The Federated States of Micronesia & the Last Raider of the Confederate States of America Navy

Federated States of Micronesia - Scott #C12 (1985)
Federated States of Micronesia – Scott #C12 (1985)

Adding new stamp-issuing entities to my collection is a rare event lately as my current interests are focused away from my “Stamps From (Almost) Everywhere” collection. In fact, the most recent new issuers added were the Comoros Islands in January, the Commonwealth of Dominica (as opposed to the Colony) in December, and the Free City of Danzig in September 2018. Before that, the most recently added were a few stamps from “Z” countries such as Zanzibar and Tanzania, Zil Elwannyen Sesel, and Zululand way back in January 2018. I was actually a bit surprised that I didn’t previously have any stamps from the Federated States of Micronesia and these came to me on a mixed lot of Pacific Islands first day covers. In that purchase, I also added a few from the Republic of Palau to keep the lonely single I’ve had since purchasing a mixture of 100 different stamps from 100 different countries in the fall of 2013.

The Federated States of Micronesia, abbreviated FSM and also known simply as Micronesia, is an independent republic associated to the United States. It consists of four states — from west to east, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae — that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. Together, the states comprise around 607 islands (a combined land area of approximately 271 square miles (702 km²) that cover a longitudinal distance of almost 1,678 miles (2,700 km) just north of the equator. They lie northeast of New Guinea, south of Guam and the Marianas, west of Nauru and the Marshall Islands, east of Palau and the Philippines, about 1,802 miles (2,900 km) north of eastern Australia and some 2,485 miles (4,000 km) southwest of the main islands of Hawaii.

Map of the Federated States of Micronesia
Map of the Federated States of Micronesia

While the FSM’s total land area is quite small, it occupies more than 1,000,000 square miles (2,600,000 km²) of the Pacific Ocean, giving the country the 14th largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world. The sovereign island nation’s capital is Palikir, located on Pohnpei Island, while the largest city is Weno, located in the Chuuk Atoll.

The islands are grouped into four states, which are Yap, Chuuk (called Truk until January 1990), Pohnpei (known as “Ponape” until November 1984), and Kosrae (formerly Kusaie). These four states are each represented by a white star on the national flag. Each of its four states is centered on one or more main high islands, and all but Kosrae include numerous outlying atolls. The Federated States of Micronesia is spread across part of the Caroline Islands in the wider region of Micronesia, which consists of thousands of small islands divided among several countries. The term Micronesia may refer to the Federated States or to the region as a whole.

The FSM was formerly a part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI), a United Nations Trust Territory under U.S. administration, but it formed its own constitutional government on May 10, 1979, becoming a sovereign state after independence was attained on November 3, 1986 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States. Other neighboring island entities, and also former members of the TTPI, formulated their own constitutional governments and became the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau (ROP). The FSM has a seat in the United Nations.

A large (approximately 8 feet or 2.4 m in height) example of Yapese stone money (Rai stones) in the village of Gachpar on Yap. Photo taken in May 2002 by Eric Gunther. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The ancestors of the Micronesians settled over four thousand years ago. A decentralized chieftain-based system eventually evolved into a more centralized economic and religious culture centered on Yap Island. On Pohnpei, pre-colonial history is divided into three eras: Mwehin Kawa or Mwehin Aramas (Period of Building, or Period of Peopling, before ca. 1100); Mwehin Sau Deleur (Period of the Lord of Deleur, ca. 1100 to ca. 1628); and Mwehin Nahnmwarki (Period of the Nahnmwarki, ca. 1628 to ca. 1885).

Pohnpeian legend recounts that the Saudeleur rulers, the first to bring government to Pohnpei, were of foreign origin. The Saudeleur centralized form of absolute rule is characterized in Pohnpeian legend as becoming increasingly oppressive over several generations. Arbitrary and onerous demands, as well as a reputation for offending Pohnpeian deities, sowed resentment among Pohnpeians. The Saudeleur Dynasty ended with the invasion of Isokelekel, another semi-mythical foreigner, who replaced the Saudeleur rule with the more decentralized nahnmwarki system in existence today. Isokelekel is regarded as the creator of the modern Pohnpeian nahnmwarki social system and the father of the Pompeian people.

People performing a welcome ceremony on Ulithi atoll. Photo taken on July 6, 2008.
People performing a welcome ceremony on Ulithi atoll. Photo taken on July 6, 2008.

Nan Madol offshore of Temwen Island near Pohnpei, consists of a series of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals, and is often called the Venice of the Pacific. It is located near the island of Pohnpei and was the ceremonial and political seat of the Saudeleur Dynasty that united Pohnpei’s estimated 25,000 people until its centralized system collapsed amid the invasion of Isokelekel. Isokelekel and his descendants initially occupied the stone city, but later abandoned it.

European explorers — first the Portuguese in search of the Spice Islands (Indonesia) and then the Spanish — reached the Carolines in the sixteenth century. The Spanish incorporated the archipelago to the Spanish East Indies through the capital, Manila, and in the 19th century established a number of outposts and missions. In 1887, they founded the town of Santiago de la Ascension in what today is Kolonia on the island of Pohnpei. Following defeat in the Spanish–American War, the Spanish sold the archipelago to Germany in 1899 under the German–Spanish Treaty of 1899. Germany incorporated it into German New Guinea.

Map of the Kaiserwilhelmsland, the German colony of New Guinea, 1884–1919
Map of the Kaiserwilhelmsland, the German colony of New Guinea, 1884–1919

Yap was a major German naval communications center before the First World War and an important international hub for cable telegraphy. It was occupied by Japanese troops in September, 1914, and passed to the Japanese Empire under the Versailles Treaty in 1919 as a mandated territory under League of Nations supervision. The Empire of Japan administrated the islands from 1920 under the South Pacific Mandate granted by the League of Nations. During this period, the Japanese population grew to over 100,000 throughout Micronesia, while the indigenous population was about 40,000. Sugar cane, mining, fishing and tropical agriculture became the major industries.

U.S. commercial rights on the island were secured by a special U.S.-Japanese treaty to that effect, concluded on February 11, 1922.

In World War II, Japanese-held Yap was one of the islands bypassed in the U.S. “Leapfrogging” strategy, although it was regularly bombed by U.S. ships and aircraft, and Yap-based Japanese bombers did some damage in return. The Japanese garrison comprised 4,423 Imperial Japanese Army men under the command of Colonel Daihachi Itoh and 1,494 Imperial Japanese Navy men. A significant portion of the Japanese fleet was based in Truk Lagoon. In February 1944, Operation Hailstone, one of the most important naval battles of the war, took place at Truk, in which many Japanese support vessels and aircraft were destroyed.

Japanese shipping under air attack in Truk Lagoon, as seen from a USS Intrepid (CV-11) aircraft on the first day of raids, February 17, 1944. Dublon Island is at left, with Moen Island in the background. Four of these ships appear to have been hit by this time. Naval History and Heritage Command, National Archives photo 80-G-215151.
Japanese shipping under air attack in Truk Lagoon, as seen from a USS Intrepid (CV-11) aircraft on the first day of raids, February 17, 1944. Dublon Island is at left, with Moen Island in the background. Four of these ships appear to have been hit by this time. Naval History and Heritage Command, National Archives photo 80-G-215151.

The United Nations created the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) in 1947. Pohnpei (then including Kusaie), Truk, Yap, Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands, together constituted the TTPI. The United States accepted the role of Trustee of this, the only United Nations Trusteeship to be designated as a “Security Trusteeship”, whose ultimate disposition was to be determined by the UN Security Council. As Trustee the U.S. was to “promote the economic advancement and self-sufficiency of the inhabitants.”

On May 10, 1979, four of the Trust Territory districts ratified the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia. The neighboring trust districts of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands chose not to participate. The Honorable Tosiwo Nakayama, the former President of the Congress of Micronesia, became the first President of the FSM and formed his Cabinet. The FSM signed a Compact of Free Association with the U.S., which entered into force on November 3, 1986, marking Micronesia’s emergence from trusteeship to independence. Under the Compact, the U.S. has full authority and responsibility for the defense of the FSM. This security relationship can be changed or terminated by mutual agreement. The Compact provides U.S. grant funds and federal program assistance to the FSM. Amended financial assistance provisions came on-line in FY 2004. The basic relationship of free association continues indefinitely.

Trusteeship of the islands ended under United Nations Security Council Resolution 683, passed on December 22, 1990. The Compact was renewed in 2004.

Caroline Islands - Scott #23 (1915)
Caroline Islands – Scott #23 (1915)

The islands first used stamps of Germany for the Caroline Islands and then stamps of Japan from 1914 to 1946. The islands then became part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific and used American stamps from 1946.

The first stamps of independent Micronesia were issued in 1984 and depicted the four federated states that make up the country, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae, in a se-tenant design. The FSM Postal Service delivers to and picks up mail from retail customers. As part of the special relationship with the United States, the United States Postal Service transports mail between the constituent states of the FSM and between the United States and the FSM. The FSM is also part of the United States ZIP code system, with the same postal rates charged.

The Federated States of Micronesia is governed by the 1979 constitution, which guarantees fundamental human rights and establishes a separation of governmental powers. The unicameral Congress has fourteen members elected by popular vote. Four senators — one from each state — serve four-year terms; the remaining ten senators represent single-member districts based on population, and serve two-year terms. The President and Vice President are elected by Congress from among the four state-based senators to serve four-year terms in the executive branch. Their congressional seats are then filled by special elections. There are no formal political parties. In international politics, the Federated States of Micronesia has often voted with the United States with respect to United Nations General Assembly resolutions.

Tech. Sgt. Heath Bahyi and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Sundberg push out a boxed pallet of donated goods over the remote Island of Yap from a C-130 Hercules, Dec. 19 during Operation Christmas Drop. Airmen today continue the tradition, delivering supplies to remote islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Yap, Palau, Chuuk and Pohnpei. In all, more than 180 boxes were built for the humanitarian mission, making 2008 one of the largest drops in Operation Christmas Drop's 57 year history. Both are loadmasters from the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald) released..
Tech. Sgt. Heath Bahyi and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Sundberg push out a boxed pallet of donated goods over the remote Island of Yap from a C-130 Hercules, during Operation Christmas Drop. Airmen today continue the tradition, delivering supplies to remote islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Yap, Palau, Chuuk and Pohnpei. In all, more than 180 boxes were built for the humanitarian mission, making 2008 one of the largest drops in Operation Christmas Drop’s 57 year history. Both are loadmasters from the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald) released.. Photo taken on December 19, 2008.

The FSM is a sovereign, self-governing state in free association with the United States of America, which is wholly responsible for its defense. The Division of Maritime Surveillance operates a paramilitary Maritime Wing and a small Maritime Police Unit. The Compact of Free Association allows FSM citizens to join the U.S. military without having to obtain U.S. permanent residency or citizenship,[8] allows for immigration and employment for Micronesians in the U.S., and establishes economic and technical aid programs.

FSM has foreign relations with 56 countries, including the Holy See. FSM was admitted to the United Nations based on the Security Council’s recommendation on August 9, 1991 in Resolution 703 and the General Assembly’s approval on September 17, 1991 in Resolution 46/2. The FSM is an active member of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Spain has a claim to sovereignty over a few islands including Kapingamarangi in Pohnpei State. A commission of cardinals under Pope Leo XIII arbitrated a dispute for the Caroline Islands and others extending from the Equator to 11°N Latitude and from 133°E to 164°E Longitude. Germany and Spain on December 17, 1885, agreed in a treaty that they were a part of the Spanish East Indies. In 1899, Spain sold “las Carolinas” to Germany. Kapingamarangi is far south of the Carolines and the people are racially and culturally Polynesian, not Micronesian or Carolinian. In 1948, Emilio Pastor Santos of the Spanish National Research Council found that the charts and maps up to 1899 had shown that Kapingamarangi and a few other islands had never been considered part of the Carolines, were not included in the description of the territory transferred to Germany and were never ceded by Spain; therefore, Spain retained sovereignty. In 1949, the Cabinet of Diplomatic Information of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following declaration:

“… The Ministry recognizes that it is a certain fact and historic truth due to Article 3 of the Treaty of July 1, 1899, that Spain reserved a series of rights in Micronesia and for another thing, the specifications of the territories which Spain ceded in 1899 leaves apart certain groups of islands in the same zone.

Successive Spanish governments have not abandoned Spain’s sovereignty, or insisted on enforcing it, or recognized the sovereignty of the Federated States of Micronesia over Kapingamarangi. The Federated States of Micronesia claims sovereignty and has de facto control of the island.

A view of Kolonia Town from Sokehs Ridge in Pohnpei. Photo taken on September 8, 2006.
A view of Kolonia Town from Sokehs Ridge in Pohnpei. Photo taken on September 8, 2006.

Economic activity in the Federated States of Micronesia consists primarily of subsistence farming and fishing. The islands have few mineral deposits worth exploiting, except for high-grade phosphate. Long line fishing of tuna is also viable with foreign vessels from China that operated in the 1990s. The potential for a tourist industry exists, but the remoteness of the location and a lack of adequate facilities hinder development. Geographical isolation and a poorly developed infrastructure are major impediments to long-term growth.

The indigenous population of the nation, which is predominantly Micronesian, consists of various ethnolinguistic groups. It has a nearly 100% Pacific Islander and Asian population: Chuukese 48.8%, Pohnpeian 24.2%, Kosraean 6.2%, Yapese 5.2%, Yap outer islands 4.5%, Asian 1.8%, Polynesian 1.5%, other 6.4%, unknown 1.4%. A sizeable minority also have some Japanese ancestry, which is a result of intermarriages between Japanese settlers and Micronesians during the Japanese colonial period. There is also a growing expatriate population of Americans, Australians, Europeans, and residents from China and the Philippines since the 1990s. Population growth remains high at more than 3% annually, offset somewhat by net emigration.

English has become the common language of the government, and for secondary and tertiary education. Outside of the main capital towns of the four FSM states, the local languages are primarily spoken. Also spoken are Chuukese, Kosraean, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi. Other languages spoken in the country include Pingelapese, Ngatikese, Satawalese, Puluwatese, Mortlockese, and Mokilese. There are about 3,000 speakers of Kapingamarangi and Ulithian, and under 1,000 speakers of Nukuoro.

At right, a traditionally dressed older Truk man. Dress includes earrings, belt, sleeveless textile pullover, bracelets. Circa 1930s.
At right, a traditionally dressed older Truk man. Dress includes earrings, belt, sleeveless textile pullover, bracelets. Circa 1930s.

Each of the four states has its own culture and traditions, but there are also common cultural and economic bonds that are centuries old. Cultural similarities include the importance of the traditional extended family and clan systems and are found on all the islands.

The island of Yap is notable for its “stone money” (Rai stones), large disks usually of calcite, up to 13 feet (4 meters) in diameter, with a hole in the middle. The islanders, aware of the owner of a piece, do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. There are five major types: Mmbul, Gaw, Ray, Yar, and Reng, the last being only 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. Their value is based on both size and history, many of them having been brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most coming in ancient times from Palau. Approximately 6,500 of them are scattered around the island.

Pohnpei is home to Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the site is currently listed as In Danger due to natural causes. The government is working on the conservation of the site.

Federated States of Micronesia - Scott #23, C10-12 (1985) first day cover
Federated States of Micronesia – Scott #23, C10-12 (1985) first day cover

On August 19, 1985, the Micronesian postal service issued a set of four stamps — one for regular postage, the other three for air mail — portraying sailing ships that presumably had some importance in local history (Scott #23, C10-C12). Using the sources available to me, I could find little to no information on any of the ships or positively link them to the islands. Except for the “Shenandoah” which has two possibilities, both linked to naval action in the American Civil War of 1861-1865. All four stamps were printed using offset lithography, comb perforated 13½. The Shenandoah stamp is denominated 44 cents for the international airmail rate at the time.

There was a USS Shenandoah launched at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on December 8, 1862, sponsored by Miss Selina Pascoe, and commissioned on June 20, 1863. The wooden-screw schooner was 225 feet (69 m) long with a beam of 38 feet 4 inches (11.68 m) and a draft of 15 feet (10 inches (4.83 m), displacing 1,397 tons. Her steam engine propelled the vessel at a top speed of 15 knots (17 mph or 28 km/h) with a complement of 175 officers and enlisted men.

USS Shenandoah spent the greater part of the next fifteen months patrolling off Wilmington, North Carolina and searching on the blockade runner routes between Nassau and Wilmington. This cruising took her as far as Key West, Florida, and to the Bahamas and Bermuda. She participated in the attack on Fort Fisher which protected Wilmington, North Carolina, in December 1864 and January 1865. After Fort Fisher was captured, USS Shenandoah spent a few days carrying wounded men from transports to shore hospitals. She then joined in the final days of the Union siege of Charleston which fell on February 17. She returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard on March 15 and was decommissioned there on April 15.

USS Shenandoah recommissioned at Philadelphia on November 20, 1865, She put to sea on December 8 for the Azores. Thence, she sailed to Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for service with the South American Squadron. On April 28, 1866, she departed Rio de Janeiro to join the Asiatic Squadron. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope, she visited Bombay and Calcutta; then touched at Penang before arriving at Singapore on December 31, 1866. She next proceeded to Bangkok where she received a friendly greeting from the King of Siam and his ministers before sailing via Saigon for Japan. She arrived at Yokohama on April 5, 1867. She left Yokohama on June 25 and reached Hakodate on the 28th. The first salute that was ever fired there in honor of a foreign minister marked the occasion. The minister and officers of Shenandoah were received by the governor with cordial politeness.

Poem for the Confederate Shenandoah
Poem for the Confederate Shenandoah

On July 12, USS Shenandoah entered the port of Niigata where similar courtesies were extended. Nahon was reached the following day. No American ship had ever before entered that harbor. On the 17th, Shenandoah visited Mikuni and also Tsurunga, where no foreign warship had ever previously anchored. Shenandoah was part of the naval force before the ports of Osaka and Hyōgo which were quietly opened to foreigners on January 1, 1868. The event was celebrated by American and British ships, their mastheads being dressed with the respective national flags and the Tycoon’s flag at the main. Each ship simultaneously fired a salute of twenty-one guns, which the Japanese promptly returned.

Further important assignments in the Far East and the Pacific Ocean followed and it is possible that USS Shenandoah cruised through the Micronesian islands, possibly calling at one of them, during this period. She was decommissioned in the Mare Island Navy Yard on October 23, 1886. She was sold on July 30, 1887, to W. T. Garratt & Company, San Francisco, California, at which point she vanishes from the historical record.

I was unable to find any images of the USS Shenandoah and, interesting as her career in the Pacific may have been, I have strong suspicions that the ship pictured on Micronesia’s stamp is in fact a ship by the same name that served on the other side of the War, a raider for the Confederate States Navy.

CSS Shenandoah in dry dock in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia, 1865. From the public domain U.S. Naval Historical Center.
CSS Shenandoah in dry dock in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia, 1865. From the public domain U.S. Naval Historical Center.

 CSS Shenandoah, formerly Sea King, was an iron-framed, teak-planked, full-rigged sailing ship with auxiliary steam power chiefly known for her adventures under Lieutenant Commander James Waddell as part of the Confederate States Navy during the American Civil War. This Shenandoah was originally a British merchant vessel launched as Sea King on August 17, 1863, but was later re-purposed as one of the most feared commerce raiders in the Confederate Navy. During a period of ​12½ months from 1864 to 1865, the ship undertook commerce raiding around the world in an effort to disrupt the Union economy, resulting in the capture and sinking or bonding of thirty-eight merchant vessels, mostly New Bedford whaleships.

She finally surrendered on the River Mersey, Liverpool, England, on November 6, 1865, six months after the war had ended. Her flag was the last sovereign Confederate flag to be officially furled. CSS Shenandoah is also known for having fired the last shot of the Civil War, across the bow of a whaler in waters off the Aleutian Islands.

The vessel had three names and many owners in her lifetime of nine years. She was designed as an auxiliary composite passenger cargo vessel of 1,018 tons and built in 1863 by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, Scotland, for Robertson & Co., Glasgow, to be named Sea King. The vessel was intended for the East Asia tea trade and as a troop transport. While she was being fitted out at the builders, US representatives assessed the ship for purchase. After change of owner and a number of trips to the Far East carrying cargo and to New Zealand transporting troops to the Maori War, the Confederate Navy assessed and purchased her from Wallace Bros of Liverpool. The purchase was made in secret; it was completed on October 18, 1864, and the next day the ship was renamed CSS Shenandoah. The ship was to be converted into an armed cruiser with a mission to capture and destroy Union merchant ships. Liverpool was the unofficial home port of the Confederate overseas fleet, and Confederate Commander James Dunwoody Bulloch was based in the city. The city provided ships, crews, munitions, and provisions of war.

Commander James Iredell Waddell (1824-1886), CSN; photographed in Confederate Navy uniform. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. Photo #: NH 66710
Commander James Iredell Waddell (1824-1886), CSN; photographed in Confederate Navy uniform. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. Photo #: NH 66710

Sea King had sailed from London on October 8, 1864, ostensibly for Bombay, on a trading voyage. The supply steamer Laurel sailed from Liverpool the same day. The two ships rendezvoused at Funchal, Madeira, with the Laurel carrying the officers and the nucleus of Shenandoah‘s crew, together with naval guns, ammunition, and ship’s stores. Shenandoah‘s commander, Lieutenant James Iredell Waddell, supervised her conversion to a man-of-war in nearby waters. However, Waddell was barely able to bring his crew to even half strength, despite additional volunteers from the merchant sailors on the Sea King and from Laurel.

The new Confederate cruiser was commissioned on October 19, 1864, lowering the Union Jack and raising the “Stainless Banner”, and was renamed CSS Shenandoah.

As developed in the Confederate Navy Department and by its agents in Europe, Shenandoah was tasked to strike at the Union’s economy and “seek out and utterly destroy” commerce in areas yet undisturbed. Captain Waddell began seeking enemy merchant ships on the Indian Ocean route between the Cape of Good Hope and Australia, and in the Pacific whaling fleet. En route to the Cape, the Confederates captured six prizes. Five were burned or scuttled, after the crew and passengers had been removed. The sixth was bonded and used to transport the prisoners to Bahia, Brazil, where they were released.

Scrimshaw whalebone carving of CSS Shenandoah, circa 1869.
Scrimshaw whalebone carving of CSS Shenandoah, circa 1869.

Still short-handed, Shenandoah arrived at Melbourne, Colony of Victoria, on January 25, 1865, where she filled her complement and her storerooms. She also signed on 40 crew members who had been stowaways from Melbourne. They were not enlisted until the ship was outside the Colony of Victoria’s territorial waters. The Shipping Articles show all 40 crew members had enlisted on the day of her departure from Melbourne, February 18, 1865. However, nineteen of Waddell’s crew deserted at Melbourne, some giving statements of their service to the United States Consul.

Shenandoah took only one prize in the Indian Ocean, but hunting became more profitable after refitting in Melbourne. En route to the North Pacific whaling grounds, on April 3–4, Waddell burned four whalers in the Caroline Islands. After a three-week cruise to the ice and fog of the Sea of Okhotsk yielded only a single prize, due to a warning which had preceded him, Waddell headed north past the Aleutian Islands into the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean. Shenandoah then proceeded to capture 11 more prizes.

The rich whaling grounds in the Bering Sea between Siberia and Alaska had been a safe haven for Yankee whalers for most of the American Civil War. This prosperous whaling ended in the spring and summer of 1865 when the Shenandoah arrived and captured twenty of the fifty-eight Yankee whalers working here. These whalers were destroyed more than a month after CSA President Jefferson Davis was captured on May 19, 1865.

CSS Shenandoah in the Arctic waters off Alaska.
CSS Shenandoah in the Arctic waters off Alaska.

On June 27, 1865, Waddell learned from a prize, the Susan & Abigail, that General Robert E. Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia almost three months earlier at Appomattox Court House. Susan & Abigail‘s captain produced a San Francisco newspaper reporting the flight from Richmond of the Confederate government 10 weeks previously. However, the newspaper also contained President Davis’ proclamation that the “war would be carried on with renewed vigor.” Waddell then captured 10 more whalers in the space of seven hours just below the Arctic Circle.

On August 3, 1865, Waddell learned of the war’s definite end when Shenandoah encountered the Liverpool barque Barracouta, which was bound for San Francisco. Waddell was heading to the city to attack it, believing it weakly defended. He learned of the surrender of Johnston’s army on April 26, and Kirby Smith’s army on May 26, and most crucially of the capture of President Davis. Captain Waddell then knew the war was over.

Captain Waddell lowered the Confederate flag, and Shenandoah underwent physical alteration. Her guns were dismounted and stored below deck, and her hull was painted to look like an ordinary merchant vessel.

“Destruction of Whale Ships off Cape Thaddeus Arctic Ocean June 23 1865 by the Conft Stmr Shenandoah” Colored lithograph of an artwork by B. Russell, depicting CSS Shenandoah’s assault on the U.S. whale ships in the Bering Sea area. Individual items shown are (from left to right): brig Susan Abigail (burning); ship Euphrates (burning–distant); CSS Shenandoah; ship Jerah Swift (burning–distant); ship William Thompson (burning–distant); ship Sophia Thornton (burning); whaleboat going to warn other whalers (very distant); ship Milo which carried the destroyed vessels’ crews to San Francisco; ice in the distance. Collection of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Original caption: “Photo # NH 50454-KN “Destruction of Whale Ships … by Conf. Stmr Shenandoah” U.S. Naval Historical Center Photo #: NH 50454-KN (color) ”

Regardless of Davis’s proclamation and knowing the unreliability of newspapers at the time, Captain Waddell and his crew knew returning to a U.S. port would mean facing a court sympathetic to the Union. News of President Lincoln’s assassination only served to further diminish any expectation for leniency. The crew predicted that surrendering to federal authorities would run the risk of being tried in a U.S. court and hanged as pirates. Commerce raiders were not included in the reconciliation and amnesty that Confederate soldiers were given. Perhaps more importantly, Waddell would have been aware that the U.S. government no longer had to consider the threat of Confederate retaliation against Union prisoners while determining his crew’s fate. Likely not known to Waddell was that Captain Raphael Semmes of CSS Alabama had managed to escape charges of piracy by surrendering on May 1, 1865, as an army general under Joseph E. Johnston. Semmes’ former sailors surrendered as artillerymen.

Captain Waddell eventually decided to surrender his ship at the port of Liverpool, where Confederate Commander Bulloch was stationed.

CSS Shenandoah sailed from off the west coast of Mexico via Cape Horn to Liverpool, a voyage of three months and over 9,000 nautical miles (10,000 mi; 17,000 km), all the while being pursued by Union vessels. She anchored at the Mersey Bar at the mouth of the estuary awaiting a pilot to board to guide the ship up the river and into the enclosed docks. Not flying any flag, the pilot refused to take the ship into Liverpool unless they flew a flag; the crew raised the Confederate flag. CSS Shenandoah sailed up the River Mersey with the flag fully flying to crowds on the riverbanks.

CSS Shenandoah surrenders at Liverpool, England, on November 6, 1865.
CSS Shenandoah surrenders at Liverpool, England, on November 6, 1865.

The Liverpool Mercury reported the event on Tuesday, November 7, 1865:


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. By many the report was discredited, it being thought that those on board the Douglas were in error, and had mistaken some other craft for the celebrated ex-Confederate cruiser. At half past ten, however, all doubts on the point were set at rest, with the Shenandoah steaming up the Victoria Channel with the Palmetto flag flying from her masthead.

HMS Donegal happened to be anchored in mid-river between Toxteth in Liverpool and Tranmere in Birkenhead. Captain Waddell maneuvered his ship near to the British man-of-war, dropping anchor. The CSS Shenandoah was surrendered by Captain Waddell to Captain Paynter of HMS Donegal on November 6, 1865. The Confederate flag was lowered again for the very last time, under the watch of a Royal Navy detachment and the crew.

CSS Shenandoah had struck her colors twice. This marked the last surrender of the American Civil War and the last official lowering of the Confederate flag. The very last act of the Civil War was Captain Waddell walking up the steps of Liverpool Town Hall with a letter to present to the mayor surrendering his vessel to the British government. In so doing, the Shenandoah became the only Confederate warship to circumnavigate the globe.

 Map of CSS Shenandoah's world travels 1865.
Map of CSS Shenandoah’s world travels 1865.

After the surrender, the CSS Shenandoah was berthed in the partially constructed Herculaneum Dock awaiting her fate. After the surrender, a decision had to be made of what to do with the Confederate crew, knowing the consequences of piracy charges. Clearly many of the crew originated from the United Kingdom and its colonies and three had swum ashore in the cold November waters fearing the worst. After a full investigation by law officers of the Crown, it was decided that the officers and crew did not infringe the rules of war or the laws of nations to justify being held as prisoners, so they were unconditionally released.

After her crew surrendered her to the British government at Liverpool on November 6, 1865, the British handed Shenandoah over to the United States government. The ship was sold to Matthew Isaac Wilson of Liverpool. In 1867, Wilson sold her to Majid bin Said, the first Sultan of Zanzibar, who renamed her El Majidi after himself. On April 15, 1872 a hurricane hit Zanzibar; El Majidi was one of six ships owned by Seyed Burgash that were blown on shore and wrecked. After temporary repairs she sailed on September 10, 1872, from Zanzibar to Bombay with 130 passengers and crew. She developed holes and took on water, sinking a few days later.

CSS Shenandoah
CSS Shenandoah

Shenandoah had remained at sea for 12 months and 17 days, traversed 58,000 miles and carrying the Confederate flag around the globe for the only time. She sank or captured 38 ships, mostly whalers, all of them American civilian merchant vessels. Waddell took close to one thousand prisoners without a single war casualty among his crew; two men died of disease. The vessel was never involved in conflict against any Union Naval vessel. The Confederate cruiser claimed more than 20 prizes valued at nearly $1,400,000 (equivalent to $22,900,000 in 2018). In an important development in international law, the U.S. government pursued claims (collectively called the Alabama Claims) against the British government and, following a court of arbitration, won heavy damages.

The battle ensign of CSS Shenandoah is unique amongst the flags of the Confederate States of America as it was the only Confederate flag to circumnavigate the Earth during the Confederacy, and it was the last Confederate flag to be lowered by a combatant unit in the Civil War (in mid-river on the River Mersey at Liverpool, UK, on November 6, 1865). Shenandoah‘s battle ensign has been in the Museum of the Confederacy’s collection since 1907 and is currently on display in Richmond, Virginia. The flag itself measures 88 by 136 inches (220 cm × 350 cm).

Flag of the Federated States of Micronesia
Flag of the Federated States of Micronesia

Naval ensign of the Confederate States of America
Naval ensign of the Confederate States of America

One thought on “The Federated States of Micronesia & the Last Raider of the Confederate States of America Navy

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