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Cape Cod Warship Sank Ten Whalers

Down to the bottom went, in a single day of the year 1865, ten whalers of our local ports. The Civil War between North and South had in fact ended before that day, but the Confederate warship Shenandoah was not aware of this as she surprised this fleet and sank it one by one.

Needless to say, the slaughter of this bevy of vessels did not mean the slaughter of its captains, officers, and crews. The ruthless tactics of submarine warfare were not yet employed. Captain Waddell, of the Shenandoah was a considerate man, and he therefore appreciated the sterling men whose ships he felt compelled to destroy on behalf of the Confederacy.

He wrote of these men: “I must say that American whalers are officered by some of the noblest, most high-minded and generous men belonging to the great brotherhood of seamen.”

These men, captains all, were possessors of names of interest to us today: Beard, Gifford, Swift, Childs, Stall, French, Wood, Cumiski, Willis, Bailey, Malloy, Swift (a second skipper by that name), Brown, Howland, Worth, Tilton, Brayton, Taylor, and Chadwick. A photograph of them, in a single group, shows that, excepting three, they were all heavily bearded or bewiskered men of middle or later age, and curiously, only slight baldness appears among them. Evidently life on the rolling wave and the hair-raising dangers of the chase caused no trouble in that respect.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 02/13/06
Categories: History
Keywords: whaling, history


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