In many respects Florida remains the forgotten state of the Confederacy. Journalist Horace Greeley once referred to Florida in the Civil War as the “smallest tadpole in the dirty pool of secession.” Although it was the third state to secede, Florida’s small population and meager industrial resources made the state of little strategic importance. Because it was the site of only one major battle, it has, with a few exceptions, been overlooked within the field of Civil War studies.
During the Civil War, more than fifteen thousand Floridians served the Confederacy, a third of which were lost to combat and disease. The Union also drew the service of another twelve hundred white Floridians and more than a thousand free blacks and escaped slaves. Florida had more than eight thousand miles of coastline to defend, and eventually found itself with Confederates holding the interior and Federals occupying the coasts—a tenuous state of affairs for all. Florida’s substantial Hispanic and Catholic populations shaped wartime history in ways unique from many other states. Florida also served as a valuable supplier of cattle, salt, cotton, and other items to the blockaded South.
A Forgotten Front: Florida during the Civil War Era provides a much-needed overview of the Civil War in Florida. Editors Seth A. Weitz and Jonathan C. Sheppard provide insight into a commonly neglected area of Civil War historiography. The essays in this volume examine the most significant military engagements and the guerrilla warfare necessitated by the occupied coastline. Contributors look at the politics of war, beginning with the decade prior to the outbreak of the war through secession and wartime leadership and examine the period through the lenses of race, slavery, women, religion, ethnicity, and historical memory.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: From Territory to Twenty-Seventh State
Seth A. Weitz
1. Extreme Measures: Florida and the Crisis of 1850
Seth A. Weitz
2. “The Rights, Causes, and Necessity for Secession”: The Interplay of Race, Class, and Politics in Antebellum Florida
Lauren K. Thompson
3. “So Exposed as Recently to Encounter Serious Disasters”: The Defense and Capture of Amelia Island, 1861–1862
Jonathan C. Sheppard
4. “Our Necessary Resort”: Confederate Guerrillas in East and Middle Florida, 1861–1865
Zack C. Waters
5. Embattled Executive: Governor John Milton’s Civil War
R. Boyd Murphree
6. “The Church Did Not Die”: Religion in Florida during the Civil War
David B. Parker
7. Civil War and Florida’s New Legal Paradigm
8. Grander in Her Daughters: Florida’s Women during the Civil War
Tracy J. Revels
9. Florida Hispanics in the Civil War
Robert A. Taylor
10. Battles of Olustee: Civil War Memory in Florida