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White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900

The Sea King

The Sea King.

Afterwards Shenandoah—Trooper and Raider.

It is not generally remembered that the famous Shenandoah, which sank SO many Yankee craft during the American Civil War, was once in Auckland Harbour. Although her exploits were overshadowed by those of the more famous Confederate cruiser Alabama, the Shenandoah did a lot of damage to the shipping of the Northerners, and her name is frequently mentioned in the negotiations that took place at the close of the war between America and Great Britain. When the Shenandoah was in Auckland she was called the Sea King. That was January 27,1863. In November, 1865, she entered the port of Liverpool as the Shenandoah, was seized by the British Government, and handed over to the American Government.

The ship Sea King was a handsome and powerful iron vessel built by A. Steven and Son, of Glasgow, for Robertson and Co., of London, for the China, trade. When she arrived in Auckland she was in command of Captain Pinel, and brought out Colonel Williams and other officers, 185 non-coms. and men of the First Battery, Fourth Brigade, Royal Artillery, and 23 women and 43 children; also several officers for regiments already in Auckland—those were the days of the Maori war—and 79 rank and file of the Commissariat Staff Corps, 14 wives and 26 children. The vessel made a rapid passage of 72 days land to land, or 77 days from Woolwich. She had auxiliary engines, but came out most of the way under canvas. Leaving Woolwich on November 11, 1862, the transport called at St. Vincent on the 26th for coal, crossed the Equator on December 3, and the meridian of the Cape on December 26. Three days before reaching the meridian of the Cape the ship struck a heavy gale that carried away part of the bulwarks and did other damage on deck, the troops being battened down for ten hours. The ship struck more bad weather off the Australian coast. She made the Three Kings on January 25, after having been forty days under canvas and eight and a half days under steam since leaving St. Vincent.

Mr. William Cullen, of Studholme Street, Morrinsville, who was an A.B. on board the Sea King when she was in Auckland, writes: "the Sea King went from Auckland to Newcastle, and thence to Shanghai, where she was sold to the Americans, and then went to Madeira, where she took on board a new crew and guns. Thence she sailed to Melbourne, where she was docked. Her name was changed to Shenandoah, and she then started out on her career as a raider by sinking the barques A. W. Stevens and Trieste, coal-laden vessels from Newcastle, the second of the two then being on her way to San Francisco. After this the Shenandoah sailed away to the South Seas, where she burned and destroyed about thirty-six ships, most of them being whalers and all flying the Stars and Stripes of the Northern States. After peace was declared between the North and South Captain Waddell ran the ship to Liverpool, where he delivered her up to the British Government. This Captain Waddell, who was then in command of the Shenandoah, was a passenger when she was the Sea King on her trip to Auckland in 1863. After the war the Shenandoah was sold for one-half her value, £30,000, and again became a peaceful trader. She was engaged in the British-China trade, and was eventually wrecked between Madagascar and the mainland."