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Hawley, Jennifer J.
Florida's Civil War soldiers
h [electronic resource] /
by Jennifer J. Hawley.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this thesis is to chronicle the actions of the soldiers of Florida during the Civil War, both within and without Florida. As there has not been a great deal written on this topic, it is hoped that this thesis will contribute to the discussion and perhaps lead others to study this field.The soldiers of Florida during the Civil War deserve the same attention given to the soldiers from more prominent states. Those who fought for the Confederacy and stayed to defend their state often had to fight against overwhelming odds. Abandoned for a time by the Confederacy, those left behind had to do their best with what they had. Those who fought for the Union and returned to liberate their state often had to contend with the hatred of their fellow Floridians. They had better support and arms than their Confederate brethren, but fought for a state that branded them "traitors" and "deserters." The fight within Florida was not the whole story. Most of the soldiers from Fl orida who fought in the Civil War did so in other states. Often unhappy about being taken from the state they volunteered to fight for, most of them still proudly represented their state. This is not to say there were no problems. On the contrary, desertion and acts of cowardice were issues that needed to be addressed. This should not; however, take away from the contributions of the brave individuals and the groups they represented.Chapter 1 gives a brief overview of the state of affairs in Florida at the time of the Civil War. Chapters 2 through 6 detail events in Florida for each year of the war. The actions of both Union and Confederate sympathizers are described in as much detail as possible. From Fort Pickens to Cedar Key to Tampa to Jacksonville, and back again, the soldiers of Florida fought many battles throughout the state of Florida. Several times---at Tampa and Natural Bridge most notably---it came down to Floridians in the Confederacy vs. Floridians in the Union. Chapters^ 7 through 11 describe the actions of the Florida troops who fought in the larger war at places such as Chancellorsville and Antietam. These chapters are also divided by year. The majority of the soldiers of Florida were called upon to leave their state and go to other states to fight on behalf of the Confederacy. They did so, in many cases, very reluctantly. However, they distinguished themselves at places such as Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Cold Harbor, the Wilderness, and Gettysburg. When the Confederacy gave its last gasp at Petersburg and Appomattox Courthouse, soldiers of Florida were there. Chapter 12 speaks of individuals and smaller groups and the contributions---both large and small---they made. Chapter 13 sums up the information presented in the previous chapters, attempts to answer all of the questions raised within the text, and provides a conclusion to the work.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2005.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
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Adviser: John Belohlavek, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Florida's Civil War Soldiers by Jennifer J. Hawley A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of History College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: J ohn Belohlavek, Ph.D. Philip Levy, Ph.D. William Murray, Ph.D Date of Approval: November 15, 2005 Keywords: state, floridia ns, men, fought, defenders Copyright 2005, Jennifer J. Hawley
i Table of Contents List of Figures.....................................................................................................................ii Abstract....................................................................................................................... .......iv Chapter 1: A Last Picture of Peace and The First Days of War in Florida..........................1 Chapter 2: Defenders of the State: 1862...........................................................................19 Chapter 3: Defenders of the State: 1863 and 1864..........................................................32 Chapter 4: Defenders of the State: 1865..........................................................................46 Chapter 5: Floridians in the Wider War: 1861 and 1862.................................................59 Chapter 6: Floridians in the Wider War: 1863.................................................................73 Chapter 7: Floridians in the Wider War: 1864 and 1865.................................................84 Chapter 13: Who Were the Soldiers of Florida?...............................................................92 End Notes...........................................................................................................................97 Works Cited.....................................................................................................................106
ii List of Figures Figure 1. Modern Map of Florida .......................................................................................2 Figure 2. Enlargement of the Panhandle of Modern Florida...............................................3 Figure-3 Enlargement of the Northern Portion of Modern Peninsular Florida...................3 Figure 4 Enlargement of the Southern Po rtion of Modern Peninsular Florida....................4 Figure 5 Florida in 1856......................................................................................................6 Figure 6 Members of the Secession Convention in Florida.................................................7 Figure 7 Civil War Monument in Front of the Old Capital Building in Tallahassee..........8 Figure 8 Drawing of the Docks at Pensacola in 1861..........................................................9 Figure 9 Fort Pickens in the 20 th Century..........................................................................11 Figure 10 The Area Surrounding Fort Pickens..................................................................13 Figure 11 Landing Reinforcements at Santa Rosa Island for Fort Pickens.......................14 Figure 12 Modern Park Services Ma p of the Area Around Fort Pickens..........................15 Figure 13 Railroads of North Florida a nd South Georgia Before and During the War.....................................................................................................................................21 Figure 14 The Harbor at Fernandina in 1862.....................................................................22 Figure 15 View of Tampa from Fort Brooke in the Late 19 th Century..............................25 Figure 16 Saint Marks Lighthouse.....................................................................................26 Figure 17 General Joseph Finegan.....................................................................................28 Figure 18 Engraving of Fort Brooke in 1838.....................................................................34 Figure 19 Tampas Fort Brooke, 18??...............................................................................35
iii Figure 20 Railroad Line Leading to Olustee......................................................................37 Figure 21 The Battle of Olustee, Florida...........................................................................39 Figure 22 Civil War Monument at Olustee........................................................................41 Figure 23 View from a Possible Site of the Union Landing Near the St. Marks Lighthouse..........................................................................................................................48 Figure 24 The Lighthouse at St. Marks as Viewed from Below.......................................49 Figure 25 Scene of Operations Against St. Marks Florida................................................51 Figure 26 Twentieth Century View of the St. Marks River from the Newport Bridge.................................................................................................................................52 Figure 27 Ruins of the Fort at St. Marks: San Marcos de Apalachee................................54 Figure 28 The Natural Bridge............................................................................................54 Figure 29 Monument to the Florida Troops at Natural Bridge..........................................57 Figure 30 Unidentified Confeder ate Graves at Tallahassee..............................................58 Figure 31 Tallahassee Graves of Unidentified Soldiers Killed at the Battle of Natural Bridge....................................................................................................................58 Figure 32 The Second Battle of Manassas.........................................................................68 Figure 33 The Battle of Sharpsburg...................................................................................70 Figure 34 The Battle of Chancellorsville, May 2-4...........................................................75 Figure 35 2 nd Day of the Battle of Gettysburg...................................................................79 Figure 36 2 nd Day of the Battle of Gettysburg Continued.................................................80 Figure 37 The Battle of Cold Harbor.................................................................................86 Figure 38 Area Map of Pete rsburg Virginia, 1864............................................................89
iv Floridas Civil War Soldiers Jennifer J. Hawley ABSTRACT The purpose of this thesis is to chronicl e the actions of the soldiers of Florida during the Civil War, both within and without Fl orida. As there has not been a great deal written on this topic, it is hoped that this thesis will contribute to the discussion and perhaps lead others to study this field. The soldiers of Florida during the Civil War deserve the same attention given to the soldiers from more prominent states. Those who fought for the Confederacy and stayed to defend their state often had to fight against overwhelming odds. Abandoned for a time by the Confederacy, those left behind ha d to do their best with what they had. Those who fought for the Union and returned to liberate their state often had to contend with the hatred of their fellow Floridians. They had better support and arms than their Confederate brethren, but fought for a state that branded them traitors and deserters. The fight within Florida was not the whole stor y. Most of the soldiers from Florida who fought in the Civil War did so in other stat es. Often unhappy about being taken from the state they volunteered to fight for, most of them still proudly represented their state. This is not to say there were no problems. On the contrary, desertion and acts of cowardice were issues that needed to be addressed. This should not; however, take away from the contributions of the brave individuals and the groups they represented.
v Chapter 1 gives a brief overview of the state of affairs in Florida at the time of the Civil War. Chapters 2 through 6 detail events in Florida for each year of the war. The actions of both Union and Confederate sympat hizers are described in as much detail as possible. From Fort Pickens to Cedar Key to Tampa to Jacksonville, and back again, the soldiers of Florida fought many battles througho ut the state of Florida. Several timesat Tampa and Natural Bridge most notablyit cam e down to Floridians in the Confederacy vs. Floridians in the Union. Chapters 7 th rough 11 describe the actions of the Florida troops who fought in the larger war at places such as Chancellorsville and Antietam. These chapters are also divided by year. The majority of the soldiers of Florida were called upon to leave their state and go to other states to fight on behalf of the Confederacy. They did so, in many cases, very reluctantly. However, they distinguished themselves at places such as Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Cold Harbor, the Wilderness, and Gettysburg. When the Confederacy gave it s last gasp at Pete rsburg and Appomattox Courthouse, soldiers of Florida were there. Chapter 12 speaks of individuals and smaller groups and the contributionsboth large and smallthey made. Chapter 13 sums up the information presented in the previous chapters, attempts to answer all of the questions raised within the text, and provides a conclusion to the work.
1 Chapter 1: A Last Picture of Peace and The First Days of War in Florida The written history of the Civil War is rife with tales of the brave, the gallant, the remarkable from states such as Virginia, Ge orgia, Maine, and New York. But what about the soldiers of Florida? They fought and bled and died for the same causes as their more famous contemporaries. Was there anything th at set them apart, or were they nothing more than insignificant rabble? Were they brav e soldiers, or did they run at the first sign of a fight? How many were injured, how many fell ill, how many died while in the service of their nation? Why did they fight; and perhap s more importantly, how did they choose which side to give their allegiance? The soldiers of the Sunshine State serv ed in both the Union and the Confederate armies. Some found places in the navy prot ecting the coast or al ternately running or defending the blockade. Some joined the caval ry, where speed and skill with a horse was at a premium. The vast majority, however, se rved as foot-soldiers in the infantry of one army or the other. These postings were by no means permanent, and some soldiers filled more than one position during their terms of service. Once the type of soldier was determined, there was one further option: soldie rs either stayed within the state to protect lives, property, strategic positions, and sources of provisions; or they traveled to other states to fight in the larger war.
In order to understand the troops from Florida, it is first necessary to determine who they were and where they came from. Florida attained statehood in 1845. The following fifteen years were a time of exponential growth for the new state. In addition to population increases of nearly 100%, twelve new counties were formed during this period. The state in the antebellum period was split into three geographic sectionsEast, West, and Middle (or Central) Florida. East Florida encompassed the region from the Figure-1-Modern Map of Florida (Taken from: Exploring Florida, Internet, http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/maps/1800b/1800b.htm ) 2
Figure 2-Enlargement of the Panhandle of Modern Florida 3 Figure 3-Enlargement of the Northern Portion of Modern Peninsular Florida
Figure 4-Enlargement of the Southern Portion of Modern Peninsular Florida Suwannee River to the Atlantic Ocean. West Florida included everything from the Apalachicola River to the western edge of the panhandle. Middle Florida was made up of the land between the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers. In the years leading up to the Civil War, South Florida emerged as more and more settlers decided to brave the mosquito-infested area filled with mangrove swamps. Floridas economy was primarily based in agriculture. A variety of crops, including oats, corn, wheat, etc. were grown in great abundance. Cotton flourished in East and Middle Florida. Although most Floridians farmed on a small scale, there was a planter class. According to the 1860 census, Floridas population at that time numbered 140,424, including 77,746 whites, and of these 5,152 owned slaves. The slaves themselves made up approximately 44% of the 4
5 total population. In Gainesville, for inst ance, the white population numbered 223, while the negroes numbered 46. In 1860, Pensacolas population was 2,876. The planters controlled most of the land wealth, which was concentrat ed in seven plantation counties in Middle Florida. Not only did this powerful minority dominate Floridas economy, but they also exercised a great deal of influence over Floridas government. This political power would become particular ly significant once events from within and without Florida thrust the issue of secessi on into the limelight. 1 The years leading up to 1860 saw the rise of the Republican Party and increasingly divisive conflicts with th e Democratic Party. The Republicans held increasing sway in the North, while most of the South belonged to the Democrats. Floridians derided the Republicans as danger ous fanatics. Gover nor Madison Starke Perry even approached the General Assemb ly with the accusation that the Republicans were directly responsible for the death a nd destruction of John Browns 1859 raid. He then called for a reorganization of the state m ilitia, both in light of current events and in case of some future emergency. He had a sp ecific situation in mindthe emergency of the approaching Presidential election. The General Assembly responded by reorganizing the militia and patrol systems. They gave permission to the governor to act in defense of Southern rightswith other Sout hern states in the event that a Republican won the 1860 election. Popular support for ac tion had swelled in late 1859, and through the entirety of 1860, as numerous voluntee r militia units sprung up. They took names such as the Jacksonville Light Infantry, the Fernandina Rifles, a nd the Jefferson Rifles. 2 As the elections dragged on, realization of just what (to the minds of Democratic Floridians) a victory by the Republican candi date, Abraham Lincoln, would mean took
Figure 5-Florida in 1856 (Taken from: Exploring Florida, Internet, http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/maps/1800b/1800b.htm ) hold of the populace with a vengeance. Fears abounded that a slave uprising would be the logical result of a Republican win. The October murder of a Hernando County man by one of his slaves raised fears that were only slightly calmed by the lynching of the guilty party. 3 The St. Augustine Examiner had asked, What Shall Florida do [if Lincoln is elected]? The answer, Secede of course! 4 Floridas Democratic candidates did extraordinarily well in the elections. Unfortunately for their cause; however, the same could not be said of the performance of Democrats on the national stage. The votes were counted; and Lincoln, leader of the Black Republicans, emerged victorious. On 6
Figure 6 Members Secession Convention of Florida (Taken from: Members of the 1861 Secession convention: Tallahassee, 1861, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/ ) January 10, 1861, Floridas Secession Commission decided that Florida would become the third state to leave the Union, following the example of South Carolina and Mississippi: 5 . and the State of Florida is hereby declared a Sovereign and Independent Nation, and that all ordinances heretofore adopted in so far as they create or recognize said Union, are rescinded, and all laws or parts of laws in force in the State, in so far as they recognize or assent to said Union be and they are hereby repealed. 6 Within a few months, Floridians met in convention to ratify the Confederate constitution and become a part of the Confederate States of America. These drastic 7
decisions by no means reflected the will of all Floridians. The wealthy planters were far more enthusiastic about secession than the yeoman farmers and urban residents who constituted their neighbors. Former Governor Richard Keith Call was adamant in his opposition. He considered the secessionists actions to be treasonous. Some initial opponents, however, abandoned their views once the deed was done and sought positions of power within the new Confederate government. 7 Figure 7-Civil War Monument in Front of the Old Capital Building in Tallahassee (Taken by the author: 3/2005) Events progressed rapidly in both the political and military arenas. As early as January 5, prominent Floridians such as Senator David Yulee and Joseph Finegan called for the immediate seizure of all of the Federal arsenals and forts within the state. By January 11, the New York Times reported the intention of Florida to seize her 8
fortifications in the same issue that announced her imminent secession. Some of the locations seized were these: Fort Clinch in Fernandina, Fort Marion in St. Augustine, and arsenals at Chattahoochee and on the Apalachicola River. In fact, Floridians managed to obtain all but three: Fort Taylor in Key West, Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, and Fort Pickens in Pensacola remained in Federal hands. 8 The first Civil War military action in which Floridians participated actually preceded, and very nearly brought about, the onset of the conflict. The city of Pensacola was strategically important as a railroad hub and shipping port. It played host to four significant military installations: Fort Pickens, Fort McRee, Fort Barrancas, and a large naval yard. The three forts were basically unoccupied, and the naval yards commodore refused to act without specific orders. Aside from the men at the naval yard, the only Federal force in the area was located at nearby Barrancas barracks and consisted of forty-six men under Lieutenant Adam Slemmer. 9 Figure 8-Drawing of the Docks at Pensacola in 1861 (Taken from: Drawing of the docks during the civil war : Pensacola, Florida, 1861, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) 9 The states other forts (except Key West) peacefully surrendered to the Florida militia forces that had been raised by the governor for that express purpose. The majority of these surrendered even before the state had actually seceded. At Apalachicola, for
10 example, the commander surrendered to the troops from Florida on January 6, 1861, without a fight because he simply did not have sufficient men to keep the town from them. As his lastand really onlyact of defi ance, he refused to give them the keys to the arsenal. He then wired for instructi ons from his commanders. When none were forthcoming, he did eventually surrender th e keys. The U.S. commander of St. Augustine did not even consider attempting to stop the Floridians from taking over on January 7. He willingly gave them the keys to his arsenal, but he did demand a receipt. In his official report he relayed his belief that he had give n up nothing of any great value 10 Immediately following secession, ther e were only about 4,000 Floridian Unionists. By 1865, however, this number had more than double d. This resulted, in part, from a dislike of Confederate taxes and conscription. This increase in Union sympathies had little impact on the destiny of Florid a until the Federal invasions. Key West remained the one exception. Attempts by the Confederacy to peacefu lly take control of the island through political maneuvering faile d. The South never invaded, and the Union kept the city throughout the war. Confeder ate sympathizers wisely departed the town. 11 The commander of Fort Taylor in Key West quickly made such preparations as were necessary in his estimation to protect the post: SIR: In consequence of the secession of this State and the seizure of the forts and arsenals in other Southern States, I have moved my command to Fort Taylor, and shall; defend it to the last moment against any force attempting to capture it. I have four months' provisions and 70,000 ga llons water, but we cannot [withstand] a siege against any organized army, and therefore should be re-enforced immediately. Two vessels of war should be stationed here to protect the entrance to the harbor and prevent a landing beyond the range of my g uns. Mail facilities having ceased through Florida, all orders for this post should be sent via Havana from New York through the American consul. 12
Meanwhile, at Pensacola, Slemmer abandoned McRee and Barrancas on January 12, 1861, to take up a position in the more highly defensible Fort Pickens located on Santa Rosa Island. Slemmer was acting on the direct orders of his Commander in Chief, President James Buchanan. 13 The Federals abandoned the navy yard as well, and rendered much of the equipment and the barracks unusable before leaving. Fort Pickens was very defensiblesituated in a highly strategic position at the mouth of Pensacola Bay. Just a few days after the Federals removed themselves to the relative safety of the fort, they were called upon by four representatives of Florida and Alabamaone civilian and three military men. They asked to see the commander of the fort and requested that Slemmer and his men immediately surrender to the jurisdiction of the governors of Florida and Alabama. Slemmer refused on the grounds that he had been ordered to hold his position and that he did not recognize the authority of the governors. At this point, Figure 9-Fort Pickens in the 20 th Century (Taken from: Herman, Kurt. Cannons at Fort Pickens: Florida. 19??, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) 11
12 the men left as peaceably as they had come. 14 The next attempt by Florida to take Fort Pickens would be a bit harsher, thou gh the tone remained conciliatory: SIR: I have full powers from the governor of Florida to take possession of the forts and navy-yard, &c., &c., in this harbor . . Listen to me, then, I beg of you, and act with me in preventing the sh edding the blood of your brethren. Surrender the fort. You and your command may reoccupy the barracks and quarters at Barancas on your simple parole to remain there quietly until ordered away, or to resume the command of the harbor should an adjustment of present difficulties in the Union be arrived at. All the ba ggage and private property of and kind belonging to yourself, officers, men, and th eir families shall be preserved to you. Consider this well, and take care that you will so act so to have no fearful recollections of a tragedy that you might have averted, but rather to make the present moment one of the glorious, becau se Christian like, of your life. I beg of you to receive this communication in the same spirit in which it is offered. I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obe dient servant, WM. H. CHASE. 15 Slemmer inquired how many men Chasethe Ma jor General in charge of all state troops commanded. The answer was 800-900. Slemmer replied that he would consider the proposal, but he soon came back with the answer that he believed it his duty to defend the fort until it became impossible for him to do so. 16 Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia sent troops to Pensacola to prepare for a possible attack. Florida quickly raised ten volunteer companies that combined to form the First Florida Infantry Regiment and marched to Pensacola on April 5, 1861. Once they arrived, they placed themselves unde r the command of Brigad ier General Braxton Bragg of the provisional army, who had been assigned to Florida. He had previously been in command of the Louisiana state milit ia. Bragg, a favorite of Jefferson Davis, on March 7 was appointed Brigadier General of the Confederate Army and ordered to assume command at Pensacola, Florida. Fort Pickens joined Fort Sumter in Charleston as one of the few forts in the South occupied by the Federals. Towards the end of March,
Bragg commanded 1,116 men, with 5,000 more in the process of making their way to Pensacola. 17 A truce had existed at Fort Pickens prior to Lincolns March 4 inauguration; but thereafter, fears intensified that a battle at either Fort Pickens or Fort Sumter would result in Civil War. Bragg had his troops fortify Pensacola and train for a possible attack. Lincoln decided to overrule the Fort Pickens truce, which had allowed the Union soldiers within the fort to receive suppliesbut not reinforcementsin exchange for the Confederates promise not to attack. Lincoln firmly believed that Fort Pickens remained Federal property and as such should be both reinforced and protected. Accordingly, 200 Yankees landed on Santa Rosa Island and sneaked into the fort during the evening hours of April 11. The Civil War officially began the next day when fighting erupted in South Figure 10-The Area Surrounding Fort Pickens (Taken from: Hand drawn map of fortifications in Pensacola Bay, Florida, 1861, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/ ) 13
Carolina at Fort Sumter. Both sides at Fort Pickens reinforced their troops, and prepared for an imminent battle. It would be some time, however, before that battle took place. 18 While the men at Pensacola had a respite, the same could not be said of other soldiers within the state. On April 16, 1861, Lincoln ordered that the entire Southern coast be blockaded. This meant little to Floridas ports at first, as the Union navy had few ships. This would change as the year progressed. Floridas Governor John Milton realized that he needed to organize a defense of Floridas strategically important coastline to protect ports essential to the commerce and supply needs of the Confederacy. Unfortunately, he had extreme difficulties in raising sufficient troops. Furthermore, the Confederacy was continuously reassigning troops stationed in Florida to more Figure 11-Landing Reinforcements at Santa Rosa Island for Fort Pickens (Taken from: Landing Reinforcements on Santa Rosa Island for Fort Pickens, Frank Leslies Newspaper, 1861. from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) important positions outside of the state. Apalachicola became the first Florida town to be cut off by the blockade on June 11, 1861, when the USS Montgomery took up position 14
in Apalachicola Bay. Tampa, St. Marks, and most of the remaining Florida posts also soon felt the bite of the blockade. Florida organized blockade runners but few broke through with supplies. In addition to the danger they posed at sea, Union troops also made incursions inland to harass the coastal towns. 19 Certainly, Confederate Florida did attempt to defend itself. Cannon were set up at St. Augustine, Amelia Island, Fernandina, Cedar Key, St. Marks, Apalachicola, Tallahassee, and at the entrance to the St. Johns River. By May, Florida had contributed 700 men to the forces at Pensacola, and had an additional two thousand on stand-by awaiting orders. On May 10, a Confederate steamer captured the Union schooner, Figure 12-Modern Park Services Map of the Area Around Fort Pickens (Taken from: National Park Service, Gulf Islands Sea Shore, Fort Pickens Area Map, http://www.nps.gov/guis/pphtml/maps.html) William C. Atwater, along with thirty-one members of the crew. The war preparations did not stop there. As of August 9, six companies of Confederate infantry occupied Amelia Island. An additional two companies positioned themselves at the mouth of the St. Johns River and St. Augustine respectively. Each of these companies was comprised of eighty to one hundred men. Some concern emerged regarding the state of the defenses 15
16 at Apalachicola, however. Local military men warned that the economic hub and the nearby fort needed to be given a higher priorit y. They feared that it might already be too late as Union sympathizers, who were well acqua inted with the lack of proper defenses at Apalachicola, were in the area. A plan to fortify the town with artillery regiments and additional cannon was broached, but word cam e from Governor Milton that no cannon remained to be distributed. 20 The temporary peace at Pensacola did not leave the commanders of the two sides idle. Numerous increasingly unpleasa nt letters passed back and forth: Colonel HARVEY BROWN, Commanding U. S. Forces, Fort Pickens, Fla. SIR: Your communication of th is date announced your in tention to "act on the offensive whenever the honor and intere sts of your country, in your judgment, require it." To any action you may take I shall respond with alacrity. Having voluntarily pledged yourself "act on the defensive, unless assailed," I am no little surprised at your complaint that I, who acted under no such pledge, have been "constantly hostilely engaged in erecting batteries against y our fort," when you have been all the while, under my da ily observation, doing precisely the same thing against my position. The merits of the controversy between our respective governments I choose not to discuss with you. Impartial history will decide that question for us; but I must insist on th e propriety and necessity of your observing those courtesies of style and language wh ich I have a right to expect from one holding your high position, in any future communications addressed to these headquarters. I am, sir, very respectful ly, your obedient servant, BRAXTON BRAGG, Brigadier-General, Commanding 21 Since the Confederacy occupied the navy yard and the majority of the areas fortifications, they controlled several ships in the waters around Pensacola. The situation intensified when a Union force succeeded in covertly boarding a nd burning a Confederate ship in the bay. The eleven Union soldiers who died while attempting to board the ship became the first soldiers killed in an ger (in Florida) during the Civil War. 22
17 General Bragg responded with a night attack of his own on October 9 against Santa Rosa Island. The Confederate force of approximately 1,200 (three battalions) moved in on the 600 Union soldiers within the fort. The Second battalion included two companies from the First regiment of Florid a volunteers, commanded by Floridian Col. J. Patton Anderson. The First Florida regiment also contributed Dr. Gamble and twenty volunteers to the accompanying medical con tingent. The original object of the expedition was a surprise attack on the Union camp outside of Fort Pickens, followed by an assault on the fort itself. The initial e ffort was a success; but su rprise was lost early on, and the Confederate troops came under fire both as they moved back toward their boats and as they arranged to tow one boa t whose propeller had become jammed. The Confederate forces suffered six officers and tw elve soldiers killed, six officers and thirtytwo soldiers wounded, and seven officers a nd twenty-three soldiers captured; the Yankees estimated their casualties at: fi fty to sixty dead, one hundred wounded, and twenty captured. One of the Confederate casua lties, Captain Richard Bradford earned the dubious distinction of being the first Floridian to die during the war. 23 Colonel J. P. Anderson reported to Governor Milton: You will have heard of the affair on Santa Rosa Island on the morning of the 9 th inst. The object of the expedition [the attack on the camp] was fully and completely accomplished, though the loss of such men as Captain Bradford of Florida; Lieutenant Nelms of Georgia; Sergeant Routh of Tallahassee; Private Tillinghast, etc., would not be compen sated for, in my opinion, by the total annihilation of Billy Wilson and his whole band of thieves and cut-throats. 24 The Florida regiment had only 100 men in the expedition, out of 1,060, and lost 6 killed, 8 wounded, and 12 prisoners. I deeply regret that such men . should have fallen into the enemys hands. Howeve r, they write to us that they are well treated, but destiny unknown. By any civili zed nation in the world most of these prisoners would be promptly delivered up, they were taken while standing as a safeguard over the enemies hospital to pr event it from sharing the fate of the balance of the camp. They protected it from flame and sword most scrupulously
18 but failing to hear the signal to retire, only remained too faithful to their trust, and have fallen into the hands of the enemy by so doing. Their names should illustrate one of the brightest pages of Floridas history. 25 Andersons was not the only account of the battle Robert Gospero Shaw wrote a slightly more colorful account in a letter to his sister in Quincy: I have some news of great importa nce to communicate. I predicted the bombardment of Fort Pickens would be the last of September for 3 months. It came very near happening last night. Y ou perhaps have already heard the news. A party of 1000 men under Gen. Anderson and Col. Anderson Fla. Reg. Jackson 5 th Geo. to surprise the horde of Lincolnite s sent over on Santa Rosa Island rushed [the] Zouaves before they could get out of their tents the whole encampment was on fire. The Zouaves ran like clever fe llows, our men after them yelling at every step. By the time several of their batteries were spiked the regulars rushed out of the fort and tremendous firing was kept up for three hours. Our men retreated, followed by the regulars. Twice they st ood and drove the regulars back and again rushed forward to their boats which bei ng regained, they came to more hospitable shores . . Our men accomplished all they wanted and stayed longer than was expected in consequences of which Gen. Bragg ordered other troops to be conveyed over thinking our boys were in a mess. But they left before the second expeditions started. The retreat was made in good or der just as was intended. 26 The conflict at Pensacola dragged on. By the first of November, Bragg commanded 12,000 men and, except for a shortage of firearms, felt his situation had much improved. November 22 saw the most imposing military demonstration in the history of Florida with the clash of the arti llery of Fort Pickens and Fort McRee (with other nearby Confederat e batteries, as well as Confederate ships). The guns fired almost continuouslyat least 6,000 shots for two days. Surprising, only a few soldiers died on both sides, with the men stationed at Fo rt McRee suffering the higher casualties. 27 So ended the last major military engagement in Florida in the first year of the war.
19 Chapter 2: Defenders of the State: 1862 Bloody battles and significan t losses outside of Florida left the Confederate Army looking for reinforcements. President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee accordingly ordered large numbers of troops st ationed in Florida to withdraw from their defensive positions. Compared to some of the other Southern states, Florida had few men available for her defense. She had already given as many as was prudent to Richmond. Now the Confederacy wanted more. Florida, in 1862, remained insignificant in their plans for the war, except as a place to gath er troops. Governor Milton was told that Floridians would simply have to defend them selves. The coastal towns suffered greatly because of this decision. 28 Milton futilely attempted to persuade Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin of the wrongness of R obert E. Lees order th at nearly all of the Confederate troops currently in Fl orida should be sent elsewhere: The effect of the order is to abandon Middle, East, and South Florida to the mercy or abuse of the Lincoln Government. It cannot be possible that the order was intended to have such an effect. If stri ctly obeyed, the forces at Saint Augustine, on the Saint John's River, at Tampa, and at this place, have to be ordered to the defenses of the Chattahoochee River or to Tennessee. I cannot and will not believe that an order to ha ve that effect would have be en issued without previous notice to the executive of the State, that proper measures might have been advised for the protection of the lives, liberty, a nd property of the citizens of Middle, East, and South Florida. . But, sir, we do not wish to give up our personal right s without striking a blow in their defense, and we are destitute of arms and the munitions of war, while in the State is a large quantity of arms and ammunition belonging to the Confederate Government not only liable but in danger of being captured by the
20 enemy. I allude to the arms and amm unition at Smyrna. Moreover, when brought from Smyrna to Madison [the railroad depot], for the want of ready and sufficient means of transportation, they are subject to be seized and used by slaves against the lives of our citizens. I propose to order these arms and munitions of war to be sent to this place for safe-keeping, and, if necessary, for use by the forces now being mustered in for Confederate se rvice during the war. To get them from Smyrna, I shall probably order some compan ies to that place to take the arms and march with them to protect the wagons of transportation. If here, they will be subject to your order or forwarded wit hout it as soon as possible. If the enemy should get command of the Saint John's River, it will not be possible to get the arms from Smyrna without a long and tedious march, where subsistence for the forces cannot be easily obtained. Say to me to arm and equip 2,500 men in Florida for Confederate service for the year, or for the war, if it is to the end of time, and the 2,500, upon the terms, will be armed and equipped, and the balance of the arms and equipments will be protected will be otherwise consumed in their transportation, even if not interrupted. 29 Miltons fears were understandable. If the state had to protect its arsenalsnot only from enemy troopsbut also from their ow n slaves, it would make it very difficult to establish them. Either troops would have to be taken from other areas to serve as guards, or the state would have to be very cautious as to arsenal placement. This double threatfrom within and withoutmade an alr eady problematic situation that much more complicated. As a result of losing most of his state s troops to the larger war, Governor Milton called upon all able to bear arms to volunteer to replace those who had been sent elsewhere. This included men under eighteen an d over thirty five, as well as those who had paid replacements to take their place in Confederate service. 30 The little town of Cedar Key became one of the first communities to feel the firsthand effects of this decision. A pproximately one hundred residents had the misfortune of living in a very important loca le. In addition to its harbor, the community also boasted the western hub of the Florida Railroad which ran from Cedar Key, past
Gainesville, and onto its eastern hub in Fernandina. The important trading center became a tempting target for Union forces, and the withdrawal of two companies of defenders on January 14, 1862, made it irresistible. Only one lieutenant, twenty two men, and three Figure 13-Railroads of North Florida and South Georgia Before and During the War (Taken from: Nulty, p.22) outdated cannon stood in their way. They had only been left there to guard the town from roving bands of deserters and criminals. On January 16, 1862, the Union gunboat Hatteras moved into the harbor, and burned the Florida Railroads wharf, as well as several blockade running vessels filled with contraband goods. The Confederates put up little fight. Perhaps they knew they were outnumbered and wished to protect the town from any of the unnecessary damage that would have resulted from a fight. The lieutenant and fourteen of his men were easily captured while trying to escape. The rest of the Confederates were able to get away. The three cannon had long been deemed unserviceable, but nevertheless the defenders had taken the precaution of spiking them 21
before the Union troops could make their landing. Cedar Key accordingly fell into Union hands and remained so for the rest of the war. 31 At the other end of the rail lines, Fernandina was protected by Fort Clinch. The city had suffered from the blockade since very early in the war, and its citizens had long anticipated an invasion. On March 4, 1862, Union forces landed at Amelia Island and moved on to take the town, and perhaps more significantly the port, for the course of the war. The Confederate troops stationed at Fernandina evacuated their positions in the face of the Union advance, along with a high proportion of the populace. 32 Figure 14-The Harbor at Fernandina in 1862 (Taken from: Map of the Harbor of Fernandina Florida, 1862, from the Florida Memory Project at the Florida State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) On March 7, as the Union troops turned their attention to Jacksonville, Mayor Halsted Hoeg made a difficult decision: 22
23 In as much as all the Confederate troo ps, arms and munitions of war upon the St. Johns River are ordered away . it is us eless to attempt a defe nse of the city of Jacksonville, and therefore, upon the approach of the enemy, it should be surrendered. 33 Union troops moved into the city on Marc h 12. St. Augustine suffered Union occupation on the same day. Fort Marion had long provided a false sense of security as it possessed neither adequate defenders nor updated ca nnon. Accordingly, the city surrendered immediately when confronted by Union gunboats. St. Augustine then began a period of unusual prosperity as Union goods, soldiers, and money flooded into the town. The next target on the Federals list did not go quietl y. A force of 52 Union troops landed at New Smyrna on March 22, 1862. They intended to capture a group of bl ockade runners who had successfully brought a large quantity of guns into Mosquito Inlet. The blockade runners were in no mood to run and ambushe d the Federals, killing forty two of them. 34 On March 24, the First Special Battali on Florida Volunteers participated in a cannon barrage on the Union-held portions of Jacksonville. The next day, approximately 1,500 Union soldiers advanced on enemy positions about three miles outside of town. Confederate infantry, supported by artillery, marched out to meet them. While this engagement took place, Florid a artillery under Captain R.H. Gamble and Lieutenant F.L Villepigue fired upon Union troops attempting to conceal themselves nearby with the intention to set-up a cross-fire. The effectiv eness of the Confederate defense forced the Union troops to retreat with significant losses. Among those commended for their actions in the battle by Brigadier General Jo seph Finegan, Confederate States Army, were Floridians: Lieutenant-Colonel A.H. McCorm ick and Major Robert Harrison, both of the Second Florida Cavalry. Several smaller skirmishes occurred on March 26, 27, and 29. 35
24 Florida civilians felt betrayed by their gove rnment. As Octavia Stephens from the region of the St. Johns River wr ote to her soldier husband, I suppose you heard that the Government has aba ndoned this State and the Governor has ordered all the regiments that are mustered into the Confederate service away from East Fla. What is to become of us? I think we will have to leave or be made Lincolns subjects. 36 Lieutenant Winston Stephens seemed equally despondent in his response: Oh! What a dark hour in this Country a nd I fear we have not seen the worst by a good dealebut I have hope even now when everything is so unpromising. I think our cause a just one and I believe that the God of battl es will yet crown our arms with more and greater Victories and the cause will yet prosper. Nothing of a common nature can be achieved without an effort and some sacrifice, and in this great struggle we must suffer in proporti on to the benefit we are to derive from the struggle. One thing gives me more tr ouble about this matt er than all others, and that this State is to be abandoned to the enemy and if true I fear we will have a rebellion in this State, as the people are determined not to go out of State and leave their families to the mercies of the enemy and fight for others . . I will not abandon my wife for any cause. 37 Winston went on to explain that his fears for his family had been aggravated by the rumors he had heard of the savage rape by Union soldiers of a 10 year old Fernandina girl. 38 Union troops abandoned the city of J acksonville on April 12, 1862, after civilian sources reported that Confederate reinfo rcements would soon have them vastly outnumbered. Few civilians remained within th e city at this point. According to the unofficial truce, which lasted through Septem ber, the Yankees would not attack so long as the Confederates did not fortify the town. 39 Further south, a Union gunboat commander ordered Tampa to surrender on April 13, 1862. A Confederate observer described how Major Thomas refused to yield to his demands:
The Yankee officer then gave him twenty four hours to take the women and children out of the town as they would attack the place at the end of that time. Our men gave three cheers at the prospect of having a fight which made the men in the Yankee boat looked down in the mouth as they expected to see us all look frightened and ready to surrender. 40 The defenders of Tampas Fort Brooke ultimately endured a small bombardment on April 14, but no attack came. The town still suffered, however, when the majority of her citizens fled to safer areas. They would stay away for some time. 41 From May 9 to May 16, rumors ran rampant of an imminent attack on Clearwater and Old Tampa. Reports of Yankee sightings became increasingly common. The scattered families with Confederate sympathies that lived along the coast became Figure 15-View of Tampa from Fort Brooke in the Late 19 th Century (Taken from: Morrow, Stanley J., Looking into Tampa from Old Fort Brooke, Florida, 1882-1887, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) increasingly concerned. Eventually, coast guard groups, such as Robert B. Smiths Company, 7 th Regt. Florida Volunteers were detailed to sail these outlying families to safety. 42 25
Meanwhile, Union naval activity in the Panhandle raised Confederate anxiety levels. In February 1862, General Samuel Jones (General Braggs successor) began dismantling the cannon and other Confederate defenses around Pensacola. The fall of New Orleans in April led him to speed up the disarmament. Union actions in Mobile Bay prompted the evacuation of soldiers in hospitals on May 8, along with the remainder of the provisions and goods. The infantry moved out towards Oakfield during the following evening. A number of cavalry companies remained behind to set fire to the hospital, the naval yard, Fort Barrarcas, and Fort McRee at 11:30 p.m. by a pre-arranged signal. Despite receiving heavy fire from Fort Pickens, the cavalry destroyed the fortifications and virtually everything else of use. On May 10, the Union troops marched into the remains, raising the Stars and Stripes over Pensacola on May 12. The flag would fly over Figure 16-Saint Marks Lighthouse (Taken by the Author, 3/2005) the town for the rest of the war. A small Union force landed at St. Marks on June 15 damaging the lighthouse and a few houses. On June 26, the Yankees got their revenge for the earlier Confederate victory at New Smyrna when four Union gunboats fired over 26
27 500 shells at the town. Troops then landed and burned the few surviving houses forcing the citizens to flee into the woods. Fortunately no casualties occurred. 43 On June 30, 1862, Fort Brookes new commander, Captain John W. Pearson, experienced the first test of his leadership. Pearson had brought with him his own militia unit, the Oklawaha Rangers. That morning the gunboat USS Sagamore sailed into Tampa Bay. The ship moved into firing position, and th en sent a launch to the fort under a flag of truce to demand its unconditional surrender. Pearson replied to the Union men that he did not know the meaning of the word surrender. Although they warned him that failure to comply would result in the shelling of Tampa, he told them to pitch in. They began shelling the town at 6:00 a.m. and con tinued on and off for two days. Fort Brooke returned their fire. However, once the Union ship withdrew, neither the town nor the fort was found to have sustained serious damage. Lo w civilian casualties were attributed to early warning giving time for evacuation, but th e Florida troops fare d similarly well. In fact, the soldiers behavior during the shelling was singularly unconcerned. They reportedly took shelter during the actual firi ng, only to peek out intermittently to watch and enjoy the fireworks. Pearson realized th at he did not have sufficient arms to ensure the safety of the town. He requested that additional cannon be se nt, but his superiors refused on the grounds that his post lacked sufficient value to warrant the additional artillery. Pearson was also unsatis fied with the lack of response. 44 Pearson was unhappy with the choice of ca nnon available to him. He thought that they lacked sufficient range. Accordingly, he detailed a few of his men to go to a local blacksmiths shop and make 2 cannon with a range of up to four miles. He named his new cannon Tiger and Hornet, and they served their purpose well. 45
The lack of sufficient troops to defend Florida properly continued to be an issue. Between March and August 1862, military command in Florida was reorganized with Brigadier General Howell Cobb given command of the District of Middle Florida and General Joseph Finegan put in charge of East Florida. Both men were told that they would have to raise their own troops and that they could not count on Confederate reinforcements. 46 By August, Governor Milton was still making his displeasure known: There is at this time no organized regiment in this State. Companies are stationed at different places, but at no point in sufficient numbers and suitable arrangements for defense against invasion by the enemy in moderate force.The enemy command the Saint Johns River, and are in possession of Saint Augustine and Fernandina, in East Florida. In West Florida, Pensacola, Apalachicola, Saint Josephs and Saint Andrewss Bays are blockaded and entirely unprotected. The highest vote ever cast in this State was 12,898. Eight infantry and one cavalry regiment, besides independent infantry companies enough to form a tenth regiment, have been ordered from and left the State in Confederate service. In the State are one infantry battalion, eight cavalry, two artillery, and three independent infantry companies, in the aggregate not more than 1,600 effective men. Scarcely a man to every mile of coast by which we are exposed to the power of the enemy.There is not within my knowledge a portion of the State free of skulking traitors, the majority of whom are of Northern birth and claiming to be citizens of Florida. 47 Later, Milton warned Confederate President Davis that many in Florida felt that they had been abandoned by the Confederacy. As a result, loyalty to the Confederate cause declined as pro-Union sympathizers increased. 48 The truce at Jacksonville ended at the beginning of September 1862. At that time, General Finegan decided to disregard the terms of the truce and fortify the city. The citys two primary defense Figure17-General Joseph Finegan (Taken from: Portrait of Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Finegan, 18??, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemo r y.com/Ph 28
29 points were at St. Johns Blu ff and Yellow Bluff. Yellow Bl uff was intended as a backup and consisted of a new earthen fort. St. Johns Bluff commande d a position above the place where the St. Johns River flowed into to wn. Finegan felt that St. Johns bluff was significant to the defense of the town. He also hoped it would serve as a base of operations from which he could impede th e rampages of the Union troops in the surrounding countryside and perhaps come to th e aid of Floridians at St. Augustine. Finegans idea of fortificati on involved deploying 10 heavy cannon at St. Johns Bluff. He managed to get them inst alled without incident or Union detection. However, once Union gunboats sighted the w eapons, their commander decided to attack. St. Johns Bluff received naval bombardments on Sept ember 11 and 17, but Finegans men held their positions. The Federals next decided to mix naval artillery with ground troops. The size of the force which arrived on September 30,500 men and six gunboats surprised the Confederate defenders. The C onfederates realized they were outmatched and abandoned their positions at St. J ohns bluff on October 2 under the cover of darkness. They retreated so quickly that they left behind significant munitions and equipment. On October 4, Union troops once again took possessi on of a now nearly deserted Jacksonville. Within days, they departed and once again the Confederates returned. 49 Clear evidence of Federal looti ng and wanton vandalism greeted them: The Yankees behaved more like rogues a nd black-hearted scamps than they ever did on the river before . . They not only took things but they broke and destroyed furniture and smashed in door s and windows, etc. to a great extent. 50 The Union propensity for taking control of townssuch as Jacksonvilleand then abandoning them, damaged Yankee credibility a nd created serious difficulties for those civilians who cooperated with the blue coats. 51
30 Not all opponents of the Conf ederacy ran off to join the Union. Many just did not wish to fight. The Confederate Conscription Act of 1862 meant little to them. This group was primarily poor and ill educ ated. Sometimes men refused to go to war simply out of concern for the families that they would leave behind. Safety and financial hardship became their primary motivators. Encouraged by Union authorities, Florida became a refuge of sorts for Confeder ate deserters. The Union a ttempted a volunteer drive to recruit some of Floridas deserters for milita ry service on their terms. They had little success because men who left one army were seldom in any hurry to join another. 52 The fall of 1862 found Confederate Majo r Campfield with 300 cavalry and 225 infantry on a mission in Madison, Taylor, and Lafayette Counties searching for deserters from Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. 53 As one of his contemporaries, fifteen year-old S.M. Hankins, related: Major Campfield was sent down there to break up the deserters, and he did so. He was a very determined, cruel, an d heartless man. He went through these counties laying everything in waste as he went. He burned houses and furniture, and destroyed everything of any value. Any women and children who could not establish the fact that their husband, fath er, or son was in the Confederate Army were made prisoners. So strict was he that in some cases, the places and homes were put in ashes and their owners were put behind the britch of a musket in Virginia. It did look so unjust and cruel for women and children to have to suffer as some of them had to for what their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers did. There were women that had worked ha rd, lived hard, and you might say halfstarved themselves to get a little home of their own and a few little comforts of life around them. They were forced out of their humble little log cabins and had to stand by and see their little all laid in ashes. Some of them did not even have a change of clothing. The little ones had to stand around and watch everything go up in smoke. 54 Major Campfield was under orders from the C onfederate government to burn every house in the three counties. He spared a few, but only when the residents could prove their loyalty to the Confederacy. Most, if not all of the women and children taken prisoner
31 were released before the end of the war; but they were held outside of Tallahassee for a very long time. When they did encounter a loyal citizen of the South, the majors men were on their best behavior. He heavily reli ed on these citizens to report on the loyalty, or lack thereof of their neighbors. Hankins believed that his fathers information was responsible for saving many lives and much property. Any man suspected of being a deserter, or of destroying Confederat e property was summarily shot by Major Campfields men. Only a signed affidavit pr oviding proof that Campfields assumptions were wrong would save the condemned. 55 Men whose children deserted could also find their lives forfeit: It was reported by one of the soldiers that Sam Dickerson begged very pitiful for his life when he found that he was to be executed. He said he was not responsible for the acts of his two sons. They were both deserters and leaders of a gang that gave the citizens that were loyal to the Confederate Cause a great deal of trouble. They destroyed what they could and dr ove off peoples stock for beef, which was carried to Cedar Keys where there was a gang of them camped, protected by US. gun boats and soldiers. The two Di ckerson boys ambushed, shot and killed Lieutenant Miller of the Confederat e Army. This made it hard on old man Dickerson. Also there was found in hi s house a lot of contraband goodsshoes, calico, and coffee. Mr. Dickerson was hanged and shot for his sons transgressions. 56
32 Chapter 3: Defenders of the State: 1863 and 1864 As the war progressed, food shortages led the Confederacy to begin to see value in the state they had seen no point in defending. Unlike those in many of the other Southern states, Florida farmers grew mo re food than cotton. Florida became the storehouse of the Confederac y, but shipping and transportation difficulties complicated the issue of actually ge tting the goods to the rest of the South. The Union blockade made it difficult, if not impossible, to use traditi onal coastal supply lines. Floridas rivers and primitive road systems were used as much as possible, with limited success. Railroads had problems with effectiveness as well. Sin ce the 1840s, salt was plentiful in the South thanks to foreign imports from places such as Great Britain, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. The Antebellum Southern economy afforded little room for local enterprises. There were, however, a few excep tions. Salt works in places such as Key West made little impact on overall salt production; but the Kanawha Valley near Charleston, the mines at Saltville (in Virginia ), and Goose Creek in Kentucky managed to compete in the national market. The C onfederate authoritie s underestimated the vulnerability of these Southern salt works and failed to prepar e contingency plans if they fell into Union Hands. Without these resources, foreign imports became even more necessary; and the Federal blockade cut off all hope of receiving increased supplies. Floridians were not deterred, however. They turned to the salt water surrounding their
33 state for a solution. Soon salt boiling operations, of varying sizes sprang up all along the coast. Those who ran these enterprises enjoyed several incentives: they did their patriotic duty; they enjoyed a great deal of profit; and were exempted from military service. By 1862, Floridians produced large qu antities of much-needed salt for the Confederacy. The most popular salt-making area was locat ed between Washington County and the Panhandle. Because of this locations geography, Union troops found themselves unable to surprise the salt makers. They smas hed the abandoned equipment, all the while knowing the Floridians would just rebuild it. 57 March of 1863 saw still more action in and around Jacksonville. Early in the month two Union colored regiments under Colonel Thomas Higginson proceeded to Jacksonville by way of Fernandina. Their two-fold mission was to occupy the city and carry the proclamation of freedom to the enslaved. 58 As a side issue, they wanted to take as much Florida territory as possible. The third Federal occupation of Jacksonville commenced on March 10. The Union troops met with little resistan ce, in large part because General Finegans pleas for more men and arms fell on deaf ears. Even so Finegan attempted a series of skirmishes designed to deter further Union advances but the Union troops (often aided by fire fr om gunboats on the St. Johns River) repelled his every attack. The Confed erates soon turned to technol ogy in an attempt to give themselves an edge. A large cannon (with a range of approximately two miles) was mounted upon a railroad car. It could be transp orted by rail to within less than two miles of a target town, allowing for night-time shelling. The psychological effects of this weapon far exceeded the physical ones. Once againon March 31the Union withdrew
from Jacksonville. The United States Secretary of War amazingly received a favorable report of events, and the mission was deemed a rousing success. 59 Jacksonville was not the only part of Florida to see action that March. Captain Pearson of Tampas Fort Brooke had a plan to lure Union soldiers into an ambush. He had perfected his style of guerrilla warfare while stationed along the St. Johns River. Pearson put his plan into action on March 27 when the Federal gunboat Pursuit entered the bay. He ordered his men to Gadsen Point and had them made up to look like slaves. Figure 18-Engraving of Fort Brooke in 1838 (Taken From: Engraving of Fort Brooke: Florida, 1838, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) Union soldiers from the gunboat approached in a launch under a flag of truce. As soon as they came within range of the Confederates guns, they opened fire on the Yankees wounding four of the men in the launch. The Union, incensed that their flag of truce had been disregarded, once again bombarded Fort Brooke; but no significant damage was 34
done. Pearson justified his decisions by arguing that the Union launch engaged in an illegal use of the flag of truce since the Yankees were both spying and trying to steal slaves. 60 Figure 19 Tampas Fort Brooke, 18?? (Taken from: Fort Brooke: Florida, 18??, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) Tampa fell victim to Yankee attack again on October 16, 1863, when gunboats began lobbing shells. This attack was actually a diversion, however, with the intention of allowing a raiding party to infiltrate the Hillsborough River. They sought, found, and 35
36 destroyed the blockade runners vessels, the Scottish Chief and the Kate Dale By the time a Confederate cavalry regiment from Fo rt Brooke reached the site, the boats had been burned. Hurrying to the coastline, the cavalry attacked the Union soldiers as they attempted to wade back to their own boats Ultimately, the Union losses totaled three dead, ten wounded, and five captured, while Floridas defenders suffered six dead and seven captured. 61 During July 1863, New Smyrna returned to ce nter stage in Florida. The town had endured the blockade for more than a year w ith little trouble. S uddenly, on July 9 and 11, a gunboat launched three shells into the town causing no overt damage. The action intensified on July 26, when a Union disp atch steamer and a schooner fired upon a hotel and captured several boats, some loaded w ith cotton. The towns few defenders fired upon the Union troops while taking cover in the underbrush. The Confederates succeeded in burning cotton and other supplies, both on shore and in boats, to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. 62 Along the southwest coas t, Fort Myers had been abandoned. The Yankees took advantage of the situation in December 1863, when General Daniel P. Woodbury and his force of native Floridians occupied the fo rt. They were known as the Florida Rangers and later became known as the United States 2 nd Florida Cavalry. Their purpose was to stop the exportation of salt and cattle from Florida to the rest of the Confederacy. They organized the forts defenses and built a place to load seized cattle onto transport ships. Woodbury was not content to remain in Fort Myers but planned to seize Tampa and use it as a base from which he could push furt her north. The Conf ederacy responded by
organizing the Cow Cavalry to protect the cattle being sent north. Throughout the war, Union efforts waylaid approximately 4,000 cows intended for the Confederacy. 63 In the winter of 1863--1864, Union authorities started to see Florida as ripe for invasion. With Floridas few defenders interspersed far and wide throughout the state, Lincoln and his advisors believed that a sufficiently large Union force could invade the state and replace the government loyal to the Confederacy with one firmly on the side of the Union. The President authorized the implementation of this plan in a letter dated January 13, 1864. Accordingly, approximately 7,000 cavalry, infantry, and artillery landed at Jacksonville on February 7. At once, Lieutenant-Colonel McCormick and his 350 men stationed at Camp Finegan were warned by Finegan to prepare for a possible Figure 20-Railroad Line Leading to Olustee (Taken from: Nulty, p79.) 37 attack. General Finegan later related that the enemy advanced during the evening of the 8 th Seymore arranged his men in three columns, with the cavalry leading the infantry
38 and artillery. They reached the Confederate positions at Camp Finegan as the men there were in the process of bedding down for the nigh t. The Southerners realized that they were outnumbered and withdrew to Ocean Pond on Olustee to rejoin the rest of Finegans command, which they reached on February 13. The Yankees approached by way of Baldwin and Barbers. Finegan detailed tw o companies of cavalry to slow the enemy advance and to give the Confederates time to prepare. The Union force had reached Sanderson by February 10. Lake City now lay directly in their pat h. Finegan placed 490 infantry men and two artillery pieces two a nd a half miles from Lake Citybetween the town and the enemyduring that same even ing. The men hailed from Floridas middle counties. By February 11, the Federals were within three miles of the town. The Union force, consisting of an estimated 1,400 mount ed infantry and five artillery pieces, attacked Finegans advance line at about 9:30 in the morning. Finegan assumed that his enemy had overestimated the size of his for ces as they quickly withdrew back to Barbers, set up an entrenched position, and prepared for a big push to Lake City. Finegan issued a call for reinforcements and withdrew to Ocean Pond on Olustee. Both his forces and those of Lieutenant-Colonel McCormack reached their new positions on February 13. This move placed the Floridians squarely between the invaders at Barbers and their target Lake City. 64 Finegan was impressed with the size and disposition of the force arrayed against him: This expedition is really formidable, and or ganized as it is with so large a cavalry or mounted infantry, threatens disast rous results unless checked at once by a sufficient force. They are now fortifying Baldwin and a position on the St. Marys River. I should have more cavalry to prevent their superior mounted force from making raids into the rich coun ties of Alachua and Marion and destroying the large amount of sugar and syrup which has not yet been sent to market. The supply of beef will now be suspended until the enemy has been driven out. I am
entrenched at the Olustee to-night, and have about 1,800 infantry, 450 cavalry, and two batteries and one section of artillery. 65 The Union force found itself, at this juncture, stymied temporarily by a lack of transportation. Union General Gilmore returned to Jacksonville and then sailed to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Once there, he proclaimed that Florida was occupied and called upon its citizens to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Meanwhile by February 13, Finegan had received his reinforcements from Georgia. The entire force numbered 4,600 infantry, 600 cavalry, three field batteries, and twelve artillery pieces. Finegan had chosen his position carefully in preparation for an imminent conflict. Figure 21-The Battle of Olustee, Florida (Taken from: Loderhouse, p.33) 39
40 Swamps, ponds, and the St. Mary s River made the only feasible path for a Union attack along a narrow front. Defensive fortifications were never used as the Confederates moved forward to counter a surprise Un ion advance on February 20. The Yankees attacked quickly in mid afternoon, presumably unaware that significant reinforcements had answered Finegans call. The Federal tr oops in the vanguard were met with a hail of rifle bullets and cannon shot, in addition to wooden projectiles from pine trees torn apart by Confederate cannon fire. Their ranks were quickly devastated. At about 6:30 p.m., the Union ranks broke and retr eated all the way back to Ja cksonville. Union casualties were 1,861 compared to the 946 lost by Finegan. Lieutenant-Colonel McCormick and his Second Florida cavalry played a significant part in drivin g the enemy back from their position on the right flank. They were effec tive both on horseback and dismounted. Maj. G.W. Scotts Fifth Florida cavalry battalion worked in conjunction with McCormicks men, and together they had great success in taking prisoners. Their coolness under fire was noteworthy. Floridas troops were present nearly everywhere on the battle field, and both infantry and artiller y were used extensively. 66 Confederate authorities commended Finegan and his men. General P.G.T. Beaure gard in Charleston sent this message on February 22: I congratulate you and your brave officer s and their commands on your brilliant victory over the enemy on the 20 th inst. Your country will be cheered by this timely success, and I trust it is but th e earnest of heavier and crushing blows which shall destroy our en emy on the soil of Florida. 67 Likewise, the Confederate Congress was pleased: Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of Am erica, that the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendere d, to Brig.-Gen. Joseph Finegan and the officers and men of his command, for the skill and gallantry displayed in achieving the signal victory of Ocean Pond, Fla., on the 20 th of February last. 68
Not everything about the Battle of Olustee was as clear-cut as the question of who lost and who won. A great controversy erupted over treatment of black Union prisoners following the battle. Numerous reports circulated that the Confederates killed many of the blacks that fell into their hands. 69 As a Georgia cavalry-man related: The results of the shooting of the previous night became all to [sic] apparent. Negroes, and plenty of them, whom I had seen lying all over the field wounded, and as far as I could see, many of them moving around from place to place, now. . all dead. If a negro had a shot in their shin another was soon to be in the head. 70 A Union general, in 1864, absolved the Floridians of any wrong-doing: It is well known that most of the wounded colored men were murdered on the field. Those outrages were perpetrated, so far as I can ascertain, by the Georgia regulars and the Georgia Volunteers of Colquitts brigade. As many of these troops are now in our hands as prisoners, an investigation of the circumstances might easily be made. All accounts represent the Florida troops as not engaged in the murders. 71 Figure 22-Civil War Monument at Olustee (Taken from: Harmon, William Z., View of the Olustee State Battlefield Monument: Olustee, Florida, 1956, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) 41
42 Despite this controversy, the Battle of Olustee provided a much-needed boost to the enthusiasm of Floridas troops. Shortly after the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel McCormicks Second Florida cavalry initiated a skirmish against enemy pickets. The Floridians succeeded in slowing the Union advance at Mc Girts Creek and Ten-Mile Station. An attack such as this was against standing orders but those in charge appreciated the spirit which animated our troops. 72 Despite the victory at Olustee, C onfederate troops abandoned Tampa in May 1864. When General Woodbury and his troops en tered the city on May 6, 1864, he noted The appearance of Tampa is desolate in the extreme. There were very few men in the place, hardly one able-bodied man between eigh teen and fifty years of age. Of those few men found, none were soldiers. The Confed erate infantry stationed at Fort Brooke had been sent to reinforce Lee in Virginia. While the Cow Cavalry was dispatched to protect cattle, Union troops had only been in control of the city for a few days when a rumor was propagated that a significant caval ry force under Captain J. J. Dickison was on its way to take back Tampa. The several hundred Yankees troops, including the United States Second Florida Cavalry, left hurriedl y. They probably would not have departed so quickly if they had known the true com position of the force rushing to meet them-seventy five men and boys, in cluding a few members of the Cow Cavalry. They were led by the quartermaster of the Cow Cavalry, Ca ptain James McKay, Jr., who had actually been the last Confederate commander of Fort Brooke. He had begun assembling his small force as soon as he learned of the Union occupation. Fort unately for McKays
43 troops, they arrived after the Union troops ha d boarded waiting ships and were steaming out of the bay. 73 David Levy Yulee, Floridas first U.S. Senator and member of the Confederate Congress, used his mansion to store ammuniti on and supplies for the army and his mill to provide sugar to the Confederacy. Once Uni on authorities learned of the activities on Yulees property in Homosassa, they dispatch ed a raiding party. The mansion was burned on May 29, 1864. Even though the sugar mill was spared destruct ion, the plantation never recovered. The Union troops met with no armed resistance. 74 Yulees mansion was not the only stor age depot/distributi on center between Tampa and Tallahassee. Goods were also be ing funneled through Brooksville en route to Lake City and Georgia. To stop this enterp rise, the Union authorities decided that they needed a force capable of moving swiftly and comprised of those who knew the area well. They chose the 2 nd Florida Cavalry and the 2 nd US Colored Infantry. Since both groups were made up of Floridians, the officials hoped they would have no trouble finding their way through the local terrain. Th e Union navy would provide transportation. The largest expedition into Hernando County ove r the course of the wa r began in June of 1864, when 240 Union troops traveled up the Anclote River to land at Bayport. They dealt swiftly with the limited re sistance of the home guard a nd cut a swath of destruction six miles wide and twenty miles long. They destroyed crops and sent cattle and cotton back to their ships. Boats in the harbor and custom houses alike were destroyed. The locals sent out a request for assistance, a nd the response was not exactly overwhelming. A force of perhaps sixty old men and young boys prepared to make their stand in the center of town at the house on the hill. Th e first of the real Confederate troops to
44 reach Brooksville, a local Thomas Benton, was a member of the Cow Cavalry. 75 He had described what he found in Brooksville: I at once sent Delanny back towards Brooks ville, where a company of old men and boys were stationed, and told them to send a runner at once to Tampa and have Capt. McKays detailed men to co me at once . that John Crichton and I would try to hold the Yanks in check as best we could until we could meet them. We stayed ahead of the Yanks and allowed them to get within speaking distance, so we could recognize the pilota dese rter and one of my neighbors.We kept our horses heads facing them and moved backwards slowly. They (the Federals) hollered at me and told me to stop, th at they would not hurt me. You may be assured that I did not trust them. We c ontinued along in front of them until we reached this place I had ordered the home guards to form themselves. But as soon as I got to the branch (creek), I saw the men running all about with no one and everyone in command, helter-skelter. I sa w at once we could do nothing to check the advance. As soon as I got to the br anch, I turned my horse and fired at the Yanks, and I supposed they fired fifty shot s at me, their balls (bullets) striking all around me, but none struck me or my horse, so we kept firing at them and they kept firing at us. They burned all of th e houses on the route, until they got to my fathers house. They spent several hours at our place and fed their men from our own smokehouse, pantry, and barns, th en took our wagons and loaded them. They set fire to every building on the place. 76 The Union troops lost one man, they took seven prisoners, and liberated thirteen slaves. The homes of at least three rebel leaders were destroyed. 77 On September 25, 1864, the 2,000 inhabitant s of Marianna received a disturbing report that the Yankees were a pproaching their town. The in itial report came from scouts and was soon confirmed by Colonel Montgomery, the leader of the Confederate cavalry detachment of about 300 that were statione d in the area. He immediately recalled his scattered men. Church bells summoned th e rest of the towns population to the courthouse so that they coul d decide upon a course of action. They chose to stay and fight. A few Confederate soldiers, who had come home to recover from wounds or illness, led their efforts. A Cradle and Grave militia company about 200 strong was formed by old men and young boys from at least ten miles around. Political sentiment
45 yielded to the defense of their home agains t the invaders. In fact, Captain Norwood, a Union supporter, emerged in a leadership roll. The Floridians presented themselves to Montgomery and agreed to follow his orders. Since the colonel did not know from which direction the Union troops would come, he orde red his men to fortify a line in the center of town. The 600-man Union force, including a group of Confederat e deserters loosely known as the First regiment of Florida Un ion Troops, arrived at about 2:00 p.m. The balance of Montgomerys scattered command had yet to arrive. The defenders repelled the first attack, but the Yankees were not done. The Union troops set fire to the buildings on either side of the Confederates and split th eir forces to attack from both the front and the rear. It was a bloodbath with no quarter being given. Those who tried to surrender were driven into the flames or hacked to pieces by a group of colored troops from Louisiana. Montgomery was captured as he tr ied to retreat across the Chipola River. About sixty men did make it across the river a nd held out until the reinforcements that had previously been sent for arrived near dawn. The Union troops suffered about thirty five casualties and the Confeder ates about sixty. The attack had been a planned part of a Union move towards Tallahassee. Although th e Confederates lost the engagement, the Union troops returned to Pensacola. 78
46 Chapter 4: Defenders of the State: 1865 Following the reasonably quiet winter of 1864, Confederate troops embarked on their strongest push against the Union works at Fort Myers in February 1865. Two companies, consisting of a total of about 400 men under Major William Footman, left the vicinity of Tampa and marched south. They intended to destroy the fort and capture its Union defenders. The Union pickets were taken prisoner under cover of darkness, but then Footman diverged from the plan. He and his men approached the fort at noon under a flag of truce. The forts defenders were given twenty minutes to surrender. A negative answer was received just five minutes late r. An artillery barrage began at 1:10, but thanks to the change in the Confederate plan s the forts defenders had time to prepare themselves. Captain Dewey, of the Second U.S. Colored Troops (composed primarily of Floridians) assumed command. He obliged the Confederates to move their artillery three times. The Second Florida Cavalry U.S.A. formed a skirmish line by taking cover in bushes and trees just in front of the fort. The Confederates kept up their fire throughout the night, but withdrew as daylight approached. They re treated through the woods and down the road towards Fort Thompson. Se ven Union men were captured and one was killed not far from this fort. At the clos e of the engagement, Fort Myers remained in Union hands and the Confederates did not even succeed in driving off any cattle. Men
47 from both the Second Florida Cavalry and th e Second U.S. Colored troops were praised for their level heads and their bravery. 79 Also in February 1865, the Union set its sights on St. Marks. As General John Newton wrote to the commander of th e East Gulf Blockading Squadron, As to proceeding to St. Marks, you are we ll aware Admiral, how fully I have been the [blank] to get there. We fully understand each other upon that point that neighborhood is the one in which unde r present circumstances we ought to operate. Newton received full naval support. He and his troopscompanies C, D, and E of the Second Florida Cavalry (dismounted) and companies A, B, and K of the Second Colored Infantrysailed to Cedar Key by way of Punta Rassa. They left behind a small force to defend Cedar Key and then sailed on to the Ocklockonee buoyapproximately fourteen miles from land and very near to St. Marks Bar. 80 At this point, those in charge of the expedition made the following plans: First. To land a party of seamen and of the Second Florida Cavalry on Light House Island on th e night of the 3 rd to take possession of th e bridge over the East River and to surprise and capture the pickets there if possible. Second. To land the troops on the same night in readiness to start at daylight on the 4 th Third. The land expedition was to march to Newport, destroy the public establishments there, cross the River Saint Marks, take St Marks in rear, or strike the railroad between St. Marks and Tallahassee, atta cking isolated bodies of the enemy to prevent a concentration, and destroying and capturing such property as might be useful to the enemy. Fourth. In order to effect these objects, parties were landed to destroy the railroad an d other bridges over the Ockloc konee River, the trestle or bridge over the Aucilla River, and to break up the railroad between Saint Marks and Tallahassee. Fifth. The naval force was to ende avor to silence the batteries at Saint Marks and capture it; to land a force of 500 to 600 seaman at Port Leon to cover the land expedition, to prevent the enemy crossing in its rear between Saint Marks and Newport, and to threaten Saint Marks. 81 Six men under the command of William Strickland landed at the mouth of the Aucilla River on Thursday, March 2, 1865, for th e purpose of burning the railroad bridge.
A Mr. Greenwho was apparently a civilianled another group of Confederate sympathizers to burn the bridge at the Ocklockonee River. The larger expedition was apparently very popular amongst Floridas troops. As Lieutenant Colonel John A. Wilder, the second in command of the Second U.S. Colored Infantry, reported, The General has set on foot an expedition which is I suppose to attack Tallahassee but as it Figure 23-View from a Possible Site of the Union Landing Near the St. Marks Lighthouse (Taken by the Author: 3/2005) started while I was away I can not go. I would give all my old_______and more to go but can not. 82 On March 3, the nine men from Col. Scotts command, who had been assigned to the Saint Marks lighthouse to keep watch over the coast, sighted a gunboat approaching. The Confederates discussed whether or not the ship was a Yankee vessel, but the matter was decided when the ship opened fire on their position. The men abandoned their posts when a shell struck the lighthouse and went to warn their superiors of the Yankee approach. 83 48
Sixty men of the Second Florida Cavalry (Union) under Major Weeks landed with the intention of taking and holding the East River Bridge which was located about four miles from the lighthouse. Overrunning the Confederate pickets in the early morning hours, the Union group stopped short of taking the bridge. They clashed with Confederate cavalry and managed to kill three or four men. As dawn approached, Major Weeks sent a rider to the lighthouse to find out if the balance of the Union troops had landed and to request reinforcements. When none were forthcoming, Weeks withdrew his men to the lighthouse. The Confederates who observed the landing looked upon the Figure 24-The Lighthouse at St. Marks as Viewed from Below (Taken by the Author: 3/2005) white Union troops as deserters from the Confederate army. Now that reinforcements had arrived, the Union troops tried once again to take the East River Bridge. Colonel 49
50 Scott commanded the Confederate troops at the bridge 84 and reported the two attacks suffered by his troops: At 9 a.m. on the 5th they again marc hed on East River bri dge with a visible force of about 1,000 men and two pieces of Artydetermined to check them here if possible and thus gain time for reinfo rcements thought I had but sixty rifles and one piece of Arty [artillery]we were in the swampI welcomed them to approach within easy range when they unmasked another column larger than the first from behind us. Swamp on their extreme left. Believing it would be criminal longer to expose my handful of men to so large a fo rce on the open marsh with nothing but a small stream between us and it fordable a mile above. After a brief skirmish for which the enemy left 5 dead in the field. I had determined to fall back, in doing so a portion of the command became confused and the Arty horse unmanageable being under direct fire of the enemy which cau sed the loss of the piece of Art [artillery]. 85 Sue Archer, who attended the Female A cademy in Tallahassee, commented on the skirmish: On the night of the fourth of March, while busy studyingI remember that I was drawing a map of South Carolinawe were aroused by the shrill whistle of an engine at the station, though it was an unusual hour for trains to come in. Our home was on the main thoroughfare to the station, and soon we heard a great deal of passing and fast driving. On inquiry we learned that a special engine had been sent from St. Marks with news that the Yankees were landing at East River. Troops were ordered from all availabl e points. About daybreak Captain William Miltons company from Marianna passed by, and from then on, troops were hurrying on. Governor Milton ordered out the cadets. Of course, there was great consternation when this was known; fo r these boys were but children. Mothers and sisters went to the station to say goodbye to them. The little fellows were full of patriotism and seemed to feel no fear. One little boys barefoot form, stood apart from the other, and was crying, because Captain Johnson told him that good soldiers did not cry and that when he grew older he should go into the war. 86 Alarm cannon sounded a call to arms in Tallahassee at 4:00 a.m. on March 5. Every able bodied man in the vicinity was expected to re port to the train station by 9:00 a.m. to be loaded onto a train and rushed to St. Marks to meet the enemy. Troops poured into the area all day, including the cadets from the seminary and the old gentlemen of the surrounding countiesalong with th e Confederate reserves. Those cadets deemed too
Figure 25-Scene of Operations Against St. Marks, Florida (Taken from: Map of the scene of operations against Saint Marks, Florida, 1865, from the Florida State Archives, Florida Memory Project, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection ) 51
young to participate in the fight were given the task of building an earthen fort they named Fort Houston to serve as a final line of defense. 87 There were substantial fears that the state capital was at risk. The Floridian and Journal reported: that their [the Union troops] object was probably to make a forced march upon Tallahassee, and burn and destroy the place or turn the batteries at St. Marks, and take permanent possession and establish themselves there. 88 Confederate Colonel Scott continued to harass and slow the Union troops who were marching towards Newport. The Confederates then left the town of St. Marks and attempted to reach Newport ahead of their enemies: We proceeding by forced march and were almost overcome with fatigue, and our feet were thoroughly wet and galled. Still, our anxiety to take a game of ball with the Yankees and show them how well we have learned to play it in these last four years had a tendency to beguile our weariness. 89 Colonel Scott moved the majority of his troops across the Newport Bridge before burning it behind him. On the eastern shore of the Newport River he left a detachment under Figure 26-Twentieth Century View of the St. Marks River from the Newport Bridge (Taken from: View of the St. Marks River from the Newport Bridge. 1940, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) 52
53 Lieutenant Croome to prevent the enemy from using the Natural Bridge. In addition to the Newport Bridge, his troops also burned th e mill and a number of barges. He arranged the balance of his troops in breastworks that had previously been erected on the western shore. Union General Newton saw the smoke and presumed correctly that the Confederates had set fire to the bridge and sent Major Weeks and the Second Florida Cavalry on ahead to attempt to save it. They arrived too late to do anything more than watch it burn. Weeks aimed one of his cannon to cover the br idge, and the other to fire upon the Confederate entrenchments. These measures were unsuccessful; however, in driving the Confederates from their positions. 90 The fighting began on the afternoon of March 5 in Newport. The Union shelled the town, causing the women and children to fl ee into the woods. Bullets hit houses with civilians still inside, and one woman in her bedroom witnessed a cannon ball crash through the wall and land on her dresser. The Confederates were quick to return fire whenever the Federals came within range. The Confederates suffered no casualties in this engagement, but the Union had two k illed and several wounded. The two sides camped in their respective posit ions all that day and night. 91 During the night of March 5, the ranking Southern officer, Brigadier General Miller, received a report from St. Marks that the Confederates there planned to abandon and blow up the fort. In addition they intended to burn their gunboat the Spray. Alarmed by this report, Miller hastened to the fort. He feared thatif car ried outthese actions would serve as a signal to the Uni on troops that the river lay undefended. 92
As the Union could not repair the Newport Bridge nor cross the Newport River while under constant enemy fire, they resolved instead to cross at the Natural Bridge, which their intelligence placed some four to five miles distant. They found an old, seemingly seldom used, road which led in that direction and hoped that the Confederates would not anticipate this change in plans. 93 General Miller rightly deduced the Union intentions when he realized that they were no longer attempting the crossing at Newport. Accordingly, he ordered Colonel Figure 27-Ruins of the Fort at St. Marks: San Marcos de Apalachee (Taken by the Author: 3/2005) Figure 28-The Natural Bridge (Taken from: Natural Bridge: Leon County, Florida, 4/7/1918, from the Florida Memory Project at the State Archives, http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/) 54
55 Scott to proceed to Natural Bridge by way of Tompkins Mills. Sc ott arrived at Natural Bridge in the pre-dawn hours of March 6, and he quickly arranged his men in a position appropriate to the defense of the crossing. He was soon joined by 380 reserves and militia and two pieces of artill ery under Colonel Daniels. Daniels men went through a rough night to get to that position: But sleeping and marching did not go well together with me, and my experience was shared by many others, we would strike a smooth bit of road and five or six would probably be marching along asleep. Presently, one would stumble and fall, not alone, mind you, for he would bring the sleeping fellows ahead like ten pins. It was not an infrequent occurrence to see four or five on the ground at once which would wake us up a little only to enact the same over again. 94 Lieutenant Croomes men had attempted to stop the Federal encroachment, but they were steadily being pushed back towards the Natural Bridge. Scotts and Danielss position came under fire before their men had had tim e to completely settle into their new position. They managed to repulse two Un ion advances; but Daniels was wounded, and Scott was placed in charge. 95 By the time General Miller arrived, the Un ion troops had been driven back. He brought with him a group comprised of cadets an d local militia. The Confederates spent the night digging shallow entrenchments and trying to catch a few hours of sleep. Just after daybreak, the Union colo red troops engaged the Conf ederate advance guard and drove them back over the bridge. At that point, the Union advance was halted when it reached the Confederate entrenchments. What followed was primarily an artillery battle, interspersed with scattered skirmishes. 96
56 The other soldiers looked out for the young cadets. Some felt they would all have been killed if their teacher had not stayed with them and made them keep their heads down. A lady who spoke with a cadet related: Charley says, we stayed right behind Ge neral Miller and his staff all the time. Why was that, Charley? I asked. S o we could protect him, was the proud answer. I did not dare to tell the de ar little fellow that the commanding officer was supposed to occupy the safest position. 97 The general consensus regardi ng the conduct of the cadets indi cated they behaved in the most gallant manner. 98 General Jones arrived while the battle was underway and took command. General Miller later reported that he refused the onl y order he was given that day by Jones on the grounds that the attack would have decimate d his men. He responded thusly, Go back and tell General Jones if he wishes to murd er his soldiers he must come on the ground and do it himself. I will not. 99 The Unions Second Florida Cavalry made at least one dismounted charge before the day was done. As a result the Union troops were driven back and a group of Confederates were detail ed to follow them. As the sun set, the Yankees fled back to their boats, leaving th eir dead and many of their wounded. As the Florida Confederates patrolled the area searchin g for stragglers, they everywhere reported finding the bodies of colored Floridian Union tr oops. A further few Confederates were sent back to Newport to ensure that th e bridge there remained secure, and they encountered only slight resistance. 100 Primarily colored troops were deployed by the Union at th e Battle of Natural Bridge. 101 Of the 1,400-2,000 Union troops engaged, only about 400 of them were white. Of those, at least 100 were considered to be deserters by the Confed erate authorities:
Two deserters were shot, after trial by court martial, who were captured in Yankee uniforms. One of them was recognized as the man who shot the Adjutant of the 3d Florida Cavalry at the time of his desertion. 102 Deserters were not the only ones who changed sides. The Tallahassee newspaper reported: We learn that a few days ago all the negro men from the plantation of Hon. Philip Dell, about 13 miles west of Waldo, stampeded on mules to the enemy at Jacksonville. 103 Figure 29-Monument to Florida Troops at Natural Bridge (Taken by the Author: 3/2005) The spirits of the residents of Florida remained high. As Tallahassees Floridian and Journal put it when describing the Battle of Natural Bridge, The alarm was given and the note of preparation sounded throughout the whole city and country, and was extended to the other counties. The Militia were ordered out, and an unanimous and invincible response was made to the call. Every man and boy capable of bearing arms was at his post. Never, since the first commencement of the war, have the people exhibited a greater spirit. One company of cavalry marched nearly sixty miles in twenty-four hours. Others marched on foot thirty and forty miles to overtake their companies who had gone 57
ahead, and in a very short time sufficient force was on the way to the scene of the action to meet any force the enemy had there. 104 The victory of the defenders of Florida was seen as a victory for everyone in the state: We have beaten the enemy again in Florida and driven them from our soil. And with the help of God, if it is in the power of man to keep them from ravaging our home, our men will not permit them to do it. 105 In Florida, at least, the Civil War ended on a high note for the Confederacy. They were still fighting and still winning. That could not be said of the Union troops from Florida. Figure 30-Unidentified Confederate Graves at Tallahassee (Taken by the Author, 3/2005) Figure 31-Tallahassee Graves of Unidentified Soldiers Killed at the Battle of Natural Bridge (Taken by the Author: 3/2005) 58
59 Chapter 5: Floridians in the Wider War: 1861 and 1862 On the grounds of the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee, the citizens of the state erected a monument with the following inscription: To rescue from Oblivion And perpet uate in the Memory of succeeding Generations The heroic Patriotism of the Men Who perished in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. FLORIDA BATTLES: Pensacola, Olustee, Natural Bridge, etc. VIRGINIA BATTLES: Willia msburg, Seven Pines, Richmond, Cold Harbor, Manassas, Sharpsburg, Frederic ksburg, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Yorktown, etc. WESTERN BATTLES: Richmond, Ky., Farmington, Shiloh, Corinth, Green River, Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Gilgal Church, Cassvill e, Kenesaw Mountain, Decatur, Jonesboro, Franklin, etc. 106 Those compelled to leave Florida to aid the Confederacy elsewhere certainly contributed to the cause. Though fewer in number than sold iers from other states, the Floridians still managed to make their mark in many battles. When Lincoln initially called for volunt eers to fight, he spoke only of recapturing seized Federal properties. He, and most of th e other U.S. officials, believed that the war would be a short one and that the threat represented by the Confederacy would be reasonably simple to overcome. They were sure that their ar my of 75,000 volunteers large by the standards of the daywould be more than enough to eliminate the problem. The Confederacy reacted to th e Norths call-up by requesting that the Southern states contribute more troops than had previously been requested. Florida, for example, saw her expected initial contribu tion rise from 500 to 5,000. 107
60 The First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861 was a rousing victory for the South. Only 1,750 of the 32,000 Confederate troops involved in the battle were killed, while the Union lost 2,950. Unfortunately for the Confed erates, they were too disorganized after their victory to pursue the retr eating Union troops. The Florid ians did not pa rticipate in the battle in any meaningful way, but the state was a flurry of activity trying to raise a force as quickly as possible to send to Virg inia. The Second Florida Infantry Regiment formed in Leon County on July 13 immediately ma de its way to Virginia for service in the Confederate Army. The men signed on for a twelve-month term of service. Like the Union, the Confederacy falsely assumed that the war would be a short one. 108 These untested men were treated like heroes even t hough they had not yet fought a battle: The passage of the regiment from Fl orida to Richmond was a grand ovation. Flowers were showered upon the soldiers by fair hands at many points along the route, and banners waved, while chee r upon cheer rent the air with every demonstration of enthusiasm as the crowded cars rolled on. At Savannah the regiment was escorted through the city by a detachment of the local military, and at the Central depot a bountiful repast aw aited them, to which they were not slow to do justice. 109 On July 21, the Second Florida arrived in Richmond. They had expected to go directly to Manassas in time for the battle and learnedwith somewhat mixed feeling of the Confederate victory. They promptly were assigned to guard the city and Union prisoners, for the next two months. In addi tion to guard duty, the Floridians used this time to drill, since even some of their offi cers had little military training and knowledge. On September 17, they were ordered to Yorkto wn, Virginia, the site of an anticipated Union attack. The Second Florida formed part of the defense. 110 In 1862 the soldiers of Florida took a much more active part in the war outside the state. The regiment previously known as Andersons Florida First was disbanded in
61 April 1862 and then reorganized into First Florida Infantry Regiment. They were promptly ordered to travel north to join Ge neral Albert S. Johnst ons troops in Corinth, Mississippi to aid them in their campaign ag ainst the Union Army of Tennessee. The Yankees, commanded by Ulysses S. Grant, had been successful in taking Confederate Forts Henry and Donelson and thereby stopping the Confederate plan to occupy Kentucky. Taking the offensive, Johnston m oved his troops secretly towards the Union encampment at Shiloh. On April 6, he launche d his surprise attack. With one exception, the Yankee positions were overrun on that first day, and only the timely arrival of reinforcements saved them from suffering a complete rout. On the second day, the fortunes were reversed and the Confederates found themselves defeated and pushed back to Corinth, Mississippi. The losses reached horrific levels13,000 killed or missing Union troops and 10,500 Confederates killed, including General Johnston. 111 The Floridians had a definite presen ce at this Confederate loss, although an argument exists as to whether or not that presence was a positiv e one. A reporter from New Orleans, who witnessed the initial clash be tween Andersons men and those of Union General William T. Sherman recalled: We halted and were resting upon a fence, in view of one of Ruggles brigades. We could recognize it from the li ght uniforms of the Confederate Battalionoccupying the center. It was the brigade of J. Patton Anderson. The line had halted and were resting, many of the men lying downtaking it easy and listening to the heavy firing off to the right. Suddenly, however, we and they were aroused from this state of imagined security, by a tremendous discharge of artillery, accompanied by a prolonged rattle of musketry. It appeared to come from the very front of the brigadeand through the field enclosed by this fence, on which we sat there swept a tempest of canister, and Minie, while small shell exploded in every direction.There was no shelter short of a cotton shed, about two hundred yards to the rear. To this we hastened across the field, over which the balls and shells still swept. Gain ing the shed we found that it had already been occupied by several stragglers a nd wounded men from Andersons brigade.
62 We could perceive the effect which the sudden opening of a masked battery and of a large force of musketry had pro duced upon Andersons line. The men who, a minute before, were lying on the ground in a state of perfect security, were now all on their feet, and not a fe w of them were breaking to the rear. The effect of so sudden and terrible a fire from an invisible foe was very startling and disheartening. A great many, too, had b een killed and wounded by this fire. No wonder the simple-minded Floridians we re broken and many of them hurried to the rear. 112 Anderson, however, kept his head and tried to rally his men. Another account, from a Confederate diary, of the Florid ians was more favorable: . . the desperation with which his troops fought brings new lust er to the arms of the State they represent, and paints imperishable fame upon the colors they so proudly bore. Anderson lost 434 of the 1,633 men he took into battle--approximately 26%--an extremely high percentage. 113 On May 3, the Battle of Farmington was f ought as a part of the Union attempt to move on Corinth. The First Florida engaged in this skirmish where thirty Confederates and two Yankees were killed. There after, the Floridians withdrawn into Corinth and helped briefly defend the city against a Uni on siege, until ordered to march towards the town of Tupelo. 114 The men of the Second Florida had volunt eered for only one year, but an act of the Confederate Congress held them to serve for a furthe r two years. They were, however, allowed to reorganize their comma nd structure by holding elections. This election scheduled for May 3, 1862 had to be postponed when the unit was ordered to return to Richmond to defend the cap ital against McClellans advance. 115 The quiet of the winter of 1861-1862 fo r the troops stationed at Yorktown, however, would be broken with the comi ng of the spring. March brought General George B. McClellan, who intended to reac h the Confederate cap ital of Richmond by
63 taking a peninsular route. This plan would force the Union to by-pass Yorktown. The Confederates attempted to defend a line of forts, stretching across the peninsula from Yorktown to the James River. The Second Florida, along with tr oops from Mississippi under Major-General Bankhead Magruder, was sent to defend one of these postsFort Magruderagainst Union troops who had ventur ed too near. They engaged the enemy on April 18 and won an impressive, though small, victory, for which they were commended for their bravery by Magruder. 116 He had this to say of their actions: The quick and restless charge of our men, by throwing the enemy into a hasty flight, enabled us to effect, with little lo ss, an enterprise of great hazard against a superior force, supported by artillery, wh en the least wavering or hesitation on our part would have been attended with great loss. 117 The Floridians, now a part of General Jubal Earlys Brigade, marched back to Richmond by way of Williamsburg where they set up a temporary camp about one to two miles outside of the city on May 4. Th e following morning, cannon fire signaled that McClellan had reached the Confederate rear and had engaged troops under the command of General James Longstreet. Earlys brigad e, including the Second Florida, was ordered to march back through Williamsburg towards the fighting so that they would be available if Longstreet needed reinforcements. Their se rvices were needed. General Early split the brigade, sending the Second Florida to the ri ght of the Confederat e lines and taking the rest of the brigade to the left. The Florid ians crossed an open fi eld, while taking heavy fire from the enemy, to assail a large group of Union soldiers who had taken up position behind fallen trees. These Floridia ns had just fought in their first full-fledged battle; and according to one of their number comported them selves with the steadiness of veterans. As they moved closer to the Federal troops, th ey had to contend with a disastrous cavalry
64 charge by a group of fellow Confederates. St ill, they advanced until they reached the first of the fallen trees. They then st opped their forward motion, and some of the Floridians took advantage of their surr oundings and took cover behind the convenient trees. As they began to return fire, thei r commander, Colonel Wardwho had declined to take coverwas hit in the chest by a bulle t and killed almost immediately. When the Yankees attempted to flank them on the right the Second Florida retreated back across the field that they had just seized. After so me initial confusion they fell back under fire. They took up positions behind an old fence situated about half-way across the field. They then reformed to face the oncoming Union flanking force. At this point, a group of about twelve men, including Lieutenant Seton C. Fleming, re-crossed the field once again to retrieve the body of their fallen commander. They reached the body of Colonel Ward with little incident, but on their way back to their lines Fl eming was shot through the hip. This incident caused the group to halt. They offered to carry the wounded man back; but Fleming asked them to leave him so that he could die in peace. His men obliged, and in one of the vicissitudes of war, the dead Ward was carefully carried back to his comrades, while one of the men who had gone to retrieve him was left lying wounded and bleeding in the dirt. Flemings brother learned of his plight a nd raised a party of volunteers to go out and retrieve him. He met a stumbling block; however, in the person of Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers, Wards replacem ent. Rogers believed a rescue was too dangerous until the amount of enemy fire less ened and then ordered them to wait until nightfall. Lieutenant Flem ing, meanwhile had amazingly cr awled across the battlefield until he was within sight of Perrys Brigade on the Floridians left. He then attracted their attention by waving his sword in the air. A party accordingly went out to retrieve
65 the wounded man. One of his rescuers was shot in the leg as he carried him from the field. Lieutenant Fleming was then tran sported to Williamsburg to receive medical attention. His trials were not over; however, as his lit ter-bearers had to slog down crowded muddy roads in lieu of an ambulance, until a Virginia regiment took pity on them and stopped to help. 118 Colonel Wards body was taken to a ministers house to receive last rites, even though he was already dead. 119 Jefferson Davis himself later lamented Wards loss: Among the gallant and much regretted of those lost by us, was Colonel Ward, of Florida, whose conduct at Yorktown has been previously noticed, and of whom, General Early, in his report of Williamsburg says, On the list of the killed, in the second Florida Regiment, he found the name of its Colonel, George T. Ward, as true a gentleman and as gallant a soldie r as has drawn a sword in the war, and whose conduct under fire it was my fortune to witness on another occasion. His loss to his regiment, to his State, a nd to the Confederacy, cannot be easily compensated. 120 The battle had served its purpose and forced McClellan to pause. The Confederates continued the retreat towards Richmond, leaving thei r wounded behind in Williamsburg. Along the way, the Second Florida finally held their election, and Colonel E. A. Perry took command. Finegan had been a candidate, but his injuries took him out of the running. The Yankees marched unchallenged into Williamsburg on May 6. The wounded left behind, including Lieutenant Fleming, were well-cared for until they recovered. Once well, they found themselves treated more like prisoners than wounded soldiers. By late July, Fleming languished on a rocky bit of land, called the Rip Raps, located just off the coast of Hampton Roads. He and a few others planned an escape, but Fleming was exchanged on August 5 before the scheme could be carried out. 121
66 On May 31, 1862, a major battle commenced at Fair Oaks-Seven Pines, about six miles from the Confederate cap ital. General Joseph E. J ohnston attacked McClellans Army of the Potomac where they were encamped near the Chickahominy River. This portion of McClellans force comprised a bout 30,000 men, and the initial Confederate attack drove the Yankees back from Fa ir Oaks to Seven Pines where Union reinforcements halted the Confederate adva nce. A second engagement, at Fair Oaks Station, resulted in the wounding of General Jo hnston and the appointment of Robert E. Lee to replace him. By the next day, th e tide of battle had turned against the Confederates. It was a rout, and Lee wisely decided to disengage his men. The Union lost 890 dead, 3,627 wounded, and 1,222 missing, wh ile Confederate casualties reached 2,800 dead, 3,897 wounded, and 1,300 missing. 122 The Second Florida fought at Fair Oaks with Colonel E.A. Perry now in command. The regiment had become a part of D.H. Hills Division. They sacrificed much to do their duty well. Their assignment was to help capture a battery of New York artillery. They charged up to the guns and did not stop or break ranks despite encountering withering fire. 123 A Union private assigned to that battery was very impressed by the courage and determination they displayed: Our shot tore their ranks wide open, and shattered them asunder in a manner that was frightening to witness; but they closed up again at once, and came on as steady as English veterans. When they got within 400 yards, we closed our caseshot and opened on them with canister; and such destruction I have never elsewhere witnessed. At each discharge, great gaps were made in their ranks indeed, whole companies went down before that murderous fire; but they closed up with an order and discipline that was awe inspiring. They seemed too animated with the courage of despair, blended with the hope of a speedy victory, if they could, by an overwhelming rush, drive us from our position. It was awful to see their ranks torn and shattered by every discharge of the canister that we poured right into their faces, and while th eir dead and dying lay in piles, closed up
67 and still kept advancing right in the face of the fire. At one time, three lines, one behind the other, were steadily advancing, and three of their fl ags were brought in range of our guns shotted [sic] with can ister. Fire! s houted the gunner, and down went those three flags, and a gap was opened through those three lines, as if a thunder bolt had torn through them, and th e dead lay in swaths. But they at once closed up and came steadily on, neve r halting or wavering, right through the woods, over the fence, through the field, right up to our guns and sweeping everything before them, captured every piec e. When we delivered our last fire they were within fifteen or twenty paces of us, and as all of our horses were either killed or wounded, we could not carry off a gun. 124 Eleven captains from Florida went into th e battle. Four were killed and six were wounded. Thirty seven Floridians were ki lled, one hundred fifty two wounded, and nine men missing in the battle. The Battle of Fair Oaks-Seven Pines was a stalemate, but the young Confederacy could ill afford to suffe r such losses in the name of a tie. 125 The six-day series of battles known as the Seven Days began on June 26, 1862. Lee had replaced Johnston, and he hatched a daring and complex plan to strike out against the Yankees. He intended to distract the bulk of the Union army on the southern side of the Chickahominy River, while launch ing his real attack at a smaller group of enemy on the northern side of the river. Th ese actions were taken to drive the Union troops led by McClellan away from Richm ond. The Seven Days was actually made up of many smaller affairs, with names such as Mechanicsville, Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines Mill, and Frasiers Farm. 126 The Second Florida, now a part of Pryors Brigade of Longstreets Division (they were transferred fr om D.H. Hill), fought in the latter three; and added to the laurels it had already won with sacrifice. 127 McClellan finally retreated, but the South paid a heavy price twenty thousand Confed erate casualties as well as 16,000 Federals. 128
In August 1862, the untested Florida Third Infantry Regiment was sent to Chattanooga, Tennessee and ordered to report to John C. Browns Brigade in James Patton Andersons Divisionalong with the Florida First. During late September and early October, they played a part in Braxton Braggs invasion of Kentucky. Both regiments suffered heavy casualties (3,400 Confederates) in the October 8 Battle of Perryville. By the time Bragg ordered his men to retreat to Tennessee, little remained of either regiment save their names. A new outfit, the Florida Fourthjoined the reorganized companies in time for the Battle of Lebanon Pike. 129 Figure 32-The Second Battle of Manassas (Taken from: Craig L. Symonds, A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War (Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1983), p.40) 68
69 In Virginia, the first time a battle was fought at Manassas, th e troops from Florida arrived too late to participate. The same coul d not be said of the s econd such battle in the summer of 1862. The recently exchanged Set on C. Fleming described the contest in a letter to his widowed mother: On Saturday, August 30 th ultimo, I witnessed a bloody battle, and the grandest and most ho rrid sights that I ever beheld! On the 29 th of August, the enemy, who had been retreating before us for nearly two weeks, made a stand on, or about the same ground, that the battle of Mana ssas was fought last year. During the evening, our advance for ce engaged them. The enemy made a stubborn resistance; but when night set in we were in possession of the battlefield. Our Brigade was not under fire that day; we were marched about from one post to another, during a good portion of the nightslept for some two hours on the battlefield, and then roused up and marc hed to another place, where we remained until morning, when I was roused from my blanket by the roar of musketry and the booming of cannon. In an instant every man was in his place, and we marched in line of battle to our position as the reserve (or part of the reserve). It was not long before they got within reach of our musketry. It slaughtered them dreadfully but still they pressed on. But God was on our side: they wavered and could stand it no longer; what few of th em were left fled for their lives. Not an instant was to be lost! The red cross of the South was close at their heels. On our brave boys went, bent on victory or death. They me t the Yankee batteries, but they were not to be stopped, not withst anding it was their turn to dash through a similar storm to that which had put the Un ion troops to flight. But, as I have already said, God was with us, and H im can no man resist. We stormed their batteries and took their guns. 130 The Second Battle of Manassas ended on Sept ember 1, 1862. The Union casualties were 14,000, while the Confederacy lost 8,000. 131 On the heels of this victory, Lees ar my entered Maryland on September 5. The purpose of this invasion of the North was f our fold: to aid Southern morale, to place Washington in danger, to give the farmers of Virginia a respite during which they can bring in their harvests, and to influence the opinions of European governments. The Confederates, including the me n of Florida, made their way across the Potomac near
Leesburg. They then traveled through Frederick City, South Mountain, and Pleasant Valley on their way to the arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The garrison of 11,000 men surrendered to Stonewall Jackson on September 15, along with seventy cannon and with a large number of other weapons and supplies. 132 Figure 33-The Battle of Sharpsburg (Taken from Symonds, p.44) 70
71 Meanwhile Lee marched toward the near by town of Sharpsburg to the south of Antietam Creek. On September 15, McClella n and his 70,000 arrived first and chose their tactical positions. Lee had only 40,000 troops, including Jackson, coming from Harpers Ferry. McClellan had the advantag e of numbers, but the Union moved slowly and without coordination. A series of disorg anized attacks accomplis hed little more than the slaughter of thousands of troops on both sides. Thousands of Federal troops never engaged the Confederates because of McCl ellans hesitancy. On September 17, the Confederate line was saved by the timely arrival of A.P. Hills Division at about 4:00 p.m. Hill and his men had been left behind at Harpers Ferry to guard prisoners, and they had marched seventeen miles to aid their comrades. 133 As part of Pryors Brigade which was in turn a part of Hills Divisionthe men of Florida were included in the rescue force. Once they arrived, they became hotly engaged in the desperate and fiercely-contested battle of that day. 134 Lees army left the field and McClellan made no attempt to follow. Following the Confederat es return to Virginia, the Floridians underwent reorganization. The veteran S econd, and newer Fifth and Eighth Florida (which had only recently formed in the su mmer) were removed from Pryors Brigade, and merged into a new brigade. Floridian Edward A. Perrya brigadier general who had fought at Pensacolawas placed in command. 135 The new unit received its baptism of fi re at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. Lees army had approached th e city from their winter quarters in Winchester via the Rappahannock River on November 20. General Ambrose Burnside replaced McClellan and planned to win the war by marching onand occupying Richmond. His route took him past Fredericksburg and the vast majority of the Army of
72 Northern, Virginia. Burnside had at leas t 130,000 men, while Lee po ssessed just 70,000. The December 13 battle was divided into tw o distinct parts: the contest around the southern part of town and to the north at Maryes Heights. Burnsides orders were misread in the south as a heavily armed reconnaissance mission rather than a proper attack. By the time Burnside attempted to correct this error, the Confederates had redistributed their troops a nd strengthened their lines in that area and the Union commander leading that assault decided he had no intention of altering his actions to suit Burnsides plan. The northern portion of the ba ttle consisted of repeated Union assaults against Confederate entrenchments on Maryes Heights. By the end of the days fighting 1,200 Union soldiers lay dead, and 9,000 had been wounded. By contrast, 3,820 Confederate were wounded and 570 had been killed. 136 Floridians had the opportunity to share in the last, . of [the] brilliant vi ctories achieved by the Conf ederate Army of Northern Virginia in 1862. Perrys Brigade held a position on the left on the Confederate lines during this engagement; and t hough somewhat exposed, did not become actively engaged. The Eighth Florid a, however, was on picket duty with Barksdales Mississippi Brigade, on the banks of the river at Fredericksburg, when the enemy attempted the crossing; our men held their ground, and kept the enemy in check all day, under a mu rderous fire, sustaining great loss 137 Following the battle, both armies re treated back to winter quarters. 138
73 Chapter 6: Floridians in the Wider War: 1863 The conflicts of 1862 spilled into 1863. From December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863, Braxton Braggs Confederate Army of Tennessee and Union forces under General William Rosencrans met at the Battle of Murf reesboro. Bragg attacked on December 31. The Confederates won the day, and Braggexp ecting the Union to retreatdid nothing on January 1. Finding Rosencrans still in pos ition on January 2, Bragg attacked again. This time, the Union emerged victorious, and Bragg and his men retreated from the field. The Federal casualties included 1,730 dead, 7,802 wounded, and 3,717 missing, while Confederate losses added up to 1,294 dead, 7,945 wounded, and 1,027 missing. The Union had entered the fray with approximate ly 47,000 troops, and the Confederates with 38,000. 139 The Third Florida played a part in th is deadly encounter, and they suffered significant losses in close-quarter fighting. At one point the Fl orida infantry was emplaced only 40-50 yards from the Union lines. The firing was fierce, and many of the Floridians suffered at least superficial injuries. The combined forces of the First, Third, and Fourth Florida were positioned on the western bank of Stones River on the first day of the battle from where they launched a seri es of futile assaults upon the center of Union lines. The First and Third Regiments reached a brake of cedar trees located on the field, and took cover. The Fourth traveled a si milar distance but took more casualties.
74 Eventually, all three regiments were ordered to retreat to the easter n bank of the river. On the third day, the three re giments fought bravely. The Fourth Florida stayed on the field until the last, in order to allow the br igades artillery to w ithdraw. In all, the combined First and Third Regiments entered the battle with 531 troops, and lost 138. The Fourth Regiment lost 194 men out of 458. Bragg withdrew his army on January 3 to fortified positions on the Duck River, leavi ng the western two thirds of Tennessee in Federal hands. 140 In late April and early May of 1863, the Yankees once again planned to move on Lees positions, and Confederate and Union forces began to congregate in the area around Fredericksburg. The Battle of Chancellorsville (so named for a farmhouse about two miles from the Wilderness in which a larg e portion of the Federal troops had taken up positions) began on May 1, 1863. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was quickly caught between two Union forces. Confederate General Jubal Early was tasked with holding off the eastern group, while Lee faced off against the balance of the Union Army of the Potomac under Burnsides replacement, General Joseph Hooker. Hooker did not order his troops to advance from Chan cellorsville until nearly noon. They were soon stopped by Confederate tr oops under Stonewall Jackson, who had taken advantage of the concealing brush in the area. Hooker maintained a defensive posture even though his 90,000 troops outnumbered the Confederates almost two to one. On May 2, Lee attacked the Union forces with just 15,000 troops, and then pretended to retreat. Meanwhile, Jackson spent the day flanking the Union troops with a further 25,000. As night fell, Jackson attacked Hookers rear, routed at leas t a corps of Union troops, and caused a large portion of the army to withdraw. Later that evening, Jackson fell victim to
Figure 34-The Battle of Chancellorsville, May 2-4 (Taken from: Symonds, p. 58) 75
76 friendly fire while engaged in reconnaissanc e. On May 3, Hooker ordered his men to retreat back across the Rappaha nnock. Lee was then able to turn his attention back to General Early and the Union troops he had engaged. Those troops retreated under cover of darkness; and on May 6 th the entire Army of the Potomac returned to the position that had served as their winter quarters. 141 Perrys Brigade was present at the Battl e of Chancellorsville from beginning to end. They were noted for enduring the ha rdships of the march by day and night, at time toiling through bogs and mire, and again making their way through a tangled wilderness, bore a gallant part in the battle and brilliant victory of Chancellorsville. 142 Perry encamped by the heights in front of Falmouth from April 29 to May 1. On May 1, he advanced first up the Orange Plank Road and then the Old Turnpike Road to report to Major General McLaws. He then formed his men to the right of Brigadier General Woffords Brigade, who was located off th e Old Mill Road. The enemy was reportedly marching along the Old Mine Road, and Perry and McLaws reorganized their commands to cover both the Old Mine Road and Dawsons Mill Road. The Confederates then advanced one to one and a half miles. When they encountered no sign of the enemy, they set out pickets at night fall before setti ng up camp. At 10:00 p.m. their units were ordered to report back to McLaws positi on. Once there, however, that order was revoked and they returned to their recen tly vacated positions. The Confederates remained there until dawn, at which time they began to advance once again. The fighting was light as the enemy fell back, and only a few prisoners were taken, as well as, a quantity of abandoned Union supplies. They finally engaged the enemy in a brief skirmish at the Pike Road and found further fighting when they reported to Major
77 General Andersons position. When Perrys Br igade attempted a flanking maneuver, its commander found: 143 The fire was quite brisk here, from a line of the enemy thrown back at right angles to his front, to protect his flank and rear. This line soon gave way, and pushing forward, I found myself inside of thei r breastworks. Having no knowledge of the ground, and the woods being so thick as to entirely obstruct th e view, I was at a loss for some time as to the direction of the enemys next line. Their musket balls soon gave me the proper directi on, and I changed front, and sending out skirmishers, soon found their line on the th ickly-wooded hill, in the rear of their breastworks, and to the right of the field, in front of Chancellors ville. I ordered a charge, and the enemy, after one or tw o rounds, broke in the utmost confusion, throwing down arms, knapsacks, etc., gr eat numbers of them running into our lines. No sooner had the enemys lines va nished than their batteries poured a most terrible fire of grape and caniste r into my lines. The men lying down, and being partially protected by a slight ridge, the fire was not as fatal as I had reason to fear. Upon going to the front, I found no infantry in my front, between me and the Turnpike road, and that I could not lead my men against the enemys battery without encountering the range of our own battery, on the left of the rear of my line, which was then clearing ou t the enemy in double-quick time. While making this charge, portions of two other brigades, which were lying down in the woods, and which a portion of my line had charged over, rushed back from the sudden and terrifi c fire poured into us, before the enemy gave way, and the Eighth Florida regiment which had not then passed over them, mistaking them for the left of their own brigade, allowed themselves to be swept back a short distance by them. They were not, however, at al l panic-stricken, but were rallied at once, their mora le and spirit in no way impaired. 144 Perry held his position until the arrival of General Anderson and the rest of the division allowed them to proceed in relative safety. In the pre-dawn hours of May 4, Anderson halted and ordered Perry to assign a regiment upon each of two roads running toward the ridge occupied by the enem y in the rear of Chancellorsville. 145 Perry assigned the Second and Fifth Florida to this task. Their skirmisher s participated in a brief battle with Union pick ets (which the Confederates were winning) until Anderson ordered them to withdraw and move with th e rest of the division towards the road to
78 Fredericksburg. The brigade engaged in si milar small actions on May 6, at one point guarding the road to Spotsylvania Court-Hous e. Perry had only the highest praise to offer regarding the conduct of the units unde r his commandparticularly with regard to the Second and Fifth Florida. 146 The Battle of Gettysburgfought on July 1-3, 1863put a decisive end to Lees second invasion of the North. Lack of accu rate intelligence in the days preceding the battle meant that Lee had no clear idea of where the Union Army of the Potomac, now under the command of Major General George Meade, was located. A detachment of Confederate troops entered the town of Getty sburg on July 1 in an attempt to obtain supplies (including shoes). They were spot ted by a Union cavalry brigade that engaged them. Both sides requested reinforcements, a nd the balance of the armies formed lines in and around Gettysburg. Sporadic fighting took place for the rest of the day as the two sides settled into their respective positions The numerical advantage was with the Confederacy on July 1 as they outnumbered th eir enemies by a ratio of three to two. On July 2, the fighting was far fiercer and the cas ualty rates far higher. At the end of the second day, the outcome was still inconclu sive. The third day was defined by the disastrous Picketts Charge against the center of the Federal lines. On July 4, the South withdrew, and the exhausted Federals did not pursue. The 85,000 Union troops suffered 23,000 casualties, and the 70,000 Conf ederate soldiers lost 20,000. 147 By the time the fighting ended on July 3, the Florida Brigade (made up of the Second, Fifth, and Eighth Florida Regiments) had lost two-thirds of its troops, the highest percentage of troops lost in any brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. Their commander, Perry, had not been present for th e battle. He had contracted typhoid fever
Figure 35-2 nd Day of the Battle of Gettysburg (Taken from: Noah Andre Trudeau, Gettysburg A Testing of Courage (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), p. 309) and was home on leave. Responsibility for the brigade accordingly fell on the shoulders of Lieutenant-Colonel David Lang of the Eighth Florida. 148 The Floridians did not reach the battle in time to participate in the fighting on July 1. By July 2, they had been assigned a position near the center of the Confederate lines. This put them very near to Cemetery Ridge. They were positioned between groups of 79
Figure 36-2 nd Day of the Battle of Gettysburg Continued (Taken from: Trudeau, p.389) soldiers from Alabama (under Wilcox) and Georgia (under Wright). The Floridians had a long time to wait for their turn to advance. A few men even took the time to play cards. Eventually, the order to march was given and they marched out across the field under fire, taking heavy casualties. The men dispersed and advanced out so that a single artillery round would not decimate the brigade. Reaching the Union lines, they routed the 80
81 enemy troops. They then pursued the fleeing Yankees all the way to Cemetery Ridge. The arrival of enemy reinforcements, and th e fact that Cemetery Ridge was not easily defensible, caused the Confederates to quickly withdraw back to th eir original position. Once again, they took heavy casualties. 149 The Federals fortified Cemetery Ridge during the night, and this landmark was the target of Picketts fateful charge. Lang s men were positioned to the right of Pickett and assigned to protect the ar tillery unit which provided cove ring fire. The Floridians were caught between the Union and the Confed erate barrages. They suffered nearly as many casualties from friendly fire as they did from the enemys. Lang and Wilcox discussed the situation. Neither man wanted to lead their brigade to almost certain destruction but would do so if ordered. Th e men under Pickett advanced across the field, but it was soon apparent that the attack woul d fail. Nevertheless, the men from Florida and Alabama marched out to support the flagging troops and paid dearly for it. As the Yankees thinned the ranks of Picketts men, Langs and Wilcoxs men became virtually their only target. Losses were staggering. The battle was basically over and still the Floridians stayed on the field. Finally Lang, in an attempt to save his surviving men, ordered a withdrawal. 150 By the time of the retreat, the Floridians had less than one hundred and fifty men left. The soldiers resented criticism af ter the battle that they had abandoned the Virginians under Pickens. They pointed out their heavy losses, the fact that they were the last group of Confederates to quit the field, and that theirs was to be a purely supportive role. There is very little wr itten about the actions of the Floridians at Gettysburg, and much of the contemporary literature focuse s on this controversy. The scarcity of
82 information is, in and of itself, interesting considering the heavy pric e the Floridians paid for their attendance at the Ba ttle of Gettysburg. There is no indication that the hard feelings over this incident affected the Flor idians performance in future battles, but it may well have contributed to the sharp declin e in morale that woul d soon plague the men of Florida who fought the war in Virginia. 151 In the west, the somewhat inept Bragg and Rosencrans remained in command of their respected armies. Fr om September 19 to September 21, 1863, they met once again at the Battle of Chickamauga in northern Georgia. In the days leading up to the contest, Bragg spread the rumor that the Confederat es were retreating from their entrenched positions. Rosencranswho wanted desperatel y to destroy Braggs army believed the rumors, and left his position within Chattanoog a to destroy them. In actuality, Bragg had been the recipient of reinforcements from Longstreets Co rp. The Confederates actually outnumbered the Federals for a change,000 to 50,000. 152 Bragg hoped to destroy the Army of the Cumberland by trapping them in a valley and cutting them off from Chattanooga. Rosencrans correctly determined what Bragg intended to do and reorganized his forces to meet the threat. The two armies clashed, and fierce fighting continued until nightfall. On the 19 th the Confederate attack got off to a sluggish start, but the Union forces suffered from confused leadership. Longstreet penetrated the Federal lines, and only last minute heroics by a single corps of Union troops allowed any of them to escape in the r ace back towards Chattanooga. Bragg tarried while burying the Confederate dead; and by the time he bega n his pursuit, Rosencrans had had time to entrench solidly. In the battle, the Yank ees ultimately lost 16 ,179 killed, wounded, or missing, while the Confederates lost 17,904. 153
83 The First, Third, and Fourth Florida Regiments were heavily engaged. The First and Third Regiments, combined for the battle spent most of the fi rst day standing ready to repel an attack that never came. Federal forces tested their defenses several times but always withdrew before the fighting becam e serious. At about 9:00 p.m. they were ordered to change positions and join Genera l Breckinridge. However, they (and their supposed guide) got lost in the dark a nd did not reach their new position until around 8:00 a.m. on the 20 th At 10:00 a.m. the Confederate line (with the First and Third Florida on the right and the F ourth Florida on the left) advanced towards the enemy. The Union line quickly broke, and the majority of the men ran from the approaching Confederatesin some cases leaving cannon and other equipment behind on the field. The Floridians and their compatriots also took a great many prisoners. The First and Third Florida were ordered to protect the armys flank, but came under heavy fire and had to withdraw from the field. While this was going on, the Fourth Florida spent the balance of the battle guarding an artillery empl acement. Just as night fell, a final charge was ordered. All three Florida Regiments adva nced into a hail of bullets and artillery shells, but they suffered few casualties; and the Union troops were dr iven back across the Chattanooga Road. A week later, Bra ggs armyincluding the Fourth Florida assaulted Federal positions in Chattanooga at Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain on September 24. They successfully drove the Un ion forces out and set up fortifications of their own. However, the Fourth Florida was devastated in these assaults. They sent 172 men into the fight, and all but eight een were captured, wounded, or killed. 154 Floridians remained out of any significan t action until the beginning of the Wilderness Campaign in Virginia in the spring of 1864.
84 Chapter 7: Floridians in the Wider War: 1864 and 1865 The 1864 campaigns picked up where the carnage of 1863 had left off. In early May, General Ulysses S. Grant, now commanding the Yankee armies brought 119,000 troops and 316 guns towards Richmond, while Lee planned his defense with 64,000 troops and 274 guns. The battle ended in more slaughter and in a stalemate. 155 Once again, Seton C. Fleming described the act ions of himself and his comrades: Since the 4 th inst., we have fought a series of battles, in all of which God has given us the victory. The fighting has been most desperate. Each side seems to feel that this must be the decisive fight of the war. Assault after assault has been made upon our lines, but with no result favorable to the en emy. We repulsed them on all occasions, slaughtering them by thousands Our loss has also been heavy, but not near so great as theirs. 156 Fleming continued his account thusly: The first battle was fought at what is called The Wilderness on the Orange County Courthouse and Fredericksburg road, about twenty miles from the former place, where General Grant, finding he co uld do nothing with us, withdrew, and skirmishing along, we met again at this place, several days ago. The fighting yesterday was terrific. The whole Ya nkee army seemed to be massed opposite one point on our lines, which was assaulte d and assailed from daylight until about 3 oclock p.m., but could not take and hold it. 157 Fleming also spoke of the battle of Spotsylv ania Court-House, in which Perrys Brigade participated. Major General Anderson was injured in the battle, and a temporary replacement from Virginia was found. 158 On May 25, Southern reinforcements arri ved in the form of General Finegan and three new units from Florida: the Ninth, Te nth, and Eleventh Infantry Regiments. On
85 May 28, they were combined with the vetera n Second, Fifth, and Ei ghth Florida Infantry, commanded by Perry. 159 By May 30, the Florida troopsnow a ll under the command of Fineganhad firmly entrenched themselves between the Virginia Central Railroad and the Chickahominy River. 160 As a Union sharpshooter later related: In every direction across [the Confederate] front were seen th e brownish red furrows which told of rifle pitswhile at every commanding point in the rebel line rose stronger and higher works, above which peered the dark muzzle of hostile artillery. 161 After considerable maneuvering, the Battle of Cold Harbor was fought on June 13, 1864. The main Union attack on June 3 was repulsed by Marylanders and Floridians at the edge of the Confederate lines. This woul d be the only Yankee atta ck of the battle to actually reach the Southern lines. The Uni on lost 7,500 in the three days fighting and gained nothing. Skirmishing continued for several days following the battle, until the armies vacated the field on June 12. As the Union line advanced on June 3, the entrenched men of Maryland and Florida at first thought they were fellow Confederates approaching. They soon realized their mistake, but there was some question regarding which group led the counter-charge. Either wa y, a slight delay recurred as they waited for a virtual stampede of frightened Virginias to get out of the way. The Floridians, along with the Marylanders, pushed the attacking forc e back to the almost chaotic Union lines. The fighting quickly degenerated to ha nd-to-hand and the bayonet was used to devastating effect. The Floridia ns wrested control of the Fede ral artillery away from their gunners and turned the guns on them. The Un ion soldiers were hit by their own weapons fired at close range. Soon blue-clad bodies were lying in litera l heaps upon the ground. 162
Figure 37-The Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia (Taken from: Loderhose, p. 49) As one Floridian observed: They were repulsed by our men with heavy loss.The ground in front was covered with dead and wounded Yankees, and they were glad to 86
87 retire. 163 A private from Florida had a few grue some details to add: The land was almost covered with dead and dying menfrom one breastworks to the other 164 On another part of the field, Finegans Floridians faced a more organized foe. Here the fighting was extremely close. 165 As one man in the Ninth Florida put it: In the bloody angle or death trap it was al most as much as a mans life to show his head even for a momentThe fire was galling, and came so thick and fast that our colors were riddled and the flagsta ff perforated in a number of places. The feeling was that by holding up an open hand Minnie balls could be caught as if hailstones. 166 Official communications had to be passed eith er by word of mout h or through a system whereby a note passed from hand-to-hand. At about 10:00 a.m., Finegan ordered Major Bird to choose a group of men from the Ni nth Florida to directly attack the Union positions in an attempt to give the Confederates room to maneuver. Bi rd realized that the mission was tantamount to suicide, but he chos e to take one-fifth of the regiments men with him. Some of them refused to go. One company commander a ttempted to rally his men by climbing on top of the breastworks a nd waving his sword in the air. He was promptly shot. Bird was cut down after trav eling only about thirty yards. Two other officers who attempted to go to their aid were also shot. Later, once the fire lessened, Bird and one of the officers we re retrieved and lay in the tr enches for the remainder of the day. Bird would later succumb to his wounds. 167 As night fell, Finegan ordered another charge although the conditions had little changed. He ordered Captain C. Seton Flem ing to lead his Second Florida (with only 45 surviving members) to advance across the killing field. Fleming requested confirmation; and when it was given, stood and addressed hi s men. When warned that his upright position put him in danger of being shot, he repl ied that it did not matter if he was killed
88 at that moment or in a few minutes. He told them that he was going and asked them to come with him. He then handed his personal effects to a friend in another regiment and climbed over the breastworks. His men quie tly followed. None of them came back. 168 Following the bloody battle of Cold Harbor, the surviving Floridians under Finegan were given a brief respite. After a day or so of no duty, they were ordered to defend an area known as Turkey Ridge. Following several days of sporadic fire and small skirmishes, the Floridians discovered ( on June 13) that Grant s troops had sneaked away sometime between sunset and sunrise. The brigade was then given their marching orders. They reported to Frazier Farm, just to the east of Richmond. By June 18, they arrived in the town of Petersburg by way of the James River and Chafins Bluff, and were shocked and disheartened by the dila pidated state of the countryside. 169 Morale, in general, was on the decline. As a member of the Ninth Florida wrote in a letter home: I suppose there is fifty thousand around here; I expect we will have a fight here; the guns is in a continual roar I think we will give them a whipping here.there will be many a good man that will be killed the Lord only knows who will come out safe. I will let you know and if we fa ll I hope the Lord will take our souls to heaven. 170 The Confederates dug deeply as they fortified their positions. 171 From June 22 30, Finegan ordered the Ninth Florida to defend the Weldon Linea railroad line located below Petersburg that served to supply the Deep South. Six casualties were reported after they participated in an action to stop a Federal advance on Reams Station on June 24-29. The Floridians then became the rese rves as the battle concluded a long period of attr ition. The relative peace soon e nded with a bang. On July 30, the Yankees exploded a mine under the Conf ederate lines. They had spent more than a month secretly digging and placing explosiv es. The Union leaders expected a quick
and easy victory at the Crater, but they did not get one. The explosion occurred as planned. Unfortunately for the Union, however, they had placed their troops too close to the site of the explosion in preparation for the charge that was to follow. Both Northern and Southern troops were killed by the concussive force. Compounding the Yankees Figure 38-Area Map of Petersburg, Virginia, 1864 (Taken from: Loderhose, p.58) 89
90 difficulties, those troops that made the charge paused once they were down in the crater, thus eliminating the element of surprise. 172 A member of the Ninth Florida reflected on the unusual battle: At day light they put a slow match and made the charge the explosion took place and blew up about thirty yards of our line with the men that was our front we had three line there killing a nd burying up our poor men unt hought of our lines gave way take care of themselves. The Yanks had run up so close that they lost nearly as many men as we did by the explosion th ey took possession of that part of our lines and open up on us that the most terrifying cannonading at most ever was heard the shells flew as thick as hail fr om mortars and all the different kinds of cannon they threw shrapnel & canister & gr ape shot & solid shot for a bout five hours as long as the engagement lasted up to that time they held our blew up line we had drove them back to their lines at all other points it remained so with a pretty severe cannonade to about two oclo ck in the evening, then our troops . made a charge on the Yanks in our capt ured lines. They retaken the lines and taken about one to two thousand prisone rs & our Brigade was not charged by the Yanks so we were not in the fight exce pt the shells they flew all around all the way [sic]. 173 Following the disappointing loss at the Battl e of the Crater, Gran t shifted his plans from a direct assault on Peters burg to interrupting the Southe rn supply lines. During the month of August, food was in short supply for those Confeder ate troops within Petersburg. In Florida, Uni on advances caused the soldiers at Petersburg to justifiably fear for their families safet y. Morale plummeted accordingly. 174 About three weeks later, Grant made an attempt to take control of the Weldon Railroad Line. The Battle of Weldon Railroa d, a Yankee victory, occurred on August 21. Two separate Confederate charges involving Fi negans Floridians, fa iled. In the first charge, 681 men advanced; but only 274 came back. Skirmishes and limited engagements continued in the area for days th ereafter at Fort Ha rrison, Burgesss Mill, and Belfield. 175
91 As 1865 began, the authorities in Tallaha ssee began to request that Finegan be returned to aid in the defense of his state. Finegan concurred since he felt his intimate knowledge of Florida would allow him to do the most good there. He went home on March 20, 1865, and the morale of those Florid ians in Virginia plummeted further. Desertion rates were high. Fl oridas soldiers were then st unned to learn that Governor Milton had killed himself by placing a shotgun against his head on April 1. He had told the Florida legislature just a few days befo re that he found death preferable to Union domination. 176 On April 6, the Fifth, Eighth, and Eleven th Florida Regiments were ordered to support another body of Confederate troops at Sa ylors Creek, Virginia. They were all captured by the cavalry of Uni on Colonel George Custer. The Ninth Florida fought and won their last battle of the war at Farmville,Virginia, wher e at least 1,100 Union troops were captured. 177 Lee surrendered to Grant at Appom attox Court House on April 9, 1865. The troops themselves surrendered their weapons and flags on April 12. The men of Florida were among the last groups to surrender. 178
92 Chapter 8: Who Were the Soldiers of Florida? The Civil War nearly started at Fort Pick ens. The first blood spilled may not have come from a Floridian, but that does not diminish the fact that a great many Floridians gave their lifes blood in defense of their state and their chosen country. Florida fielded no generals with the fame of Lee and Jackson or Grant and Sherman. They did, however, pr oduce at least three generals who served with distinction and made a name for themselves on the fiel d of battle. Joseph Finegan, James Patton Anderson, and William Loring (of Vicksburg fame ) were the generals of Florida who gained widespread renown. 179 Approximately 16,000 Floridians fought in the Civil War, with 15,000 serving in the Confederate Army. Of these, 2,309or 14.4%deserted. The 2,934,000 troops who hailed from other states (both No rth and South), 380,163or 13%deserted. Nearly 5,000 Floridians were killed in batt le. Approximately 31% of those Floridians that served in either the Confederate or Union Armies met a violent end. This figure stands in stark contrast to th at of the rest of the states. A total of 199,100 soldiers from states other than Florida di ed in battle, a percentage of only 6.8%. Was it any wonder then that the troops of Florida resented being ignored and criticized when they sacrificed so much? Was it any wonder that their desertion rate slightly exceeded th at of the rest of the states involved in the war? It was to th e men of Floridas credit that their desertion
93 rate was not higher considering the likeli hood that those who stayed and fought would never return home. In addition to violent de ath, death from disease also enacted a heavy toll. About 13.2%, or 388,580 soldiers, who f ought in the Civil War from all states (including Florida) died of dis ease while serving their respective sides. It is important to note that many of these figures are approxi mations as many of the Confederate (and especially Floridian) records were destroyed by officials during reconstruction to limit the ability of the Federal government to charge Confederate veterans with treason. 180 Those Confederates of Florida who stayed to defend their state were a distinctive breed. Nearly always outnumbered, often aban doned by the rest of the Confederacy, they still did their utmost to protect their ho mes and their neighbors from the masses of marauding Yankees. Those who fought for th e Yanks found themselves derided and called traitor by their Confederate kin. Better supplied, though fewe r in number, they stood with the invaders to bring their state b ack into the United States. Rebel or Yankee, Confederacy or Union, no matter which side th ey chose, these men felt they were doing what was best for Florida. The troops remained constant in thei r enthusiasm to defend their homes. Desertion would become an issue, but it wa s not a crippling one. Before the war had even begun, ten companies of volunteers had form ed and were on their way to Pensacola. Cannon were placed to protect the practically indefensible coast. By May 1862, at least 2,700 Floridians with Confederate sympathies stood ready to do their part. Even when the Confederacy undervalued Floridas importance, and took many of her soldiers away to fight in other states, Floridas defenders still fought on. With few exceptionsFort Pickens and Key Westthe Floridians managed peacefully to take the US forts located
94 on their land. When the Union returned to take back their forts and the towns they guarded, they would find it a more difficult a nd costly task. The Federal gunboats came calling at Cedar Key, and the lone Confederate li eutenant stationed there, with his twenty two men and three antique cannon, remained at his post even though he knew he was hopelessly outnumbered. Jacksonville fell into Union hands repeatedly, but the Confederate Floridians kept coming back to reclaim it. Tampa was invaded and bombarded several times, but its defenders did not falter. Even when larger concerns led the Confederacy to withdraw those same de fenders, brave cavalrymen raced to defend it when trouble arose. Ironically, Tampa needed to be saved from the invasion of other Floridians those who sided with the Union. These Yankee troops had previously been stationed at Fort Myers and had marched a long way to r each Tampa. Many of them were colored troops who chose to fight for the Union agai nst the Confederates who would see them enslaved. Virtually all of the Floridians who fought for the Union at the Battle of Natural Bridge, for example, were negroes. They were not the only troops who felt that supporting the Union best served their state. With the possible exception of the Battle of Olustee, there were no grand and farreaching battles fought within th e state of Florida. This does not make the actions of Floridas defendersfrom both the Union and the Confederacyany less significant however. These men suffered depravations, in juries, and even death to do their duty. They fought their small battles in defense of the homes and their neighbors just as bravely as those who found themselv es in grand battles elsewhere.
95 The Floridians who fought in that wider war had a far different experience than their neighbors who stayed behind to defend the state. While some volunteered to go wherever the Confederacy needed them, most were given no choice with regards to their posting. These soldiers still pe rformed their duty (usually brav ely) to the best of their abilities. Florida contributed troops to the Confederate side of ne arly every major battle in the Eastern TheaterYorktown, Sharps burg, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and moreand many of the most significant battles in the Western TheaterCorinth, Chickamauga, Shiloh, Chattanooga, etc. Their presence made a difference. They left many men behind in the soil of other states. Fighting for duty or country or ideals may not be as fulfilling as fighting to protect ones home and neighbors and family. Maybe, therefore, the Floridians who fought elsewhere may be forgiven for the dampening of their enthusiasm as the war dragged on and on. They were fighting and dying on an unprecedented scale for a nation that largely ignored and sometimesas happened at Gettysburgcriticized their contributions. Little is written in the offici al reports and records about the actions of the Floridians in the wider war. Citations for bravery and valor were few, even though the evidence available suggests that recognition was warranted in many cases. Fighting and dying for a Cause while being criticized mu st have been a hard thing to justify especially when that Cause was in its death-th roes. Sitting in the trenches of Petersburg for months on end, the troops of Florida had plen ty of time to consider the plight of those they had left behind in their home state. The Confederate Cause was dying, and many of the increasingly large number of deserters simply wanted to go home. Even their
96 steadfast leader, Finegan, ha d left them behind. Their governor abandoned them when he chose death by his own hand. They were justifia bly tired of death and fearful of dying for a lost cause. While there may have been individua l Floridians who fought for the Union outside of Florida, the only Florida Regiments within the wider war hailed from the Confederacy. Those Floridians who called th emselves Unionists had plenty to keep themselves busy within the state. After Picketts Charge, the Floridians were amongst the last to leave the field of battle. At Appomattox, they were among the last to officially surrender. Within Florida, the troops fought hard until the last, and their morale remained strong. As the sun was setting on the Confederate Caus e, Floridas defenders succes sfully defended their capital from their neighbors who fought for the Uni on. Tallahassee did not fall, and those who would defend her did not waver. There were few reports of cowardly behavior or panic. Desertion only became a serious issue at the end, and then primarily outside of the state. Through many trials, Floridas soldiers performe d their duties to the be st of their abilities and became a credit to their state.
97 Endnotes 1 Lewis N. Wynne and Robert Taylor, Florida in the Civil War (Great Britain: Arca dia Publishing, 2001), pp.7, 10; Laura Stewart and Susanne Hupp, Historic Homes of Florida (Sarasota: Pineapple Press, Inc., 1995), p.8; Gary Loderhose, Far, Far from Home: the Ninth Florida Regiment in the Confederate Army (Carmel, Indiana: Guild Press Emmis Publishing, LP, 1999), pp. 1, 2; Charles Halsey Hildreth, A History of Gainesville, Florida (Gainesville: University of Florida, 1954), p. 24; George F. Pearce, Pensacola During the Civil War (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), p.1. 2 John E. Johns, Florida During the Civil War (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1963), pp.5, 6. 3 Canter Brown, Tampa in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Tampa: University of Tampa, 2000), pp.2021. 4 Johns, p.11. 5 Johns, pp.10,11; Wynne, p.7. 6 Floridas Ordinance of Secession (http://www.ehistory.com/uscw/features /regimental/florida/confederate/s ecession.cfm, from Ohio State University Department of History, 2005) 7 Herbert J. Doherty, Jr., Richard Keith Call Southern Unionist (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1961), p.158; Wynne, pp.11,14. 8 William H. Nulty, Confederate Florida: The Road to Olustee (Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1997), p.1; The New York Times (http://www.newspaperarchive.com/Register.aspx, from NewspaperARCHIVE.com), 1/11/1861; Loderhose, p.7; Wynn, p.23. 9 Paul Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida: A Reader and a Guide (United States: Portland House, 1997), p.27. 10 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida p.27, 28; U.S., War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (www.ehistory.com) (hereinafter referred to as O.R.), Series 1, Vol. 1, Chapter IV, p.332, 333, Numbers 1.-Ordnance Sergeant E. Powell, U. S. Army, of the seizure of U. S. Arsena l at Apalachicola. Numbers 2.-Ordnance Sergeant Henry Douglas, U. S. Army, of the seizure of Fort Marion, Saint Augustine. 11 Johns, pp. 154, 155. 12 OR Series 1, Vol. 1, Chapter IV, p.334, Numbers 3. Re ports of Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, First U. S. Artillery, of the transfer of his command from Barrancas Barracks to Fort Pickens, and subsequent events (to February 5, 1861) in Pensacola Harbor. 13 Loderhose, p.7; OR Series 1, Vol. 1, Chapter IV (www.ehistory.com), p.334, Numbers 3. Reports of Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, First U. S. Artillery, of the transfer of his comma nd from Barran cas Barracks to Fort Pickens, and subsequent events (to February 5, 1861) in Pensacola Harbor.
98 14 J. J. Dickison, Confederate Military History of Florida (Gulf Breeze, FL: eBoo ksOnDisk.com, 2002), p.7. 15 OR Series 1, Vol. 1, Chapter IV (www.ehistory.com), p.337, Numbers 3. Reports of Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, First U. S. Artillery, of the transfer of hi s command from Barrancas Barracks to Fort Pickens, and subsequent events (to February 5, 1861) in Pensacola Harbor. 16 OR Series 1, Vol. 1, Chapter IV (www.ehistory.com), pp. 337-338, Numbers 3. Reports of Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, First U. S. Artillery, of the transf er of his command from Barrancas Barracks to Fort Pickens, and subsequent events (to February 5, 1861) in Pensacola Harbor; Clement A. Evans, Florida and Texas: Confederate Military History, vol.XI (United States: The Blue & Grey Press, n.d.),. 17 Dickison, p.7, 11; Grady McWhiney, Braxton Bragg and the Confederate Defeat (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), pp. 151-155, 164. 18 Wynne, p.24; Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, p.29. 19 Thomas Campbell, ed., Southern Service on Land and Sea: The Wartime Journal of Robert Watson CSA/CSN, Voices of the Civil War, ed. Frank L. Byrne (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2002), pp.2, 34, 35; Wynne, p.28. 20 Dickison, p.14; OR Series 1, Vol. 1. Chapter IV (www.ehistory.com), pp. 470-473, 1861 correspondance: L.P. Walker (Richmond) and W. S. Dilworth (Amelia Island), Governor Elect John Milton (Apalachicola) and L.P Walker (Mariana), Governor Elect John Milton (Apalachicola) and Lieutenant J.A. Anderson, CSA (Richmond). 21 OR Series 1, Vol. 1. Chapter IV (www.ehistory.co m), p.420, correspondence between General Braxton Bragg, CSA (Pensacola) and Colonel Harvey Brown, USA (Fort Pickens). 22 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, p.29. 23 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, p.29; Santa Rosa Island(1861), (ehistory.com, http://ehistory.osu.edu/USCW/BattleView.cfm?BID=514& WID=2); Dickison, pp.16, 17, 18; S. M. Hankins, My Recollections of the Confederate War, (Florida State Archives: eyewitness account, n.d.), p.1. 24 Presumably this refers to Billy Wilsons Zouaves, Union Volunteers from New York, distinguished by the long knives they preferred, th Infantry Regiment Civil War, (New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/6thInf/6thInfMain.htm). 25 Dickison, pp.18,19. 26 Robert Gospero Shaw, C.S.A. (Pensacola) to Mrs. Jesse Shaw Smith (Quincy, FL), from the Florida State Archives (unpublished), 10/9/1861. 27 McWhiney, p.196; Dickison, p.21. 28 Wynne, p.29. 29 OR Series 1, Vol. 6, Chapter VI (www.ehistory.com), pp. 402-403, Governor John Milton (Tallahassee) to Secretary of War J. P. Benjamin, 5 March, 1862.
99 30 OR Series 4, Vol. 2, Part 1 (www.ehistory.com), p.50, Governor John Milton (Tallahassee) to The People of Florida, 12 August 1862. 31 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, p.151; OR Series 1, Vol. 6, Chapter VI (www.ehistory.com), p. 76, Brigadier General J. H. Trapier, CSA (Tallahassee) to Captain T. A. Washington, CSA (South Carolina), 31 January 1862. 32 Wynne, p.30; Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, p.101, Report of Brig. Gen. Horatio G. Wright (Fernandina, Fla.,3/5/1862). 33 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida p.94. 34 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, p.94; Wynne, p.30; Johns, p.73. 35 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, pp.101-104, Report of Brig. Joseph Finegan, C.S.A. (Lake City, Fla., 3/31/1863). 36 Arch Blakey, Ann Lainhart, and Winston Stephens, jr., eds., Rose Cottage Chronicles: Civil War Letters of the Bryant-Stephens Families of North Florida (Gainesville: University of Press of Florida, 1998), p.105. 37 Ibid., p.106. 38 Ibid. 39 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, p.94. 40 Campbell, pp.31,32. 41 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, pp.175,176. 42 Campbell, p.33-36. 43 Dickison, pp.23, 24; Johns, p.73. 44 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, pp.176-177. 45 Ibid. 46 Nulty, pp.37,38. 47 Ibid., pp.37,38. 48 Ibid., p.38. 49 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, pp.94-97. 50 Ibid. 51 Nulty, pp.36, 37. 52 Johns, pp.160,161.
100 53 Hankins, p.3. 54 Ibid. 55 Ibid., pp.4, 7. 56 Ibid., pp.8, 9. 57 Wynne, pp.75-81; Robert A. Taylor, Rebel Storehouse: Floridas Contribution to the Confederacy (Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2003), p.44,45. 58 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, p.97. 59 Ibid., pp.97-100. 60 Ibid., pp.177, 178. 61 Ibid., pp.166, 167. 62 Ibid., p.162. 63 Ibid., pp.193, 194. 64 Dickison, pp.34, 35; Nulty, p.79. 65 Dickison, p.35. 66 Dickison, pp.34-35, 37, 39-43; Nulty, p.119; Wynne, p.138. 67 Dickison, p.44. 68 Ibid. 69 Nulty, pp.210-214. 70 Ibid., p.212. 71 Ibid., pp.212-213. 72 Ibid., p.48. 73 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, pp.167-181. 74 Ibid., p.189. 75 The Brooksville Raid 2005: Official Program (Brooksville, FL, self published, 2005) The Real Brooksville Raid, by Virginia Jackson, pp.10,11. 76 Ibid., p.11. 77 Ibid. 78 Dickison, pp.68-71.
101 79 Taylor, Discovering the Civil War in Florida, pp.194, 197-198. 80 Allen R. Gerrell, The Civil War in and Around St. Marks Florida (United States: self published, n.d) pp.89, 90, 91. 81 Ibid., pp.91, 92. 82 Ibid. 83 Ibid., p.92. 84 Ibid., pp.93, 94. 85 Ibid., p.94. 86 Ibid., p.96. 87 Ibid., pp.98, 99. 88 Floridian and Journal (Tallahassee) 3/11/1865. 89 Gerrell, p.102. 90 Ibid., pp.102, 103, 104, 105. 91 Ibid. 92 Ibid., p.107. 93 Ibid., p.109. 94 Ibid., p.109. 95 Ibid., pp.107, 108. 96 Ibid., pp.114, 116. 97 Ibid., pp.121, 122. 98 Floridian and Journal (Tallahassee) 3/11/1865. 99 Gerrell, pp.121, 122. 100 Ibid., p.127. 101 Ibid., pp.122, 125, 127. 102 Floridian and Journal (Tallahassee) 3/11/1865. 103 Ibid. 104 Ibid.
102 105 Ibid. 106 Clement A. Evans, Florida and Texas: Confederate Military History, vol.XI (United States: The Blue & Grey Press, n.d.), p.33. 107 Wynne, p.35. 108 Francis P. Fleming, Memoir of Seton C. Fleming of the Second Florida Infantry, C.S.A. (Jacksonville: Times-Union Publishing House, 1881), p.30. 109 Ibid. 110 Dickison, p.85; Wynne, p.38; Fleming, p.30. 111 Wynne, p.61,63. 112 Alex Walker. Narrative of the Battle of Shiloh from Diary for the War for Separation (Vicksburg, Miss, 1905), p.124. 113 Walker, p.124; OR Series 1, Vol. 10, Chpt. XXII, p.502, 504, Report of Brigadier General Patton Anderson, Corinth, Mississippi, 17 April 1862. 114 Bishop, 79; Wynne, p.63. 115 Fleming, p.34; Diane K. Depew (Supervisory Park Ranger, Colonial National Historic Park), Yorktown. to Jennifer J. Hawley, Sp ring Hill, FL. 3 February 2004. 116 Fleming, p.33. 117 Ibid., p.34. 118 Diane K. Depew(Supervisory Park Ranger, Colonial National Historic Park), Yorktown. to Jennifer J. Hawley, Spring Hill, FL, 3 February 2004; Fleming pp.33,34. 119 Fleming, p.33. 120 Ibid.,pp. 36, 39. 121 Fleming, pp.39, 40, 46. 122 Bishop, pp.83, 84. 123 Fleming, p.49. 124 Ibid., pp.49, 50. 125 Fleming, pp.50, 62; Wynne, p.40. 126 Bishop, pp.87, 88; Wynne, p.40. 127 Fleming, p.63.
103 128 Wynne, p.40. 129 Ibid., pp.64, 65. 130 Fleming, pp.65-67. 131 Bishop, p.97. 132 Bishop, p.97; Fleming, p.67. 133 Bishop, pp.98-99. 134 Fleming, p.67. 135 Bishop, p.99; Fleming, p.68. 136 Bishop, pp.104, 109-111. 137 Fleming, p.71. 138 Ibid. 139 Blakey, pp.187, 188. 140 Albert Livingston, Tullahoma, Tenn., 12 Jan. 1863, letter to mother, Madison County, FL (Albert Livingston MSS, Library of the United Daughters of the Confederacy); Evans, pp. 168, 169; Bishop, p. 114. 141 Bishop, pp.132, 133. 142 Fleming, p.72. 143 Ibid., pp.73, 74. 144 Ibid., p.74. 145 Ibid., p.74. 146 Ibid., pp.75, 76. 147 The Civil War Society, Encyclopedia of the Civil War: The Complete and Comprehensive Guide to the American Civil War (United States: Portland House, 1997), pp.149-151. 148 David J. Coles and Zack C. Waters, Forgotten Sa crifice: The Florida Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg, Apalachee, XI (Tallahassee: The Tallahassee Hist orical Society, 1996) pp.36-37. 149 Coles, p. 38, 39; James Barbour Johnson. Limite d Review of What One Man Saw of the Battle of Gettysburg (eyewitness account, n.d.), pp.1-2. 150 Coles pp.41-45. 151 Carol Reardon. Picketts Charge in History and Memory (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997), pp.39-40.
104 152 The Civil War Society, p.73; Other sources claim the troop strengths were 75,000 to 57,000, Bishop, p.151. 153 The Civil War Society, p.73; Bishop, pp. 151, 152. 154 Evans, pp.169-174; Bishop, p. 153. 155 Bishop, pp.184, 186. 156 Fleming, pp.94-95. 157 Ibid., p.95. 158 Fleming, pp. 94-95; Loderhose, p.44. 159 Loderhose, p.44. 160 Ibid., p.45. 161 Gordon C. Rhea, Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee May 26-June3, 1864 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002), p.294 162 E.A. Pollard, The Lost Cause (New York: Gramercy Books, 1994), pp. 527-528; Rhea, pp.325-326. 163 Rhea., p.328. 164 Ibid., pp.328, 329. 165 Ibid, p.368. 166 Ibid., p.368. 167 Ibid, pp.368, 377. 168 Ibid., p.382,382. 169 Loderhose, pp.52, 53. 170 Ibid, pp.53, 54. 171 Ibid., p.54 172 Loderhose, pp. 52, 78. 173 Ibid., p. 79. 174 Ibid., pp.80, 82-85. 175 Ibid., pp.86-87, 99-100. 176 Ibid., p.101.
105 177 Ibid., p.104. 178 Ibid. 179 Board of State Institutions, Soldiers of Florida in the Seminole Indian-Civil and Spanish-American Wars (Live Oak, Florida: Democrat Book and Job Print, 1903), p.324-329. 180 Wynne, p.16; Board of State Institutions, pp. 37-38; Florida Seceded! (http://www.americaslibrary.gov, from the Library of Co ngress, 2005); Size of the Union and Confederate Armies (http://www.civilwarhome.com, from Home of the American Civil War, 2005); Cost of the American Civil War (http://www.civilwarhome.com, from Home of the American Civil War, 2005); Ella Lonn, Desertion During the Civil War (New York: The Century Co., c1928), pp. 232-237.
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