Category Archives: travel

Heilsarmee Hospitality in Vienna, 1934

From A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Journey Across Europe Book 1, NYRB Classics, 2011), Kindle pp. 196-198:

We seemed to have been walking for miles in this dim wilderness. At last, not far, I think, from the Danube Canal, we reached a quarter full of sidings and warehouses, and tramlines running over cobblestones glimmered amid dirty snow, and broken crates were scattered about. Under the lee of a steep ramp, a lighted doorway opened at the foot of a large building whose windows were bright in the murk. The policeman left me and I went in.

A large antechamber was filled with a moving swarm of tramps. Each one had a bundle; their overcoats flapped like those of scarecrows and their rags and sometimes their footgear were held together by rusty safety-pins and string. There were Guy Fawkes beards and wild or wandering eyes under torn hat brims. Many of them seemed to have known each other for years. Social greetings and gossip combined in an affable manner and a vague impulse kept them on the move in a shuffling ebb and flow.

A door opened, and a voice shouted “Hemden!”—“Shirts!”—and everyone stampeded towards the door of the next room, elbowing and barging and peeling off their upper clothes as they went. I did the same. Soon we were all naked to the waist, while a piercing unwashed smell opened above each bare torso like an umbrella. Converging wooden rails herded us in a shuffling, insolvent swarm towards a circular lamp. As each newcomer came level with it, an official took his shirt and his under-linen, and, stretching them across the lamp, which was blindingly bright and a yard in diameter, gazed searchingly. All entrants harbouring vermin were led away to be fumigated, and the rest of us, after giving our names at a desk, proceeded into a vast dormitory with a row of lamps hung high under the lofty ceiling. As I wriggled back into my shirt, the man who had taken my name and details led me to an office, saying that a Landsmann of mine had arrived that evening, called Major Brock. This sounded strange. But when we entered the office, the mystery was solved and the meaning of the word Heilsarmee as well. For on the table lay a braided and shiny-peaked black forage-cap with a maroon strawberry growing from the centre of the crown. The words ‘Salvation Army’ gleamed in gold letters on a maroon band. The other side of the table, drinking cocoa, sat a tired, grey-haired figure in steel-rimmed glasses and a frogged uniform jacket unbuttoned at the neck. He was a friendly-looking man from Chesterfield—one could tell he was from The North—and his brow was furrowed by sober piety and fatigue. Breaking his journey on a European inspection tour of Salvation Army hostels, I think he had just arrived from Italy. He was leaving next day and knew as little about events as I. Too exhausted to do much more than smile in a friendly way, he gave me a mug of cocoa and a slice of bread. When he saw how quickly they went down, a second helping appeared. I told him what I was up to—Constantinople, etc.—and he said I could stay a day or two. Then he laughed and said that I must be daft. I untied Trudi’s eggs and arranged them on his desk in a neat clutch. He said “Thanks, lad,” but looked nonplussed about what to do with them.

I lay on my camp-bed fully dressed. A dream feeling pervaded this interior; and soon the approach of sleep began to confuse the outlines of my fellow-inmates. They flitted about, grouping and re-grouping in conversation, unwinding foot-cloths and picking over tins of fag ends. One old man kept putting his boot to his ear as though he were listening to sea-sounds in a shell and each time his face lit up. The noise of talk, bursting out in squabbles or giggles on a higher note and then subsiding again to a universal collusive whisper, rippled through the place with a curious watery resonance. The groups were reduced in scale by the size and the height of the enormous room. They seemed to cluster and dissolve like Doré figures swarming and dwindling all over the nave of some bare, bright cathedral—a cathedral, moreover, so remote that it might alternatively have been a submarine or the saloon of an airship. No extraneous sound could pierce those high bare walls. To those inside them, everyday life and the dark strife of the city outside seemed equally irrelevant and far away. We were in Limbo.

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A Guest in an Austrian Schloss, 1934

From A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Journey Across Europe Book 1, NYRB Classics, 2011), Kindle pp. 136-138:

The word ‘schloss’ means any degree of variation between a fortified castle and a baroque palace. This one was a fair sized manor house. I had felt shy as I ploughed through the snow of the long avenue late that afternoon; quite baselessly. To go by the solicitude of the trio at the stove-side in the drawing-room—the old Count and his wife and their daughter-in-law—I might, once again, have been a schoolboy asked out for a treat, or, better still, a polar explorer on the brink of expiring. “You must be famished after all that walking!” the younger Gräfin said, as a huge tea appeared: she was a beautiful dark-haired Hungarian and she spoke excellent English. “Yes,” said the elder, with an anxious smile, “We’ve been told to feed you up!” Her husband radiated silent benevolence as yet another silver dish appeared. I spread a third hot croissant with butter and honey and inwardly blessed my benefactor in Munich.

The Count was old and frail. He resembled, a little, Max Beerbohm in later life, with a touch of Franz Joseph minus the white side-whiskers. (Next day he wrote a chit to some private gallery in Linz on the back of a visiting card. After his name was printed: K.u.K. Kämmerer u. Rittmeister i.R[uhestand]. ‘Imperial and Royal Chamberlain,’ that is, ‘and retired Captain of Horse.’ All through Central Europe the initials ‘K.u.K.’—Kaiserlich und Königlich—were the alliterative epitome of the old Dual Monarchy. Only candidates with sixteen or thirty-two quarterings, I learnt later, were eligible for the symbolic gold key that court chamberlains wore on the back of their full-dress uniforms. But now the Empire and the Kingdom had been dismembered and their thrones were empty; no doors opened to the gold keys, the heralds were dispersed, the regiments disbanded and the horses dead long ago. The engraved words croaked loud of spent glories. Rare then, each of those symbols by now must be one with the translucent red button, the unicorn-embroidered robe and the ruby and jade clasp of a mandarin of the first class at the court of Manchus: ‘Finis rerum, and an end of names and dignities and whatsoever is terrene . . .’) I admired his attire, the soft buckskin knee-breeches and gleaming brogues and a grey and green loden jacket with horn buttons and green lapels. These were accompanied out-of-doors by the green felt hat with its curling blackcock’s tail-feather which I had seen among a score of walking sticks in the hall. It was in Salzburg that I had first admired these Austrian country clothes. They were similar in kind, but less splendid in detail, to the livery of the footmen who kept bringing in those silver dishes. There was a feeling of Lincoln green about them, woodland elegance that the Count carried off with the ease of a courtier and a cuirassier.

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Impressions of Bavarians, 1934

From A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Journey Across Europe Book 1, NYRB Classics, 2011), Kindle pp. 121-123:

“Hans.” “ What?” “Can you see me?” “No.” “Well, the dumplings are enough.”

The inn-keeper’s wife, who was from Munich, was illustrating the difficulties of the dialect by an imaginary conversation between two Bavarian peasants. They are seated on either side of a table, helping themselves from a huge dish of Knödel, and it is only when the plate of one of them is piled high enough with dumplings to hide him from view that he stops. In ordinary German, this dialogue would run: “Hans!” “Was?” “Siehst Du mich?” “Nein.” “Also, die Knödel sind genug.” But in the speech of Lower Bavaria, as closely as I can remember, it turns into: “Schani!” “Woas?” “Siahst Du ma?” “Na.” “Nacha, siang die Kniadel knua.” Such sounds were mooing and rumbling in the background all through this Bavarian trudge.

The inns in these remote and winter-bound thorpes were warm and snug. There was usually a picture of Hitler and a compulsory poster or two, but they were outnumbered by pious symbols and more venerable mementoes. Perhaps because I was a foreigner, politics seldom entered the conversations I had to share in; rather surprisingly, considering the closeness of those villages to the fountain-head of the Party. (It was different in towns.) Inn-talk, when it concerned the regional oddities of Bavaria, was rife with semi-humorous bias. Even then, many decades after Bismarck’s incorporation of the Bavarian Kingdom into the German Empire, Prussia was the chief target. A frequent butt of these stories was a hypothetical Prussian visitor to the province. Disciplined, blinkered, pig-headed and sharp-spoken, with thin vowels and stripped consonants—every “sch” turning into “s” and every hard “g” into “y”—this ridiculous figure was an unfailing prey for the easy-going but shrewd Bavarians. Affection for the former ruling family still lingered. The hoary origins and the thousand years’ sway of the Wittelsbachs were remembered with pride and their past follies forgiven. So august and gifted and beautiful a dynasty had every right, these old people inferred, to be a bit cracked now and then. The unassuming demeanour of Prince Ruprecht, the actual Pretender—who was also the last Stuart Pretender to the British throne—was frequently extolled; he was a distinguished doctor in Munich, and much loved. All this breathed homesickness for a past now doubly removed and thickly overlaid by recent history. I liked them for these old loyalties. Not everyone is fond of Bavarians: their fame is mixed, both inside Germany and out and one hears damning tales of aggressive ruthlessness. They seemed a rougher race than the civilized Rhinelanders or the diligent and homely Swabians. They were, perhaps, more raw in aspect and more uncompromising in manner; and—trivial detail!—an impression remains, perhaps a mistaken one, of darker hair. But there was nothing sinister about the farm people and foresters and woodcutters I spent these evenings with. They have left a memory of whiskers and wrinkles and deep eye sockets, of slurred speech and friendly warmth and hospitable kindness. Carved wood teemed in every detail of their dwellings, for from the Norwegian fiords to Nepal, above certain contour-lines, the upshot of long winters, early nightfall, soft wood and sharp knives is the same. It soars to a feverish zenith in Switzerland, where each winter begets teeming millions of cuckoo clocks, chamois, dwarfs and brown bears.

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Bavarian Woodcutters in Winter, 1934

From A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Journey Across Europe Book 1, NYRB Classics, 2011), Kindle p. 117:

The only people I saw outside the villages were woodcutters. They were indicated, long before they appeared, by the wide twin grooves of their sledges, with cart-horses’ crescent-shaped tracks stamped deep between. Then they would come into view on a clearing or the edge of a distant spinney and the sound of axes and the rasp of two-handed saws would reach my ears a second after my eye had caught the vertical fall or the horizontal slide of the blades. If, by the time I reached them, a tall tree was about to come down, I found it impossible to move on. The sledge-horses, with icicled fetlocks and muzzles deep in their nosebags, were rugged up in sacking and I stamped to keep warm as I watched. Armed with beetles, rustic bruisers at work in a ring of chips and sawdust and trodden snow, banged the wedges home. They were rough and friendly men, and one of them, on the pretext of a strange presence and with a collusive wink, was sure to pull out a bottle of schnapps. Swigs, followed by gasps of fiery bliss, sent prongs of vapour into the frosty air. I took a turn with the saw once or twice, clumsily till I got the hang of it, unable to tear myself away till at last the tree came crashing down. Once, arriving on the scene just as the loading of the dismembered tree was complete, I got a lift on the sledge, and swished along behind two of those colossal chestnuts with flaxen manes and tails and ornate jingling collars. The trip ended with more schnapps in a Gastwirtschaft, and a departure sped by dialect farewells. It shot through my mind that if I were up against it further on, I might do worse than hitch on to one of these forest teams, as one of the woodmen half jocularly suggested, and hack away for my keep.

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Bürgermeister Hospitality, 1934

From A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Journey Across Europe Book 1, NYRB Classics, 2011), Kindle pp. 115-116:

Remembering the advice the mayor of Bruchsal had given me, the moment I had arrived in this little village, I had sought out the Bürgermeister. I found him in the Gemeindeamt, where he filled out a slip of paper. I presented it at the inn: it entitled me to supper and a mug of beer, a bed for the night and bread and a bowl of coffee in the morning; all on the parish. It seems amazing to me now, but so it was, and there was no kind of slur attached to it; nothing, ever, but a friendly welcome. I wonder how many times I took advantage of this generous and, apparently, very old custom? It prevailed all through Germany and Austria, a survival perhaps, of some ancient charity to wandering students and pilgrims, extended now to all poor travellers.

The Gastwirtschaft [restaurant] was a beetling chalet with cut logs piled to the eaves. An elaborate balcony ran all the way round it; carved and fretted woodwork frilled it at every point and a layer of snow two feet thick, like the cotton-wool packing for a fragile treasure, muffled the shallow tilt of the enormous wide-eaved roof.

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Hitching a Ride in Swabia, 1934

From A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Journey Across Europe Book 1, NYRB Classics, 2011), Kindle pp. 88-89:

The rain had churned the snow into slush, then blasts from the mountains had frozen it into a pock-marked upheaval of rutted ice. Now, after a short warning drift, the wind was sending flakes along by the million. They blotted out the landscape, turning one side of a traveller’s body into a snowdrift, thatching his head with a crust of white and tangling his eyelashes with sticky scales. The track ran along a shelterless hog’s back and the wind seemed either to lay a hindering hand on my chest, or, suddenly changing its quarter, to kick me spinning and stumbling along the road. No village had been in sight, even before this onslaught. Scarcely a car passed. I despised lifts and I had a clear policy about them: to avoid them rigorously, that is, until walking became literally intolerable; and then, to travel no further than a day’s march would cover. (I stuck to this.) But now not a vehicle came; nothing but snowflakes and wind; until at last a dark blur materialized and a clanking something drew alongside and clattered to a halt. It turned out to be a heavy diesel truck with chains on its wheels and a load of girders. The driver opened the door and reached down a helping hand, with the words “Spring hinein!” When I was beside him in the steamy cabin he said “Du bist ein Schneemann!”—a snowman. So I was. We clanked on. Pointing to the flakes that clogged the windscreen as fast as the wipers wiped, he said, “Schlimm, niet?” Evil, what? He dug out a bottle of schnapps and I took a long swig. Travellers’ joy! “Wohin gehst Du?” I told him. (I think it was somewhere about this point on the journey that I began to notice the change in this question: “Where are you going?” In the north, in Low Germany, everyone had said “Wohin laufen Sie” and “Warum laufen Sie zu Fuss?”—Why are you walking on foot? Recently the verb had been ‘gehen.’ For ‘laufen,’ in the south, means to run—probably from the same root as ‘lope’ in English. The accent, too, had been altering fast; in Swabia, the most noticeable change was the substitution of -le at the end of a noun, as a diminutive, instead of -chen; Häusle and Hundle, instead of Häuschen and Hündchen, for a little house and a small dog. I felt I was getting ahead now, both linguistically and geographically, plunging deeper and deeper into the heart of High Germany . . . . The driver’s Du was a sign of inter-working-class mateyness that I had come across several times. It meant friendly acceptance and fellow-feeling.)

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A Night with a Farm Family, 1934

From A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Journey Across Europe Book 1, NYRB Classics, 2011), Kindle pp. 73-75:

There was no doubt about it, I thought next day: I’d taken a wrong turning. Instead of reaching Pforzheim towards sunset, I was plodding across open fields with snow and the night both falling fast. My new goal was a light which soon turned out to be the window of a farmhouse by the edge of a wood. A dog had started barking. When I reached the door a man’s silhouette appeared in the threshold and told the dog to be quiet and shouted: “Wer ist da?” Concluding that I was harmless, he let me in.

A dozen faces peered up in surprise, their spoons halted in mid air, and their features, lit from below by a lantern on the table, were as gnarled and grained as the board itself. Their clogs were hidden in the dark underneath, and the rest of the room, except for the crucifix on the wall, was swallowed by shadow. The spell was broken by the unexpectedness of the irruption: A stranger from Ausland! Shy, amazed hospitality replaced earlier fears and I was soon seated among them on the bench and busy with a spoon as well.

The habit of grasping and speaking German had been outpaced during the last few days by another change of accent and idiom. These farmhouse sentences were all but out of reach. But there was something else here that was enigmatically familiar. Raw knuckles of enormous hands, half clenched still from the grasp of ploughs and spades and bill-hooks, lay loose among the cut onions and the chipped pitchers and a brown loaf broken open. Smoke had blackened the earthenware tureen and the light caught its pewter ladle and stressed the furrowed faces, and the bricky cheeks of young and hemp-haired giants…A small crone in a pleated coif sat at the end of the table, her eyes bright and timid in their hollows of bone and all these puzzled features were flung into relief by a single wick from below. Supper at Emmaus or Bethany? Painted by whom?

Dog-tired from the fields, the family began to stretch and get down the moment the meal was over and to amble bedwards with dragging clogs. A grandson, apologizing because there was no room indoors, slung a pillow and two blankets over his shoulder, took the lantern and led the way across the yard. In the barn the other side, harrows, ploughshares, scythes and sieves loomed for a moment, and beyond, tethered to a manger that ran the length of the barn, horns and tousled brows and liquid eyes gleamed in the lantern’s beam. The head of a cart-horse, with a pale mane and tail and ears pricked at our advent, almost touched the rafters.

When I was alone I stretched out on a bed of sliced hay like a crusader on his tomb, snugly wrapped up in greatcoat and blankets, with crossed legs still putteed and clodhoppered. Two owls were within earshot. The composite smell of snow, wood, dust, cobwebs, mangolds, beetroots, fodder, cattlecake and the cows’ breath was laced with an ammoniac tang from the plip-plop and the splash that sometimes broke the rhythm of the munching and the click of horns. There was an occasional grate of blocks and halters through their iron rings, a moo from time to time, or a huge horseshoe scraping or clinking on the cobbles. This was more like it!

The eaves were stiff with icicles next morning. Everyone was out of the kitchen and already at work, except the old woman in the coif. She gave me a scalding bowl of coffee and milk with dark brown bread broken in it. Would an offer to pay be putting my foot in it, I wondered; and then tentatively proposed it. There was no offence; but, equally, it was out of the question: “Nee, nee!” she said, with a light pat of her transparent hand. (It sounded the same as the English ‘Nay.’) The smile of her totally dismantled gums had the innocence of an infant’s. “Gar nix!” After farewells, she called me back with a shrill cry and put a foot-long slice of buttered black bread in my hand; I ate my way along this gigantic and delicious butterbrot as I went, and after a furlong, caught sight of all the others. They waved and shouted “Gute Reise!” They were hacking at the frost-bitten grass with mattocks, delving into a field that looked and sounded as hard as iron.

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A Night in a German Workhouse, 1933

From A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Journey Across Europe Book 1, NYRB Classics, 2011), Kindle pp. 46-47:

I asked a policeman where the workhouse was. An hour’s walk led to a sparsely lit quarter. Warehouses and the factories and silent yards lay deep under the untrodden snow. I rang a bell and a bearded Franciscan in clogs unbarred a door and led the way to a dormitory lined with palliasses [tick mattresses] on plank beds and filled with an overpowering fug and a scattering of whispers. A street-lamp showed that all the beds round the stove were taken. I pulled off my boots and lay down, smoking in self-defence. I hadn’t slept in a room with so many people since leaving school. Some of my contemporaries would still be there, at the end of their last term, snug, at this very moment, (I thought as I fell asleep) in their green curtained cubicles, long after their house-master’s rounds and lights out with Bell Harry tolling the hours and the night-watchman’s voice in the precincts announcing a quiet night.

A long stertorous note and a guttural change of pitch from the next bed woke me with a start. The stove had gone out. Snores and groans and sighs were joining in chorus. Though everyone was fast asleep, there were broken sentences and occasional laughs; random explosions broke out. Someone sang a few bars of song and suddenly broke off. Lying in wait in the rafters all the nightmares of the Rhineland had descended on the sleepers.

It was dark in the yard and still snowing when the monk on duty supplied us with axes and saws. We set to work by lamplight on a pile of logs and when they were cut, we filed past a second silent monk and he handed each of us a tin bowl of coffee in exchange for our tools. Another distributed slices of black bread and when the bowls had been handed in, my chopping-mate broke the icicles off the spout of the pump and we worked the handle in turn to slosh the sleep from our faces. The doors were then unbarred.

My chopping-mate was a Saxon from Brunswick and he was heading for Aachen, where, after he had drawn blank in Cologne, Duisburg, Essen and Düsseldorf and combed the whole of the Ruhr, he hoped to find work in a pins-and-needles factory. “Gar kein Glück!” he said. He hunched his shoulders into his lumberjack’s coat and turned the flaps of his cap down over his ears.

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CSS Shenandoah Finally Surrenders

From The Civil War at Sea, by Craig L. Symonds (Praeger, 2009), Kindle Locs. 2369-2400:

After its adventure in Melbourne, the Shenandoah headed into the South Pacific, where Waddell encountered a string of bad luck. Forewarned of the Shenandoah’s presence by the American consul at Melbourne, U.S. shipping had fled the area so that no prizes were available, and a series of fierce storms battered the rebel raider as it struggled northward. Then on April Fool’s day, the Shenandoah found and captured three American brigs that were anchored off the idyllic island of Pohnpei in Micronesia. On that same day, nearly halfway around the world near Petersburg, Virginia, Federal troops broke through Lee’s lines at Five Forks, the event that prompted Lee’s decision to evacuate the Richmond-Petersburg lines and begin his retreat to Appomattox. By the time the Shenandoah left Micronesia and sailed north to begin its assault on the American whaling fleet in the Pacific, Lee had surrendered.

After a brief visit to the Sea of Okhotsk, where the ship and its crew battled ice storms and fog, the Shenandoah entered the Bering Sea in mid-June. There the pickings were plentiful, and the Shenandoah captured one whaling ship after another, burning most of them and using the others as cartels for the prisoners. Newspapers found on board one of the whaling ships reported that Charleston and Richmond had fallen to the Yankees. On another, the ship’s captain declared unequivocally that the war was over, that Lee had surrendered his army. Waddell demanded proof, but the whaling boat skipper could only reply that he had heard in San Francisco that the war was over. That was not good enough for Waddell or the members of his crew, one of whom wrote in his diary “There is no doubting the fact that the Confederacy has received in prestige a heavy blow, but further I do not believe.” Waddell was conflicted. If the war was indeed over, all his actions could be construed as piratical. But he had heard nothing officially, and it was always possible that the Yankees were publishing lies, something he believed them to be capable of. A few days later, Waddell captured another prize that had even more recent newspapers on board. These confirmed the fall of Richmond, but also stated that the rebel government had moved to Danville, Virginia, and that Jefferson Davis had resolved to fight on. The Shenandoah’s rampage continued. In four days (June 25-28), it took and burned 15 whaling ships and bonded three others.

Leaving the Bering Sea in early July, Waddell took the Shenandoah south along the North American coast with a plan to enter San Francisco Bay in the dark of night, steal up on the Union ironclad that was stationed there, board it in the dark, and take it. Then with both the Shenandoah and the Union ironclad under his command, he would place the city of San Francisco itself “under contribution,” that is, he would demand an indemnity from the city to avoid being shelled.

While en route there, however, the Shenandoah encountered the British bark Baracouta on August 2, and from it Waddell received chilling news. The war was indeed over. President Davis had been captured, southern armies had surrendered, and the people of the South had been “subjugated.” This time, there was no doubting the facts. As one officer wrote in his diary, “We now have no country, no flag, no home.” Describing this as “the bitterest blow,” Waddell pondered his next move. In his initial orders, written the previous October, Bulloch had suggested to Waddell that after he had completed his mission “the best disposition you could make of the Shenandoah would be to sell her, either somewhere on the west coast of South America or to adventurous speculators in the Eastern seas.” Uncertain whether that was still possible, and unwilling to surrender his command to the Yankees, Waddell resolved to take his ship to a European port. Waddell may have worried that the Yankees would consider him a pirate for having made most of his captures after the war had ended. In any case, he ordered the guns dismounted and struck below, pointed his ship southward, and began a 17,000-mile voyage back to the Shenandoah’s port of origin.

The Shenandoah passed Cape Horn in mid-September and turned north. Six members of the crew, fearful of being caught by a Federal steamer in the long run back to England and hanged as pirates, petitioned Waddell “to land us at the nearest and most convenient port,” and 10 others urged him to take the ship to Cape Town. Waddell’s officers supported him in his decision to return to Liverpool, and in a testimony to Waddell’s leadership, the rest of the crew, some 71 persons, signed another other petition expressing confidence in whatever decision he made. Discipline held, and so did Waddell’s luck. Though several ships were sighted en route to England, none pursued the disarmed Shenandoah, and on November 6, 1865, after a round-the-world the-world cruise of 58,000 miles, during which it had captured 38 prizes, the ship dropped anchor in the Mersey River near the British ship of the line HMS Donegal. Waddell distributed the prize money that had been taken before the end of the war to the members of the crew, and put the rest of it ($820.28) in a bag and gave it to the paymaster of the Donegal. After four more days in a kind of legal twilight, the officers and men of the Shenandoah were released unconditionally, and the Civil War at sea came to an end.

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Civil War “West”: Rivers and Rails

From The Civil War at Sea, by Craig L. Symonds (Praeger, 2009), Kindle Locs. 1304-1325:

It is important to acknowledge that during Civil War, “the West” referred not to places like Arizona and New Mexico, or even Texas and Arkansas, which constituted the “trans-Mississippi West,” but instead to the expanse of territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. The Ohio River marked its northern boundary, and the Gulf of Mexico its southern, and it encompassed all or part of six states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia. It may seem odd to think of Georgia as part of the West since it borders the Atlantic Ocean, but strategically much of Georgia—especially Atlanta—was more closely tied to the West than the East. This vast western area got less public attention than the epic battles in Virginia both at the time and subsequently, and until recently Civil War literature tended to treat it as a secondary theater, though a good argument can be made that this expansive region was the decisive theater of the war.

Moreover, there were important differences in the way the war was fought in the West. First of all, the western theater was simply much larger. In the East, which contained both of the national capitals, most of the headline-grabbing battles took place in an area bounded by the Allegheny Mountains to the west and the Chesapeake Bay to the east. Gettysburg marked its northern limit and Petersburg its southern. Though it seemed enormous to the soldiers who had to march across it from place to place, it was a relatively small area, roughly the size of Massachusetts. By contrast, the war in the West ebbed and flowed in an area nearly 20 times as large. Given those dimensions, railroads were critical. Confederate General Braxton Bragg moved his army over 1,000 miles by rail to outflank a Union army in 1862; James Longstreet took two divisions across five states by rail to reinforce the Confederate army on the eve of Chickamauga in 1863; and Joseph E. Johnston and William T. Sherman fought an entire campaign over control of the Western & Atlantic Railroad in 1864 in what may have been the decisive campaign of the war.

Even more critical, however, were the rivers. The rivers in the West were essential not only to the movement of armies, but also to the transport of the supplies necessary to sustain those armies. Transport ships could carry more men and goods, and do so more quickly and efficiently than railroads. And while rampaging cavalry might be able to interrupt railroad traffic by tearing up rails and burning bridges, they could not stop the flow of the rivers. Of course, transports could be ambushed by parties on shore, such as the battery the rebels briefly established at Commerce, Missouri, and for that reason, gunboats were necessary to escort the transports and keep the rivers secure.

In addition, the rivers were geographical realities that affected the strategic planning of both sides. In the East, where the main field armies of both sides slugged it out between Richmond and Washington, the rivers ran mostly west to east—that is horizontally as they appear on a map—athwart any potential Union line of advance, making them defensive barriers that worked to the South’s advantage. Civil War scholar Daniel Sutherland has named the Rappahannock-Rapidan River line in Virginia the “dare mark” beyond which Union armies advanced only at their peril. But with the exception of the Ohio River, the principal rivers in the West ran either north-to-south, like the Mississippi, or south-to-north, like the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers—that is, vertically as they appear on a map. Consequently they served not as barriers to a Union attack, but as avenues along which Union armies, supported by river gunboats, could advance. For these reasons, Union planners began to consider a river gunboat flotilla from almost the first days of the war.

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