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CSS Shenandoah

John McDonald was born in Scotland and when old enough, migrated to the area of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. There he made his home and was residing there when the Confederate Cruiser, the “CSS Shenandoah” arrived in Port Phillip Bay, off Melbourne; on January 25, 1865 to take make repairs, take on new supplies and try and acquire new crewmembers, although the Captain was prevented from legally doing so under international law. Learning that the “Shenandoah” had arrived in Melbourne and that its Captain was interested in acquiring new crewmembers, John McDonald made his way to her mooring and on a Friday night, February 17, 1865, he surreptitiously went aboard the “CSS Shenandoah”.

In fear of being discovered by Melbourne Police, as a declaration had been made that no Australian would be allowed to board the Cruiser for any reason, he stayed in seclusion and was kept out of sight by the ships crew until the ship had made its way out of Australian waters Once in international waters, McDonald came out of seclusion, on February 18, 1865, and by placing his mark beside his name on the ships log for a pay rate of $29.10 he became a seaman and a member of the “Shenandoah” crew. Temple, in recording his name, incorrectly recorded his surname as being ‘McDonal’. John McDonald was also one of the signatories who expressed confidence in the command of Lieutenant James I. Waddell, in a petition dated September 1865.  

McDonald remained with the “Shenandoah” until after the war’s end, when the “CSS Shenandoah” surrendered, on November 6, 1865, to British Captain Paynter, commanding Her Majesty’s ship “Donegal,, in Liverpool, England. Afterwards, he joined the crew ashore and is believed to have eventually returned to Australia.


Alabama Claims Vol. 1, “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; 18691, 975; CSS

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

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

William A. Temple, affidavit

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

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


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