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Last Shot of the Civil War: Fired in Alaska

April 17, 2011

Crazy story for you history nuts out there:

The 150th anniversary of the first shot of America’s deadliest conflict has been widely noted this month. Few people are aware, however, that the last shot was fired off Alaska’s shores.

It was fired by the Confederate ship CSS Shenandoah, at the end of its mission to disrupt Yankee maritime business all over the world. And where did they get the ship?

In October 1864, it [the ship] was secretly transferred to the Confederate Navy in a black-ops rendezvous off the coast of Africa. A skeleton crew rigged the ship for battle and renamed it Shenandoah.

I can see the movie now! Mel Gibson as the skipper! (Is that wrong?)

Was the ship successful?

It burned American-flagged ships in the South Atlantic and Indian oceans.

And then it turned its attention to the Bering Sea:

The Shenandoah had speed, power and guns that could fire a half-mile with some accuracy. The whalers gave little or no resistance. In 12 months, the raider captured or sank 38 American ships and took 1,000 prisoners — without a single battle casualty on either side.

You can read the rest of the story at The Confederate ship even stopped in Australia! Crazy!

• Photo from the U.S. Navy’s Naval Historical Center.

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