Gideon Welles wrote: "The close of the career of the Shenandoah on the high seas was notoriously and indisputably that of a pirate, and the piracy was one of the most odious and despicable character.
"It was not the plunder of richly laden barks belonging to 'merchant princes,' who could afford the loss, though they might feel it, but the wanton destruction of the property of individuals seeking a humble subsistence in one of the most laborious and perilous of callings, and who could make no show of resistance to the overwhelming force of the pirate.
"No other description of robbery upon the high seas could have inflicted so much individual distress upon persons so little able to bear it, and so little deserving of it."
In other words, Welles regarded Waddell and crew as pirates and would like to have them hanged. And, as far as the whaling ships destroyed, these were mostly owned by those "merchant princes" he spoke of and all were insured by maritime insurance companies who were extremely mad about the claims.
Good Thing Waddell and Crew Made It to Liverpool and Weren't Captured by the United States. I Think Old Gideon Would Have Hoisted 'Em All. --Old B-R'er