Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoahby Chaffin
The sleek 222-foot black auxiliary steamer Sea King left London on October 8, 1864, ostensibly bound for Bombay. The subterfuge was ended off the shores of Madeira, where the ship was outfitted for war. The newly christened CSS Shenandoah then commenced the last, most quixotic sea story of the Civil War: the 58,000-mile around-the-world cruise of the Confederacy's… See more details below
The sleek 222-foot black auxiliary steamer Sea King left London on October 8, 1864, ostensibly bound for Bombay. The subterfuge was ended off the shores of Madeira, where the ship was outfitted for war. The newly christened CSS Shenandoah then commenced the last, most quixotic sea story of the Civil War: the 58,000-mile around-the-world cruise of the Confederacy's third most successful commerce raider. Before her voyage was over, thirty-two Union merchant and whaling ships and their cargoes would be destroyed. But it was only after ship and crew embarked on the last leg of their journey that the excursion took its most fearful turn. Four months after the Civil War was over, the Shenandoah's captain, James Waddell, finally learned he was, and had been, fighting without cause or state. In the eyes of the world, he had gone from being an enemy combatant to being a pirate-a hangable offense. Now fearing capture and mutiny, with supplies quickly dwindling, Waddell elected to camouflage the ship, circumnavigate the globe, and attempt to surrender on English soil. Assembled from hundreds of original documents, including intimate shipboard journals kept by Shenandoah officers, Sea of Gray is a masterful narrative of men at sea.
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Sea of GrayThe Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah
By Chaffin, Tom
Hill and WangCopyright © 2006 Chaffin, Tom
All right reserved.
Excerpted from Sea of Gray by Tom Chaffin. Copyright © 2006 by Tom Chaffin. Published February 2006 by Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
Of Ice Floes and Arctic Fires
It was just past 1:00 a.m., June 28, 1865, a few tilting spins of the earth beyond the year's longest day. And in the Bering Strait the hazy summer dawn breaking over the blue-white ice floes crowding its waters revealed a curious tableau: framed by the dark, distant, snow-crowned headlands to the east and west and, at a lower elevation, the two flat- and sheer-sided Diomede Islands tucked between those mainland heights, rose a forest of masts, sails, and rigging. Closer inspection revealed a listing three-masted whaleship. Moored to it by a web of radiating ropes bobbed five smaller vessels, the thirty-five-foot whaleboats that, on better days, the whaleship dispatched to harpoon the bowhead whales that brought white men to these remote climes. And, completing the scene, forming its outer perimeter, nine other whaling vessels swung at anchor in the eerily calm waters of this 37° F cloudless Arctic morning.
A day earlier the winds thatoften slice through this storied icy gut dividing North America and Asia had roiled those waters; swells had blown the Brunswick--the now-listing ship from New Bedford, Massachusetts--against one of the ice floes. During the summer these chunks of ice drift northward from the Pacific to the Arctic through this fifty-mile-wide passage between Siberia's western and Alaska's eastern shores.
The collision stove a hole below the Brunswick's waterline, breaching the wooden planking and the copper-alloy sheathing of her hull. Afterward the ship's officers and crew had done their best to still the rush of seawater into the ship's holds. But the ship's master, Alden T. Potter, knew that, with more than a thousand miles of water between them and the nearest shipyard, he and his crew had little hope of repairing the vessel. In the meantime, all he could do was what American captains had always done in such situations: raise Old Glory upside down to signal their distress to any ships that might sail by.
This being a busy passage in a busy whaling season, nine other vessels, all flying the U.S. flag, soon lay anchored along side the crippled Brunswick.
Excerpted from Sea of Gray by Chaffin, Tom Copyright © 2006 by Chaffin, Tom. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Chaffin has clearly researched the activities of the CSS Shenandoah. However, he relates this history with a decidedly northern slant. This book falls into the ranks of other yankee publications that combine fact and opinion to reflect negatively on southern war efforts.
If you read the first review back in 2009 youbwould believe that everything is the norths fault with the civil war.when slaver is wrong. When people do wrong they are wrong where everthey live.deal with facts.
I thoroughly enjoyed every page in this book. From the 'Cloak and Dagger' exploits to aquire the ship and the recruiting and gathering of the crew. It put a very human face on all of the characters and made no apologies for thier faults and quirks. High adventure on the seas around the world...a must read for Civil War collectors and buffs!