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November 1865

The Final Flag Comes Down

C.S.S. Shenandoah has caused considerable angst in Union circles and raised the special ire of Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles (above), but the vessel’s journey has come to a close as she enters the Mersey River bound for Liverpool, England.  Lieutenant James Waddell will oversee the final official duties of lowering the Confederate flag that has flown over her and turning over the vessel to British authorities.  Before-hand, he has taken all of the prize money accumulated from legitimate wartime activities and dispersed it to his officers and crew as allowed by the laws of war, although he refuses to take his share and offers it to them as well.  He hands funds over which questions exist concerning their acquisition after the close of hostilities to the paymaster of H.M.S. Donegal so as to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.  Waddell and his men turn themselves in to the captain of H.M.S. Donegal, but are released after a short period, to the utter dismay of Secretary Welles.  He has sought to secure custody of the crew that has vexed him.  Attempting to frame the raiding in sinister terms that include class warfare, Welles insists: “The close of the career of the Shenandoah on the high seas was notoriously and indisputably that of a pirate, and the piracy was of the most odious and despicable character. . . .  No other description of robbery upon the high seas could have inflicted so much individual distress upon persons so little able to bear it, and so little deserving of it.”

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