James Iredell Waddell was born in Pittsboro, North Carolina, July 13, 1824 and joined the Navy as a Midshipman in September 1841. He spent nearly two decades in the U.S. Navy including operations off Vera Cruz aboard the USS Somers during the Mexican War. He later received an assignment as a Naval Academy instructor but returned to the sea with a cruise East Indies Squadron in the Pacific Ocean. The dark clouds of disunion soon began to gather and the Civil War swept across the land. Lieutenant Waddell resigned his commission and returned home late in 1861 and was dismissed from the U.S. Navy in January 1862.
In March 1862, Waddell was appointed a Lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy and was assigned to the incomplete ironclad, 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 eagerly awaiting the availability of a seagoing position.
That opportunity finally arrived in October 1864. The English steamer, Sea King was converted to the Confederate cruiser, Shenandoah. As her Commanding Officer, Waddell made a long and productive cruise through the south Atlantic, across the Indian Ocean and into the north Pacific. In the Arctic waters, he devastated the United States flag whaling fleet during June 1865. However, 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 England.
Guitar label says "Hecho Manuel Perez Garcia Calle Jnacio no. 23 Havana ano 1841". The English translation is "Made by Manuel Perez Garcia, 23 Jnacio Street, Havana, 1841"
Captain James I. Waddell