Shenandoah Down Under

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 52

In this, the 52nd and final episode in the ‘regular season’ of the Shenandoah Down Under podcast, Rob and MOB discuss the fate of the officers of the Shenandoah after the American Civil War (we’ll go on to discuss the ruinously expensive Alabama Claims in our forthcoming “Christmas Special”)

Branded as “pirates” and unable to return the US, heading south of the border proved to be a popular option. Fortunately for Mr Whittle and his fellow sailors, their comically unsuccessful attempts at farming in Argentina only had to last until lobbying in the halls of Washington DC finally got them all reprieves.

Which officers later became lawyers with rather more success? And which Captain was later recruited by the Maryland State Fisheries, finding glory at last in the so-called “Maryland Oyster War”? Did the oyster pirates flee in terror from the grizzled Confederate veteran as he attacked their boats with a bow-mounted howitzer?

Find out in this end-of-season episode of Shenandoah Down Under, the one where Captain Waddell says for the final time “burn them, burn them all!”


Shenandoah Down Under Episode 51

At last, after its 13 month circumnavigation of the globe, the CSS Shenandoah returns to Liverpool! The Confederate flag is lowered for the final time and the ship is taken into the charge of the British Customs Office. With the American Civil War back home now over for many months, its reappearance is something of an embarrassment for everyone.

While the British government tries to figure out what to do with the ship and its crew, what do the Shenandoah’s Officers do to their Customs Officer captors? If your answer is get them so drunk that they go to sleep in the lee scuppers, then you have been paying attention!

And so the voyage of the Shenandoah ends, with one last act of farce, as an English Naval captain comes on board and asks all of the obviously ethnically diverse crew if they are Southerners, for if they are they’ll be allowed to go free. All to a man answer (attempting as best they can in Good ‘ol Boy southern accents) “Yes”, and so are allowed to leave, whistling Dixie…

…and in next week’s episode, we’ll recount the multifarious fates of the Confederate pirates, most of whom do not return to American for many a year; the ignominious end of the CSS Shenandoah itself; and why the Shenandoah’s “treaty offensive and defensive with the whales” meant we still have whales to protect today.

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 49

Illness and death haunt the CSS Shenandoah in this week’s episode, as William Bill the Hawaiian and Sergeant Canning the mysterious Englishman lie on their deathbeds. The very skies seem to bear witness to the despair of the crew as a total eclipse of the sun blocks out even the light of day.

Poor William Bill is suffering from final stages of venereal disease, while Mr Canning is slowly succumbing an unhealed bullet wound which he claims he suffered at Shiloh. Will Canning ever see his English wife again? Did he care, given she wasn’t with him when he joined the ship in Australia and he never talks about her? Will the Confederate flag be lowered for the second-last time to mark the death of a shipmate? Find out in this week’s episode of Shenandoah Down Under, where the moon eats the sun and a Hawaiian dies far from home under a strange and defeated flag.

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 48

Oh dear, in this new episode, the feuding on board the ship has reached new heights, with Surgeon McNulty calling Mr Blacker an “English Irish Orangeman”, and thereby deftly uniting race and religion in one deadly insult.

Can things get worse? Can they ever! When Executive Officer Whittle tries to remonstrate with the drunken McNulty, McNulty “shows him his pistol” and there is a physical altercation. This can only mean one thing between gentlemen, and that is a duel (of course if McNulty was an ordinary crewman XO Whittle would have cheerfully had him triced up in irons and a gag, so it is good to be a gentleman after all…)

As if this was not enough for one episode, Rob finally delivers on his promise to describe how to measure the height of an iceberg using a sextant. To use this method you need one or more icebergs, a sextant, a moving ship, and a knowledge of trigonometry.

As Rob admittedly has none of these things the result is something of a thought experiment; however he does also describe an old loggers’ trick for working out if a tree you’re cutting down will fall on your house, using only your arm and a stick. What is the essential requirement for the length of the stick? Find out in the 48th episode of Shenandoah Down Under, aka Confederate Pirates Save the Whales, the one where men show their pistols (to other men).

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 47

As the CSS Shenandoah heads towards the Falkland Islands, Rob and MOB explain how the sadly deficient wi-fi services offered in one-star German Youth Hostels has contributed to the recent lack of regularly appearing “Shenandoah Down Under” episodes. How good was this wi-fi? About as good as the relationships of the officers and the captain aboard the Shenandoah, where rumour, back-biting, petitions and counter-petitions are all the rage. Will the ship go to Cape Town or Liverpool? (spoiler, it’s Liverpool). What was Captain Waddell’s master plan in calling yet another council of officers? Which officer has challenged Executive Officer Whittle to a duel? Find out in a rather acrimonious episode of Shenandoah Down Under!

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 43

As the Shenandoah continues through the Pacific on the way back to Liverpool, Captain Waddell’s behaviour grows increasingly erratic, and, to quote Surgeon Lining, things are going “from worse to worst”. First Lieutenant Debney Minor Scales is removed from his watch for the terrible crime of sleeping in, and then Lieutenant Cornelius Hunt is also removed from his command, because reasons. This leaves the ship so short of officers that the Captain takes a watch himself, a very bad state of affairs.

Rob and Mob then quote from Cornelius Hunt’s memoirs of happier times before the end of the war, when the Shenandoah captured the Abigail and it’s tremendous quantity of alcohol. On that occasion Captain Nye of the Abigail asked why the Shenandoah was so far north, and got the following reply:

“Why, the fact of the business is, Captain,” replied the officer, facetiously, ” we have entered into a treaty offensive and defensive with the whales, and are up here by special agreement to disperse their mortal enemies.”

What pretty sentiments from men now driven to bickering and fighting. Will the officers of the Ship pull themselves together? Find out in this weeks episode of Shenandoah Down Under.


Shenandoah Down Under Episode 39

Rob and Mob interview horticulturist, eighteenth century reenactor and polymath Michael Hagen about some fascinating relics of the civil war that can still be visited today. the first of these is the Waterbury Button Company, which cheerfully made brass buttons for both sides of the American Civil War, and is still operating today at the same location using the same equipment. The second is the Charles W. Morgan, the only surviving nineteenth century whaling ship and the oldest merchant ship in the world. The Charles W. Morgan was the sister ship, built to the same plan, of the Acushnet, the whaler that Herman Melville shipped on, and that was the inspiration for the fictional Pequod in Melville’s Moby Dick.

Meanwhile, back one hundred and fifty years ago on the Shenandoah, the Master at Arms has a very very bad no good  day. Was alcohol involved? Find out on this weeks episode, the one with the drunk Master at Arms….

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 38

In part two of Rob and MOB’s interview with author and historian Chris Gidlow, Chris continues to entertainingly detail the tortuous history of the Confederate States’ attempts to design a suitable flag – one that couldn’t be confused with the Stars & Stripes on the battlefield, or look like a flag of surrender. This somewhat contentious process had not reached a satisfactory conclusion when the war, um, ended. Chris also recounts the history of the first Confederate flag to be torn down, a trend that has just recently once again become fashionable…

Back 150 years ago on the CSS Shenandoah, the ship heads back to the relative safety of the (ice-free) Pacific. Two major events ruffle the peace of onboard life. The first is Captain Waddell’s 41st birthday, planned to be celebrated by all in the finest ‘Knobby’ style, complete with roast pig, lots of liquor, and ‘splicing the mainbrace’ (so that the crew can drink the captain’s health). What could spoil this auspicious occasion? Why, the Ship’s cat could. When pussy cat is thought to have gone overboard a terrible storm erupts, just as sailors’ superstition predicts. Will the ship turn over? Will the cat be saved? Will Lieut Whittle (not a cat fancier) be convicted of being a Jonah? Find out in episode 38 of Shenandoah Down Under, the one with the cat.

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 36

When the American Civil War comes to Alaska the officers and crew of the CSS Shenandoah have their day in the (admittedly coolish) midsummer sun. There are unsuspecting prizes aplenty, and the only thing that can save the hapless whalers is ice and fog, which tends to be rather prevalent up towards the Arctic circle.

Amid the destruction of proud ships and valuable property Executive Officer Whittle finds time for a little moral reflection on the futility of war and comes up with a noble resolution – as long as you define ‘burn them all’ as noble.

Will Midshipman Mason get to read any more of Les Miserables when he is so busy making Yankees miserable? Which captain’s widow had her ship spared because her husband’s body was on board in a barrel of whisky? Find out in episode 36 of Shenandoah Down Under, the one with the burning. . . .

Shenandoah down Under Episode 35

It is the best of times and the worst of times for the CSS Shenandoah and her crew, in a week that is so busy that they have to have two Thursdays to fit it all in (sailing back and forth over the international date line will do that). For a start they find whalers: lots and lots of whalers, in fact too many to capture all at once! There are prizes and prisoners aplenty, but the news that the whalers carry is deeply disturbing – for the first time the crew of the Shenandoah hear of the assassination of Lincoln and the surrender of Lee. What to do when you hear such grave news? Find out in this dual Thursday episode of Shenandoah Down Under.