Welcome to the monthly newsletter.  Please be patient as we are just getting started.  If you wish to be notified of each new issue, send an email to subscribe@floridareenactorsonline.com.   ALL Writers are welcomed: Confederate, Union, and Civilian.  If you wish to submit an article, or have any questions, send an email to webmaster@floridareenactorsonline.com.





For additional event information, please visit the EVENTS page for a complete listing.


·        March 6-8:     150th Anniversary and 38th Annual Reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge, FL

·        March 13-15: Camp Milton, Jacksonville, FL

·        March 13-15: Nature Coast Reenactment – Kirby Family Farm, Williston, FL

·        March 27-29: Battle at Narcoossee Mill, St. Cloud, FL




In Memoriam

By Daniel Sharits, 75th OVI


It is with deepest regret that the 75th OVI, Company A, announces the passing of our longtime member and dear friend Frank Shaffer on the 23rd of November, 2014. Frank was a long serving member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and Hyde Volunteer Fire Company. He also taught in the Clearfield Middle School for 25 years.


Before joining the 75th OVI in 2002, Frank was a member of the 148th Pennsylvania Vol. Inf., Co. C. Services were held at the Sarasota National Cemetery on December 12th. The 75th OVI, and all who were so honored to be Frank’s friend, send our deepest condolences to his wife Jean, son David and the rest of his family. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.


Photo courtesy of JPR Images http://jprimages.com/reenactments



Decorum and Respect

By Hamilton “Ham” McElroy



One of my favorite moments in reenacting is the Saturday night fire.  I enjoy sitting out by the company cook fire and seeing the various fires burning brightly in the night.  The warm glow of the lanterns, the laughter and camaraderie, and the stars in the sky all work together to bring the reenacting experience home for me.  It is a chance to disconnect from the “real world” and enjoy being in the moment.


When what to my wondering eye should appear, but a bright shining light which suddenly did flare.  At a recent event, I noticed an ever increasing trend among reenactors in the use of modern amenities after hours.  While what you choose to do inside of your tent is your business, the encroachment of the modern world into the military camp is a problem of epidemic proportions, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves.  Before I go any further, let me say that I am not trying to step on anyone’s toes or act as a stitch-Nazi; that is simply not my intention at all.  I know that I am probably going to receive some flak for saying this, but please know it is meant with utmost respect for everyone in this hobby.  I am simply trying to bring these actions to everyone’s attention, because I know that we all want to make the best impression that we can in this hobby. 


Below are the growing trends that I have noticed at the last few events.  The infractions I noticed after hours were:


·        Numerous LED lanterns outside of tents (at Olustee, I stopped counting at 16)

·        Maglite flashlights everywhere

·        Cellphones used out in the open

·        Coleman lanterns (a more natural light, but unnaturally bright)

·        Cook stoves out in the open, not concealed by sidewalls, boxes or even under a fly at least

·        Plastic crates and uncovered ice chests

·        Blaring Led Zeppelin via Bluetooth speakers propped up on a pile of logs

·        Vehicles in camp at all hours, including golf carts

·        Modern eye-wear, especially sunglasses on the field

·        Not to mention food containers, etc.


LED lanterns are a wonderful invention.  A single bright, clear light will illuminate an entire camp.  However, the unnatural color and brightness of this light (whether in the lantern or flashlight variety) is an incredible intrusion of the modern world at events.  If you want to use them in your tent, then go ahead.  I would never dare to suggest what people can and cannot do in their tents, but out in the open is not a good place for them.  A good alternative is oil lanterns, which can be turned up to produce more light.  Some people go for Coleman lanterns.  Yes, their color is MUCH more appropriate, but their unnatural brightness (not to mention their modern look) is simply out of place in the open air of the military camp.  If you use one inside of your tent, please be sure to ventilate well, because they produce carbon monoxide, which can kill you.


Most of the rest of the list should go without saying.  If you use a camp stove, that is your business.  However, please try to keep it hidden as much as possible.  This also goes for covering your plastic bins, water jugs and ice chests.  I know we all love some music, but nothing beats a live performance.  The use of radios and speakers is simply not kosher.  Everyone would benefit from those who bring their guitar, fiddle or other period instrument.   Eye-wear is always a sticky issue.  Some people cannot wear contacts.  Some cannot afford period glasses.  I don’t know of a good solution for you if these two suggestions are not viable options.  I just encourage you to put some serious thought and consideration into this.  If you must wear sunglass for medical reasons (yes, there are some people who MUST wear them for medical reason), I suggest finding a pair of period tinted glasses, known as Syphilis glasses.  If it means enough to you, there has to be a solution.


Remember why we are doing this!  Even though the public is gone, the reenactment is still happening.  We don’t do this solely for the public, but also for the experience.  Most of us are here to honor our ancestors, and one way of doing that is by being as period correct as possible.  This includes both on and off the field, day and night.  Some are able to do this better than others.  I strongly encourage that each company select someone (preferably a sergeant or corporal) to police your own company street.  For the weekend, charge this person with the responsibility of ensuring that your company has all modern items hidden at all times and maintains decorum and respect for what we do.  You could even rotate who is in charge from event to event so that everyone has a chance to understand the responsibility the position entails and the importance of complying with whoever is in on duty. 


Again, please understand that I am not trying to be a stitch-Nazi, but rather I want to encourage everyone to simply try and do better.  Most people come out to events in order to escape the modern hustle and bustle of life.  What is the point of bringing the modern out with us, or destroying the ambiance for someone else?  If you want more modern amenities in life, that is perfectly fine.  Just take it over to modern camping where it doesn’t matter what you use in camp.  Remember, this is a hobby, and we are supposed to be here to enjoy what we are doing.  But at the same time, what we are doing is honoring and portraying our ancestors who fought and died for what they believed in.   Let’s all work together for the betterment of this hobby as a whole.



by Robert Niepert



http://www.bctbelltent.co.uk/images/bell_tent_tradition/bell_tent_traditon.jpgThe Sibley tent, also called a bell tent, was invented by Henry Sibley (C.S.A.).  While in the Western U.S., Sibley noticed the advantages offered by the Indian teepee.  He copied the basic design, made some modifications and then patented his tent in 1858.  He made an agreement with the U.S. Government War Dept., and they were to pay him $5 for every tent they made.  When the Civil War broke out, Sibley sided with the Confederacy and was not paid the royalty.  After his death, Sibley's family tried to collect the money due him, but the Government refused to hear the claim or pay the royalty.  The Federal Army used 43,958 Sibley tents.

The Sibley tent is 18 ft. in diameter and 12 ft. high.  It is supported by a single pole, which rests on an iron tripod, which allows the tent to be tightened or relaxed.  At the top of the tent is a circular opening about a foot in diameter which serves as ventilation.  A small piece of canvas called a cap is attached to two long guys and covers the top hole in bad weather.  During the Civil War, these tents were shelter for up to 12 men; however, in stockade use, as many as 20 men were made to share one tent.  The large tents were too cumbersome for active operations and after 1862 were used only in semi-permanent camp areas.


http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSLONv40F0DzC14Of8pFFuxyuJ13NyvM3byndf8UQ5QGH6KutKI:www.gamehawktents.com/2004_0327walltent0003.JPGThe Wall Tent, also called an officers tent, saw many uses during the war.  This tent has four upright sides or "walls," hence its name.  Some of the wall tents were equipped with a fly used in the front.  Men could stand erect and move around inside these tents comfortably.  The wall tent came in several different sizes.  The smaller wall tents were issued to commissioned officers.  Gen. McClellan had them issued (general order Aug. 10, 1862) to "general, field, and staff officers", while each line officer was allowed a single shelter tent.


Larger sizes were used as hospital tents.  Several of these larger tents could be put end to end and used as hospital wards.  The hospital wall tent was 14 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft. and 11 ft. high with side walls 4ft. 6in. tall.  Each one used in medical treatment was designed to accommodate eight patients.  Army regulations assigned three hospital tents to each regiment.


Wall tents were initially the most popular tents but they proved too expensive to manufacture, too cumbersome to pitch and carry, and eventually found themselves inhabited only by those too weak or too exalted to do the work of erecting them - hospital patients and officers.


http://www.11thpa.org/graphics/uni-24.jpgThe Wedge Tent, also known as the "A" frame tent, was one of the most commonly used tents.  The canvas of this tent is stretched over a horizontal bar about six feet long.  The bar is supported on each end by two upright posts about six feet high.  Folding flaps at each end when open allowed ventilation in the summer but on cold nights even when closed offered little protection.  This type of tent usually held four men but was often occupied by up to six.  The wedge tent did offer speed of assembly but far less space.  When set up the "A" frame tent covers about 50 square feet, or close to seven square feet per man.


The "A" frame tents were in general use by the armies of both sides in the first two years of the war but like the Sibley and wall tents they required too much precious space on the wagons to take along for use in the field.  Accordingly, they were turned over to camps of instruction, rendezvous depots, and troops permanently located in or near important military centers or stations.


http://www.cjdaley.com/tentcrop.jpgShelter Halves in the end were the most common and only protection offered to the fighting men.  This tent also known as a dog tent only slightly protected two men.  Each man would carry half of the tent with him.  The shelter tent measured five feet two inches by four feet eight inches.  The men would button their halves together, sling it over a center pole or length of rope strung between trees and within minutes had some protection.  Shelter tents were made of canvas and sometimes of oil cloth if any was available but they were no better than the poncho tents which were a smaller version.  With both ends open to the elements, they were only useful in good weather.  I have seen drawings and photographs where two muskets with fixed bayonets were stabbed into the ground and a rope ran between them and a tent made when canvas was draped over the rope.  I can't imagine this was a common practice, but it may have occurred at least a couple of times.


An excerpt from the diary of Col. John Beatty reflected the men's feelings towards their new quarters.  "Shelter tents were issued to our division today.  We are still using the larger tent but it is evidently the intention to leave these behind when we move.  Last fall the shelter tents were used for a time by the Pioneer Brigade.  They are so small that a man cannot stand up in them.  The boys were then very bitter in condemnation of them and called them dog tents and dog pens.  Almost every one of these tents was marked in a way to indicate the unfavorable opinion which the boys entertained of them and in riding through the company quarters of the Pioneer Brigade; the eye would fall on inscriptions of this sort:  Pups for sale -- Rat terriers -- Bull pups here -- Dog hole #1."


Poncho Tents were made from three rubber ponchos with a combined weight of only seven pounds.  When the ponchos were assembled into a sleeping tent, three men could squeeze into it.  Many men preferred the poncho tent to the rubber blanket.  They were believed to be warmer than the shelter tent.


Shebang shelters were made of any available material.  The Confederates had few tents, so they soon became proficient in the construction of their shebangs.  Photos reveal that small trees, branches, rail fences or anything useable could be and was used for their "homes".  The shebang was built when the army would be staying in the area for an extended period of time.


References for this article were taken from:  Lords Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia, Arms and Equipment of the Civil War, The Fighting Men of the Civil War and Echoes Of Glory - Arms And Equipment of the Union.



File:Benjamin Franklin Butler Brady-Handy.jpgBenjamin F. Butler

A Review of Butler’s Book, Part 1

By Ralph Epifanio



Originally published in 1892 by A.M. Thayer (Boston) as a subscription book—printing is paid for by subscribers ahead of time—this title is not an easy find. As far as I can tell, it has never been reprinted. I found mine in an old fashioned book store in Charlevoix, Michigan for $68.50 (originally listed at $150.) It was worth every penny of it.


(Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Benjamin_Franklin_Butler_Brady-Handy.jpg)


When sorting out the who’s who of a long list of characters involved in the Great Rebellion, a name that comes up frequently is that of Benjamin Butler. To me, as I’m sure for a lot of people, Butler is an enigma—a mystery—a man whose many accomplishments may have been minimized by the diminutives by which he was mercilessly attacked. In respect for his many important contributions to the Union war efforts, some that began well before the first bullets flew, I will refrain from mentioning any.  Suffice it to say, however, that no one in the public eye, then or now, can avoid the disrespectful claims of their critics.


To know Benjamin Butler, we have to study the person who knew him best, Butler. This autobiography is as precise as it is long. The product of years of personal observations, as well as official documents, copious notes, and a lifetime of memories, its 1154 pages, which includes a lengthy index, provides a perspective that proved—to me at least—invaluable in understanding the mood of 19th century Americans.  While the book chronicles his life, from childhood to his last days, it includes a sizeable amount of text dedicated to the War Between the States, plus an in-depth study of that century’s politics.  There is also much said about Butler’s career as a lawyer—both before and after the war--and the good works that he was most proud of.


Butler’s private and public lives were tightly interwoven with that of his political career as a Democrat.  Like fellow Union General Dan Sickles of New York, his political ambitions were given a boost by his military service. As was everyone else’s, it seems. No less than seven Union veterans served as president—Andrew Johnson, U.S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harris, and William McKinley (source, US Presidents: Lists and Records http://www.heptune.com/preslist.html#Military).  Many more ran for office unsuccessfully, Butler among them.


But we get ahead of ourselves.


Early Life

No doubt a meticulous record keeper and energetic researcher, Benjamin Butler began his “life story” with the founding of his native state of New Hampshire, and a brief study of its history. He notes the role that war has played in our country’s history.


“I believe now, that this country is to have a war in each generation. Every preceding generation in this country had had its war, and in the most important of all his father had taken an active part.” (Page 80)


In the French and Indian war, Butler’s grandfather, Zephaniah, was under Wolfe’s command when they took Quebec. One of his uncles fought at Bunker Hill in the American Revolution. His father, John Butler, was with Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815 (two weeks after all other hostilities “ceased”). Perhaps the most lopsided victory in the history of United States warfare—according to one source, it resulted in only 71 American casualties, as compared to over 2000 British—it nonetheless may have saved the vast lands of the Louisiana Purchase from British seizure.


Benjamin was born to John and Charlotte Butler in Deerfield, NH, on November 5, 1818, but employment pressures forced a resumption of his father’s military career under Venezuelan Simon Bolivar, in his war for independence from Spain. Carrying a letter of marquee (piracy under political privilege) into that conflict, he died of yellow fever—el vomitoin St. Kitts of the British Virgin Islands. This deadly disease would later connect father to son when Benjamin led Union forces that occupied New Orleans during the later war.


“…it made so indelible an impression on my memory that it impelled me, when I was older, to investigate that scourge to such extent as I might, and this investigation had some effect upon my conduct of affairs in later life.” (Page 43).


A fatherless home had serious economic consequences, and it wasn’t long before financial struggles forced the family into moving in with relatives in Nottingham, New Hampshire, and later back to Deerfield, and finally Lowell, Massachusetts, the second largest city—next to Boston—in Massachusetts. Except for time spent in Washington D.C. while in political office, and his deployments during the Civil War, Lowell would remain Benjamin Butler’s home for the most of his life.


Noteworthy in its importance to Butler’s life was his education, and he poured himself into it. This was well before Massachusetts Secretary of Education Horace Mann’s move towards “free, universal public education,” one that, ostensibly, prepared a class of semi-educated young people for the mills of New England, but which Mary Boynton Chestnut pokes fun of in her June 3, 1862 diary entry. In it, she refers to Yankee letters brought home by her husband:


“Free schools are not everything, as witness this spelling. Yankee epistles found in camp show how illiterate they can be with their boasted schools.”(June 3, 1862)


Almost in response, the future general noted:


“We had ‘Pope’s Essay on Man’ as our text book; for in those days there were no easy books for children--none of those thousand treatises that have been invented since to teach children not to think, and that are at the present day, I believe a great hindrance to intelligent children.”(Page 50)


Butler first went to Deerfield Academy, then Exeter, and finally—at its founding—Lowell High School in 1828. Each was tuition-based at the time, and considered preparatory to college. At the time of his graduation from Lowell—during the administration of Andrew Jackson--both he and his mother were desirous of an appointment to West Point, certainly a fitting education for the son of a man who had once fought alongside the President.  However, upon consultation with a Baptist minister, Butler—who had been brought up to be very religious—was advised of being scoffed at by the ‘free thinkers’ at the military academy, and encouraged to attend elsewhere. The advice proved quite providential in the end, as the number of West Point graduates far exceeded available positions in America’s peacetime army. Most graduates went on to resign their commission, rather than spend decades as a bored, low-level officer in some isolated outpost, while hoping for a conflict to quickly inflate their worth. (This isolation, a rite of passage to those who were dedicated enough to survive an unbroken military career, was seen as a possible cause of widespread alcoholism.)


Butler instead went to a Baptist College, in Waterville, Maine (now Colby College), in order to study for the ministry.  Ironically, it wasn’t long before he was denouncing his religious beliefs, even asking to be excused from evening prayer. He subsequently turned his interest to physics and chemistry, readily admitting that these studies did indeed aid him in his life’s profession, as they made him an expert in such things as a poison’s effects upon the human stomach.


While in Waterville, a chance event helped steer Butler towards his future profession. In a county near his school, a court case was being argued by Jeremiah Mason, a man whose name has been all but forgotten to history.  Daniel Webster—himself considered a legend among legal minds of that time—when asked his opinion of the greatest American lawyer of the era, replied, “I should have to say Jeremiah Mason” (This according to Butler).


As a result of witnessing Mason’s contributions to the legal proceedings, Butler was so impressed that he made up his mind to go into law.


(In his autobiography, Butler claims to have in his office busts of the three greatest American lawyers; Jeremiah Mason, Daniel Webster, and Rufus Choate.)


Upon graduation from Waterville, Butler spent a year at sea, followed by a continuation of his legal training (with William Smith, Esq.), taught school for a term, then resumed his legal studies by attending the Police Court cases of the Hon. Charles Henry Warren. Warren, impressed by Butler’s legal mind, admitted him to the bar, and they became close, lifelong friends.


Butler portrays himself as a capable, and at times brilliant, lawyer. He gives numerous instances—both before and after the war—where he was able to present irrefutable, perhaps even damning arguments in favor of his clients, the result of drawing from his many experiences.


By 1840—at 22--he also entered the political ring….


“….making my first speech in favor of Van Buren as against Harrison, who was so triumphantly elected. Harrison’s election did me a great good, for, as my speeches did not change the result, I was for a time disgusted with politics, and stuck to law…. (Page 77)


Butler’s comments help to illustrate an era in American history when government was still relatively small, and the resultant political leanings of its citizens.


In 1841, the total expenditures of the Federal Government were $26, 566,000, and it had only 18,038 employees (of those, 14,290 were employed by the post office, and 1,014 worked in Washington D.C.).  By 1860, our nation’s expenditures had increased to $63, 131,000, and by 1865, the last year of the Rebellion, its budget was at $1.3 billion. During this time, also growing was the federal work force, which by 1871 was at 51,020. So, along with the war’s impact on American politics, it also shifted power from the states—now spelled with a lower case s—to Washington. (The source of these statistics: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1957, pages 710 and 719). 


“From my earliest vote I became deeply interested in politics. By politics I do not mean such questions only as how the Virginia Resolutions of ’98”—defining the limits of Federal government—“ should be the guide of the future of this country, leaving its frame of government virtually a conglomeration of States”—note the capitalization of States—“by no means indissolubly bound together, each of which should conduct itself every substantial function of government, as  independent sovereignties united only for  purposes of common defence in war and insurrection, having a general government with so little power of interference in any matter that effected the prosperity of the whole country, except the postal system and the least degree possible of judicial control of legal questions by the Supreme Court, that as Jefferson proposed, the general government should be what he wished it named, ‘The Department of Foreign Affairs of the United States;’ or whether the doctrines of Hamilton should obtain, whose sagacity foresaw that the United States must, after it passed the period of its earliest youth, grow into  a nation wherein the national authority could override and supersede all the posers of the States, except so far as their domestic concerns were involved, into which theory and practice of government we are fast and inevitably drifting. The politics in which I very early took part was that practical politics which dealt with the condition and welfare of the citizen. (Page 85)


“As to the powers and duties of the government, of the United States, I am a Hamilton Federalist. As to the rights and privileges of the citizen, I am a Jeffersonian Democrat.” (Page 86)


In Butler’s Lowell, commerce was firmly rooted in the textile industry. Supplied with New England wool and southern cotton (the latter’s increased production a result of Eli Whitney’s Cotton gin-short for engine), which were fed into factories powered by the rivers of the region (and in later years, when the flow of water decreased in times of seasonal fluctuations, switched over to steam), and manned by a steady migration of countless thousands of young men, women, and children moving to the city in search of work.  The industry’s unprecedented success was in no small part a result of a unique socio-economic system developed by the mills’ owners, one that guaranteed huge profits, although at the expense of life and limb on the part of their workers.


At the core of this “industrial revolution” was a 14 hour work day under grueling, if not dangerous working conditions. Accidents were common place among workers toiling in the “sweat shops” of the day, and with the lack of workmen’s compensation all but guaranteeing immediate destitution as the consequence of serious injury. Simultaneously drained of both energy and spirit, and constantly under the scrutiny of unforgiving overseers, those that managed to persevere were not much better off than southern slaves.


Using his political connections, Butler attempted to reform these working conditions, and along with others that shared his convictions—a “Coalition” of Democrats and Free-Soilers—labored for years to shorten the work day. Known as the “ten hour men,” they eventually won enough seats in the Massachusetts Legislature and through it an 11 ¼ hour work day. This took over a decade, and was fought, tooth and nail, by the politically-connected mill owners, the cloak and dagger shenanigans of the mill overseers, and the political machinations of the state’s Whig Party. In the process, Butler’s reputation suffered more than a few personal attacks.


As an aside, Butler says:


“I had always insisted that as much work could be done in ten hours, even in attending machinery, as in eleven and a quarter. Afterwards, when I came to have a controlling interest in certain manufacturing establishments in Lowell, I put in effect a ten-hour rule, and never allowed a man, woman, or child to work more than ten hours except in time of pressure of business. At such time they were given pay for every extra hour they worked, and it was left wholly optional with them whether they should or should not work the extra hours.” (Page 109)


On May 16, 1844 Butler married (the former) Sarah Hildreth. Prior to that, she had been performing as an actress, a career which--considering that era’s opinion of American theater in general, and actresses in particular--deserved the author’s whitewash.  If allowed to “read into” the arrangement, it might be suggested there was compromise on the part of both; Mrs. Butler might not have offered the ideal as far as the mid-19th century perception of modesty, and Mr. Butler, from early engravings and later photographs, the complete opposite of a tall, dark, and handsome suitor. Nonetheless, the union resulted in four children: Paul, Blanche, Paul (born after the first Paul died at age four), and Ben Israel. Furthermore, Mr. Butler commented thus on the closeness of their relationship:


“My wife, with a devotion quite unparalleled, gave me her support by accompanying me, at my earnest wish, in every expedition in the War of the Rebellion, and made for me a home wherever I was stationed in command.” (Page 82)


Note: Books of the era--including those printed during the war, and those published in the decades following—consistently use “The Rebellion” as the term applied to the war we now label “The Civil War,” perhaps giving insight to the fact that it was not considered as such by those who took part in it.


It is difficult, in the time of this writing, for an American to envision the extent of the bigotry of a narrow-minded populace of (early-to-mid) 19th century America. Classes of people were widely separated by the twin evils of ignorance and fear.  A few examples might put that into perspective. Keep in mind that, being relatively close in a geographic sense, then, as now, there was a great mingling of people in New England. Like as not, they shared opinions as well as geography.


The first “portrait of New England,” which occurred 1831-1843, concerns an abandoned, six year old Mulatto child, one Harriet Wilson, who spent 12 years as the “servant” of a family in Milford, New Hampshire, after which she was “released from her servitude” with only the clothes on her back and a single dollar coin.


The second is described by Butler:


“When President Jackson visited Lowell in 1833, all the laboring men and women of the mills turned out to welcome and escort him. Every woman carried a parasol and was dressed in white muslin, with a blue sash, save the women of the Hamilton Corporation, who wore black sashes in respect for the memory of their agent (manager), who had just died.


“Afterwards, so strong was the feeling of American citizenship, that the several hundred”—emphasis mine—“operatives in the weaving rooms of the Hamilton mill struck and left the mill because the company had put into their room an Irish washerwoman to scrub the floor. They”—emphasis Butler’s—“were Native Americans and would not stand for that.” (Page 90)


As a character reference to the mill workers of that time, Butler says:


“Being brought up with them I knew them to be of the best class of citizens--the sons and daughters of farmers in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. No better body of citizens, no purer people, ever came together.” (Page 89)


(Note: Butler writes a great deal about the harsh conditions of the mills; a work day that sometimes lasted 15 hours (for six days a week), an average career (“life” as he describes it) of 5 years, the risk of severe injury, extremely low wages, and so forth, but fails to mention a single strike in protest of this slave-like occupation.)


In 1834, on “Mount Benedict, a twin hill with Bunker Hill in Charleston” (page 110)—no doubt in reference to the latter’s austere symbol of American liberty--sat a convent that will offer a window to early-to-mid 19th century American “religious freedom.”


“On the flats below Mount Benedict, and not far from it, there were extensive brickyards, where large numbers of men, mainly from the State of New Hampshire, were employed….Coming from a State where,  from the earliest days, no Catholic was permitted to hold any office by its constitution.” (Page 111)


Although inhabited by ten nuns and 47 young girls, most from wealthy Protestant families, it had one inhabitant who had been admitted as an act of charity. One day she ran away and began to spread rumors, which were noted in a pamphlet entitled “Maria Monk.”


“The result was that, in August, 1834, combinations were formed among these men and their comrades to interfere with and harass the inmates of the school. The first open attack was made by setting dogs upon two of the female pupils who were walking in the grounds. This was reported to the authorities, but no redress was given.”(Page 111)


More “divers outrages were perpetrated…” (Page 111), until:


“Early in the evening of the 18th of August, 1834, these brickmakers assembled near the convent….A bonfire was built near nine o’clock in front of the grounds. Soon after, the rioters broke into the buildings and drove out the ladies, forcing them to take refuge in the tomb. Then, first setting fire to the bishop’s lodge, they burned the whole establishment, not a drop of water from the fire department reaching the place.”(Page 112)


Predictably, no one was punished, and no recompense—either to the convent’s operators or its occupants—was ever provided.


“The Catholic Church, which owned the property, permitted the blackened ruins to be left standing as they were, refusing all offers of purchase of the site.” (Page 112)


The fourth example of mid-19th century Yankee “morals” could best be described as “The Incident at the Noyes Academy,” which occurred in Canaan, New Hampshire, in 1835. Commencing with the celebration of that 4th of July, and resuming on August 10th, between 300 and 500 men with guns, farm implements, and a small piece of artillery, attacked an integrated school. After chasing its inhabitants away, the mob—which included “recruits” from at least five neighboring towns—hooked the main building to 100 yoke of oxen, dragged it down the street, and eventually set on it fire.


With these—and we can rest assured many more—examples of New England/Yankee views on “freedom,” we enter the era of political upheaval that would see the dark clouds of war pass over the country.



The Civil War Navy in Florida

By Tom Criscuolo, 75th OVI



Rob Mattson’s recently released and self-published book, The Civil War Navy in Florida, offers readers well researched, in-depth overviews and descriptions of Confederate and Federal naval forces and actions from 1861-1865. Chapters are separated into regions of the state: The Panhandle, Northeast, South and Tampa Bay.  Undoubtedly, famous leaders such as Mallory, Bragg, Dahlgren and DuPont, as well as well-known places such as Cedar Key, Palatka and Jacksonville are all included.  However, Mattson has chronicled many well-known and lesser-known places, officers and actions throughout the state of Florida. Events such as U.S. raids on salt works, C.S. blockade running (U.S. blockade squadrons), patrolling and defense of interior waterways are presented throughout the book.


The Civil War Navy in Florida contains over 90 exceptional photographs, illustrations, and maps, which depict C.S. and U.S. Navy vessels, fortifications, cemeteries, battles, lighthouses, sailors and Marines. Included in the first appendix are listings of over 100 Warships of the Florida Blockade. These cover the South Atlantic, East & West Gulf Blockading Squadrons. In the second appendix, Mattson provides descriptions of 41 places and 11 events to visit in Florida that relate to Civil War


This book provides the reader with many interesting events that span each year of the war and represent each region of the state. Mattson’s exemplary work has presented hundreds of examples of C.S. and U.S. naval actions that are well documented and will engage the reader on their course through the Navy in Florida during the Civil War.


  About the Author:

Rob Mattson is a member of the U.S.S. Ft. Henry Living History Association and the 4th Brigade U.S. Since 2011, Rob has been a guest blogger with the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial blog and has traveled throughout Florida participating in living history events, library presentations and book-signings. Some past presentations include: The Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center, The Historical Society of Orange Park, The Mandarin Museum & Historical Society in Jacksonville and the Bronson-Mulholland House in Palatka. Rob is a senior environmental scientist with the St. Johns River Water Management District in Palatka, FL.


The Civil War Navy in Florida is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble:







By Rob Mattson, Seaman, USS Ft. Henry



The 35th Annual Reenactment of the Brooksville Raid was held on the usual third weekend in January at the Sand Hill Boy Scout Reservation. This was the 151st anniversary of the actual raid in 1864. The weather was about as good as it gets for the Brooksville event; a bit frosty on Saturday morning, but warming up nicely and staying so throughout the weekend.


On Saturday, a powerful Union force was met by a determined Confederate line. The Union force included regular infantry, supported by Zouaves, marines, sailors fighting as infantry with the marines, and Berdan’s sharpshooters. The force on foot was supported by artillery and cavalry. The Rebel forces were also backed up by artillery and cavalry. After about an hour and a half of fighting, the superior Union force prevailed and the Confederate commander surrendered.


On Sunday, Rebel reinforcements arrived, and the Union force, depleted by casualties from yesterday’s fighting, attempted to re-engage.  They were met and defeated by the superior Confederate might. The fighting was intense and casualties were high on the Union side. The Union commander eventually surrendered to the Confederate commander.


It was good to see some folks back at this year’s raid who have had to miss the last few. Hopefully we’ll see them again regularly.  Sutler participation also seemed to be higher this year, almost approaching that seen at Olustee.


Looking forward to seeing everyone again at the 2016 Brooksville Raid.





Battle of Olustee

By Chris Lydick

1 st Sgt., 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Co. H.



Lake City, Fla., February 18th , 2015.


Sir:  I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken in the late battle of Olustee, Fla., on the 14th and 15th instant, by the 17th Regiment of Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Company H; Captain Randy Findley commanding:


After emplacing our command within a day’s walk of the town of Olustee on Friday afternoon, a detail was formed to inspect the confederate earthen fortifications surrounding the same. It was observed that the enemy was well-entrenched and that the fortifications the enemy had erected would not be easily assailed. A portion of that detail then maneuvered around those works and marched forward to Lake City itself. Upon discovery, they were turned back after a brief skirmish in the streets of town. Before departing town, a small quantity of the enemy’s gunpowder was seized and withdrawn with the detail. It was distributed to the Ordnance Sgt. of Company H.


Following Colors on the morning of the 14th, Drill and Parade were held. The men being in good spirits and well trained to fight, the sounding of the long roll beating to quarters saw approximately 10 men and 1 officer fall in along the street of Company H to engage the enemy.


After taking position in the woods, some distance back from a cleared farm field, the order to advance came with some delay. Situated to the left of the 4th Brigade colors, and with the 75th Ohio on our right, Company H advanced with skill and precision over the sparsely vegetated ground until the enemy had made his presence and intentions clear and apparent. The men of the Company exhibited much skill in both the discharge of their muskets and their duties. After much harassment, the enemy finally withdrew from the woods, falling back to the earlier mentioned farmed field. Here we further advanced, pressing them across the whole of the field and inflicting many a casualty before the cease-fire finally sounded.


Accepting surrender, we marched back to our encampments, where after evening meal, the entire Brigade was treated to an evening of entertainment by agents of Dr. C. S. Kempsell, an inventor and purveyor of medicinal tonics from New York. These agents provided the men with much needed diversion as they showcased the wondrous products of Dr. Kempsell. Although fascinating, many enlisted men seem to have reduced pocketbooks now as a result, along with unwanted hair grown on their tongues. The latter is likely due to being quite deep into “the cups” with Dr. Kempsell’s tonics, instead of using the good doctor’s miraculous cures as directed by his agents.


Sunday, the 15th, the postal wagons caught up with the Brigade, and Company H received their first letters in months. It is alarming the number of ill tidings that were beset upon the men by those letters. Tales of unfaithful spouses, women’s suffrage, unscrupulous dealings with the Company’s quartermaster stores, gambling, desertion, thievery, bigamy, children out of wedlock, and the unfortunate closure of Corporal Findley’s favorite house of ill-repute. Perhaps it is this reason that upon the beating to battle, the officers and men of Company H formed company in somewhat less than brilliant form, under a cloud of foreboding about the events to come.


Taking the field in relatively the same position as previous, Company H (portraying the 8th USCT) was instructed by Brigade command to do so in an untested and disorganized manner. This we did with excellence, several times requiring the skill of the sergeants and officers to even keep the men in formation. Being Sunday at Olustee, the invincibility of the enemy showed almost immediately. Company H was quickly reduced in its ranks and driven from the field along with the other elements that were portraying Hawley’s Brigade that day.


Upon regrouping and reforming in the wood line, the Company re-took the field as the 48th NY of Barton’s Brigade and was ordered to perform as a highly disciplined and skilled battle-tested unit. This, Company H did to its utmost. Company H performed brilliantly, shaming the officer of the 75th Ohio with brilliant volleys, one after another. Upon learning of diminishing ammunition within the ranks, Captain Findley sent runners back for ammunition from the wagons. It was learned, however, that Quartermaster Captain Grzelak had failed to place Company H replacement ammunition on his wagons. Captain Grzelak’s inattention to this critical detail was later addressed personally by Colonel Munson with much vigor. For this reason, the men being quickly depleted of ammunition, and their ranks decimated by withering Confederate volleys, the order came to withdraw from the field. As Company H attempted to maneuver to the rear, further insult of lead took effect on the Company. Many men fell as the rifled muskets of the enemy took aim at our backs. When the cease fire sounded, few men of Company H were not found someway affected by grievous assault from confederate bullet or ball.


Over the course of the two engagements, the company went into battle with 1 officer and 10 men approximate (discounting those detached to staff). Our losses were as follows: 1 Officers wounded. 4 Enlisted men killed, 3 wounded or missing; total, 7. Total killed, wounded, and missing for the weekend were 8.


In our advance and retreat of the two days, the general deportment of the men was such that it is difficult for me to single out those deserving of especial praise. I would, however, recommend Privates David Haluka and Timothy Griffin for such honors, as the non-commissioned officers inform me that these men were shining examples of poise and composure during the two engagements.


One man of H Company deserves censure. Private Christopher Greeley (substitute), having fallen to the rear without orders and possessing a pair of pantaloons belonging to one Miss Bobbie Jo – a local lady of some notoriety in the employ of one Miss French, received a slap from the same and was placed under arrest as the army withdrew.


The company having reformed with the battalion, I can but simply say I believe they performed their duty to the upmost of their ability in keeping with the finest traditions of the Service.


I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


C. M. Lydick,

1 st Sgt., 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Co. H.






·        FOR SALE: Travel trailer.  Asking $800.  Contact Neliene Crews at 904-318-9463

·        FOR SALE:  Camp Benches.  They come as a set and fit into each other.  Some wear and tear, scuffs, etc. from usage, but overall still in decent shape.  Great for storing things like lanterns and such inside.   Asking $50 for the set.  I can bring them to the next event as shipping would be REALLY expensive.  Email Ham at irishham97@gmail.com.




©Copyright 2015 in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998,

by Florida Reenactors Online.  All rights reserved.

Violators of our copyright will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

For more information, contact webmaster@floridareenactorsonline.com