June 23, 1865  Last Act of the Civil War

The Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant James Iredell Waddell Commanding, was in the Bering Sea hunting prizes at this time, between the coasts of Alaska and Siberia.

The last shot of the Civil War was fired on this day in 1865, but it might not have happened the way you thought.

General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on the 9th of April, President Lincoln was assassinated on the 14th, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured on the 10th of May.

The last fatality of the war occurred at the Battle of Palmito Ranch, Brownsville, TX over May 12–13, ending the life of Private John J. Williams of 34th Indiana.  The last man killed in the Civil War.

General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the remains of three Confederate Armies to General William Tecumseh Sherman at Bennett Place on April 26.  Organized resistance came to a full stop when Confederate General E. Kirby Smith surrendered his forces to General E. R. S. Canby in New Orleans on May 26.

Yet that final shot was still almost a month away.

Both sides had long practiced economic warfare.  The Union’s “Anaconda Plan” sought to strangle the economy of the South, while Confederate commerce raiders roamed the oceans of the world, destroying the other side’s shipping.

Rip_Van_Waddell
Editorial cartoon satirizing “Rip Van Waddell” still engaged in combat after everyone else thought the Civil War was over.

The Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant James Iredell Waddell Commanding, was in the Bering Sea hunting prizes at this time, between the coasts of Alaska and Siberia.

It must have been a sight, to see a wooden hulled Union whaler, laden with oil, burned to the waterline under starlit skies amidst the ice floes of the Bering Sea.

On June 22, the last shot of the Civil War was a warning shot, fired across the bows of a whaler off the Aleutian Islands.

Waddell learned of Lee’s surrender on June 23, along with Jeff Davis’ proclamation that the “war would be carried on with re-newed vigor”.  Waddell elected to continue hostilities, capturing 21 more whalers in the waters just below the Arctic Circle.  The last 11 were captured in the space of 7 hours.

The only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe, Shenandoah had traversed 58,000 miles in 12 months and 17 days at sea, capturing or sinking 38 merchant vessels. Mostly whale ships.  The voyage had taken 1,000 prisoners, without a single battle casualty on either side.

Waddell was on the way to attack San Francisco on August 2, when he learned in a chance meeting with the British Barque Barracouta, that the war was over.

Believing they would all be hanged as pirates, Captain Waddell aimed to surrender to neutral England.  He took down his battle flag and put CSS Shenandoah through a radical alteration at sea. She was dismantled as a man-of-war; her battery dismounted and struck below, her hull repainted to resemble an ordinary merchant vessel.

There followed a 9,000 mile race down the coast of Mexico, around Cape Horn and across the Atlantic, with American vessels in constant pursuit. CSS Shenandoah made it to English territorial waters outside the Mersey, when the pilot refused to take the ship into Liverpool.  He needed to know, under which flag this vessel sailed.  The crew raised the Stainless Banner, the third and last official flag of the Confederacy.

CSS Shenandoah sailed up the River Mersey, her flag fully flying, spectators lining both sides of the river.  Captain Waddell surrendered to Captain James A. Paynter of HMS Donegal.  The Stainless Banner was lowered for the last time at 10:00am on November 6, 1865, in front of CSS Shenandoah’s officers and crew, and the Royal Navy detachment who’d boarded her.

The last act of the Civil War occurred later that morning, when Captain Waddell walked up the steps of Liverpool Town Hall, presenting the letter by which he surrendered his vessel to the British government.

The officers and crew were unconditionally released following investigation, as they had done nothing to justify their further detention. CSS Shenandoah was returned to the United States, where the Government sold her to Majid bin Said, the first Sultan of Zanzibar.  He renamed her El Majidi in honor of himself. She was blown ashore and wrecked in a hurricane, in 1872.

HMS Donegal survived longer than any other player in this story. Launched in 1858, she remained in service to the British Crown until 1925, when she was sold and broken up for scrap. Some of Donegal’s timbers formed the front of the Prince of Wales public house in Brighouse, which today operates as the Old Ship pub.

The-Old-Ship-by-Humphrey-Bolton
The Old Ship pub in Brighouse was built from the timbers of the decommissioned HMS Donegal in 1926

 

The week that was. April 30 – May 6

In case you missed it.

In case you missed it.

 

April 30, 1943 The Man Who Never Was – The idea was a head fake, disinformation planted into the hands of Nazi Germany…

May 1, 1863  Flags of the Confederacy – Learning from our history, rather than hiding from it.

May 2, 1939 Lucky Man – The life and baseball career of the “Iron Horse”.  Lou Gehrig.

May 3, 1915 The Red Poppy – The story of the international symbol of Remembrance.

May 4, 1945 The Strangest Battle of WWII – The day the Wehrmacht fought side by side with American soldiers, against Nazi SS.

May 5, 1945 Fire Balloon –  The only Americans killed by enemy action  on the American continent in WW2, were a pregnant Sunday school teacher and five children.

May 6, 1937 Hindenburg – There’s something that the film doesn’t show.

The week that was. April 23 – 29

In Case you Missed It.

April 23, 1982, Conch Republic – The day that Key West seceded, to become the “Conch Republic”.

April 24, 1959 The Day the Music Died – One day, the future singer/songwriter would pen the words “February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver”.

April 25, 1976 Don’t Do it Around Me – Describing the “protesters”, Monday said “He got down on his knees, and I could tell he wasn’t throwing holy water on it”.

April 26, 1859 “Devil Dan” Sickles – Just in case you thought your own member of congress was a piece of work…

April 27, 1944 Exercise Tiger – The D-Day rehearsal that killed nearly five times as many Americans, as the live landing on Utah Beach.

April 28, 1192 Assassins – Scary as they were, there came a time when the Order of the Assassins tangled with someone scarier than themselves.

April 29, 1915 The Wipers Times – Bringing Sanity through Humor to the Horrors of the Trenches.

The week that was. April 16 – 22

In case you missed it.

April 16, 1917 The Sealed Train – This “bacillus” set loose by the Kaiser, would change the course of the 20th century.

April 17, 1961 Bay of Pigs – When President Kennedy saw the paper, he said that Castro didn’t need spies.  All he had to do was read the news.

April 18, 1943 Terrible Resolve – Isoroku Yamamoto had the unenviable task of planning the attack on Pearl Harbor, but he was an unwilling participant in his own history

April 19, 1775  Shot Heard ‘Round the World – Some guys, are not to be trifled with.  80-year-old Samuel Whittemore, was one of those.

April 20, 1453 Fall of Constantinople – The end of the Middle Ages, beginning of the Renaissance, the reason Ferdinand and Isabella teamed up with an Italian explorer, in 1492.

April 21, 753 BC Rome – 2,000 years later, the ancient civilization of Rome still permeates our everyday lives.

April 22, 1918 – The Red Baron – The rise and fall of the most successful Ace of the “Great War”.

January 30, 1948 Hear no Evil

The first known depiction of the “Three Mystic Apes” appears over the doors of the Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan, carved sometime in the 17th century

The Analects of Confucius is a written record of the sayings of the philosopher and his contemporaries, compiled between 475 and 221BC.  In it, a follower named Yen Yüan asked the Master about perfect virtue. Confucius said, “To subdue one’s self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him”.

analectsofconfuciuspic“I beg to ask the steps of that process”, asked Yen Yüan.  The Master replied, “Look not at what is contrary to propriety.  Listen not to what is contrary to propriety.  Speak not what is contrary to propriety.  Make no movement which is contrary to propriety”.

The idea was not new. Zarathrusta, also known as Zoroaster, is in some respects the father of the world’s first monotheistic religion. It was sometime around 1200BC when Zoroaster taught his followers on the high Iranian Plateau “Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta”, or “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds”.

The Confucian maxim may have crossed from China to Japan with a Tendai-Buddhist legend, sometime around the 8th century. At the time, the story had nothing to do with monkeys.

In medieval Japanese, mi-zaru, kika-zaru, and iwa-zaru translate as “don’t see, don’t hear, and don’t speak”, -zaru being an archaic negative verb conjugation and pronounced similarly to “saru”, the word for monkey.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The visual play on words, then, depicts Mizaru, covering his eyes, Kikazaru, covering his ears, and Iwazaru, covering his mouth. Though it’s rare to see him anymore, there is a fourth monkey. Shizaru is generally depicted with his arms crossed or covering his privates, the name variously translated as “do no evil”, or “know no evil”.

The first known depiction of the “Three Mystic Apes” appears over the doors of the Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan, carved sometime in the 17th century.toshogu

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a Hindu lawyer, member of the merchant caste from coastal Gujarat, in western India. Today he is known by the honorific “Mahatma”, from gandhithe Sanskrit “high-souled”, or “venerable”.  He is recognized as the Father of modern India, who brought Independence to his country through non-violent protest. Gandhi lived a life of poverty and simplicity, owning almost no material possessions at the time of his assassination by a Hindu nationalist on January 30, 1948. Beside the clothes on his back, Gandhi owned a tin cup and a spoon, a pair of sandals, his spectacles, and a carved set of 3 monkeys, reminding him to hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil.