Sunday, November 03, 2013

1) The Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron of the U.S. Navy built their naval blockade station, barracks, wharf, refugee camp, prison and cemetery on Hurricane Island, the barrier island that once existed at the mouth of the channel entering St. Andrews Bay at the time of the Civil War. By 1934, all traces of Hurricane Island had disappeared underneath the Gulf's waters.

2) This is a Wikipedia article on the U.S.S. Roebuck, a bark rigged clipper ship. It is one of many Wikipedia articles on the U.S. ships used to launch amphibious attacks upon the people of St. Andrews Bay during the Civil War. Five sailors from this ship were killed by Confederate troops near the town of St. Andrews on March 20, 1863. One body was left on the beach and buried by the Confederates. The other four were buried on Hurricane Island.

3) This is a link to a preview of Jeannie Weller Cooper's 2011 book, Panama City Beach: Tales From The World's Most Beautiful Beaches. This part reproduces the Hurricane Island information from a section of Marlene Womack's 1998 book, The Bay Country. John A. Burgess in his 1986 book, Sand In My Shoes, uses a Marlene Womack column from a June 1985 Panama City News-Herald and concludes from her information that Hurricane Island is now underneath the Gulf "in the open channel approximately one mile east south-east of the present day land's end (the eastern tip of today's Sand Island)." In 2013, the former land's end of Shell Island would now be a portion of Tyndall Beach.

4 ) This is a link that describes the markings on one of the Panama City salt kettles. A close friend of mine owns a Confederate salt kettle and I have his permission to examine & photograph it when I return to Alabama in January. I have also identified the location of two more kettles in the Mobile area.

5) This is a link to a 1955 Tequesta article that includes all the entries pertaining to Florida found in the journal of Dr. Walter Keeler, assistant surgeon aboard the U.S.S. Sagamore. The sailors of the Sagamore wrecked the salt works on St. Andrews Bay in September of 1862. Keeler noted that "salt nicely crystalized in cubical crystals" and that the people of St. Andrews promised not to build any more salt works.  Dr. Keeler does a great job of describing how he and his crew killed time between missions by oystering, crabbing, fishing and hunting game around the freshwater lakes in the dunes of Northwest Florida. He also writes that he had "no desire to go ashore in any part of Florida held by the rebels."

6) This is the link where I first discovered excerpts from Dr. Keeler's journal. It includes images of ships that launched attacks against St. Andrews Bay and also includes a photograph of Dr. Keeler.,+GEORGIA%22&source=bl&ots=Vzoq0LG53-&sig=HneZBZMNgxPT0DwzaCjfdV-s6Ec&hl=en&sa=X&ei=D2SXUvS6L9KzsATS7IDQCg&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

7) This is the Wikipedia link for Dr. Keeler's ship, the U.S.S. Sagamore.

8) This is a November 2012 article by John Roberts who in his retirement has seen fit to go out and examine the remains of salt works in Northwest Florida. This was published in the Wakulla News and includes a picture of a large salt kettle that may still be in the salt marsh near the St. Marks Lighthouse.

U.S.S. ALBATROSS The U.S.S. HARTFORD & the U.S.S. ALBATROSS Sailing Past The Rebel Guns At Port Hudson U.S.S. TAHOMA U.S.S. KINGFISHER Attacking Salt Works The U.S.S. HARTFORD & the U.S.S. ALBATROSS Sailing Past The Rebel Guns At Port Hudson
9) This is a link to a lesson plan on Confederate Salt Makers in Florida prepared in 1940. It includes John S.C. Abbott's description of the December 1863 burning of the town of St. Andrews which was published in Harper's Magazine in November 1866.

Abbott in Harper's 1866   "They rowed along, in a westerly direction about 20 miles, through a 
varied scene of wilderness, desolation, and beauty, and then landing, 
marched through the wilderness country five miles until they reached a large 
sheet of salt-water, called Lake Ocala. Here they came suddenly upon 
Kent's salt-works. There were 13 huge tanks or kettles in full blast, each 
holding 200 gallons. It seemed as though they had fallen upon some realm of 
Pluto, as they saw the immense fires blazing, Negroes running to and fro 
feeding them with the resinous fuel, and the air filled with smoke and vapor. 
They were producing 130 gallons of salt daily. Our boat's crew, who 
certainly deserve the title of intrepid, broke the boilers into pieces, utterly 
demolished the works and threw into the lake all the salt which they had 
accumulated. Two large flat-boats and six ox-carts were destroyed, and 17 
prisoners taken and paroled. 

"The success of this expedition incited to other similar movements. 
It so chanced that the stern-wheel steamer Bloomer, under Acting-Ensign 
Edwin Cressy, arrived. The steamer was of such light draught that she 
could run almost anywhere over the shallow waters of the bay. Master 
Browne put three officers and 48 men on board, and sent them to the 
western extremity of the bay, to a place called West Bay, where they found 
extensive Government salt-works, which were producing 400 bushels daily. 
Here they destroyed 27 buildings, 222 boilers and kettles, 5,000 bushels of 
salt, and storehouses containing three months' provisions. The estimated 
value of the property destroyed was half a million of dollars. 

"This little stern-wheeler which a sailor said 'could run where-ever 
there was a light dew,' now steamed down the shore of the bay, 
penetrating all its secluded inlets, and destroyed 198 private salt-making 
establishments. Seven hundred and sixty boilers and kettles were broken to 
pieces, and an immense amount of salt thrown into the lake. There was also 
committed to the flames 200 buildings, 27 wagons, and five large flat- 
boats. The entire damage to the enemy was deemed not less than 
$3,000,000. . . . 

"By some strange instinct, in these far-away regions, the slaves, 
with universal acclaim, received the Union soldiers as their deliverers. No 
frowns of their masters could repress their delight. With joy, which at 
times passed all bounds, they availed themselves of the opportunity of 
escaping from a bondage which their souls loathed. These ever-true 
friends to the Union cause proved of great service in pointing out the location of salt works, and the places where kettles had been hastily buried for 
concealment. Thirty-one of these contrabands accompanied the steamer back. 

"While these movements were in operation, Acting-Master Browne, 
learning from deserters that the town of St. Andrews had been occupied for 
10 months by a rebel military force, steamed up in the bark Restless to within 
100 yards of the town. Seeing a body of soldiers he shelled them and drove 
them speedily into the woods. Then, selecting some of the weathermost 
houses for a target, he soon set them in flames by his shells, and the 
conflagration rapidly spreading, in a few hours 32 houses were reduced to 

"Salt is one of the necessities of life. The rebel armies could not 
exist without it. They immediately made efforts to repair and defend 
their ruined works. Early in February 1864, the rebels had put up at 
West Bay, upon the site of the ruins which he had left there in 
December, greatly enlarged works, with a guard of 50 men to protect 
them. There were 26 sheet-iron boilers, each one of which held 881 
gallons, and 19 kettles averaging 200 gallons. These boilers and kettles 
had cost nearly $147,000, and the works covered a space of half a square 
mile. They had been in operation but 10 days when Lieut. W. R. 
Browne fitted out a cutter, manned with 13 men under Acting-Ensign 
James J. Russel, and sent them up the Gulf coast 20 miles. Here they 
were to land and march inland seven miles, until they should strike the 
works in West Bay, thus attacking them in the rear. 

10) Here's a New York Times article from December of 1863 which also includes a description of the burning of St. Andrews.

11) This material also came from the Confederate Salt Makers lesson plan.
According to The Tallahassee Historical Society Annual (1935) 
in an article written by F. A. Rhodes: "the average small salt plant 
consisted merely of a large kettle holding from 60 to 100 gallons of 
water and set in a brick or clay furnace. They were very similar to the 
syrup furnaces of today found on our small farms in this section. They 
were not built directly on the shore because of the high tides and wind, 
but were usually located a few hundred feet inland. Very near this 
furnace and kettle was dug a shallow well which always produced a 
plentiful supply of salty water. Perhaps this water was not quite as salty 
as that secured direct from the Gulf, but there was not an appreciable 
difference and it was very much more convenient. Instead of having a 
haul the water some distance, it could simply be drawn from the well and 
poured directly into the kettle. 

"Sometimes shallow holes were dug along the shore, and falling 
tides would leave them full of water, which was dipped up and carried in 
buckets to the furnace. . . . 

"The salt water after being poured into the kettle, was boiled in 
the same way as the brine secured form the smoke house. When there 
was only a thick brine left in the kettle it was dipped up, for further 
cooking would only burn that salt near the bottom of the kettle and render it unfit for use. The brine was usually placed on clean boards for 
the drying and bleaching process. Sometimes the brine was poured in a 
barrel, and after it settled, the water was dipped off the top. This was 
done particularly if the salt was not for table consumption, but merely for 
use in packing meat, etc. 

"Still others put the thick brine in bags and hung it up to dry, 
while others used fine sieves for the drying process. The salt often 
contained pieces of seaweed or other foreign particles which were 

12) This article is an excellent summary of most of the wrecking done on St. Andrews Bay by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

13) This article about the destruction of salt works on Cedar Keys includes an image of the U.S.S. Tahoma.

14) Here's a brief description of the Union raid on Geneva, Alabama in December 1862 which resulted in the capture of the Bloomer which became the U.S.S. Bloomer and was used in the attack on St. Andrews in December of 1863.

15) This is the description of the Masonic funeral of the skipper of the Albatross.

16) This is the Wikipedia article about the Confederate officer in St. Francisville who arranged the truce and Masonic funeral for Lt. Commander Hart.

17) This link describes on of
Connecticut's contributions to the Union's war effort: the construction of the U.S.S. Albatross in Mystic.

18) Here's another link to the St. Francisville tradition produced by Lt. Commander Hart's suicide: THE DAY THE WAR STOPPED

19) Log of the Albatross

20) Wikipedia article on the U.S.S. Albatross

21) The letters of Lieutenant Commander John E. Hart 1825-1863

22) Goucher College's Ella Lonn's wonderful journal article about the St. Andrews salt works. This work was incorporated into her landmark book, SALT AS A FACTOR IN THE CONFEDERACY

23) This work was prepared for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Florida

24) This is a link to a book that includes a description of the December 1863 attack when the town of St. Andrews was burned.

25) Great recent article with an overview of salt making in Northwest Florida during the Civil War.

26) A 2012 description of a Civil War reenactment of the St. Andrews Skirmish in Panama City.

27) Here's a recent little history lesson on the salt works written by the Wakulla County salt works aficionado, John Y. Roberts.

28) Paul A. Clifford's 1888 History of St. Andrews Bay is a short 76 page pamphlet that has a good description of the bay area in 1888.

29) George M. West's book on St. Andrews Bay

30) The official record of the attack that destroyed the town of St. Andrews in December of 1863.;cc=moawar;rgn=full%20text;idno=ofre0017;didno=ofre0017;view=image;seq=635;node=ofre0017%3A1;page=root;size=100