With the Shenandoah unable to proceed any further into the Sea of Okhotsk, the crew reluctantly abandons Siberian waters and start sailing out through the Kuril Straits, and towards the Arctic Circle. For three weeks there has been only one prize. The Officers are muttering about the captain, the mates are fighting duels (sort of) in steerage, and Captain Waddell is no doubt getting buttock clenching practice as he navigates his ship through fog without hitting ice or land. But what is that off in the distance? Is it a fleet of sails. No, it’s a fleet of whales! And if there are whales, can whalers be far away?
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….
With the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the CSS Shenandoah at the Caroline Islands, now the Federated States of Micronesia, Mob and Rob reflect on the reign of the the king who gave his name to the islands, Charles II of Spain, last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, a family who though that too much in-breeding was never enough! Charles had one black testicle, no blood, a heart the size of a peppercorn, and a head full of water. And that was just his autopsy report. He was even weirder when he was alive.
Back at the American civil war, the last battles are winding down and Lincoln, Grant and Sherman meet to discuss peace. The Shenandoah however, meets a Hawaiian vessel, who tells them of four ships at harbour in Pohnpei. Will they be Yankees? Will assistant surgeon McNulty take a good hard look at himself and embrace sobriety? Find out on this weeks episode of Shenandoah Down Under.
Rob and Mob are joined by Barry Crompton from the American Civil War Round Table of Australia, to launch his intensively researched tome Dixie Down Under. Barry describes the efforts made to track down the Australian members of the Shenandoah’s crew, including William Kenyon, the only Australian born member of the crew, and the only Australian crewman whose grave has been identified. Find out what William did with the rest of his life (hint, it involved alcohol and ‘disorderly women’), on this weeks episode of Shenandoah Down Under.
With the Shenandoah heading through a patch of sea that Executive Officer Whittle calls ‘Oh, the terrible monotony’ Rob and Mob are lucky enough to have a listener alert them to the fact that they rather neglected the Shenandoah’s departure from Melbourne, which was much more exciting. In full flashback mode they describe the troubles of Union Consul Blanchard in trying to find a magistrate ready to stop the Shenandoah, when every magistrate in Melbourne is trying to avoid him….
After leaving Melbourne in 1865, Captain Waddell falls into what seems to be a depressive episode. Worn down by the cares of command, he constantly finds fault with his officers, and the situation is not helped as the long days pass without the sight of a Yankee prize. . . .
Back in 2015, we have the second half of our interview with Byard Sheppard of the Civil War Round Table of Australia, where we continue to discuss the career and eventual fate of the Sea King turned Shenandoah. Will the ship have a happy ending? Find out in episode 20 of Shenandoah Down Under.
in 2015, Mob and Rob are delighted to interview Byard Sheppard from the Victorian Civil War Round Table, who is an expert in the history and construction of the Sea King/CSS Shenandoah. In the first part of this two part interview you can hear how composite iron and wood construction was the latest thing in shipbuilding in the 1860’s, and how Cunningham’s patent self reefing topsails came to be known as the ‘sailors friend’.
Back in 1865 the Shenandoah has just left Melbourne town and the crew are shocked, shocked, to discover 42 stowaways aboard. By an even more amazing co-incidence all of these stowaways are happy, even insistent, on signing on as crew. But is Captain Waddell happy? Find out in episode 19, the one with too many stowaways for credibility….
In Ballarat in 1865 the officers of the Shenandoah are feted by the locals, being entertained at a grand ball where at least one Lieutenant gets his hand tenderly squeezed. there was also culture shock, with the officers going 420 feet down into a gold mine, and deciding that the lazy life of the sailor was preferable to digging for gold.
Back in Melbourne Midshipman Mason and Dr Lining are taken to Kew asylum, where they are entertained by the ‘Hanging Doctor’. And what is Executive Officer Whittle doing? Whatever it was, he tore out the pages from his diary that described them. . . .
The visit of the Shenandoah to Melbourne proves to be the social event of the year, with thousands flocking for tours of the ship, and the Officers hosted for dinner at the Establishment Melbourne club. But some among the populace are not happy about this, and are sending stern letters to the editor (and probably threatening to cancel their subscriptions).
One hundred and fifty years later Shenandoah celebrations have once more taken the city by storm (or at least, the part of the population that are Civil War buffs), and with a crowded lecture, re-enactment and conference program will Rob and Mob be able to stand the pace?
Finally, what on earth is Tofurkey, and what does it have to do with the 150th anniversary of the Shenandoah’s voyage?
As the Shenandoah nears Australia the action continues. Hurrying to Melbourne to catch the Mail Steam Packet Captain Waddell overloads the engine and the Ship’s propeller gets cracked again. On the personal side, the unfortunate Lieutenant Chew is proving to be under something of a curse, losing his possessions and almost his person overboard.
Executive Officer Whittle has problems not of the person but of the heart, with a female prisoner, the redoubtable and pretty Mrs Nichols, seemingly intent on flirting with him. Whittle knows the affairs of men, but has less experience with the wiles of the womenfolk. Will his sweetheart, poor Pattie, hear of this back home?