James Iredell Waddell

For other people named James Waddell, see James Waddell (disambiguation).
James Iredell Waddell

Commander James Iredell Waddell, CSN
Born (1824-07-03)July 3, 1824
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Died March 15, 1886(1886-03-15) (aged 61)
Annapolis, Maryland
Buried at St. Anne's Cemetery, Annapolis, Maryland
Years of service 1841 - 1861 (USN)
1862 - 1865 (CSN)
Rank Lieutenant (USN)
Commander (CSN)
Commands held CSS Shenandoah
Battles/wars American Civil War
Pencil sketch of CSS Shenandoah, drawn by James Iredell Waddell
Editorial cartoon satirizing James Waddell still engaging in combat after the American Civil War was considered over.

James Iredell Waddell (July 3, 1824 March 15, 1886) was an officer in the United States Navy and later in the Confederate States Navy.


Waddell was born in Pittsboro, North Carolina. He joined the United States Navy as a Midshipman in September 1841, and later graduated from the United States Naval Academy. His nearly two decades in the U.S. Navy included early service in USS Pennsylvania, Mexican-American War operations off Veracruz aboard USS Somers, a tour off South America in USS Germantown, an assignment as a United States Naval Academy instructor, eastern Pacific duty in USS Saginaw and a cruise with the East Indies Squadron with USS John Adams. Lieutenant Waddell resigned his commission while returning home in the latter ship late in 1861 at the outbreak of the American Civil War and was dismissed from the U.S. Navy in January 1862.

In March 1862, Waddell was appointed a Lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy. Sent to New Orleans, he was assigned to the incomplete ironclad CSS Mississippi until her destruction in late April. The next month, while serving as an artillery officer ashore, he participated in the battle between Confederate shore batteries and Federal ironclads at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia. He had more shore battery service at Charleston, South Carolina during the rest of 1862 and into 1863. Sent abroad in March 1863, First Lieutenant Waddell was stationed in England awaiting the availability of a seagoing position.

That opportunity finally arrived in October 1864 at sea in the central Atlantic, where he converted the British steam/sailer Sea King to the Confederate cruiser CSS Shenandoah. As her commanding officer, Commander Waddell made a long and productive cruise through the south Atlantic, across the Indian Ocean and into the north Pacific. In the Arctic waters there, he devastated the United States flagged whaling fleet during June 1865. By then the Civil War had been effectively over for more than two months and, when he received confirmation of this fact in early August, Waddell disarmed his ship and took her back to Liverpool in England.

Captain Waddell presided over the last official lowering of the Confederate flag. The CSS Shenandoah was surrendered by Captain Waddell to Captain Paynter of HMS Donegal on November 6, 1865 in mid-river on the River Mersey at Liverpool. The stainless banner was lowered in front of the crew and a Royal Navy detachment who boarded the vessel. This marked the last surrender of the American Civil War. 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.[1]

Waddell did not return to the United States until 1875, when he became captain of the commercial steamer City of San Francisco. He later was in charge of the State of Maryland's oyster regulation force.

He died at Annapolis, Maryland on March 15, 1886, and was buried at St. Anne's Cemetery in Annapolis.


The Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyer USS Waddell (DDG-24) was named for him.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
  1. "Surrender of the Shenandoah". Liverpool Mercury. When Liverpool was Dixie. 7 November 1865. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
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