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CSS Shenandoah

David Alexander was born in Scotland and was one of many who migrated to Australia. Upon his arrival in the state of Victoria, Australia, Alexander made his home in the area of

Melbourne and was living there when the “CSS Shenandoah”, a Confederate Cruiser, arrived at the Mersey Bar in Port Phillip Bay; on November 6, 1865.


In Port Phillip Bay its Commander,. Lieutenant Waddell, stood the

“Shenandoah” off the entrance to Port Phillip and requested a Harbour Pilot.

Harbour Pilot Edward Johnson responded, but upon reaching the ship

related that orders prevented him from bringing a belligerent ship into

harbour without good cause.


Lieutenant Waddell responded that he had problems with the propeller

shafting on the “Shenandoah”, which was a good enough for Pilot Johnson.


Waiting off the heads, a health official also boarded the “Shenandoah” and

reported that the Confederates would find many friends in Melbourne, but

warned they would also fine enemies awaiting them as well.


The “Shenandoah” then received government approval to stay in port at

Sandridge, today known as Port Melbourne, to resupply her provisions and to make the necessary repairs to the propeller shaft. In the meantime, all the local citizenry turned out to view the ‘Rebel Pirate’ as news of its arrival spread like wildfire; while its officers revelled with fresh cooked

dinners ashore, and elaborate balls held in their honour.


The U.S. Consul to Melbourne, Mr. William Blanchard, protested strenuously

to Victoria’s Governor Charles Darling that the “Sea King”, as the

“Shenandoah” was formerly known, did not qualify as a warship, and

should be designated a Pirate; but Governor Darling stated that the law

officers of the Crown had "Come to the decision that, whatever may be the

previous history of Shenandoah, the Government of the Colony is bound to

treat her as a ship of war belonging to a belligerent nation."

David Alexander soon received word that the Confederate Cruiser, “CSS Shenandoah”, had arrived in Port Phillip Bay on January 25, 1865. It sailed into Melbourne to make repairs, take on new supplies and if possible recruit new crewmembers; even though it was illegal to do so in a neutral port. Learning that the “Shenandoah” had arrived in Melbourne and was interested in acquiring new crewmembers, Alexander, ignoring public declarations that no Australian was to board the “Shenandoah” for any reason, he went aboard with others during the night of February 17, 1865; being assisted by crewmembers in avoiding detection by those ashore.

After the “Shenandoah” had been repaired, resupplied, sailed and had entered international waters, Alexander became a member of the crew by placing his mark beside his name, and was given the rank of a Corporal in the Confederate States Marine Corps; on February 18th, 1865, accepting a pay rate of $18.00. Alexander was also one of the signatories who expressed confidence in the command of Lieutenant James I. Waddell, in a petition dated September 1865.  

Alexander continued serving on the “Shenandoah” until it was officially surrendered by Lieutenant James Waddell to British Captain Paynter, commanding Her Majesty’s ship “Donegal,, in Liverpool, England; on  November 6, 1865. Upon its surrender, Alexander joined the crew ashore and was said to have eventually returned to Australia. 

Alabama Claims, “Correspondence Concerning Claims Against Great Britain

    transmitted to the Senate of the United States in answer to the Resolutions of   

   December 4, and 10, 1867, and of May 27, 1868”, Washington;  1869

Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia

History of The Confederate States Navy, J.T. Scarf, 1996

Marauders of the Sea, Confederate Merchant Raiders During the American Civil

     War, Mackenzie J Gregory

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion

The Cruise of the Shenandoah, Captain William C. Whittle, CSN

William A. Temple, affidavit


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