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  Week 1   The Civil War   Program Menu
  Program 1 The Civil War  
      March is Archaeology Month in Florida, and the theme for 2012 honors the American Civil War.

I'm Dr. Judy Bense, with Unearthing Florida....

The third state to secede from the Union in 1861, Florida played an important role for the Confederacy and was described as its “supplier.” Although there was very little manufacturing, the state delivered desperately needed resources of beef, salt, and soldiers to the keep the Confederate war effort going.

While Florida was far removed from the major campaigns of the war, the Union blockaded its ports and raided the coast. And, small and large battles were waged here.

Today many of the places in Florida where these events occurred have largely been left out of the national Civil War narrative. Industrial sites like the Yulee Sugar Mill near Homasassa Springs, battlefields like Olustee east of Lake City, and fortifications such as Fort Barrancas aboard Pensacola NAS yielded a range of artifacts from small munitions to large machinery and all played an important part in the war.
  Program 2 Camp Walton  
      At the start of the Civil War, Confederate Florida looked to local militias to begin the difficult task of raising an army.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, with Unearthing Florida…

Most militias were made up of men from different social orders in the community- farmers, bricklayers, teachers, fisherman, lawyers and even some judges. Few had prior military service and in the beginning most had to supply their own weapons, clothing, and food.

One such Confederate militia formed was the Walton Guards. In March of 1861 they set up Camp Walton in modern day Fort Walton Beach along a long narrow waterway called Santa Rosa Sound.

To defend the area from Union gunboats, the Walton Guards mounted a cannon on a small shell mound along the water’s edge. When the militia left in 1862, they disabled and buried it so Federal troops could not use it.

In 1932, the cannon was rediscovered. It’s the largest artifact from this Confederate militia. And, today it is on display along U.S. highway 98 at the very site, where they once camped.
  Program 3 Salt Works  
      During the Civil War, salt production in Florida was vital to keeping the Confederacy supplied with long-lasting sources of perishable food, such as meat and fish.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, with Unearthing Florida…

The Union strategy of cutting off supplies from the north and blockading southern ports deeply impacted the Confederate governments’ ability to import salt. By 1863, production was left to the coastal state of Florida.

With government incentives, salt work operations sprang up quickly along the state’s coastline. In response, the Union navy was given the task of shutting these salt works down. But, the job proved impossible, because as soon one such operation was destroyed, it simply relocated to a different spot along the vast coast and resumed production.

An archaeological survey in 1977 uncovered the remains of a typical Civil War salt work on Salt Island in Cedar Key along Waccasassa Bay. The discovery by Archaeologist Martin Dickinson included furnaces and five iron kettles.
  Program 4 Fort Barrancas  
      In 1862, Fort Barrancas in Pensacola was an important base of operations for Union movements into Florida and Alabama, but it was not always controlled by the North.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida…

Just days before Florida joined the Confederacy, state troops seized two of the three federally held forts- including Fort Barrancas- built to protect the navy yard in Pensacola.

Following Union raids on Barrancas in September 1861, the Confederates counter-attacked in an attempt to take nearby Fort Pickens in the battle of Santa Rosa Island.

To meet the need for more Southern troops in the West, soldiers abandoned Pensacola in the summer of 1862. The Union quickly retook the forts guarding Pensacola Bay, including Barrancas, which is still standing today.

Archaeologists recently found evidence of the North’s reoccupation when they located the site of the Union barracks inside Fort Barrancas. They found the brick foundation pillars of the building, a fire pit, and a trash pit containing Union munitions.
  Program 5 Maple Leaf  
      In March of 1864, the Union Transport Ship Maple Leaf struck a Confederate mine and sank to the bottom of the St. John’s River near Jacksonville.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida…

Minutes after the deafening blast, the Maple Leaf and its cargo spilled out across the bottom of the river.

Archaeologists rediscovered the Maple Leaf in the 1980s.

Conditions at the site were very difficult. With zero visibility beneath the surface of the St. John’s River, marine archaeologists described working the site as basically “groping in the dark.” Working only by feel underwater, the results were well worth it. The artifacts were spectacularly well-preserved in the soft, cool, muddy river bottom.

Leather pouches and shoes, personal effects such as combs and eye glasses, brass buttons and pieces of a violin were just a few of the things that were recovered and restored to their original luster.
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