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CSS Shenandoah

Charles McLaren was born in England , though one record erroneously records his place of birth as Scotland. He was the son of Robert and Elizabeth McLaren of London, England and his brother, Robert McLaren, was an ex-pugilist and a publican, or saloonkeeper, at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. After migrating to Australia, McLaren found employment as a waterman; at Sandridge, Melbourne. When the Confederate Cruiser, the “CSS Shenandoah” came into Port Phillip Bay, off Melbourne on January 25, 1865 seeking to replenish her supplies and looking for new crew members in 1865, McLaren openly voiced his desire to another waterman named Sawdy, and others, that he intended to go aboard the “Shenandoah” and sign on as one of the crew; even though it had been disallowed by local authorities. A waterman was one who ferried passengers and/or goods to or from shore  in rowboats. They were also known as  'boatmen', and were a somewhat transient lot. All you needed to be one was a boat and strong arms. A waterman is featured on the Sandridge/Port  Melbourne city crest.

Charles quickly sold his boat, disposed of his possessions and than between 10 and 11 p.m. on the night of February 17th, 1865, he quietly slipped aboard the “CSS Shenandoah” and stowed away out of sight. Once the “Shenandoah” left Melbourne and made her way to the open sea, out of Australian waters, Charles came out of hiding and made his mark against his name for a rate of $29.10 and officially became a seaman crewmember of the “Shenandoah”; on February 18, 1865. Charles was later promoted to Captain of the Forecastle and rated Master at Arms by order of Commander Waddell, replacing Michael Reid, who had been disrated, on July 15th, 1865. 

McLaren at one time indicated to an officers of the “CSS Shenandoah”, that he had once been married near Honeysuckle, Australia in New South Wales, near Double Headed Bay in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, and about eighty-four miles from Tumbarumba, New South Wales.


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; 1869

CSS Shenandoah Deck Log

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

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

Lieutenant William C. Whittle Jr., Executive Officer, CSS Shenandoah

Lining Journal, Surgeon Charles E. Lining, CSS Shenandoah, Sat., Oct. 21st, 1865

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

     War, Mackenzie J Gregory.

Pat Grainger, Port Melbourne

The Confederate soldier in the Civil War, 1861-1865,  1897

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


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