Fighting Off The Aggressors
THE BATTLE OF GAINESVILLE
The Battle of Gainesville was small, fierce action of the War Between the States in Florida. It took place at the city's key intersection on August 17, 1864. "I...am sorry that I have little good news." So began the report of Union Brigadier General John P. Hatch on the raid he had sent against the Florida Railroad at Gainesville. His forces were badly defeated there by Captain J.J. Dickison, the Confederacy's famed "Swamp Fox" of Florida.
The raid began when Colonel Andrew L. Harris of the Seventy-Fifth Ohio Infantry left Baldwin near Jacksonville on August 15, 1864. His command included 173 officers and men from the Seventy-Fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry (mounted); 12 men with one cannon from Company A, Third Rhode Island Artillery, and 15 cooks, blacksmiths, wagon drivers, etc. After destroying a fortified picket post on the New River, the raiding party advanced to Starke where it was joined by 90 officers and men from the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry. A party of 12-15 Florida Unionists also turned out to help, raising the total strength of Harris' command to around 310 men.
Hoping to strike Gainesville at first light on August 17, the Federals marched through the night. They arrived on schedule to find the town occupied by one company from the Second Florida Cavalry, numbering around 70 men. Company B, Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry attacked and dislodged the Confederates, forcing them to retreat. Believing the immediate danger to be over, Colonel Harris allowed his men to feed their horses, make coffee and engage in some looting. Just 30 minutes later, however, pickets pickets brought in news that a Confederate column was approaching. Colonel Harris had the Seventy-fifth Ohio, now dismounted, take up a position in "the fill of the Florida railroad"and behind adjacent fences. The cannon was aimed down the road and the remainder of the Union force formed into a hasty reserve.
The Federals had just taken this new position when the Confederates attacked: ...The enemy was checked in front, but he immediately surrounded me with his whole force, thus compelling me to send Company B, Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, to the rear of the town, and throw portions of the
Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Mounted Infantry on both the right and left flank, thus weakening my first line. (Colonel Andrew L. Harris, USA, to Major Edward L. Rogers, USA, August 23, 1864). The Confederate force was headed by the famed "Swamp Fox" of Florida, Captain J.J. Dickison. An officer in the Second Florida Cavalry, he often commanded larger forces than his rank might indicate. This was the case at Gainesville, where the captain's command consisted of two companies (H and F) from the Second Florida Cavalry, a detachment of 40 men from the Fifth Florida Cavalry, local home guards and at least two cannon. His total strength was around 290 men, although only 175 took part in the actual fighting.
The Federals outnumbered Dickison and his men but were taken by surprise. This allowed the "Swamp Fox" and his men to hand Harris a stunning defeat: ...After a forced march from Waldo they met the enemy at Gainesville, and, undaunted by the superiority of his numbers, attacked and
completely routed him. The fruits of this victory were 221 of the enemy killed, wounded, and taken prisoners, 1 piece of artillery (all he had), 3 wagons, and a large number of horses with their equipment's captured. Our loss was but 2 killed and 4 wounded. - Brigadier General John K. Jackson, CSA, General Orders No. 41, August 26, 1864.
So dramatic was the Confederate victory at Gainesville that the Union commander, Colonel Harris, believed that Dickison had brought 600-800 men into the fight instead of the 175 actually engaged. After holding off the Confederate attacks for about two hours, Harris decided to retreat.
His men fell back, but the Confederates were on their heels. The retreat turned into a disaster when some of the Federals took the wrong road and were captured. Harris and his men lost their only piece of artillery and the retreat became a rout. Brigadier General John K. Hatch, the overall Union
commander in Florida, correctly deduced that the cause of the disaster was the fact that Harris had "undoubtedly allowed his men to scatter through the town and, I fear, to pillage."
Final U.S. losses at the Battle of Gainesville were 28 killed, 5 wounded and 188 captured (some of whom had been wounded). Final Confederate losses were only 1 killed and 5 wounded. Two of Dickison's wounded later died and final C.S. losses were 3 killed and 3 wounded.
The site of the Battle of Gainesville is not preserved as a park area, but can be viewed around the intersection of Main Street and University Avenue in Gainesville, Florida. A marker can be seen in front of the Municipal Building one block east.
A monument to soldiers of the
Confederacy stands on the site of
the Battle of Gainesville, just
yards from the key intersection
where the heaviest firing took
John Jackson Dickison (March 28, 1816 – August 20, 1902) was an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. Dickison is mostly remembered as being the person who led the attack which resulted in the capture of the Union warship USS Columbine in the "Battle of Horse Landing". This was one of the few instances in which a Union warship was captured by land-based Confederate forces during the Civil War and the only known incident in U.S. history where a cavalry unit sank an enemy gunboat. Dickison and his men were victorious in all of his raids against the Union troops in Florida, including his raid in Gainesville what is known as the Battle of Gainesville. Tragedy struck Dickison, when one of his sons, both of whom served under his command, was killed during a raid.
Dickison was born in Monroe County, West Virginia (now part of West Virginia), and was raised in South Carolina. There Dickison received his primary and secondary education. He lived in Georgetown, where he became a successful businessman as a cotton merchant. Dickison joined the South Carolina Militia where he received his military training and was commissioned an officer in the cavalry. In 1845, he married Mary Elizabeth Ling and had two sons; Charles and R. L. Dickison. In 1857, Dickison moved to the Ocala, Florida, where he purchased a plantation which he named "Sunnyside". His plantation was very successful and he became a wealthy businessman.
On December 12, 1861, Dickison was asked by the Confederate southern commanders if he would join them in their quest upon the outbreak of the American Civil War and he accepted. He was commissioned a Lieutenant under Captain John M. Martin and served in the Marion Light Artillery in Fort Clinch. On July 2, 1862, he was promoted to Captain and ordered to create and command a new cavalry unit. The unit which Dickison commanded was Company H of the Second Florida Cavalry. Dickison had returned from a successful raid and received the following recognition from Major General Sam Jones, his Commanding officer:
"I directed Captain Dickison, of the Second Florida Cavalry, who had just returned from a most successful raid east of the Saint John’s, to endeavor to get in the rear, and concentrated on a large a force as I could at Newnansville. The enemy meetings, perhaps, more opposition than they had anticipated, fell back and were followed by Captain Dickison, who attacked them on the mainland, near Cedar Keys; and though his force was outnumbered five to one, the enemy retreated to Cedar Keys, after a sharp skirmish, leaving a portion of their dead on the field. Captain Dickison reports that he killed and wounded between sixty and seventy, and captured a few, with very slight loss on his part. I have heretofore frequently had occasion to report the gallant and valuable services of Captain Dickison and his command, and to present the captain, as I do now, to the favorable notice of the Government."
"The Battle of Horse Landing"
Lola Sánchez was moved to become a Confederate spy after her father was imprisoned by Union soldiers on false accusations that he was a Confederate spy. His residence, on the banks of the St. John's Riveropposite Palatka, Florida, was occupied by the Union forces. On May 21, 1864, Lola Sánchez overheard three Union officers discuss the plans that their unit had for a raid against the Confederate forces. The plan was to go into effect the next morning and consisted of a surprise attack on the Confederates while they slept with the aim of proceeding towards St. Augustine to "liberate" supplies for the Union Army.
She decided that it was of utmost importance to notify Captain Dickison at Camp Davis, just a mile and a half from her home. Her sisters agreed to help by covering up her absence. Sánchez left her house that night and traveled, through the forest, alone on horseback. She reached the ferry and the ferryman minded her horse while she crossed the river. She came upon a Confederate picket and told him what she heard, however the picket was unable to leave his post and lent her his horse. She then proceeded to the camp where she met with Capt. Dickison. After the meeting she returned home, the whole event took an hour and a half, and her absence went unnoticed by the Union soldiers in her residence.
That night Dickison and his men crossed the St. Johns River and set a trap. They waited for the arrival of the Union transport and gunboat. On the morning of May 22, the Union forces plans were foiled when they were ambushed upon their arrival. At the exact moment necessary to succeed, Dickison raised his saber signaling his men to attack. The Confederate forces had placed artillery guns on the banks of the river and opened fire on the approaching Union gunboats. The skirmish which followed, officially known as the "Battle of Horse Landing", occurred south of St. Augustine. Union Colonel William H. Noble, commander of the 17th Connecticut Infantry, was wounded in the ambush and taken prisoner. The rest of the Union soldiers were either captured or killed. Dickison and his men captured the USS Columbine, a side-wheel steamer/gunboat under the command of Ensign Frank Sanborn. Sanborn made the following statement:
"I could discover nothing suspicious until directly abreast the landing," Sanborn said in his official report, "distant about 100 yards, when two pieces of artillery, concealed by the shrubbery and undergrowth, almost simultaneously opened fire upon me. I instantly gave orders to 'hook on,' but unfortunately the second shot of the enemy cut my wheel chains, and at the same time the pilot abandoned the wheel and jumped over the bow. The vessel almost immediately went ashore upon a mud bank."
After removing all the supplies and armament possible, they disabled and set the ship on fire. Of the 148 men aboard the Columbine, only 66 survived and the rest were killed. This was one of the few instances in which a Union warship was captured by land-based Confederate forces during the Civil War and the only known incident in US history where a cavalry unit sank an enemy gunboat. The Confederates also captured a Union pontoon boat and renamed it The Three Sisters in honor of Lola Sanchez and her sisters.
"The Battle of Gainesville"
During the months of June and July in 1864, Dickison and his men, which included his son Sergeant Charles Dickison, participated in several skirmishes with a Union force which was headed towards Palatka. On August 2, 1864, Dickison intercepted the contingent and forced them to surrender. He was not aware that some of the prisoners had concealed weapons. Without warning the prisoners exposed their weapons and opened fire. Dickison's son Charles was shot through the heart and fell from his horse mortally wounded.
On August 17, 1864, Dickison was told that members of the Union Army had arrived at the town of Starke and that they had burned Confederate train cars. Dickison and his men then proceeded to head towards Gainesville to fight against the invading enemy in what would be known as Battle of Gainesville (not to be confused with the First Skirmish of Gainesville of February 14, 1864). Gainesville was held by the members of the Company B of the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry. They were caught totally unprepared by Cpt. Dickison and his men. The Union force was dispersed, but before they scattered into the woods they suffered 28 killed, 5 wounded and more than 200 captured. The remaining Union forces in the north central Florida area withdrew to the garrisons at Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Gainesville would remain in Confederate control for the duration of the war. This however, did not keep some units from participating in minor raids.
On October 24, 1864, a detachment of the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry returned to Gainesville to plunder. Dickison was alerted and made a swift attack which resulted in a 40 minute gunfight. Ten Union soldiers were killed and 23 were taken prisoners (this included eight men that were wounded).
Dickison was captured near the town of Waldo and imprisoned. He was promoted to Colonel in May 1865, just a few days after the surrender of all CSA troops and paroled on May 20, 1865. Dickison helped Confederate Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge flee to Cuba. He provided Breckinridge with a boat; a lifeboat taken from the USS Columbine. He continued to be active in CSA activities and was elected six times Commander of the Florida Division of United Confederate Veterans. In the late 1870s, he served as Florida's Adjutant General. Dickison wrote the Florida section of the 12 volume Confederate Military History. Dickison and his wife Mary Elizabeth Dickison lived at Bugg Spring, in the town of Okahumpka, Florida, during the decades after the war. It was there that in 1889, Mrs. Dickison completed her book, "Dickison and His Men: Reminiscences of the War in Florida".
In 1902, Dickison died in his home in Bugg Spring and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida. A marker was placed on the site where Dickison and his men captured the USS Columbine by the Florida Confederation For The Preservation Of Historic Sites, Inc. Another marker was placed at 1st St. NE & 3rd St. in the town of Gainesville in the location where the "Battle of Gainesville" took place. There is also a marker in Waldo, Florida, where Camp Baker was located and where Dickison and his men bivouacked during the closing weeks of the conflict. The Dickison cottage in Bugg Spring still stands and is now a private guest house.
The Battle of Tampa, also known as the "Yankee Outrage at Tampa", was a minor engagement of the American Civil War fought June 30 – July 1, 1862, between the United States Navy and a Confederate artillery company charged with protecting the port of Tampa, a small but notable trade hub for the Confederacy, now facing a full-scale Union naval blockade along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
On April 13, 1862, at 11 a.m., the alarm went up when a Union schooner anchored behind an island two miles from Tampa. Confederate pickets were posted on all the roads into town to sound the alarm because it was feared the ship was a decoy. According to the diary of Robert Watson, a member of in the “Key West Avengers” (Captain H. Mulrennan's company of Florida volunteers), “[W]e are of opinion that the Yankees have landed men below us and came in the schooner to draw our attention while they march up in our rear.” After an hour the schooner launched a boat under a flag of truce. It was met by two Confederate boats. The Federals demanded the surrender of Tampa. According to Watson, “Major Thomas told them that he would not surrender it. 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 look down in the mouth as they expected to see us all look frightened and ready to surrender. Capt. Smith told us to take all of our clothing and carry them up the river as the enemy might come too strong for us and should we have to retreat it would be impossible to carry anything with us. A strong picket guard on all day and night.” On April 14 Watson wrote, “No sign of the enemy but there is a bright lookout for them.”
By the summer of 1862, plans were in place in Washington to further tighten this blockade by capturing major ports throughout the Confederacy, à la New Orleans, which was captured in April 1862, as well as other towns along the Mississippi River (most notably Vicksburg). It was common knowledge among the Union's chief military strategists that the sooner the blockade could effectively seal off the Confederacy from any level of commerce, the sooner the import-dependent Confederates would quickly be forced to surrender, lacking the materiel necessary to sustain a war of attrition, as the Union infantry would ultimately have to attempt to put on the Confederacy at various points in the war.
On June 30, U.S.S. Sagamore, a Union gunboat, came into Tampa Bay, opened her ports, and turned her broadside on the town. The gunboat then launched a boat with 20 men flying a flag of truce. In his post-action report, Captain John William Pearson, CSA, reported to Gen. Joseph Finegan, CSA, what transpired. “I immediately manned one of my boats with 18 men met them in the bay, determined that they should not land on my shore, and on meeting the boat the lieutenant in command reported he had been sent by Captain Drake to demand an unconditional surrender of the town. My reply to him was that we did not understand the meaning of the word surrender; there was no such letter in our book; we don’t surrender. He then said they would commence shelling the town at 6 o’clock, and I told him to pitch in. We then gave three hearty cheers for the Southern Confederacy and the Federal boat crew said nothing…. At 6 o’clock they promptly opened fire on us with heavy shell and shot, and after two from them we opened from our batteries, consisting of three 24-pounder cannon. Both parties then kept up a regular fire until 7 p.m.” At that point, U.S.S. Sagamore withdrew. On July 1, between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., the gunboat fired from beyond the range of the Confederate cannon. After a two-hour break for lunch, U.S.S. Sagamore fired two more rounds, weighed anchor, and sailed away. There were no Confederate casualties.
Capt. Pearson’s after-action report singled out Capt. James Gettis of Hillsborough County and originally from Pennsylvania for his decisive leadership of one of the Confederate batteries.[
The Battle of Fort Brooke was another small action fought in Tampa the following October. In this engagement, Union forces landed and destroyed Confederate blockade runners hidden up the Hillsborough River. Two cannons from Ft. Brooke are displayed in Plant Park at the University of Tampa.
Capt John William Pearson CSA
Key West: Civil War
Key West: The Old and the New1912
The influence of the cultured Southern men who located in Key West in the early days fostered the spirit of resisting Federal usurpation, and as early as 1832 an editorial appeared in a newspaper then published in Key West, voicing a sentiment which rings true to the Declaration of Independence. Said the writer:
"We have always thought that the value of our Union consisted in affording equal rights and equal protection to every citizen; when, therefore, its objects are so perverted as to become a means of impoverishment to one section, whilst it aggrandizes another, when it becomes necessary to sacrifice one portion of the States for the good of the rest, the Union has lost its value to us; and we are bound, by a recurrence to first principles, to maintain our rights and defend our lives and property. If we are oppressed, it is a matter of perfect indifference whether that oppression be inflicted by a foreign power or our next door neighbor. Upon the same principle we are compelled to resist both-'even unto death".
'The election of Abraham Lincoln, the first president to be elected upon the sectional issue of antagonism to the South and its institutions, stirred up the people of Key West, in common with the rest of the Southland.
The cultivated and wealthy citizens were nearly all strongly pro-Southern. Among these were Senator Stephen R. Mallory, the elder, Judge Winer Bethel, Mr. Joseph B. Browne, Mr. William Curry, Mr. William Pinckney, Mr. Fernando J. Moreno, Mr. George Bowne, Mr. Asa F. and Mr. Charles Tift, Mr. W. C. Maloney, Jr.; Mr. Peter Crusoe, Mr. William C. Dennis, Mr. John P. Baldwin, Mr. Henry Mulrennan, Mr. Samuel J. Douglass and Mr. William H. Ward, the latter the editor of a newspaper called the Key of the Gulf.Judge Marvin's sympathies were strongly Southern, but he wanted Florida to wait until after the border States had acted, and go out of the Union with them.
At the breaking out of the war, he decided to resign, not caring to serve on the bench of a divided country, and so announced his intention, but was prevailed upon by the Federal authorities to withhold his resignation, and he finally accepted the new order of things.The secession of South Carolina was soon followed by a proclamation from the Governor of Florida for a convention of the people to take into consideration the present and future relations of Florida towards the Federal Union, which brought our people to the question of secession or submission.
A meeting was held on December 12, 1860, at the county court house, for the purpose of nominating delegates to the State convention to assemble in Tallahassee on the third day of January, 1861, for the object of taking into consideration the dangers to this State in remaining in the Federal Union. It was the largest meeting ever held in Key West up to that time. Hon. John P. Baldwin was called to the chair, and Charles Tift and Peter Crusoe, Esqrs., were appointed secretaries. The meeting was in session until after midnight.Colonel W. C. Maloney, Sr., was the only speaker who favored remaining in the Union. Mr. William H. Ward, Mr. Samuel J. Douglass, Mr. W. C. Dennis, Mr. William Pinckney, Mr. Asa F. Tift, Mr. J. L. Tatum, Mr. Winer Bethel and Mr. Joseph B. Browne spoke in favor of secession. Judge Marvin was not in favor of immediate secession, but desired to wait for the border States and secede with them.
The meeting adjourned to the evening of the 13th, and after a few short speeches, Honorables William Marvin, Winer Bethel and William Pinckney were placed in nomination and a vote taken by the holding up of hands, with the following results: Marvin, 33 yeas; 26 nays: Bethel, 66 yeas; 1 nay: Pinckney, 62 yeas; 1 nay. The strong sentiment for secession was manifested by this vote.Judge Winer Bethel and Mr. Pinckney, pronounced secessionists, were elected by an almost unanimous vote, and Judge Marvin, who did not favor immediate secession, received a bare majority.After the election it was suggested that Judge Marvin's official position as judge of the United States court was incompatible with the duties of a delegate to the convention, and Mr. Asa F. Tift, another avowed secessionist, was elected in his place.On December 11, the day before this meeting was held, Captain James M. Brannan of the First Artillery, who was stationed at the barracks at Key West, applied to the adjutant general at Washington for instructions whether he should "endeavor at all hazards to prevent Fort Taylor from being taken or allow the State authorities to have possession without any resistance on the part of his command."
When Florida seceded, Captain E. B. Hunt of the engineer corps of the army, who was on duty at Fort Taylor, called on Captain Brannan to secure the military custody of Fort Taylor, and asked him to at once assume command of that fort. Captain Brannan on the night of the 13th of January, while the city slept, marched his entire command from the barracks to Fort Taylor, and took possession Of it. It was expected that an attack would be made by the citizens of Key West on the fort and Captain Brannan reported that he had "four months provisions and seventy thousand gallons of water, but that he could not stand a siege unless he was reinforced immediately.
"On January 26th Captain Brannan reported that there had been no demonstration made on the fort to that date, and that he then had no apprehension of an attack from the people of Key West, but he had no doubt that a force would soon appear from the mainland, and urged that reinforcements be sent him, and one or two vessels of war stationed in the harbor.Captain Hunt, of the engineer corps, threw up sand embankments on the shoreward side of the sand spit on which Fort Taylor is situated, and mounted ten 8-inch guns to prevent the establishment of breaching batteries on Key West opposite the fort.The ordnance stores at Fort Taylor at this time consisted of fifty 8-inch Columbiads; ten 24-pounder flanking howitzers with caissons, and four 12-pounder field howitzers; 4,530 projectiles, 34,459 pounds of powder, 2,826 cartridge bags, 962 priming tubes, and 759 cartridges for small arms.At the barracks there were four 6-pounder field guns and cartridges, 1,101 rounds of shot and other ammunition for same, 171 pounds of powder, 158 cartridge bags, 538 priming tubes, 7 rifles and 2,000 rifle cartridges.
Key West, the most strategic point within the Southern Confederacy, being in the hands of the Federal government during the entire war and used as a naval base, was one of the determining factors in the result of the war between the States.
The sentiment of Key West was strongly Southern, but with the fortifications in possession of the Federal troops, and no military organization here sufficient to wrest this control from them, the secessionists were deterred from taking any active steps to capture them. Whatever hope the faithful ones may have had that they might ultimately wrest it from Federal control, was destroyed on April 6, 1861, when Major French of the Fifth United States Artillery arrived here with his command. He had been stationed in Texas, and in order to avoid surrender, marched his troops down to the Rio Grande to Point Isabel and there embarked for Key West.Some, who had been wavering in their sentiment towards secession, and who had pretended to be in sympathy with the South, saw on Major French's arrival the destruction of all hope of Key West being a part of the Confederacy, and they became very loud and offensive in their so-called loyalty to the Union. They spied upon the homes of Southern sympathizers and reported to the military authorities every action that their eyes could ferret out, and sought to have them locked up in the fort.
The bulk of the Southerners were firm in their allegiance to the Confederacy, and defiant of the Federal government. Flags of the Southern Confederacy were raised on some of the stores and warehouses, and so strong was the Confederate sentiment, that Captain Brannan reported on March 13th that he "doubted if any resident of Key West would be allowed to hold office under the Federal government unless supported by the military and naval forces."The war brought into prominence a number of people who prior to that event were of meager importance, who sought to prejudice the Union officers against those who favored secession, and representations were made which resulted in the suspension by Major French of the writ of habeas corpus. Peremptory orders were also issued by him prohibiting anyone from exhibiting Confederate flags on public buildings.In May, 1861,
Major French refused to permit any judicial or magisterial functions to be exercised, except by persons who would swear allegiance to the United States. Having ascertained, however, that Captain Von Pfister had been elected a magistrate in 1860, but had declined to serve when Florida passed the ordinance of secession, Captain French sent for him and induced him to act.The time for opening the regular session of the District Court for Florida was on the second Monday in May, and on the 19th of May Judge McQueen McIntosh of that court arrived, intending to hold court under his Confederate States commission. Judge McIntosh was advised that such an attempt on his part might result in a clash with the Federal authorities, and he was persuaded to return without holding court. Major French applied to Captain Craven of the navy to allow the officers of the court to leave the island without applying for a permit to do so. This was necessary, as there was an order in force prohibiting non-residents from going or coming without the authority of the commanding officer, unless they would take the oath of allegiance.
The Union men in Key West could not brook a free discussion of the issues involved in the war. The local newspaper, the Key of the Gulf, however, kept up the discussion, and Major French sought to have it suppressed. In his report he says, "I have spoken to several respectable citizens to have the paper suppressed, and had assurances that it would not appear again." The issue of the Key of the Gulf on May 4, 1861, contained strong secession arguments and Major French suspending the writ of habeas corpus "in order to arrest without molestation the parties suspected of uttering treasonable sentiments." Mr. Ward, the editor, realizing that he was about to become a victim to persecution, left the island and entered the Confederate service.Major French further reports: "The Salvor today takes away Mr. Crusoe, the late magistrate of the county, and county clerk; Judge Douglass and family; Mr. Asa Tift and his negroes. Others are preparing to leave, and winding up their affairs."Matters went from bad to worse, and every act of cruelty towards Southern sympathizers was hailed with ghoulish glee.On June 17, 1862, the city was shocked to learn that Mr. William Pinckney, the junior member of the firm of Wall & Co., and Judge Winer Bethel had been arrested and held in close confinement in the fort.
After several months imprisonment without a trial, they were sent as prisoners to Fortress Monroe, and there kept for nearly a year.The New York Herald of June 29, 1862, contained a most venomous letter from Key West recounting the arrest of these gentlemen, and praying that "there will be no delay in their case, and that they will receive their punishment quickly, and that it will be of a character to strike terror among those who desire to do as these have done." It fairly portrays the feeling of the Northern sympathizers in Key West towards those who were true to their homes and their native Southland.*Following this came the arrest of Mr. W. D. Cash.
An irresponsible negro by the name of Noah Lewis, a drayman of Wall & Company's store, where Mr. Cash was employed, was induced to report that Mr. Cash had made treasonable utterances against the United States government; among them, that fie wished every Union officer and soldier would die of yellow fever. Mr. Cash was arrested, and confined in Fort Taylor for about two weeks without a hearing, when he was sent for by Colonel Morgan who offered to release him if he would sign a parole d'honeur. The document contained two clauses to which Mr. Cash objected, and he declined to sign, unless they were eliminated. After some conversation, during which Col. Morgan threatened to send Mr. Cash back to Fort Taylor, the objectionable clauses were stricken out, and the parole signed. Upon his release he was entertained at the quarters of Captain Macfarlane and other officers-an evidence that they gave no credence to the malicious charges which had been made against him.Facts were distorted or manufactured to curry favor with the Federal army officers.
One instance of this was when a young scion of a distinguished family was given a small toy pistol, from which a cork was driven out by compressed air, with a loud "pop." It happened to be about the time that news of a Confederate victory reached Key West, and Union sympathizers carried the report to the Federal commanding officer that Mr., a rebel, was celebrating the Confederate victory by a champagne party, and that the popping of champagne corks could be plainly heard.On the 16th of May, 1861, a move was set on foot under the instigation of Thomas J. Boynton, then United States district attorney, and others for the purposes disclosed in the following document:"We, the undersigned citizens of Key West, believing that the distracted condition of the country demands that our services should be offered to her in this hour of need, that we may assist in. preserving the honor of our flag, upholding the laws, and quelling rebellion, do hereby agree to form a volunteer company, and hold ourselves subject to the commander of the United States forces at Key West."
The individuals thus organized on the day named, having assembled in a large room in the building adjacent to the St. James hotel, which stood on the site of the Jefferson, proceeded to Fort Taylor, and Colonel W. C. Maloney, Sr., was made the spokesman for the company. The contents of the paper having been read in the presence of Major French, they were presented with a flag, and mutual assurances of fidelity interchanged. After being hospitably entertained, the members of the company returned to the city and to their several avocations. According to promise they were furnished arms by Major French, and Daniel Davis was elected captain.
They drilled regularly and were familiarizing themselves with the manual of arms, when Captain Joseph S. Morgan of the 90th Regiment, N. Y. Volunteers, military commander of the island, disarmed them in 1863, and they disbanded.About this time an incident occurred which caused Colonel Morgan to be most unjustly execrated by Southerners and Northerners alike.On January 29, 1863, this order was issued from the headquarters of the Department of the South at Hilton Head:"HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,"Hilton Head, Port Royal, S. C., "January 29, 1863. "Col. T. H. Good, 4th Pennsylvania Vols., "Commanding Post, Key West, Fla."COLONEL: You will immediately send to this post the families (white) of all persons who have husbands, brothers or sons in Rebel employment, and all other persons who have at any time declined to take the oath of allegiance, or who have uttered a single disloyal word, in order that they may be all placed within the Rebel lines. The officer who will hand you this, will take such persons on board the steamer which carries him down to your post."By command of Maj. Gen. D. Hunter. Very respectfully, "Your obedient servant,"(Record not signed.)"ASSISTANT ADJUTANT GENERAL.
"Before the order was received at Key West Colonel Good had been relieved by Colonel Jos. S. Morgan, and the order being received by the latter, be bad no alternative but to obey the instructions contained therein.This order was of similar character to the reconcentrado policy of General Weyler in Cuba, during the last Cuban insurrection. The Southern army was half starved; farms had been abandoned; many within the Confederate lines were without food, and the enforcement of this order would have resulted in suffering equal to that sustained by the reconcentrados. It was, however, in line with the policy of the United States government towards the South during the entire war.About six hundred citizens, including some who were recognized as staunch Union men, had been directed to hold themselves in readiness to embark for Hilton Head, thence to be transferred to some Confederate post.
"The town," wrote a loyal citizen, "has been in the utmost state of excitement. Men sacrificing their property, selling off their all, getting ready to be shipped off; women and children crying at the thought of being sent off among the Rebels. It was impossible for any good citizen to remain quiet and unconcerned at such a time."It stirred up the Union citizens to an amazing extent, but instead of placing the blame where it belonged-on the government that issued the order-they made Colonel Morgan the scapegoat for their indignation, and assiduously stirred up a sentiment which caused him to come down in the history of the place as a monster of cruelty.The order affected Union men as well as Southerners, many of the more prominent of the former having near relatives in the Confederate army. Among these were Colonel W. C. Maloney, Sr., whose son, Walter C. Maloney, Jr., was gallantly fighting for his native Southland, and Mr. Daniel Davis, whose son George had also gone into the Confederacy.
The Union men at Key West, led by United States District Attorney Boynton, sent to Washington a protest against the order. Colonel Good was ordered back to Key West with authority to suspend the operation of the order, if he saw fit, and he arrived in Key West and relieved Colonel Morgan February 22, 1863. His first act before landing from the transport was to suspend the enforcement of the order.On the day Colonel Good arrived, a transport was about to sail with some of those who were to be forever banished from their homes, and their baggage was on board. Among these were the families of Mr. Fernando J. Moreno, and the venerable Methodist minister, Rev. W. J. McCook, who had gone on board with the few effects they were permitted to carry with them. About four o'clock in the afternoon the first information received by persons living further uptown that the order had been revoked, was seeing Rev. Mr. McCook with his family and their effects, on a dray, waving to all whom be saw, informing them that the order had been countermanded and they were not to leave. It brought great joy to many households, as there was not one of any prominence that had not gone through the sad experience of preparations to abandon their homes. Private residences with handsome old furniture, valuable portraits and silver, were locked up with the hope that they might be secure from vandal hands, but the experience of the rest of the South where the Federal troops were in undisputed possession, shows how vain their hopes would have proved.
The citizens of Key West presented Colonel Good with a gold-hilted sword in appreciation of his action in suspending this order. The presentation was made at Clinton Square by Colonel W. C. Maloney, Sr., as spokesman for the donors. A. large concourse of people gathered to witness the presentation, and several companies of troops and squads of marines were drawn up around the square, to add to the impressiveness of the occasion. After the sword had been presented and accepted, the citizens joined hands and sang a paraphrase of the popular song, with the refrain "Bully for that," which ended"Colonel Good has got the sword, Bully for that! Bully for that!ROLL OF HONORThere were a number of our young men who desired to join the Confederate army, but were prevented from doing so by the difficulty of getting away-permits to leave the island being issued only by the army officer in command, to those who would take the oath of allegiance.
Too much praise cannot be given to that band of noble men who left Key West under these circumstances to fight for their native Southland. Their names are given to perpetuate the memory of their patriotism.ALFRED LOWE MARCUS OLIVERI, WILLIAM SAWYER, CHARLES BERRY, HENRY MULRENNAN, WALTER C. MALONEY, JR. G. PACETTI, JOHN D. SANDS (Bogy) SAMUEL MORGAN, MANUEL DIAZ, JOHN PENT, JOSEPH FAGAN, GEORGE ALBERT DAVIS, ROBERT WATSON, JOHN T. LOWE.Mr. Walter Maloney and Mr. Pacetti took a small boat, slipped past the guard boat in the harbor, went to Tampa and there enlisted in the Confederate army.Mr. Alfred Lowe applied to Major French for a pass, but was refused unless he would take the oath of allegiance, but as that would have thwarted his intention, he with Marcus Oliveri, William Sawyer and Robert Watson stowed away on an English schooner bound for Nassau.
After reaching that port they got a vessel to land them at Cape Florida, and walked from there to Jupiter Light, and there got a small boat and went to New Smyrna. Thence they walked to Enterprise where they took the steamer Darlington to Jacksonville, and continued their journey until they reached Tampa, where they joined Company K of the Seventh Florida Regiment under Colonel Madison Perry.Mr. Joseph Fagan and Mr. John T. Lowe were working in Manatee county and joined their comrades in Tampa. The others were engaged in smack fishing for the Havana market.
Their vessels were captured by the Confederates near Tampa, which afforded them an opportunity to give their services to their country.Mr. William Sawyer, son of Mr. Philip Sawyer, died in camp at Knoxville, Tenn. Mr. Joseph Fagan was captured at Missionary Ridge and kept prisoner until the close of the war. Mr. John Pent was shot in the hand, and draws a pension from the State of Florida as a Confederate veteran.Mr. Charles Berry, father-in-law of Mr. Joshua Curry, was killed by the explosion of the boiler of the Confederate gunboat Chattahoochee.
Mr. John T. Lowe was a brother of Mrs. Charles Curry and Mrs. John Lowe, Jr.Mr. Samuel Morgan was an invalid for many years in the Marine Hospital, where he died a few years ago.All honor to these heroes and may their memories ever be revered in this community!Of this gallant band the only living are Mr. Alfred Lowe and Mr. John Pent. Long may they live!Source:Excerpt from "Key West: The Old and the New" by Jefferson B. Browne. Published 1912.asy.