Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I recently learned a bit of history that I had never heard of before...maybe those of you from our southern states are better informed on this subject.

The War Between the States, The War of Northern Aggression, The Civil War...whatever you choose to call it, officially ended on June 2, 1865. General Lee had surrendered on April 9th of that year (what most consider the "end" of the war) and President of the Confederate States of America Jefferson Davis wasn't apprehended until May 10th.

The final shot of the war wasn't fired until June 22, 1865. It wasn't a musket shot in Virginia or a cannon fired in the Carolinas; it was a CSA warship's cannon fired over the bow of a whaling ship closer to Russia's coast than ours (or what would become ours when Alaska became our 49th state many years later).

The "Shenandoah" was a Confederate ship that never saw U.S. water, never put in at an American port of any kind. It slipped out of an English port(where it had been secretly purchased) under the eyes of the U.S. and British Navies as a merchant ship, was converted in route to a fighting ship (though lightly armed) and sailed around the world raiding 37 Yankee merchant and whaling ships, her reputation and speed causing much concern for the Yankee navy and businsessmen. Her head officers were Southern seamen who had previously served in the U.S. Navy. Most of her crew was made up of men from all over the world who had no personal stake in the war.

Communication not being what it is now, they had no ship-to-shore radios or phones, no telegraph or email to be notified of the war's end. They picked up rumors of defeats, even Lee's surrender from passing ships or ships they raided (Lee's nepehew actually was serving on the ship), but it was assumed to be Yankee propaganda. In reality, most of their "success" came after the war had actually ended.

They didn't learn the truth until late summer, they then packed up their weapons and ceased all aggression off the coast from San Fransisco, then sailed all the way back to England in hopes of avoiding being hung as pirates. Their actions had been perfectly acceptable in a time of war, but since the war had ended they might be treated under a different set of laws. (They killed no one, they only sunk or set fire to ships after all passengers and crew were removed).

This crew kept fighting after their cause was lost. Rumors and unconfirmed reports of defeats were taken with a grain of salt and only served to strengthen their resolve to fulfill their mission. They did so while trying to stick to the letter of the law of the sea.

Once back in England, the British were under tremendous pressure to confine them and return them to the U.S. authorities. They determined that in fact, under their (British) law, they could prosecute those on the crew who were British Citizens because it was illegal for them to partake in the war. Though a number of them were British citizens, to a man when the British Commander asked each man where they were from, they answered (unrehearsed) "I am a Southerner". He heard many accents. He saw many different skin tones. He no doubt heard different languages.

He set them all free.

Are you fighting a war whose cause has already been lost? Are you ignoring the reports you are hearing, or your consciensce, because it is "easier" to do so or you are sure you are on the most profitable track? Are you living a good life but ignoring the Lord's will for your life? Is your mission to serve Him?

Maybe it is time to pack up your weapons and head into port. I know the Commander, He will set you free.

Love Him,



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