Christmas in the CSS Shenandoah

NH Civil War Gal

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Feb 5, 2017
This is from a much longer 2014 Emerging Civil War article:

"Master’s Mate Hunt considered it the most miserable festival he ever celebrated as thoughts reverted to home, to family gathering at Christmas dinner, to the old church with its decorations, and to evening spent in fun and frolic. “In the place of pendant evergreens my eyes rested upon the smoky, swaying lamps, still dimly burning in the ward room, and instead of receiving the time-honored salutations from family friends, and bright-faced girls, whose lips give so sweet an intonation to the old phrase, I heard it from rough-bearded men, sunburned and swarthy, and in place of preparing for a gay holiday, I donned my sou’weaster and moodily made my way to the deck to stand a four hours’ watch…. My solemn advice to the world at large is, never to go off the Cape of Good Hope in a cruiser to enjoy Christmas.”[14]

Following the afternoon watch, Mason and Lee shared a late Christmas dinner—good mince pies and plum pudding with tolerable sherry. They kept plates in hand to prevent contents from being deposited in their laps. But the old ship got off pretty well with only a little water in the magazine. The crew had a good Christmas dinner, starring the largest pig in the pen—120 pounds—and kept up their sprits remarkably well. “For there is nothing in the world like a good warm feed to put a man in a good humor. As I had the mid watch I went to my hammock (wet) at eight o’clock.” Mason would console himself on watch eating more mince pies of which the steward had a bountiful supply.[15]

Toward evening, a sail was sighted off the port quarter steering east; there would be no chance of capture in such conditions. First Lieutenant Whittle also thought the dinner a fine one but did not enjoy it much as they drank success to loved ones and the noble cause. Shenandoah finally ran out of the gale into more genial climate north of 40° S. The wind moderated and was then nearly south, bringing occasional squalls of fine rain and more cross seas. Waves breaking against the sides loosened the caulking and sent fine spray through open seams into the berth deck; the decks leaked dreadfully and all bedding was more or less wet. Concluded Captain Waddell: “A wet watch is uncomfortable enough but to nod in a chair or be forced to turn into a wet bed is even more so.”[16]


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Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
May 7, 2016
If you haven't read it, its well worth getting this book. I have read it several times over the years.