On this day in 1864: Capt. James Iredell Waddell of Pittsboro, assigned by the Confederacy to cripple the Northern economy by sea, sails from England.
He will take the clipper ship Shenandoah as far as Australia, then head north, burning and scuttling ships as he goes. In the Bering Strait he burns eight American whalers.
More than two months after Appomattox, the ship Shenandoah will fire perhaps the last shot of the Civil War — at an American whaling ship off the coast of Alaska.
Waddell’s next plan was to sail into San Francisco and hold the city for ransom, but en route he encounters a British ship bearing newspaper accounts of the war’s end. Realizing he faces possible piracy charges, Waddell disguises the Shenandoah as a merchant vessel and sets sail for England, where he turns it over to British authorities.