Florida in the Civil War (1861-1865)

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Notable Citizens and Generals of Florida in the Civil War

Notable Citizens and Confederate Generals of Florida (1861-1865)

The following individuals were either born or raised in Florida or closely associated with the state.

• James Patton Anderson, of Monticello, served as colonel of the 1st Florida Infantry before being promoted to brigadier general in 1862 and then major general in 1864. He commanded a division in the Army of Tennessee and also for a time the District of Florida.
• Theodore W. Brevard, of Tallahassee, served as colonel of the 11th Florida Infantry. In March 1865, he was commissioned brigadier general, the last general officer of the war appointed by President Jefferson Davis, and commanded the Florida Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia.
• Robert Bullock, of Ocala, served as colonel of the 7th Florida Infantry in the Army of Tennessee and for a time commanded its Florida Brigade. In 1864, he was promoted to brigadier general.
• William G.M. Davis, of Apalachicola, served as colonel of the 1st Florida Cavalry. Promoted to brigadier general in 1862, he commanded the Department of East Tennessee. Davis resigned in 1863 and subsequently operated blockade runners from North Carolina.
• John Jackson Dickison, Ocala, was the most prominent Confederate partisan leader in Florida, the legendary Captain J.J. Dickison helped maintain Confederate control over north-central Florida during the war’s later years. When the war began, Dickison served in the Marion Artillery before recruiting a mounted company that became part of the 2nd Florida Cavalry. From 1863 until the war’s end, Dickison defended Florida’s interior against attacks from the Union occupied coast. To loyal Confederates his exploits reached near mythic proportions. In the spring of 1864, Dickison captured the Union outposts at Welaka and Saunders, and then ambushed and forced the surrender of the Union gunboat USS Columbine at Horse Landing. In August 1864, he drove off a Union cavalry force that had briefly occupied Gainesville, inflicting 302 casualties while his own unit suffered only 8 losses. Early in 1865, Dickison skirmished with Federal forces at Braddock’s Farm, where he shot and mortally wounded the commander of the enemy detachment. He then moved his force to the Gulf coast to meet another Federal threat, skirmishing with the Federals at Station Number 4. While Dickison’s efforts ensured that the interior of Florida remained in Confederate hands, he could do nothing to delay the inexorable collapse of the Confederacy, and he surrendered his command at Waldo on May 20, 1865. J.J. Dickison passed from this life on August 20, 1902.
• Joseph Finegan was one of six Irish-born generals in the Confederate Army. Little is known of his early life, or when he arrived in America, though he eventually settled in Fernandina, partnering with David Yulee in the operation of the Florida Railroad, which linked Fernandina with Cedar Key. Finegan attended the Secession Convention and, when the war began, commanded the Fernandina Volunteers. In April 1862, Finegan was promoted to brigadier general, and assumed command of the District of Middle and East Florida. Later the district was divided, with Finegan exercising authority over the area east of the Suwannee River. Early in February 1864, Federal forces mounted their largest invasion of Florida. To meet this threat, Finegan consolidated his scattered troops and, with reinforcements from Georgia, constructed entrenchments near Olustee, east of Lake City. The ensuing Battle of Olustee on February 20 resulted in a resounding Confederate victory with the Union force retreating back to Jacksonville. In May 1864, Finegan took reinforcements to Virginia and assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia's Florida Brigade. In March 1865, suffering from exhaustion, he resigned and returned to Florida. After the war, Finegan spent one term in the Florida legislature, and then moved to Savannah before returning to Florida, where he died in 1885.
• Jesse Johnson Finley, of Marianna, served as colonel of the 6th Florida Infantry. Promoted to brigadier general in 1863, he commanded the Florida Brigade of the Army of Tennessee.
• William Wing Loring, a career soldier raised in St. Augustine, was commissioned a brigadier general in 1861 and major general in 1862. Loring served in both the eastern and western theaters as a division commander.
• Stephen Mallory of Key West served as Confederate Secretary of Navy from 1861 until 1865, the only individual to serve in the same cabinet position throughout the existence of the Confederacy. A U.S. Senator before the war, Mallory promoted the establishment of a naval base at Key West, introduced bills to construct maritime hospitals at several Florida locations, and supported the construction of new warships. Mallory supported secession, but hoped to avoid war. Before resigning his senate seat in January 1861, he helped negotiate a truce between U.S. and Southern forces at Pensacola. He returned to Florida, but the following month Confederate President Jefferson Davis selected him as Secretary of the Navy. Aware that the Confederacy could not match the Union navy ship for ship, Mallory promoted the use of commerce
raiders and ironclad vessels, as well as submarines, underwater mines, and heavy rifled cannon. At war’s end, Mallory evacuated Richmond with President Davis, remaining with the president’s party until early May 1865, when he resigned to return to Florida. He was imprisoned by Federal authorities until March 1866. Subsequently he practiced law in Pensacola, never again holding public office. He died in 1873.

• James McQueen McIntosh, a West Point graduate born in Tampa, was promoted from colonel to brigadier general in 1862. He was killed at the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas in March 1862.
• William Miller, of Milton, served as colonel of the 1st Florida Infantry in the Army of Tennessee. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1864, commanded the District of Florida, and was the Confederate field commander at the Battle of Natural Bridge in March 1865.
• Edward A. Perry, of Pensacola, became brigadier general in August 1862 and commanded the Florida Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia until 1864. Perry was elected Florida governor in 1884.
Mary Martha Reid became known during the Civil War for her work as matron of the Florida Hospital in Richmond. Soon after the outbreak of the war, Reid’s son was serving in a Florida regiment in Virginia. While his presence undoubtedly contributed to Reid’s decision to assist in the establishment of a hospital for the Florida troops in Virginia, the need for such a facility had become evident as the large number of sick and wounded flooded the Confederate capital during the first year of the war. Floridians donated money and material to supply the hospital, and the state provided additional funding. During its first year, it treated more than 1,000 patients and maintained a remarkably low death rate. Confederate officials closed the Florida Hospital in December 1863. Reid subsequently worked at Howard’s Grove Hospital near Richmond. In 1864, her son fell mortally wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness, and the grieving mother supervised his burial. Reid continued her work until the end of the war, fleeing the capital on the same train that carried President Jefferson Davis from the city. In recognition of her work, the Florida legislature passed an act in 1866 granting her $600 annually. She died in Fernandina in 1894.
• Francis A. Shoup, of St. Augustine, was appointed brigadier general in 1862 and served in both the western and eastern theaters as an artillery and staff officer.
• Edmund Kirby Smith, commonly known as E. Kirby Smith, was the highest ranking Floridian in Confederate military service. Born in St. Augustine in 1824, he graduated from West Point and fought in the Mexican War. In 1861, Smith resigned his commission and joined the Confederate army. Quickly rising to the rank of brigadier general, Smith was wounded at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). In the fall of 1861, he received a promotion to major general and the following spring was put in command of East Tennessee and took part in the invasion of Kentucky. Despite a relatively undistinguished career to this point, Smith was promoted to lieutenant general and placed in command of the vast Department of the Trans-Mississippi, the region west of the Mississippi River. He was criticized by some for inaction during the Vicksburg campaign, and for overemphasizing operations in Arkansas and Missouri at the expense of Louisiana. Nonetheless, President Davis promoted Smith to full general (same rank as General Robert E. Lee) and, as the war progressed, he maintained such autonomy that the region became known as “Kirby Smithdom.” He went into exile in Mexico at the war’s end before returning to the United States. When Smith died in 1893, he was the last surviving full general of the Confederacy.
• Martin L. Smith, chief engineer for the Florida Railroad, was promoted to brigadier general and then major general in 1862, and served as chief of the Confederate Corps of Engineers.
• David Levy Yulee was the first Jewish member of the United States Senate. Yulee was a major political and economic figure in mid-nineteenth century Florida. Born David Levy in the Virgin Islands in 1810, his family eventually settled in Florida. He served in the Florida Territorial Legislative Council, was a delegate to the 1838 Constitutional Convention, and served as territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress. In 1845, he became one of the new state’s first senators. His marriage in 1846 probably contributed to his conversion to Christianity and surname change to Yulee. In addition to politics, Yulee operated a sugar plantation, and became active in railroad development, particularly the building of the Florida Railroad. Yulee resigned from the Senate following Florida’s secession in 1861. His sugar mill at Homosassa supplied sugar, syrup and molasses to the Confederacy until May 1864, when Union forces burned his Margarita Plantation home and the mill ceased production. He held no political office in the Confederacy, and spent much time and effort fighting the state and Confederate governments over the impressment of his agricultural products and the seizure of iron from his rail line. Imprisoned by Union authorities at Fort Pulaski, Georgia, for a time after the war, he returned to Florida and attempted to rebuild his economic interests. He died in 1886.

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