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This Day In Florida History During the Civil War  

MARCH 1861-1865

march 1

MARCH 1, 1861 Construction of the first cross-peninsula railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key was completed today. David Levy Yulee, United States Senator from Florida, was the driving force behind this railroad. Although used very little because of the outbreak of the War between the States in April, the railroad made Cedar Key a major urban site in the immediate postwar years. (See Charles Fishburne, History of Cedar Key)

MARCH 1, 1864 The U.S.S. Roebuck seized the blockade-running British steamer Lauretta off the Indian River Inlet today. The Lauretta was carrying a cargo of salt.

march 2

MARCH 2, 1861 John B. Galbraith assumed the office of Florida Attorney General today.

MARCH 2, 1863 Forces from the Federal gunboat Sagamore attempted to capture the Confederate blockade-runner Florence Nightingale as it was loading a cargo of cotton in Mosquito Inlet near New Smyrna. The Federal gunboat Sagamore shelled the area from its position at sea and then sent men on barges to capture the ship. The captain of the Florence Nightingale set fire to the ship to prevent its capture. Confederate forces on land repelled the Federal boarding crews. The fire on the blockade runner were then extinguished, and the Florence Nightingale successfully put to sea despite having lost its main mast and most of its provisions.

MARCH 2, 1864 Confederate General Pierre Beauregard arrived at Camp Milton on McGirt’s Creek. He was seeking to organize three infantry brigades under General J. J. Finegan and Alfred H. Colquitt, a cavalry brigade under Colonel Robert H. Anderson, and an artillery brigade under Lieutenant Colonel Charles Colquitt Jones.

MARCH 2, 1865 In an effort to avoid capture by the U.S.S. Fox, the crew of the blockade runner Rob Roy ran her ashore and set fire to her in Deadman’s Bay. The cargo removed from the blazing ship by the crew of the U.S.S. Fox consisted of cavalry sabers and farm implements.

march 3

MARCH 3, 1862 United States naval forces, under the command of Flag Officer Samuel DuPont, today reported that they had control of Cumberland Island and Sound, Fernandina and Amelia Island, and the river and town of St. Mary’s.” Fort Clinch on Amelia Island was occupied by forces from the U.S.S. Ottawa and became the first Confederate fort to be re-taken by Union forces. The Federal navy also captured the Confederate steamer Darlington with a cargo of military supplies. Confederate forces retreated inland, carrying their heavy guns.

MARCH 3, 1865 The U.S.S. Honeysuckle captured the blockade runner Phantom as she attempted to enter the Suwannee River. The blockade runner Phantom was carrying a cargo of liquors and bar iron.

MARCH 3, 1865 A Federal naval squadron of twelve steamers and four sloops, commanded by Commander R. W. Shufeldt, today joined Federal army troops commanded by Brigadier General John Newton in an assault on St. Marks Fort below Tallahassee. Although the attack on the fort was unsuccessful, Federal ship succeeded in blockading the mouth of the St. Mark’s River. Confederate officials anticipate that this was the opening gambit in a campaign to capture Tallahassee.

march 4

MARCH 4, 1861 Floridian Stephen R. Mallory was confirmed by the Confederate Congress as the Secretary of the Navy. Two of Florida’s Representatives, Jackson Morton and James B. Owens, vehemently oppose his confirmation.

MARCH 4, 1862 The Federal ship, U.S.S. Santiago de Cuba captured the sloop, O.K., of the coast near Cedar Keys today. While being taken to St. Mark’s, the O.K. floundered.

MARCH 4, 1863 The U.S.S. James S. Chambers seized the blockade-running Spanish sloop Relampago and schooner Ida today. The Ida, beached at Sanibel Island, could not escape and was destroyed by a crew from the U.S.S. James S. Chambers.

MARCH 4, 1865 The Federal flotilla recently assembled and which assaulted St. Mark’s yesterday landed 1,000 Union troops near St. Mark’s lighthouse. The troops prepared to move inland. In Tallahassee, Confederate authorities were hastily assembling whatever forces they can muster to stave off the anticipated attack on the capital city.

march 5

MARCH 5, 1862 The U.S.S. Water Witch today captured the schooner William Malley off St. Andrew’s Bay.

MARCH 5, 1864 Confederate cavalry hero Captain J. J. Dickinson was today ordered to proceed with his men to Palatka and to place himself under the command of the commanding officer of the 4th Florida Cavalry Regiment.

MARCH 5, 1865 Federal forces have occupied the left bank of the St. Mark’s River as far inland as Newport. Federal commander General John Newton was expected to move his forces toward Natural Bridge. Federal success here will mean that Tallahassee will fall. Confederate forces were moving to prevent the successful passage of the Union force.

march 6

MARCH 6, 1861 The Palatka Guards, a volunteer detachment of about 300 men, leaves for Fernandina as ordered by Governor Madison Starke Perry.

MARCH 6, 1861 Braxton E. Bragg, a Mississippi planter, West Point graduate, and Mexican War Veteran, was named to command the Confederate forces in Pensacola. He was a Brigadier general.

MARCH 6, 1862 The U.S.S. Pursuit today captured the schooner Anna Belle off Apalachicola.

MARCH 6, 1865 The Federal attempt to capture Tallahassee was thwarted today by a motley collection of Confederate troops, soldiers on leave or recuperating from medical problems, and cadets from the West Florida Seminary ( now Florida State University), at Natural Bridge, about twenty miles south of the city. Despite a considerable numerical advantage, the Federal troops could not overcome the Confederates use of natural defenses to reach the city. Following the failure of this Union attempt, Federal troops withdrew to St. Marks. Tallahassee remained the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi to escape capture and occupation by Union forces during the Civil War.

Two Federal efforts to cross Natural Bridge were repelled this morning. When Confederate reinforcements arrived, the Union commanders ordered their troops to retreat to the safety of the naval vessels at anchor near St. Mark’s lighthouse. Federal losses in the Battle of Natural Bridge were put at 21 killed, 89 wounded, and 38 missing. Confederate authorities reported 3 killed, 22 wounded, and none missing.

(For more information on the Battle of Natural Bridge, see the Winter 1999 issue of  The Florida Historical Quarterly.

march 7

MARCH 7, 1862 The mayor of Jacksonville today issued a proclamation urging citizens of that city to stay in their homes and to pursue their normal vocations in the face of an anticipated Federal assault on the city. Confederate authorities have informed the mayor that they will make no effort to defend Jacksonville.

MARCH 7, 1865 The Federal flotilla at anchor off St. Mark’s lighthouse today weighed anchor and sailed away. The Union attempt to seize Tallahassee was an abject failure. The expedition lost a total of 148 men killed, wounded or missing.

march 8

MARCH 8, 1861 The Charleston Mercury reported that Confederate Representatives in Congress James B. Owens and Jackson Morton continued their attack on Florida’s Stephen Mallory, the new Confederate Secretary of the Navy, for being a self-seeker and of having shown “bad faith toward Florida, his native state.” Mallory was still officially a member of the United States Senate, a position that he would continue to occupy until the Senate officially accepted his resignation, which it did on March 11.

MARCH 8, 1862 This afternoon a Federal force of several ships and a transport with the 4th New Hampshire Infantry aboard left Fernandina for the St. Johns River. They were joined by forces from Port Royal, South Carolina, under the command of Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

MARCH 8, 1862 The U.S.S. Sagamore today captured the sloop Enterprise, which had left the Mosquito Inlet for Nassau with a cargo of cotton.

MARCH 8, 1864 Union General Truman Seymour asks for artillery reinforcements for Jacksonville to ensure that the city will not be taken. He reported that Confederate forces have moved to King’s Road and were also in the Six-Mile/cedar Creek area.

MARCH 8, 1865 Union forces left Jacksonville yesterday for an expedition into Marion County. Their progress westward continued today and has largely been unimpeded by Florida Confederate troops.

march 9

MARCH 9, 1861 Governor Madison Starke Perry received the first Confederate requisition of Florida troops from Secretary of the Army L. Pope Walker.

march 10

MARCH 10, 1862 Federal naval forces under Lieutenant T. H. Stevens temporarily occupied Jacksonville today.

MARCH 10, 1862 St. Augustine has been evacuated by two companies of Confederate troops that had been stationed there. A Federal invasion was considered likely to happen within the next twenty-four hours.

MARCH 10, 1863 A Federal force, made up primarily of African-American troops, reoccupied Jacksonville today. It was opposed unsuccessfully by the Florida 2nd Cavalry and the Florida 2nd Infantry Battalion, which retreated in the face of a bombardment from Federal gunboats.

MARCH 10, 1863 The U.S.S. Gem of the Sea today captured the sloop Petee, which was attempting to run the blockade at Indian River Inlet with a cargo of salt.

MARCH 10, 1864 Union forces occupied Palatka this morning without opposition. Although they did not oppose the occupation of the city, Confederate forces were reported on the outskirts of the town. Federal forces were concerned about the location of small river steamers used to transport troops and supplies along the St. Johns River.

march 11

MARCH 11, 1861 General Braxton E. Bragg arrives in Pensacola and relieves Major General William H. Chase of his command of all Confederate troops in or near the city.

MARCH 11, 1862 The U.S.S. Wabash landed today in St. Augustine. The ship’s commander, C. R. P. Rodgers, negotiates with city leaders and occupies Fort Marion and the city. There was no opposition.

MARCH 11, 1862 Two Confederate gunboats under construction in Pensacola Bay have been burned to prevent their capture by Federal naval forces.

MARCH 11, 1863 Confederate forces attacked Union positions in Jacksonville today and forced the Federal soldiers to retreat to their gunboats. Confederate forces penetrated the city as far as the Judson House Square before retreating. Confederate losses were placed at one man, lost or killed.

MARCH 11, 1864 Federal naval forces report a great deal of activity today and the capture of several blockade runner. The U.S.S. San Jacinto reported the capture of a schooner with a cargo of turpentine and 132 bales of cotton in the Gulf of Mexico, while the U.S.S. Beauregard reported the capture of the British sloop Hannah off the coast of Mosquito Inlet. The commander of the Beauregard, acting in concert with the Federal schooner, Norfolk Packet, pursued the British schooner, Linda, up the Indian River Inlet. Although Union forces were forced to take to the shore when they boat was grounded, the Linda, lowered its sails and surrendered after shots were fired. The British vessel was destined for new Smyrna with a cargo of salt, liquors, coffee, and dry goods.

MARCH 11, 1865. Mudd set the broken leg of actor John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Lincoln. There were serious doubts about his participation in the conspiracy in 1865 and practically no one today believes that Mudd was in any way connected to the conspiracy. Dr. Mudd was a distant relative of noted television correspondent, Roger Mudd.

MARCH 11, 1869 Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was imprisoned in Fort Jefferson in Florida’s Dry Tortuguas, was released today after being pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. Mudd had been convicted of being part of the conspiracy to kill Federal President Abraham Lincoln

march 12

MARCH 12, 1863 According to Confederate pickets outside Jacksonville, Federal forces occupying the city were reinforced by the arrival of two Union gunboats today.

march 13

MARCH 13, 1863 The U.S.S. Huntsville today seized the British blockade runner Surprise off the mouth of Charlotte Harbor. The Surprise was bound for Havana with a cargo of cotton.

MARCH 13, 1864 The U.S.S. Columbine, operating in support of Union troops moving up the St. Johns River, today captured the Confederate steamer General Sumter on Lake George. The Confederate steamer General Sumter was carrying passengers to the Ocklawaha.

MARCH 13, 1864 Union forces reported a combined Confederate force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery was moving about six miles inland from the town of Palatka.

march 14

march 15

MARCH 15, 1863 Confederate intelligence reported indicated the presence of three Federal regiments in Jacksonville, two made up of white soldiers and one of Negroes. These reported also indicate the presence of four to five gunboats with 25-30 heavy guns. These guns were capable of providing artillery fire for the Federal land forces throughout the city.

MARCH 15, 1864 Confederate Major General Patton Anderson, the Confederate commander in Florida, today issued Special Order 8, which calls for the impressment of 700 slaves for the purpose of constructing defenses against the Federal forces now occupying Jacksonville.

march 16

MARCH 16, 1862 The U.S.S. Oswasco captured two Confederate schooners in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. The Eugenia and the President were carrying cargoes of cotton. In Richmond, the Confederate Congress passed a resolution urging that no cotton be planted in the Confederacy this year. The purpose of this resolution was to put pressure of British textile manufacturers to force the British government to officially recognize the Confederacy.

MARCH 16, 1863 The U.S.S. Octorara today reported the capture of two blockade runners, the Rosalie and the Five Brothers off the east coast of Florida.

MARCH 16, 1864 The 48th New York Volunteer Infantry, part of the Federal force occupying Palatka, was attacked today by a small force of Confederate cavalry. Two federal soldiers were captured.

MARCH 16, 1865 The U.S.S. Pursuit captured the British schooner Mary today as the British ship attempted to run the blockade at Indian River.

march 17

MARCH 17, 1864 Federal forces occupying Palatka continue to experience probes by Confederate cavalry units as they anxiously await the arrival of the Union gunboat, Ottawa, whose weapons will provide protection for the land forces.

march 18

march 19

MARCH 19, 1862 General J. H. Trapier was relieved of command of the Confederate Department of Florida today. He was replaced temporarily by Colonel W. S. Dilworth. Trapier was ordered to report for duty on the staff of General Albert Sydney Johnston.

MARCH 19, 1865 Florida troops were fighting under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston at Bentonville, North Carolina, in an effort to prevent Federal General William T. Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant from linking their armies together. Florida units include the 3rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Regiment, and the 7th Infantry Regiment.

march 20

MARCH 20, 1863 Confederate and Federal forces clashed today in a minor skirmish at St. Andrew’s Bay.

MARCH 20, 1864 The U.S.S. Tioga captured the Confederate sloop Swallow off Florida’s east coast today. The sloop had a cargo of cotton, rosin, and tobacco and was bound for Nassau. Twelve Confederates were captured.

march 21

MARCH 21, 1862 Two Federal gunboats, the Penquin and the Henry Andrew, operating in the area around New Smyrna, today attacked Confederate salt works near Mosquito Inlet.

MARCH 21, 1865 Theodore W. Brevard, in command of the 11th Florida Infantry and Bonaud’s Battalion, was commissioned a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. Brevard was a prominent Florida politician who had served as the Comptroller of the State from 1855-1860. He also served from April 3, 1854 until November 27, 1854 in the same position.

march 22

MARCH 22, 1862 The federal gunboats Penquin and Henry Andrews attempted to land forces at New Smyrna today. Units of the 3rd Florida Infantry refused to allow them to land. The commanders of the two ships were killed, along with three enlisted men. The Confederate forces suffered no losses.

MARCH 22, 1862 A landing party from the Federal ship, the U.S.S. Mercedita, went ashore at Apalachicola today. They discovered that the town had been abandoned.

MARCH 22, 1863 The Federal ship U.S.S. Arizona captured the Confederate sloop Aurelia off Mosquito Inlet today. The Confederate ship had a cargo of 60 bales of cotton and was bound for Nassau.

march 23

march 24

MARCH 24, 1863 William Sherman Jennings, the 18th governor of Florida (1901-1905), was born today near Walnut Hill, Illinois. [For more information, see entry for January 8.]

march 25

MARCH 25, 1861 The Federal ship, U.S.S. General Rusk, arrived in Key West today with a complement of 300 men for service at Fort Jefferson ( Dry Tortugas ) and in the city.

MARCH 25, 1862 A party of Confederate guerillas attacked a Federal picket station near Jacksonville this morning. One Union soldier was killed, one severely wounded, three captured, and the remaining two men in the seven man detail managed to escape.

MARCH 25, 1863 John M. Martin of Florida took his seat today in the Confederate House of Representatives.

MARCH 25, 1863 The U.S.S. Fort Henry captured the blockade runner Ranger off the coast of Cedar Key today.

MARCH 25, 1863 Federal soldiers from the Jacksonville garrison advanced to Three Mile Branch today. After destroying a few miles of railroad track and burning several houses, they were forced to retreat to the city when Confederate artillery positions opened fire.

MARCH 25, 1864 In the face of his disastrous defeat at Olustee, Federal General Truman Seymour received orders to turn his Florida command over to Union Brigadier General J. P. Hatch.

MARCH 25, 1864 The United States schooner, Stonewall, send a landing party ashore near Sarasota today. Finding nothing suspicious, the men returned to the ship, in the afternoon, the Stonewall anchored near fish houses on the shore by soon withdrew when nothing suspicious was sighted.

march 26

MARCH 26, 1863 Floridians, like most Southerners, reacted angrily today when the Confederate Congress approved the Impressment Act, which allowed Confederate tax collectors to impress food and other articles useful to the Confederacy.

march 27

MARCH 27, 1863 The U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson today seized the British schooner Pacifique at St. mark’s.

march 28

march 29

MARCH 29, 1862 Federal officers in Jacksonville sent five companies of soldiers to investigate a report that a large force of Confederates was in the vicinity of Three Mile Creek. The Union soldiers determined that a force of nearly 100 Confederates had been the area earlier today, but had since left.

MARCH 29, 1863 Federal army and naval forces evacuated Jacksonville today. As they evacuated, Union soldiers set fire to much of the town.

march 30

MARCH 30, 1862 Units of the 97th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment were dispatched to make contact with Confederate forces operating in the vicinity of Jacksonville.

march 31

MARCH 31, 1862 Federal officers in Jacksonville report the presence of about 2,700 Confederate troops in East Florida.