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James I. Waddell Diary, 1863-1864: Finding Aid

Published in April 2020

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 144
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: James I. Waddell Diary
  • Dates: 1863-1864
  • Size: 0.09 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume of 29 leaves
  • Creator: Waddell, James I. (James Iredell), 1824-1886
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: James Iredell Waddell was a Lieutenant in both the United States Navy and Confederate States Navy, and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1847. The James I. Waddell Diary spans from August 29, 1863 through March 26, 2864. The diary was kept by Waddell during his escape to and time stationed in England during the Civil War while awaiting a seagoing commission.

Biography of James Iredell Waddell

James Iredell Waddell was born on July 13, 1824 in Pittsboro, North Carolina to Francis Nash and Elizabeth Davis Waddell. Waddell was appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy on September 10, 1841. During the Mexican War, he was attached to U.S.S. Somers (Brig) on blockade duty off Veracruz between February and October of 1846. A member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1847, Waddell was promoted to Passed Midshipman on August 10 of that year.

On September 15, 1855, Waddell was promoted to Lieutenant while on duty with the Brazil Squadron, attached to U.S.S. Germantown (Sloop-of-war), and later, U.S.S. Relief (Store ship). Duty followed at the United States Naval Academy, where he taught navigation until July 1859. Detached from the Academy, Waddell returned to sea, sailing in Chinese waters in 1860 and 1861.

Upon his return from the Far East, Waddell resigned from the U.S. Navy and, in February 1862, sailed south down the Chesapeake Bay to join the Confederacy, where he was commissioned as a Lieutenant on March 27. His early duty saw him witness the Union capture of New Orleans, followed by duty in the batteries defending the James River. In March 1863, he arrived in Halifax, en route to England, where he would ultimately take command of the commerce raider C.S.S. Shenandoah on October 19, 1864. After capturing nine prize vessels, Waddell was forced to sail Shenandoah to Australia for repairs after discovering a crack in the ship's propeller shaft. In February 1865, Shenandoah was ready for sea again and departed Melbourne to continue her raiding activities in the Pacific, which she did until the collapse of the Confederacy. Without the cover of international maritime law, Waddell was forced to cease his raiding, and in November 1865, the Shenandoah put in to Liverpool, England and lowered her flag, having captured close to forty prizes.

After the end of the Civil War, Waddell, joined by his wife Anne, initially remained in England. In 1875, the couple returned to Anne's hometown of Annapolis, where they constructed a home at the corner of Prince George Street and College Avenue. After serving as a captain for the Pacific Mail Line, Waddell was appointed to command the small fleet policing Maryland's oyster beds. James Iredell Waddell died on March 15, 1886 in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Description of Contents

The James I. Waddell Diary, comprising 0.09 linear feet of documentation in a single volume of 29 leaves, spans from August 29, 1863 through March 26, 1864. The diary was kept by Waddell during his escape to and time stationed in England during the Civil War while awaiting a seagoing commission.

The diary includes Waddell's description and comments on St. George, Bermuda, Liverpool, London, Paris, Edinburgh, and other cities, as well as his experiences running the Charleston blockade (August 29), comparisons between British farm operatives and Southern slaves (September 5), the completion of Southern rams (September 12), and the British fleet anchored at Liverpool (September 14). The bulk of the diary ends with the entry of September 14, 1863. Inside the front cover of the diary is a prayer written on Confederate letterhead.

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The James I. Waddell Diary comprises a single volume.

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Access and Use


Patron use restricted to microfilm.

Copyright and Permission

The James I. Waddell Diary is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. L. T. Alger in 1946. Accession No. 108066.

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Related Materials

Location of Copies or Alternate Formats

This collection also available on microfilm.

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to James Iredell Waddell in this repository includes Waddell's Alumni Jacket and the Ann Sellman Iglehart Waddell Scrapbooks, 1842-1949 (bulk 1842-1886), MS 8. Any potential conduct offenses committed by Waddell while a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy would be listed in Midshipman Conduct Rolls or Registers of Delinquencies, RG405.2.3 Entry 85.

Other materials pertaining to James Iredell Waddell are available in the James Iredell Waddell Family Papers at the State Archives of North Carolina. A logbook of Waddell's vessel during the Civil War, C.S.S. Shenandoah, is held by the Chicago History Museum.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

James I. Waddell Diary, MS 144

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Waddell, James Iredell Alumni Jacket, RG 405, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in April 2020.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • France -- Description and travel
  • Great Britain -- Description and travel
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate
  • Waddell, James I. (James Iredell), 1824-1886

Genre Terms

  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

James I. Waddell Diary, 1863 August 29-1864 March 26

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