End of the war

detail of photo, showing men on the deck of the ship

Detail showing a figure leaning on the gun-room skylight on board 'CSS Alabama', 1863. Archive reference NML, PR/469/3. See more archive photographs of CSS Alabama on this website.

Although in the early years of the war Confederate commander Robert E Lee won battles in the east, by 1863 his northward advance was turned back after the Battle of Gettysburg. The Union continued to capitalize on its greater strength in men and industrial power, and by 1864 General Sherman captured Atlanta and marched to the sea. In October 1864 Liverpool staged a bazaar at St George's Hall called the 'Southern Prisoners' Relief Fund'. It lasted for five days and raised over £20,000.

The Confederate cause was lost when Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox Court House, 9 April 1865, quickly followed by Confederate forces elsewhere. On 14 April 1865 President Lincoln was shot dead by John Wilkes Booth, an actor from Maryland obsessed with avenging the Confederate defeat.

The 'CSS Shenandoah' at Liverpool

Although the last battle of the American Civil War was at Palmito Ranch in May 1865, the last Confederate surrender occurred in Liverpool on 6 November 1865, when the Confederate warship 'CSS Shenandoah' surrendered at Liverpool. During 1864-1865 the 'Shenandoah' had captured, sunk or bonded 38 Union merchant vessels, mostly Union whaling ships, and was also responsible for firing the last shot of the American Civil War at a whaler off the Aleutian Islands in June 1865.

Captain Waddell was unaware of the Confederate surrender and continued to sink Union merchant ships off Alaska, until he met the Liverpool ship 'Barrocouta' sailing out of San Francisco harbour on 2 August. He immediately sailed the 'Shenandoah' to Liverpool to surrender because he knew that returning to the United States would mean both himself and his crew facing a Union court and being tried as pirates, as terms of surrender did not extend amnesty to sailors, only to Confederate soldiers.
The Liverpool Mercury, 7 November 1865 described her arrival:

"Considerable excitement was caused on "Change" yesterday morning by circulation of the report that the Confederate cruiser Shenandoah, of whose exploits amongst the American whalers in the North Pacific so much has been heard, was passed about 8 o'clock by the steamer Douglas at anchor at the bar, of Victoria Channel, apparently waiting for high water.

The Shenandoah was taken up the river at high water, and, according to the instruction given to the pilot, she was moored alongside the [HMS] Donegal. A crew from that vessel was placed on board her, and the customs authorities having been communicated with, some officers belonging to that department were also placed in charge. Soon after the surrender of the vessel, Captain Waddell and several of his officers and crew went on shore..

It is understood that a representative of the American Government at this port has been, since the arrival of the vessel, in communication with the customs authorities. It is also stated, that certain commercial houses, who were said to be deeply interested in the success of the Confederacy, were engaged yesterday in making enquiries in regard to the Shenandoah."

After the surrender of 'Shenandoah', it was reported in the Liverpool Mercury on 9 November 1865 that the British Government had decided that the whole of the ship's officers and crew were to be paroled and were free to go ashore, and that:

"The vessel continues to be an object of curiosity to crowds of people on the banks of the river, and the passengers on board the ferry steamers."

Thomas Haines Dudley, United States Consul in Liverpool, had responsibility for disposing of the 'Shenandoah' along with three other Confederate ships that the British had handed over to the US, (the 'Rappahannock', 'Sumter', and the 'Tallahassee'). After a failed attempt in January to sail the 'Shenandoah' back to the US, she was sold at auction in Liverpool in April 1866.

The American Civil War resulted in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers and an unknown number of civilian casualties. Ten percent of all Northern men aged 20-45 died, along with 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18-40. The American Civil War resulted in the abolition of slavery in the United States.

The 'Alabama' claim

In 1873 the United States Government's demand that the British Government should pay compensation for the damage caused by the Confederate ships was settled. It was known as the 'Alabama Claim', because she had caused the most damage, and together with the 'Florida' and 'Shenandoah', had accounted for half of the total number of Union vessels captured. It resulted in the British Government paying £3,000,000 compensation for allowing the Confederate Government to purchase the ships in England and allowing them to use British ports.