set a course for Liverpool on August 2nd, 1865. With Union vessels nipping at her heels, the Shenandoah traversed more than 27,000 miles of open water across three oceans from the Bering Sea to Liverpool without once stopping or even seeing land. Waddell avoided all contact with passing ships, kept out of the busiest shipping lanes, and exposed himself to the roughest and most inhospitable seas in an effort to remain incognito. Luckily for her crew, the Shenandoah steamed into Liverpool on November 6th, 1865, with the Confederate naval battle flag flapping gently in the chilly autumn breeze. Lowering and furling the final Confederate flag surrendered during the American Civil War, Commander Waddell and the crew of the Shenandoah offered themselves as prisoners to the Royal Navy, being the very last Confederates to put down arms of the American Civil War.