Background about Florida during the Civil War:
Florida was the third state to secede from the Union on January 10, 1861. They were only preceded by South Carolina which seceded from the Union December 20, 1860 and started the American Civil War and Mississippi which seceded the day before Florida did on January 9, 1861.
At the time right before the Civil War Florida was divided into three separate sections which was based on geographical features. East Florida along the East Coast. West Florida which was along the Gulf Coast and the Panhandle. Then Middle Florida which was the plantation belt and what people commonly think of when they think plantations and the Civil War.
East Florida has always been strongly influenced and the Spanish had different policies with their slaves than did Americans. So they were more lax. West Florida which was more cut off and isolated from the rest of Florida due to geography and so slaves were more trusted and even given guns in order to hunt for food. Both of these regions were largely anti-secessionists and pro-union.* It was Middle Florida with it’s traditional view on slavery and being a part of the plantation system along with the rest of the of the South that was secessionist.
Governor Madison Starke Perry who was a plantation owner in Alachua county set up a Secessionist Convention and with most of the political being held in the hands of the plantation owners Florida seceded from the Union. The anti-secessionists who wanted to put it to a popular vote of the people were left out of the convention and did not have the political power to have their voice heard.
1863: U.S.S. Tahoma today captured a confederate flatboat in a bayou near the Manatee River. The flatboat was carrying cargo of sugar and molasses.**
During the first six months of 1863 it blockaded the west coast of Florida. During this time it captured seven blockade runners one of which was the Confederate flatboat carrying sugar and molasses near the Manatee River. It also captured the Silas Henry, the British schooner Margaret, the schooner Crazy Jane, the schooner Statesman, and the British blockade runner the Harrington. It also destroyed the Mary Jane.*** With the capture of of these schooners and sloops the Tahoma acquired along with the flatboat’s sugar and molasses it also acquired cotton and turpentine.
During its time cruising the west coast it also destroyed some important salt works. Salt was a major export of Florida for the CSA. Salt was used in preserving food and kept it from spoiling in a time before refrigeration when was only accessible in winter and only by the rich in summer.
*Gannon, Michael. The New History of Florida. University Press of Florida. 1996. Brown, Jr., Canter. “The Civil War, 1861-1865