# 16645


[CSS SHENANDOAH] Two parliamentary papers concerning the British involvement in the American Civil War

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Two contemporary official documents relating to Britain’s support of the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861-1865), and accounts of the actions of British built warships, including the Confederate raider Shenandoah and its controversial stopover in Melbourne.

(1) North America. No. 12 (1872). Argument of the United States delivered to the tribunal of arbitration at Geneva, June 15, 1872. London : Harrison and Sons, 1872. Folio, original printed blue wrappers (upper wrapper detached, lower wrapper chipped, loss of paper along spine); pp. 193, internally clean and sound.

(2) Appendix to North America. No. 4 (1872). Appendix to the case presented on the part of the government of her Britannic Majesty. Vol VII. Reports of committees appointed by the board of trade and admiralty to examine the list of claims contained in vol. VII of the appendix to the case of the United States. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1872. Folio, original printed blue wrappers (chipped at head and foot of spine); pp. 111, several folding charts, a very good copy.

British Parliamentary blue papers dealing with the United States’ claims for compensation arising out of Britain’s support of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The so-called ‘Alabama Claims’ resulted from the use of British-built warships by the Confederacy to capture or destroy Union vessels during the conflict. The documents contain lengthy accounts of the actions of the vessels Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Shenandoah (including a discussion of the latter’s controversial stopover in Melbourne, Australia). The most successful of these Confederate raiders were the Alabama, which captured 58 northern merchant ships, and the Shenandoah.

The Shenandoah circumnavigated the globe in 1864-65 on her mission to search for and destroy Union merchant shipping, sinking or capturing 38 Yankee whalers in the Pacific by June of 1865 (although 25 of these were taken after the Confederacy’s capitulation!). The likelihood of encountering the enemy in an Australian port being very low, the ship entered Port Phillip Bay unannounced on 25 January, 1865, to undertake repairs. She remained in the neutral port of Melbourne, in the Williamstown dry-dock, until her departure on 18 February. In Melbourne (and Ballarat, where a ball was held in the crew’s honour) the ship met with a favourable reception: local sympathy for the Confederate cause was overwhelming. Over 7,000 Melburnians visited the ship at Williamstown. When the Shenandoah left Port Phillip she had on board more than 40 Victorian men who had stowed away to enlist with the Confederates and fight alongside them, a contingent which virtually doubled the number of the ship’s crew. The visit of the CSS Shenandoah to Melbourne is the most celebrated and significant of the few links between Australia and the American Civil War.

The arbitration commission ultimately ordered Britain to pay the United States $15.5 million in compensation, principally for the substantial losses inflicted on its whaling fleet by the Confedarte raiders.