Monash University

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"The Last gun in defence of the South": The story of the CSS Shenandoah and her cruise around the world in 1864-1865

posted on 2020-06-15, 06:38 authored by Henry Gordon-Clark
This thesis recounts the story of the Confederate Steamship and commerce-raider Shenandoah, and especially her exploits during her cruise around the world from London, which she left in October 1864, until her return to Liverpool in November 1865. It includes as an appendix an account of the arbitration in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1872, of the claims brought by both Great Britain and the United States of America for compensation pursuant to the Treaty of Washington 1870. A majority of the arbitrators, on the casting vote of the President, ordered the British government to pay substantial compensation to the United States. A significant part of the compensation so ordered related to the destruction of Union whaling vessels by the Shenandoah for the period after the ship left Melbourne in February 1865.
The thesis seeks to place the cruise of the Shenandoah in its correct perspective as part of the Confederate naval strategy of commerce-raiding. That strategy had been recommended by its foremost proponent, and most effective protagonist, Admiral Raphael Semmes CSN, even before the war had started. The decision to embark upon this strategy was announced by Stephen Mallory, the Confederate Naval Secretary, exactly two weeks after the guns fiirst fired at Fort Sumter and was persisted in by him until after the war was over. It examines the historical background to this strategy and suggests reasons why Mallory adopted it. It places that strategy in its historical context as one part of the often overlooked Confederate strategy of commerce destruction, both by land and sea [...]


Principal supervisor

Mark Peel

Additional supervisor 1

Ian Copland

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts