After a month of little excitement, the CSS Shenandoah captures the whaler Abigail, in the Okhotsk Sea off the coast of Siberia. The Abigail is carrying twenty barrels of whale oil, but also has fifty barrels of brandy, rum, whiskey and gin, together with 180 cases of ‘assorted spirits, wines and ciders’ on board. To make things plain, that is a lot more liquor than whale oil. Quite what Captain Nye of the Abigail was doing with so much alcohol has been lost to history, but it was labelled, ‘for medicinal purposes only’, so clearly he was careful of the health of his crew and of the local Inuit.
There must have been a lot of sick people on board the Shenandoah, because for the next four days there was (quote), “Hell to pay among the crew.” When Sherman said ‘War is hell”, he probably wasn’t thinking about this….