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CSS Shenandoah

Thomas Strong was a native born American who migrated to Australia, prior to 1865. Upon arriving in Australia, very likely aboard a ship that made port in Melbourne, Strong settled down in Sandridge, a community on the outskirts of Melbourne, Victoria. There he found work as a stevedore’s assistant employed in the loading and unloading of ships at Sandridge.  In February Strong became aware, as did many in Melbourne, that a Confederate Cruiser, the “CSS Shenandoah” had anchored in Port Phillip Bay, off Melbourne on January 25, 1865 to resupply her store supplies before resuming her attacks on Union merchant ships at sea. Learning that the “Shenandoah” was also looking for deck hands, though she was not legally allowed to do so in a neutral port, Strong decided to join her crew.

Sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight on the night of February 17, 1865, Strong made his way to her dock and slipped aboard boarded the “Shenandoah”; and was allowed to hide away until she left port. Once at sea, Strong came out of hiding and officially signed aboard the “CSS Shenandoah” as seaman crewmember, placing his mark beside his name, for the pay of $29.10; on February 18th, 1865. Later, on April 8th, 1865 after proving his worth to the crew, Strong was given promoted to Captain of Mizzen Top and rated as a coxswain.

Strong became one of the signatories who expressed their confidence in the command of Lieutenant James I. Waddell, in a petition dated September 1865. After the surrender of the CSS Shenandoah on November 6, 1865 to British Captain Paynter, commanding her Majesty’s ship “Donegal, at Liverpool, England, Strong decided to return to Melbourne and after doing so attempted to get his old job back, as stevedore’s assistant, on the docks at Sandridge in Melbourne; but he was refused. Afterward, he departed for parts unknown and all track of him was lost.


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

Amanda Peckham, Williamstown Library

CSS Shenandoah Deck Log, April 8th, 1865

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

George W. Robbins, Sandridge, Melbourne, Statement, U.S. Consular Dispatches,

Melbourne, Victoria, September 21st, 1871

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

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

United States Consul Dispatch, Melbourne, March 22nd, 1872

William A. Temple, crewmember, 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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