October 2015

 

Welcome to the monthly newsletter.  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.

 

YOS,

Hamilton “Ham” McElroy

 

 

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

 

  

·       October 9-11:  Parrish Train Raid – Parrish, FL

·       October 9-11:  6th Annual Pellicer Creek Raid – Palm Coast, FL

·       October 23-25:  Battle of Sandersville – Sandersville, GA (YOU NEED TO REGISTER NOW - http://occupationofsandersville.org/)

·       October 31-November 2:  Battle of Chickamauga – Chickamauga, GA (http://www.battlesinthecove.com/)

·       EVENT UPDATEApril 15-17:  Battle at Camp Milton – Jacksonville, FL

·       DATE CHANGE May 20-22, 2016:  Battle of Resaca; Due to some unexpected changes the date has been moved out a week. Keith West

 

 

 

 

After battle report from Rifles Rails and History

Various reports

 

 

Lt. Col. David Hackel

Infantry Commander Southern Volunteer Battalion

 

Dear Sir,

 

The battalion has done it again sir we have driven the Yankee invaders from the town of Tavares. Members from the 15th Alabama, 8th Florida, 28th Georgia and 35th Alabama were present and gave them hell.  Generals Lee and Jackson give their regards.  After 2 long, hot days of fighting I must say sir we did famously with all present returning in good health. We will report to you at your temporary headquarters in Palm Coast in 2 weeks’ time.

 

I remain your humble servant,

Captain Victor "Porkchop" Smith

Commanding

 

 

 

 

https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/12036685_10156109015555228_2907749653729875314_n.jpg?oh=74dbb518eb69fe00c5526fc217625166&oe=5691778AGeneral US Grant portrayed by Bret Gordon,

 

Great weekend at Rifles, Rails & History! Thank you to the event staff for inviting me to speak, but most of all thank you to the 2 Pinkerton agents and color guard for escorting me to and from the stage. You guys really made the difference in stage presence, and took the presentation to another level! I'd love to coordinate this as often as possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few favorites….

 

https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtp1/v/t1.0-9/12038134_10153242099977734_3230587772296617448_n.jpg?oh=646f9ab3ff47014340663d51e8ec1f75&oe=56A7FC89          https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xat1/v/t1.0-9/12088362_910213465682548_6592263666046308536_n.jpg?oh=194d3dba708945b6ea1ecf288b3440de&oe=568BBAD9          https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/12036506_987794247943891_833224923183561872_n.jpg?oh=aa3e0a3b7ab8b19f1cc1b3379eb83050&oe=5694A503       

 

Recommended links….

 

https://www.facebook.com/RELeeCamp1640/videos/956242924430787/

 

https://www.facebook.com/RiflesRailsandHistory

 

http://riflesrailsandhistory.com/

 

 

 

 

A Funny Moment…a search from Wikipedia

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farb_(reenactment)

 

Farb (reenactment)

Some "farb" reenactors

Farb is a derogatory term used in the hobby of historical reenacting in reference to participants who are perceived to exhibit indifference to historical authenticity, either from a material-cultural standpoint or in action. It can also refer to the inauthentic materials used by those reenactors.

 

Also called "polyester soldiers",[1] farbs are reenactors who spend relatively little of their time or money maintaining authenticity with regard to uniforms, accessories, objects or period behavior. The 'Good Enough' attitude is pervasive among farbs, although even casual observers may be able to point out flaws.

 

Farbiness is dependent upon context as well as expectations and is somewhat subjective. For example, while a "mainstream" reenactor might accept an object that looks right from a spectator perspective, a "progressive" or "hard core" reenactor might

Some “FARB” reenactors

 
consider the object to be farby if it's not made in a historically accurate manner.

 

*For the full article, including some information on Etymology and Stitch Nazis, click the link above*

 

 

 

 

Pre-Registration

Col Chuck Munson

CO 4th Brigade US

1861chuck@gmail.com

 

http://www.4thbrigade.us/photos/Munson.jpg(NOTE: This letter was penned to the members of the 4th Brigade, US.  However, I felt it was something we should all take heed of.  -Ham)

 

Pre-registration.  One of the worst, 4 letter words in reenacting, which is banned in all but a few circles of ne’er do wells. Who invented this ugly word & when? A better question might be, why would someone even invent this word?  Lord above, you will never catch me using such a foul word.

 

With each new season, at every event, the organizers fret over just how many reenactors will actually show up. When will they start to arrive? How many in Union Camp? How many in Confederate Camp? How many modern campers? How many day trippers & what day?  It is amazing that we have as many events as we do, for it does not seem that anyone with an ounce of sanity would put themselves through this agony.

 

In order to entice people to make their mark early, some events will offer a discount on early registration if you.  However, most don't. If the event has been ongoing for a number of years, they simply look at last year’s numbers and then make their plans accordingly.

 

You may ask, “Why should I (you know)? I have gone to that event my entire reenacting life, and they know it.”  Or you might say, “I will not know if I can go till Thursday before the event. After all then it is too late to (you know).”

 

Then, the inevitable happens and we arrive at the event.  Lo’ and behold, there seems to be a shortage of amenities.  FOUL you cry.  How dare they!  Where is their back up reserves?  Who is responsible for this travesty?  Don't these people know how to run an event?  And so on and on it goes as many people moan and carry on.  We threaten to leave.  We promise never to come back. We will tell all of our pard's how bad it was.  Sound familiar?

 

OK. So you get the basic idea of what I mean.

 

How many of us have ever put on an event? Or been part of the planning committee? Been a host unit? Very few of us have ever dared to take on such a monumental task, and those who do fret over every detail: participants, spectators, weather, supplies, sutlers, transportation, entertainment and so much more.

 

As responsible adults, who are what we are supposed to be since we shoot at other with real weapons, we have a duty if I may say to advise the event host, our Unit CO, or staff as to whether or not there is a possibility of our attending an event.  Even a MAYBE is better than nothing.  Why you ask?  Let us look at some numbers and percentages. The 4th Brigade, US usually fields about 40 rifles and 3 or 4 cannons at most events. This does not count Staff, Officers, or dependents.  Now, let us say we have an extra 10 rifles show up that no one was aware of.  That’s not too much you say.  However, that is an extra 25%, which is a significant amount when you consider feeding, housing, entertaining, and hygiene for these men.  “How often does that happen,” you may ask.  Well, it happens surprisingly more often than you may realize. If the entire event was only planning on 100 reenactors, and an extra 25 arrived, that is a significant increase, and a significant worry for the event organizers.  What if your Unit is not affiliated with us (the 4th Brigade, US)?  Then who knows that you are coming?  If no one is aware that your unit is planning to attend an event, then how do the camps get laid out?  But you say you always go and there has always been enough room.  Be that as it may, this has always more of a complicated issue than you might realize.

 

The point is, I wish to STRONGLY encourage all of us to let the proper people know you are "planning" on going to an event (YES/NO/MAYBE).  I am encouraging all of you to notify your Command Staff and Unit Co's about your plans AT LEAST the Sunday prior to an event. Then, they can get this count to the event by Monday.  See, I still did not use the bad word. If you cannot make it, that is ok. We understand the real world does affect us and our ability to participate in this HOBBY.  At the same time, I wish to STRONGLY ENCOURAGE event organizers to think of easy ways for participants to let you know they are coming.  There are many online means that allow this to easily happen, such as Google Forms, sending an email, Facebook event, and so on.

 

OK, are you ready?  I am going to do it. Here it comes…..PREREGISTER for events. PLEASE!!

 

I am as guilty as everyone else for not doing this simple thing often enough.  So let us all pitch in and make this a better camping experience this season. Pass the word on.  My two cents!

 

Yours in Freedom,

Col Chuck Munson

CO 4th Brigade US

1861chuck@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Lest we forget!

Author unknown to me

https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpt1/v/t1.0-9/11924759_143394456003420_4630505390447401749_n.jpg?oh=43f3b0c3a879417005868a978044aed1&oe=56970CC9

 

In Roswell, Georgia stands a monument to 400 mill workers, mostly women, who were charged with treason for weaving Confederate cloth and sent by boxcar to Kentucky and Indiana where they were mercilessly dropped off to fend for themselves.

 

The monument’s inscription reads:  Honoring the memory of the four hundred women, children and men mill workers who were charged with treason and deported by train to the north by invading Federal forces.”

 

Roswell was undefended when Federal troops arrived in July, 1864. Union General Garrard reported to General Sherman, "There were fine factories here. I had the building burnt, all were burnt. The cotton factory was working up to the time of its destruction, some 400 women being employed."

 

General Sherman wrote to Garrard, "I repeat my orders that you arrest all people, male and female, connected with those factories, no matter the clamor, and let them foot it, under guard to Marietta, then I will send them by cars to the North."

 

Upon arrival in the North, many were taken in by charitable citizens. Many were not. Many died. Only a small few ever made it back home.

 

One northern newspaper reported, "Only think of it! Four hundred weeping and terrified Ellen's, Susan's, and Maggies transported in springless and seatless army wagons, away from their loved ones and brothers of the sunny South, and all for the offense of weaving tentcloth."

 

The monument's truncated column symbolizes lives torn asunder. It is a reminder of the suffering of innocent victims caught up in war.

 

Lest we forget.

 

 

 

 

Confederate flag returns to Georgia license plates

Doug Richards, WXIA

http://www.11alive.com/story/news/2015/09/24/confederate-flag-plate/72760200/

 

635627348386991732-Still0323-00006ATLANTA (WXIA) -- The Confederate battle flag is making a return appearance to Georgia license plates. The specialty tag devoted to the Sons of Confederate Veterans will return after a minor redesign.

 

The state is saying as little as possible about this. Governor Deal is out of the country. And the state revenue department, which issues license plates, is only saying that it has had "positive conversations" about the plate with the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

 

The Confederate battle flag "was something that we couldn't change," said Dan Coleman, spokesman for the Georgia SCV. The SCV fights on behalf of the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.

 

When a white supremacist shot and killed nine African Americans in Charleston SC in July, that state's governor ordered the battle flag taken down from the grounds of the state capitol. In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered a redesign of the state plate that honors the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

 

Coleman says the redesign will eliminate the background Confederate flag, while keeping the foreground Confederate flag.

 

"The governor did what he said he would do: Take that backdrop off it. We can live with that," Coleman said.

 

But the move angered people who want the state government to stop using the battle flag, saying it's identified nowadays as a symbol of white supremacy.

 

"This governor had a chance to bring people together. And I think he muffed it," said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta).

 

Fort says Gov. Deal should have followed South Carolina's lead and eliminated the battle flag symbol.

 

"What that Confederate flag symbolizes is just so hateful and so mean-spirited that to say that 'we'll compromise by only slapping you once' is not acceptable," Fort said Thursday.

 

Georgia's new Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plate is expected to be available to paying customers in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

 

Bills seek to ban display of Confederate flag on public property across Florida

Kristen M. Clark

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/bills-seek-to-ban-display-of-confederate-flag-on-public-property-across/2247110

 

The controversial debate over the continued display of the Confederate flag has a chance to play out in the Florida Legislature next session.

 

A bill filed Thursday in the Florida House would prohibit local, county or state government entities in Florida from displaying the Confederate flag or similar symbols. HB 243 was introduced by Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. (Download HB 0243 Display of Confederate flag)

 

An identical bill, SB 154, was filed in August by Democratic Sens. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando and Dwight Bullard of Cutler Bay. That bill has been referred to four committees, so it faces an uphill battle for passage, if it's considered at all. The House bill had yet to be assigned to any committees, as of this afternoon.

 

The bills specifically ban the display of "any flag or emblem of the Confederate States of America or its military or naval forces at any time within the years 1860 to 1865." Such items would be barred from any building, structure or property that's owned or leased by a governmental entity in the state.

 

The bills don't go so far as to criminalize the act of displaying what would become forbidden symbols. The proposed law would give the option for someone to sue the offender to force them to take it down.

 

It's unclear what impact these bills, if enacted, would have on historical displays in government buildings. For instance, Florida's Capitol has several references to the Confederate flag from murals on the wall to the seal of the state Senate.

 

The racially-motivated church shootings in Charleston, S.C., in June spurred a national debate over the continual use of the Confederate flag, which many equate with racism because of its resurgence during the civil rights movement as a symbol of oppression against blacks. But supporters of the flag say it has historical significance because it represents not racism, but ancestral pride and heritage for descendants of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.

 

This summer, several counties and municipalities across the state have grappled with whether to keep the rebel flag on public display. For instance, Walton County voted in July to replace the "Southern Cross"-style Confederate flag at its courthouse with an earlier iteration known as the stars and bars, a flag which depicts 13 stars arranged in a circle next to horizontal red and white bars.

 

 

 

 

The Blue & the Gray

Friends across the lines

Byron Peavy

 

https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/s720x720/11221828_942982695774441_7219807432698715998_n.jpg?oh=34634b70f23c3fc331871a219b70e23d&oe=569B1B52

My good friend Walter Anderson at Rifles Rails and History. 

Walter also rides Confederate, is 6 feet 10 inches tall and a Vietnam Combat Vet. 

It’s an honor to be his friend.

 

 

 

 

'Funeral for 13,000' Andersonville prison dead brings closure

By Phil Gast, CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/18/us/andersonville-funeral-for-13000-civil-war/index.html

 

 

National Park Service officials say every Andersonville grave marker tells a story. (CNN) On Saturday, at a cemetery in southwest Georgia, a long overdue funeral will be conducted.

 

Not for one man, but 13,000.

 

Music, remarks, wreaths and the procession of a caisson bearing a wooden casket will give those who exhaled their last breath in the putrid air of an overcrowded Civil War prison the dignity and funeral they never received when their gaunt remains were carted off to the burial ground.

 

Events planned Friday through Sunday at Andersonville National Historic Site would have been important to thousands who suffered there 150 years ago, said historian and author Lesley Gordon, who will give presentations and speak at the 12:45 p.m. memorial service.

 

"I think it gives a sense of closure," said Gordon.

 

For staff members at the historic site, the weekend is the culmination of its sesquicentennial observance of an often-overlooked aspect of the war: Away from the battles that are famous today -- Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh -- thousands of men on both sides endured wretched conditions. At Andersonville alone, nearly 13,000 soldiers and civilian captives died over 14 months -- an average of more than 30 a day in that span. Overall, 30,000 Union and 26,000 Confederate soldiers died in captivity.

 

Lance Greene, an assistant professor at Georgia Southern University, looks over sediment being sifted by students Heather McNamee, left, and Victoria Simpson during an excavation at the site of Camp Lawton, a large Civil War prison built just north of Millen, Georgia. Greene says the archaeological effort is aimed, in part, at trying to learn more about the grouping and ethnicity of Union prisoners who were housed there in late 1864.

 

Officials hope that visitors don't see the events just as a history lesson. There are larger questions of how soldiers transition to civilian life. How a nation binds its wounds after war and tells the story of those who were held captive in all wars. The observance coincides with the annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

 

There also are the individual stories of men who felt real hardship and made choices with life-or-death implications. For those who survived those prisons, the return to family and community often was difficult.

 

"It doesn't end in a neat signature and the laying down of arms," said Stephanie Steinhorst, acting chief of interpretation at Andersonville.

 

'Chaos and human limitation'

A visitor to Andersonville, about a 2˝-hour drive south of Atlanta, will have moments of keen loss and sadness while driving or walking the grounds of the stockade site and adjoining national cemetery.

 

At one point in the summer of 1864, some 33,000 Federal soldiers were packed into the prison. The sun beat mercilessly on them and they made shelter of anything they could get their filthy hands on. Inside and not far from the stockade wall was the "deadline," a series of wooden bars a prisoner could not touch or pass without the prospect of being shot by Confederate guards.

 

"I don't see how anyone could fail to be troubled and moved by the stockade, with its deadlines, escape tunnels and Providence Spring," said Judson Mitcham, the poet laureate of Georgia. "That subtext of such clean, well-kept grounds is chaos and human limitation, and I can't walk across the stockade field without feeling challenged and defeated by its awful irony. Even the sky looks different from there."

 

Mitcham will recite his "Prayer at Andersonville, 2015" at Saturday's funeral. It will seek to address "the better angels of our nature," a line made famous by President Abraham Lincoln.

 

Steinhorst said the simple, ceremonial casket brought to the cemetery rostrum will be covered by a U.S. flag bearing 35 stars, the number of states during the conflict.

 

The casket has been displayed at the site's museum, filled with paper stars made by students and others across the country.

 

"Memory stars" fill a ceremonial casket at Andersonville National Hisoric Site."The Memory Star program exceeded our expectations, with over 16,000 stars arriving at the park. The stars represent many things, each defined by the person who crafted them," the park said. "Some are dreams or the future jobs of young students, others are memorials to soldiers long buried, and still others honor mothers and fathers who currently serve as soldiers. From a Civil War perspective the combined 16,000 stars reflect the joint fatalities at Andersonville and another prison, such as Elmira Military Prison in New York."

 

Among those taking part in the events is retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, who suffered injuries when an American helicopter was shot down in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War. She was held captive by Iraqi forces. Andersonville is home to the National Prisoner of War Museum.

 

“Memory stars” fill a ceremonial casket at Andersonville National Historic Site.

 

 
The keynote speaker Saturday will be Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, who will talk about
how soldiers transition to civilian life.

 

 

Importance of a proper burial

Gordon, a professor at the University of Akron in Ohio, will be making her first visit to Andersonville. But it's not unfamiliar territory: Her book, "A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War" draws heavily on prison records and journals written by members of the regiment. About 400 were taken prisoner in North Carolina and sent to Andersonville; about 100 to 120 died in captivity.

 

The regiment was still haunted by the ignominy it suffered at Antietam in September 1862. The underprepared and ill-led soldiers fled the field.

 

At Andersonville, the prisoners grappled with their failure. But there came moments of courage and heroism as they helped each other during their harrowing months. Their sacrifice and solidarity brought them redemption, Gordon said.

 

Still, they lamented that fallen comrades rarely received a religious service. They made sure that changed in the years after the Civil War.

 

"Many of the survivors made a point of insisting when anyone in their regiment died they provided a reverent burial," said Gordon.

 

While there were joyous homecomings, many veterans suffered from their physical and mental wounds. The professor will speak at presentations of the enduring effects of "war trauma."

 

Descendants of prisoners and guards -- who also suffered during the prison camp's history -- will be among those making the pilgrimage, said Steinhorst.

 

A memorial illumination will be held Friday and Saturday evenings on the stockade site. Bags with yellow lights inside will be placed along the gentle hills.

 

At a place where thousands starved, visitors will be able to donate canned goods at the museum or at the front gate during the illumination. The items will go to the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry in nearby Americus.

 

"We want to make sure the 150th anniversary helped folks," Steinhorst said.

 

 

 

 

Shot Towers – Part 2

Story and Photos by Ralph Epifanio

ralphoto@att.net

 

Philadelphia’s Sparks Shot Tower, begun on July 4, 1808, soon became the city’s tallest industrial structure; a 150’ tall, tapering brick structure, 30’ at its base and 15’ at its summit. Built by plumbers Thomas Sparks, John Bishop, and Thomas Clements, its construction was—like the Jackson Ferry Shot Tower--a result of the shortage of high-quality English lead shot.

 

President Thomas Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 was his attempt at remaining neutral during the Napoleanic War. By restricting trade with the combatant nations of England and France, the resultant rise in cost of high quality lead shot from England’s many shot towers “inspired” Sparks and his partners to turn their expertise with lead into a profitable side business: “drop lead.”

 

Their lead shot not only provided ammunition for hunting, but also much-needed lead musket balls for the War of 1812, and—produced in adjacent structures—conical minie balls for the Great Rebellion of 1861-65.

 

Sparks’ family continued their business until 1903. A year later, the United Lead Company took bought them out.  In 1913 the City of Philadelphia purchased the site and turned it into a recreation area.  Too costly to demolish, the city decided to leave the iconic shot tower standing. On the site where countless musket balls fell into vats of water, basketballs now fall into hoops.

 

At its present height of 142’ tall, and capped by a green, circular roof, it still towers above Carpenter and Front Streets, just off I-95. Ironically, although it can be clearly seen by the thousands of automobiles that pass by each day, that same interstate almost resulted in its destruction. According to the Jun 9, 2011 Queens Village Neighbors Association Newsletter (Cynthia Temple’s Sparks Shot Tower: http://www.qvna.org/qvna/sparks-shot-tower/):

 

Pasted GraphicIn 1958, the original plan for I-95 construction was directly through Queen Village. This plan placed the Shot Tower in the median strip between the north and southbound lanes. On Election Day that year, Mayor Dilworth toured the route and as a result changed the plans further east to save the recreation center and to reduce the number of 18th and 19th century homes.

 

The Sparks Shot Tower is a historic shot tower located at 129-131 Carpenter Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Opened on July 4, 1808, it was one of the first shot towers in the United States

 

Pasted Graphic 3

 

 




Details from Hexamer General Survey, #1491 (1880) "Philadelphia Shot Tower, Thomas W. Sparks." 
Descriptions therein include: 
Founded July 4th, 1808. 
Tower height 150 feet. 
Tower walls 30" - 27" - 21" - 18" - 18" - 13" - 13" 
Machinery: 17 cylinders for sizing shot. 2 rumblers for cleaning shot. 4 polishers (3 iron and 1 wooden) for polishing shot. 3 sets of screening tables (french plate glass). 1 steam engine [10-12 horse power]. 1 steam boiler. 1 steam pump. 
http://minnesotatrap.com/history-in-the-making/shot-towers-page-1.htm


Next Issue – Part 3: The Peters Shot Tower

 

 

 

 

Florida in the war

Keith Kohl

ltcol2ndbattalion@gmail.com

 

Keith Kohl's photo.During the course of the war, the region of northeast Florida would prove to be among the most highly contested sections of the state. This would be especially true of the St. Johns River and surrounding areas. Yes the conflict would intensify all across Florida as it went along, but for at least the first two years much of the state remained largely untouched. Most of the actions were limited to encounters in the surrounding waters between the United States Navy and Southern blockade runner vessels, Union forays against coastal towns and harbors, and so forth. Inland ventures by Federal troops were minimal during this time, and many places in Florida would not know the tread of enemy forces until much later in the war. However for the northeast corner of the state the war would come earlier.

 

This part of the state, including the St. Johns River, would attract the attention of Union forces for several reasons. The Florida Atlantic coast in this area had two major harbors at Jacksonville and at Fernandina on Amelia Island. The latter was considered to be one of the finest harbors; at one point 3000 to 4000 Confederate troops and 33 cannon were placed there for its defense. Further additional inlets were located at St. Augustine and New Smyrna. All of these were useful to Southern blockade runners bringing in much needed war materials, especially with their geographic closeness to foreign ports in the British Bahamas and Spanish Cuba. The St. Johns River, flowing north from its headwaters around Lake George and entering the Atlantic east of Jacksonville, was a likewise inviting target. A large and easily navigable waterway that could handle vessels of considerable size, this was an easy avenue into some of the richest agricultural lands in the state. Indeed the area was home to several plantations and farmsteads, produced large amounts of cattle vegetables, and so forth that would be invaluable in sustaining the Southern military forces. This was one of the places were the soil favored the growing of sea isle cotton. This form of cotton could not be harvested as often as the more common short-staple cotton, but was considered to produce a finer material. With few enemy vessels on hand and limited numbers of Florida defenders on hand to challenge them (especially as many of the state’s regiments were drawn to other fronts as the war picked up momentum), Union naval ships could move along the river with considerable ease, putting troops ashore where needed and striking at the agricultural resources the Confederacy was drawing on heavily. The region was also home to a fairly large number of Floridians loyal to the Union.

 

The war came to this part of Florida in the Spring of 1862. In October of the previous year, Union forces had captured Hilton Head, South Carolina. This place became the headquarters for the Union’s Department of the South. Located but a considerably short journey up the coast, this was an ideal embarkation point for expeditions to Florida. Indeed several forays into Florida during the course of the war would originate from here. In early 1862, a sizable Union flotilla weighed anchor and moved south along the coast, with the aim of securing Jacksonville, Fernandina, and other locations. Several coastal islands were captured off Georgia, and it soon became clear that the large number of troops and cannon on Amelia Island would be isolated and vulnerable. On February 25 General Robert E. Lee, who was presently overseeing seacoast defense especially the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, ordered the abandoning of the northeast Florida defenses.

 

Keith Kohl's photo.In early March of 1862 the Union flotilla from Hilton Head made its appearance off northeast Florida. In rapid order they captured several locations. On the 3rd Federal gunboats entered Cumberland Sound at Amelia Island and troops went ashore to occupy Fort Clinch (the large but still uncompleted masonry post guarding the inlet) and the town Fernandina. The defending Southern troops were just completed their withdrawal along with most of the ammunition stores and 18 of the 33 pieces of the artillery emplaced on the island. Union forces likewise captured St. Augustine on March 10 and Jacksonville on March 11 with little incident as both places had already been abandoned by the defenders.

 

From this point on, Union forces would have a solid hold on the northeast Florida region. Besides three solid garrison posts at Fernandina, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine, Federal ships could move along the St. Johns River almost at will with few if any Confederate vessel capable of opposing them. In early April, amidst concerns of the number of Union troops spread along the Florida coast and reports of large numbers of Confederate troops gathering nearby, the garrison at Jacksonville was withdrawn. Nonetheless the Federals still had strong forces at Fernandina and St. Augustine as well as their ships on the St. Johns.

 

Keith Kohl's photo.The lands between the river and the coast became largely Union territory for the remainder of the war and a haven for Florida Unionists to seek refuge at. Their hold on the area was made even more secure by the actions of the opponents. To prevent Florida Unionists from communicating with the Northern vessels, providing detailed information, etc., Southern forces destroyed many of the small boats along the river. However did not hinder any contact with loyal Union Floridians as the Northern ships had small boats of their own to go ashore in. Further the destruction of so many local boats limited the ability of Confederate forces to cross the river and carry out military operations against Union forces. Despite the solid presence of Northern Army and Navy forces, the Confederate defenders by no means let the situation go unchallenged. From this point to the close of the war the area around the St. Johns River would see repeated clashes between the opposing forces. The events of the Spring of 1862 were just the beginning; much more was to follow. There our tale shall resume here tomorrow.

 

Information drawn from Florida's Civil War Years copyright 2011 by Keith W. Kohl.

 

PICTURES:

1) Union troops entering Fernandina, March 1862, Florida State Archives

2) Present-day Fort Clinch, author's photograph

3) Present day Fort Marion (Castillo de San Marcos), St. Augustine; this shows the location of the water battery that sported 20 heavy seacoast cannon at the start of the war; author's photograph.

 

 

 

 

Hope in the darkness

Captain John Butler, Chaplain Hardy’s Brigade

Inspired by God

catman6375@msn.com

 

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and

worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and

the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Titus 2:11-13

 

It is said humans can live for 40 days without food, live for 3 days without water, live for 8 minutes without air, but only for 1SECOND without hope. How does that make sense? Hope is just an emotion right? Just a feeling? Well without hope the body and the mind start to die in dark despair. Looking around at the world today there is not a lot that would inspire any kind of hope. Auto accidents, shootings, bombings, wars, every news channel shows the bleakness that surrounds us all. The world may not offer us any hope, but there is one that all hope comes from, Jesus Christ. With Jesus we can make our way thru a dark world. Job never faltered in his walk with God even with the darkness falling around him, "oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness," Job 29:2-3.

 

Jesus wants us to be the lanterns that His light shines through. Those of us willing to make a stand for Him, those of us willing to be the pillars of His hope. On July 21, 1861 during the battle of Manassas, Leading the Virginians was General Thomas Jackson, refusing to back down, refusing to retreat, refusing to give up his position, Jackson stood and received his famous nickname, Stonewall, when Barnard Elliot Bee stated "There is Jackson, standing like a stone wall." Whether a compliment or a jab at his character, Jackson stood with his faith and full trust in God to protect him and to provide hope to his troops. Hope he received from Jesus. Stonewall Jackson once stated that "God has numbered my days on this earth. I am as safe on the battlefield as I am in my own bed."

 

 Each of us has a choice to make, whether to give into the despair, give into the darkness, or embrace the hope that is Jesus Christ. To allow the Spirit of God to energize us by His grace. A life of hope can temper us to become like steel and hold up under the troubles and the trials that life pours out on us.

 

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be

afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I

be confident." Psalm 27:1-3

 

"The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still

waters. He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake. Yea though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they

comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs

over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.” Psalm 23

 

If this has inspired you, or made you desire to know Jesus more, please feel free to contact me at catman6375@msn.com.

 

 

 

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