In June of 1865 a ravaged Southland bakes in the heat of summer. In the high latitudes of the North Pacific, the last remainging Confederate commerce raider stalks Union whalers in a world of ice floes, fog, snow, and freezing rain. Author Tom Chaffin takes us on the amazing cruise of the CSS Shenandoah. The voyage that began and ended in Liverpool was one the most difficult feats in maritime history. Shenandoah fired the last shot of the War for Southern Independence and took the last two casualties. She surrendered to the Royal Navy on November 6, 1865 and lowered the last Confederate Flag flown in action.
Mr. Horan starts off with historical information related to the building of a blue water navy for the Confederacy. He then gives us a biography of James Waddell which includes his service in the US Navy.
There is always something special about a story that is told by someone who actually lived through it. I found Waddell’s own words quite compelling as I did the memoirs of Raphael Semmes. This was probably the most enjoyable of the Shenandoah stories to read which does not in any way detract from Sea of Gray or Last Flag Down. Waddell displayed a positive attitude toward his crew and their service to the Confederate States of America. Last Flag Down was told from the memoirs of Executive Officer Conway Whittle and did not portray Waddell in a favorable light. Read all three of these books and form your own opinion.
There are some geographical and nautical errors in this book, but they don’t detract from what is a first rate account of one of the grandest adventures in maritime history. Mr. Horan and Captain Waddell left me as proud as ever of the Confederate Navy and the country they served.
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