The Museum of Southern History
Preserving the History, Ideals and Chivalry of the South.
4304 Herschel St., Jacksonville, Florida 32210
Life in the Conferate States
In the chronicles of the War Between the States the story of the civic life of the period, and particularly in the field of government, has often been neglected in the relation of the gallant but losing efforts of the military and naval organizations. From the inception of the Confederate States at Montgomery in February 1861 the relationships of the southern government with the several states were often strained if not near the breaking point. To John Milton: inaugurated as governor of Florida in October 1861, fell the task of guiding a state in a confederation at war. Milton, and his colleagues in the other states, was forced to decide the obligation of the commonwealth to the national government. Milton's unswerving allegiance to President Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy gave the Jackson county planter-lawyer-governor a secure claim to the unique honor of the most loyal state executive. Frank L. Owsley, student of Confederate and state relationships, laid heavy emphasis on the individualistic and independent "states' rights" governors of several of the other states as one of the major reasons for the collapse of the Confederacy: "if a monument is ever erected as a symbolic gravestone over the 'lost cause,' it should have engraved upon it these words: 'Died of States' Rights.' "
In the first months after Davis was chosen president the Perry administration muddled through. Senator S. R. Mallory was selected by Davis for the naval post in the Confederate cabinet and served until the dissolution, though at times his supervision was over a navy without ships. In early October 1861 Milton wrote Mallory: "In the present deranged state of affairs I shall be inaugurated and enter upon the duties of Governor ... with a heavy heart and a fearful apprehension of my inability to perform the duties of the office creditably and very usefully; but to the best of my judgment I will encounter surrounding difficulties, resolved to place the state upon the best war footing ... ."
Milton's most immediate problem was in the realm of finance. The secession convention had joyfully taken the state out of the old union and then adjourned with an empty treasury at the state capitol. The tax collections of the state had never passed $140,000 in anyone year, yet Madison Perry and the legislature of 1861 had put the government almost $ 500,000 in debt as a result of the mobilization effort. The state fiscal agencies were so demoralized after secession that tax collections were suspended for 1860-1861. In the confusion of the times the accounts were so poorly kept that William W. Davis was even unable "to estimate with accuracy how much was really expended and for what."
Within six weeks of Milton's installation as governor the legislature was convened in regular session. Because of the forthrightness of his character Milton refused to accept the dilatory tactics and special legislation of the legislature which, at the time, was composed, "in great part, of members belonging to the radical element of the Democratic Party, the Perry group. . . ." In retaliation the legislature neglected many recommendations of the governor and substituted laws of the members of the Perry faction. In December the dissidents sought to put a damper on the chief executive through the strategy of recalling the secession convention for further action which would be beyond the control of Milton. William Lamar Gammon, Milton's biographer, wrote that "public opinion would not support a call for an election for a state convention which intended to reduce executive power to impotency." Thus, the reassembling of the old convention at the call of John C. McGehee was then in order.
The convention assembled on January 14, 1862, in Tallahassee and the attack on the governor's powers by the dissatisfied Democrats joined by several Constitutional Unionists was underway. The state militia was abolished, an executive council to advise and approve the governor's action was created, and antimonopoly laws repealed before the assembly adjourned within two weeks of its commencement. M. D. Papy, W. D. Barnes, and James A. Wiggins were appointed to the new executive council, but Milton's attacks on the agency secured sufficient public support to bring the abolishment of this plural executive in the following December at the next session of the legislature.
Among the other measures enacted at the 1861 and 1862 sessions of the legislature was an authorization for a county tax to be levied for the relief of the dependents of service men. Another measure allowed banks to suspend payments in specie from January 1862 until a year subsequent to the end of the war. A fund of $25,000 was appropriated for the benefit of sick and wounded veterans and the public domain, claimed by virtue of secession, was opened for sale at one to two dollars an acre, but service men were allowed a seventy-five percent discount from these prices.
In order to meet the increasing expenses of the war effort the Confederate congress provided that planters should sell a set percentage of their produce to the general government for Confederate bonds. In the federally occupied areas a direct war tax of $77,000 was imposed on the state and the property of evaders was made liable to confiscation. To offset the rigors of Confederate property impressment the 1863 legislature sought to control government agents by civil law. A quota system for cotton and tobacco acreage was instituted in the hope that more land would be devoted to food crops. "But· one acre of cotton should be planted for each two hands owned or employed, and one quarter acre of tobacco per hand, except where the planter manufactured his own cotton or sold the same at prices fixed by the State or Confederate States laws. The use of grain, sugar or syrup in distilling was prohibited ... and all distilleries were ordered abated as nuisances. For the purchase of clothing for Confederate soldiers $75,000 was appropriated. In addition to the confiscations by the general government, the State confiscated where possible the property of persons continuing allegiance to the United States .... "
The final session of the legislature, in 1864, created special courts in each county to expedite the trial of an increasingly large number of Negro cases. With the continued federal victories in the last months of the war there was a mounting restlessness among the Negroes and a consequent increase in crime. The state militia was recreated and included all able-bodied men between sixteen and fifty-five with but few exempted classifications. Resolutions against the denial of the civil liberties of civil trial, habeas corpus, free speech, jury trial, and the independence of the judiciary were passed by the two houses along with a resolution reaffirming the allegiance of Florida to the southern cause with a declaration that annihilation was preferable to a reunion with the United States.
By far the most important work of the legislature, however, was in the field of financing Florida's part in the struggle for southern independence. The extraordinary circumstances of war brought a complete revision of the state's fiscal arrangements. In February of 1861 the legislature authorized an issue of $500,000in State Treasury notes and the sale of twenty year bonds bearing an interest rate of eight per cent. At the same session a number of banking and business corporations were chartered and five existing banks received authority to increase capitalization provided the money was paid into the state treasury while the state pledged lands in the public domain as collateral for the stockholders. "Sensing the all important need of sustaining the value of State Treasury notes, legislators decreed that the circulation of solvent banks which received these State notes at par, would be received at full value for all taxes. State taxes on such banks were suspended. Banks not accepting the State notes at par were forbidden to issue notes of less than $20 value."
Currency in circulation in the first year of the war was mainly in bank notes, state treasury notes, and the small change bills of railroads and other large corporations. In December 1861 bank note circulation reached $115,000 backed by $55,000 in specie. In 1862 notes of the Confederate States government reached Florida and since state treasury notes were backed by public lands the Confederate notes were used to pay taxes and purchase state lands. In 1862 fractional notes of five to fifty cents were authorized by the legislature and Tallahassee and Pensacola quickly put the small change notes in circulation.
Public finance in Florida after 1862 was largely based on the note issues of the Confederacy and the state. Bank notes disappeared as the cheaper money came in full flood. "Authorized State Treasury note issues of seceded Florida reached $2,450,000 .... $1,800,000 of these notes was outstanding in May, 1865.
Of the $500,000 bonds printed, $300,000 was sold. After the war, State Treasury notes and bonds were necessarily repudiated as part of an illegal debt." In 1864, as the United States forces closed in on the lower South, inflation and hard times forced state treasury notes out of circulation in favor of the heavily discounted paper notes of the Confederate States. At the end of the war the war debt of the state totaled $2,100,000.
The annual expenditures of the state in the war years averaged $500,000 divided between supplies for state troops, the Confederate direct tax of 1861, relief for dependents of servicemen and indigents, and hospital care for Florida veterans, both in the state and the other southern states. Taxes of the Confederate government, in addition to that of 1861, were the Impressment Act and the General Tax Act of 1863. Under the former, Confederate agents seized food and other products for the armed forces at prices arbitrarily set by properly constituted boards. Impressed goods were either shipped to disposal points elsewhere or warehoused in depots established in all of the larger towns. The general tax authorized levies of eight percent on many agricultural products, occupational licenses from $50 to $500,fifteen percent tax on all incomes, ten percent profits tax on many commodities, and a further "tithe" tax of ten percent of all agricultural products.
The operation of the Confederate Impressment Act of 1863 served to engender resentment at first and then evasion and profiteering later. A similar law had existed in Florida for some time, but as the enforcement had been left to the local county commissioners, the element of cooperation had encouraged planters and farmers. Under the Confederate law agents, often unknown locally, alienated the local citizenry with brusque and highhanded action. Milton never approved of the impressment law, and in at least one case interfered with the work of the central government agents. A celebrated challenge of the impressment law was made in 1863 when David L. Yulee sought court relief when agents impounded 50,000 pounds of sugar from one of the former senator's plantations. Yulee had accepted an offer of a dollar a pound and the sugar was in transit when seized. Although the disputed commodity was sent on to the armies, Yulee contested the act and was ordered given "just compensation" by the state supreme court.
Considerable dishonesty was practiced by itinerant merchants posing as impressment agents. In addition the swarm of independent government agents invited illegal impressments and, as ever, some citizens "were shamelessly involved with the agents not only in speculation in food but also speculation in State and Confederate monies."56 The "railroad controversy" between the officials of the Florida Railroad and the Confederate Government over the impressment of the iron rails of the roads in East Florida continued from 1862 until the end of the war. The Confederate war department ordered the tracks of the Fernandina-Baldwin and Jacksonville-Baldwin roads removed in order to extend rail connections westward to the Chattahoochee River. Both General Joseph Finegan and Yulee opposed the removal of the iron and sought relief in the civil courts. The fight assumed a sectional aspect when the rumors were spread that the interests of East Florida were to be sacrificed to those of Middle and West Florida. Injunctions by civil court upon the Confederate engineers charged with the removal were ignored and the operation continued but with much bitterness as to the justice of the orders.
As a part of the federal planning for a total war effort to subdue the seceded states, the United States Navy was pressed into service at the outbreak of the war in the establishment of a number of blockading squadrons along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In the first year of the war the business of running the blockade was usually conducted through legal channels with clearance papers approved by the Confederate customs or military officials. Sponsors of these enterprises bonded themselves to assure the importation of supplies for government use in return for permission to export cotton, naval stores, and tobacco. On occasion, blockade runners arrived with arms and ammunition. Thus, in March 1862 a ship landed at New Smyrna, unloaded the cargo on the beach, and departed before capture by the federal ships on the blockade. A second ship made the inner coast of Saint Andrews Bay and unloaded munitions for Florida and the Confederacy. Milton sent a force of two hundred wagons to the east coast to secure the munitions brought through the blockade. The excitement which prevailed on the arrival of the Floridain Bear Creek was remembered by Catherine Cooper Hopley, an English tutor on Governor Milton's plantation "Sylvania" in Jackson County. "Our boys did set off in 'double quick' to the bay, to protect the valuable cargo, which, with the assistance of many citizens and their wagons within eighty miles, was brought safely to the Arsenal. Though within reach of the Yankees, they had labored unmolested, and the Marianna Dragoons came back quite disappointed at such an unaccountable fact.
"The 'Florida' brought some other useful articles besides muskets; which for a time occupied all the ladies, and all their horses and carriages within many miles, as they seized the opportunity of making purchases until the new stock was quite exhausted. For some weeks cotton bales were being conveyed across the country to reload the 'Florida,' which, although she had got safely into port, was not allowed to escape again; but the shrewd yankees had prudently determined to capture not only the ship, but her cargo of cotton too, and had postponed their attack until her rich freight presented a more tempting prize. Half the crew volunteered to go with the captors ... but the pilot would not surrender, nor accept a bribe of $500 dollars to guide the ship out of Bear Creek. The consequence was she ran aground, and had to be lightened of a large portion of her cotton bales, which floated up the stream again, to the infinite amusement of the inhabitants."
As the war continued and the federal forces strengthened the blockade the dwindling supplies and the increased demand encouraged the blockade runners to import cargoes of consumer goods which could be retailed at exorbitant prices when transported into the interior of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. The easy money, though made at great risk, to be gained encouraged numerous Confederate officials to engage in the traffic, even to the extent of selling the imported goods at profitable rates to their own government. Thus, Milton wrote in October 1862 that "salt was selling at $10 per sack on first arrival of blockade runners, but as soon as Confederate Quartermaster Sumner arrived things changed and salt was sold at $30 per sack and at even $50 in other localities. "
The high profits to be realized from running the blockade were reflected in the prices received for the smuggled goods. Miss Hopley wrote that of "medicines there were none, of any consequence. Stimulants there were none ... without mustard, black pepper, and many other trifles (red pepper is indigenous) -we often had no rice ... no white sugar, very little molasses (an every day item of consumption), no more tea, and no more imported fruits. The cook was limited in her baking for want of soda, so largely used in the 'breads;' Mrs. Milton was in perpetual dread of illness on account of the scarcity of medicines. Quinine, twenty dollars an ounce; castor oil, twenty dollars a gallon ... a reel of cotton, half a dollar; common cotton cloths ... half a dollar a yard; children's shoes, and very inferior ones, from three dollars upwards; full-sized shoes from five to ten dollars a pair; and other things in proportion." Yet at about the same time the blockade runners were purchasing rum at seventeen cents a gallon in Cuba, according to General Finegan, and selling the beverage inside the blockade for twenty-five dollars a gallon.
Although the blockade running enterprises were lucrative and probably prostituted the honesty of many persons the trade was a very necessary evil. As the states were charged with some responsibility in supplying the wants of citizens and soldiers the blockade became a vital source of arms, munitions, and medicines. Governor Milton, in a letter of August 1862, strongly condemned "the villainous traffic which is carried on by speculators under the plea of furnishing the people of the South with the prime necessities of life ... In November last ... five vessels were permitted to leave port and were captured by the enemy in transit. Since then other vessels have left our ports with cotton, some of which have returned with coffee, salt, and other articles of merchandise, which the owners or their agents have disposed of at most exorbitant prices to the citizenry of this and adjacent states. Some of the goods were manufactured in the United States, and over the manufacturers' stamps upon the goods the names of English manufacturers were stamped, which upon being removed exhibited the cunning device of Yankee villainy, thus confirming suspicion which I had entertained and expressed, that frauds were perpetrated under the pretense of loyalty to the South.
"After patient inquiries of several months the evidence obtained satisfied me beyond doubt that individuals residing in New York, Boston, Havana, and Nassau, and in some of our Southern cities, had formed co-partnerships by which to carryon the most nefarious and profitable traffic under false pretenses-partners residing at the South professing loyalty to the South, partners residing at the North professing loyalty to the North, and partners at intermediate points loyalty only to circumstances. The owners or agents in Havana or Nassau receive merchandise sent from Northern cities, and received also cotton shipped from the Southern ports-the merchandise to be sent to the Confederate States, the cotton to the United States-and thus the people, North and South, were and are fleeced by speculating traitors. By such base means our citizens have been and are subjected to the vilest system of extortion for the 'Prime necessities of life,' and not only has cotton been thus obtained by the enemy, but information prejudicial to our interest has been obtained, our slaves have been corrupted and decoyed off, and some of the more ignorant portions of our white population made disloyal by the influence of our traitorous speculators."
Despite the continuing protests of Milton, the Confederate government encouraged the blockade runners. It was not until 1864 that the congress finally enacted legislation which sought to reserve space .on the blockade runners for the exclusive disposition of the Confederacy. The reluctance of the government to regulate the traffic stimulated many agrarians to increase cotton acreage in order to raise the money to purchase goods smuggled through the blockade. On occasions when real necessities were landed the officials were unable to secure drayage as the blockade runners could easily outbid the agents for the available wagons and teams.
One of the articles necessary to man's existence which was sorely affected by the war and blockade was salt. The insignificant commodity assumed an extraordinary importance when the usual sources of supply were cut off. In the Civil War salt became an element of primal concern. As Florida was a principal source of meat for the Confederacy and salt was a necessity for the preservation of slaughtered stock the production of the element received increasing public and private attention as the war progressed. With the long coastlines, indented by bays and bayous, and with sea water of high brine content, it was natural that salt-making became a major industry in Florida. Especially was this true on the Gulf coast from the Manatee section to Pensacola Bay, although the industry flourished on the sandy shores of Taylor county and St. Andrews Bay to a greater degree than elsewhere.
By the fall of 1862 the salt works along the Gulf coast became the object of naval attacks which continued until the fall of the Confederacy. In 1863 the salt enterprise of the Confederate government on the west arm of St. Andrews Bay was producing four hundred bushels of salt daily. The works, valued at half a million dollars "constituted a village of some twenty-seven buildings covering three-fourths of a square mile, and kept many hundred ox and mule teams constantly employed in hauling salt ... to Montgomery." On December 10 the installation was destroyed. By the end of 1863 the losses in salt, salt works, wagons, boats, kettles and boilers was estimated at over six million dollars. But no sooner had the federal naval forces destroyed the salt works than the industry rose again, Phoenix-like, from the ashes. A large proportion of the works were located in the isolated marshes along St. Andrews Bay "as the continued drought in that region, protracted through three years had caused the evaporation of nearly all the fresh water so that the water would test at least seventy-five per cent salt." In addition the quality of the salt was high and large supplies of wood in the vicinity were available for firing the kettles.
The price of salt varied in the closing years from twenty-five dollars a bushel to ninety dollars a barrel and later a dollar a pound. Planters boiled the dirt of smoke house floors on which brine had dripped for years. When this supply was exhausted planters in the Tallahassee area visited the Gulf coast and placed a large kettle in a brick or clay furnace usually located several hundred feet from the tide line. "Very near this furnace and kettle was dug a shallow well which always produced a plentiful supply of salty water. . . . The salt water . . . was boiled . . . . When there was only thick brine left in the kettle. . . . The brine was usually placed on clean boards for the drying and bleaching process."
The Confederate government, occupied with the war in the Border States and farther south in later years, did but little to protect the salt-makers. The coastal raids were conducted by marines and sailors from the ships of the blockading squadrons, usually with less than two hundred men. The importance of salt-making was sufficient to cause the men involved in the process to be exempt from compulsory service in the army. However, troops were never spared to protect this vital industry.
Insofar as industrial production affected by the war is concerned, the story of salt-making is indicative of manufacturing on the home front. Whereas Florida had imported all manner of manufactured goods before the war, goods and commodities were "home-made" generally or not at all. Stores sold their stocks and either closed out or reduced operations. Monticello apparently became the lone seat of manufacturing with a small cotton mill, a wool-card factory, and a shoe factory. General William Bailey, the proprietor of the cloth mill, "kept his prices down and devoted the output ... to supplying the needs of the Florida troops and alleviating the distress of poor families. He sent bales of yarn and cloth to 'the most interior counties' to be distributed to true neediest persons. He estimated in June, 1864, that he had foregone profits of at least $300,000 by pursuing this policy, and Governor John Milton stated at the same time that the state could purchase supplies from the mill at 50 per cent less than the prevailing prices."
The status of agriculture during the war is not easily determined. While crops of corn, cane, peas, and potatoes were cultivated for home consumption and some cotton and tobacco was in production, the chief of the Confederate Commissary for Florida stated in 1864 that agriculture was on the decline. With the thousands of men in the armed forces, most of them previously connected with agriculture; there is little reason to doubt the statement.
In South Florida, however, on the prairies of the Kissimmee Valley and along Peace Creek the ranchers were able to supply cattle for beef, tallow and hides for the Confederate forces. By 1864 "Florida beef was the sole source of meat rations for General Braxton Bragg's Army of the Tennessee, and General P. G. T. Beauregard's Army at Charleston . . . the Georgia and South Carolina supplies having been practically exhausted." But the importance of Florida as one of the food baskets of the Confederacy had been established in the early months of the conflict. Alfred Jackson Hanna and Kathryn Abbey Hanna found, in their study of Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades watershed, that in 1861 Jacob Summerlin, regarded as the cattle king of Florida, was reputed to be producing yearly several thousand head of stock. Under Sam Merlin’s supervision six hundred head of cattle a week made the forty-day drive from the Okeechobee-Kissimmee region to the railhead at Baldwin. "The herders started at dawn, rested the steers during the hottest hours of the day and continued in the cool evening. They operated under constant pressure, for delivery was usually possible only from April to August. High water in the fall prevented starting the trail in South Florida, while winter cold destroyed forage at the other end. The animals averaged almost 700 pounds when they started; by the end of the trek they had 'drifted' about 150 pounds."
In 1861-1863 Summerlin was reported to have sold the Confederacy 25,000 steers at eight dollars a head. In 1863 the collection of foodstuffs was centralized with the appointment of Major Pleasant W. White as commissary general of Florida. White, in turn, divided the state into districts with Captain James McKay of Tampa at the head of the south Florida district. McKay was the proprietor of several vessels that had been engaged in the Florida-West India trade. Under McKay's able direction the cattle drives continued to the end of the war.
General John K. Jackson, of the Southern army in Florida, reported in 1864 that "The most valuable portion of Florida is the Middle counties of the Peninsula-Alachua, Marion, and other counties in the vicinity. Its productive capacity is very great and the character of its supplies of inestimable value to the Confederacy. The sugar and syrup there produced cannot, I believe, be supplied by any other portion of the Confederacy. From official and other data I learn that the product of army supplies will amount annually to 25,000 head of beeves, ... 1,000 hogsheads of sugar; 100,000 gallons syrup, ... 10,000 hogs, ... 50,000 sides of leather, ... 100,000 barrels of fish (if labor is available .... ) Oranges, lemons, arrowroot, salt, blockade goods, iron, etc. Counting the bacon at one-third pound and beef and fish at one pound to the ration there are of meat rations 45,000,000-enough to supply 250,000 for six months."
Florida's part in feeding the soldiers of the Confederacy, a prime necessity to military success as Napoleon aptly pointed out, assumed larger proportions in the closing years of the war. Both rebels and Yankees realized the heavy stakes involved in this battle of supply, a fact that was made eminently apparent at the largest battle of the war, Olustee in 1864, when the federal forces were defeated in their one major attempt to cut this vital Confederate life-line.
The economic productivity of Florida was closely connected with the Confederate demands for manpower for the armed forces. The first conscription act, passed in April 1862, sought all able-bodied men between eighteen and forty-five, but as time passed other acts widened the age limits to those between fifteen and fifty. Even these later limits were disregarded as boys of fourteen and many men well past fifty volunteered for service. By 1864 practically all men able to bear arms were either in the Confederate service or organized into the militia of the home guard. The drainage of manpower was recognized in the enrollment of 17,000 names in the Confederate armies from Florida, 1,290 whites and 1,044 blacks in the Union army from Florida.
Thousands of small farmers and dozens of overseers left farm and plantation without able directorship. Many men in the lower economic brackets accepted. the role of serving as substitutes for men whose patriotism and pocketbook could afford the one to five thousand dollar price the substitutes were able to secure annually. As in every war many "noble patriots" suddenly discovered the unalterably essential character of their personality and talent to shoulder the burden of the terrible war effort on the home front. While men of strength and ability volunteered to the mortal danger and hardship of combat service their weaker brothers frantically sought substitutes or exemptions. Milton inferred that such men slept every night in their own beds and bragged on state rights, out of danger's way yet ever able to express their knowing opinion on the trouble with the war effort.
There was a scramble for substitutes or for the exempted positions in civil government; or as preachers, physicians, and teachers, and as skilled laborers, overseers, or salt-makers. Although the practice of conscription was abhorrent to Governor Milton as an adherent of the doctrine of States' Rights, the Florida executive was willing to waive the issue in view of the death struggle in which the central government was involved. Milton, therefore, urged Floridians subject to conscription to offer their services as volunteers "until liable to be made a conscript."
In comparison with the other Confederate states, the number of men exempt from military service in Florida was very small. In 1865 the number of official exemptions was less than 750. 237 were physically disabled, 153 overseers, 152 railway employees, 120 public officials, and 20 preachers. The men of Florida, in general, overwhelmingly responded to the call to defend the state and the new nation that was not to be. Not until the last two years of the war, when defeat seemed inevitable, was there any real opposition to "the cause" or much desertion from its standards.
Life on the home front during the four years of the war changed gradually from the rebellious joy at the time of secession to bleak despair with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee in April 1865. In many of the towns the scene changed, suddenly as in Pensacola, from one seething with military and civil activities to one of desolation and destitution: "the town appeared to be deserted. Grass was growing in the street and everything was wearing a sad and forlorn appearance." Many men had made the hard and momentous decision, like Edward Alysworth Perry, a native of Massachusetts but a resident of the South and Pensacola of only a few years. "His wife was a southerner and he had chosen to make his living in the South. Although it might mean fighting against his brothers, he volunteered his services to ... the State of his adoption."
Sentiment against those loyal to the United States ran high as Oliver D. Kinsman, division engineer on the Florida Railroad, found out in late January 1861. Kinsman, a native of Maine, was forcibly removed from a train at Bronson and when he stated that he was "On the Union side" was saved from lynching through the intercession of three friends who had rushed up from Cedar Key.
But after the original excitement subsided and the troops began leaving the state more and more attention was devoted to the collection of various materials, in short supply, for the use of the Confederate war effort.
The limited resources of the Confederate government made the clothing and arming of troops difficult in many cases. The state government gave all that could be mustered and called upon the citizenry for assistance. Ellen Call Long wrote: "Our women are most active and generous in lending their aid wherever needed. Many articles indispensable to the soldier are impossible to be purchased. Women ... have given carpets, piano-covers, blankets; all and everything that can be useful. ... Sewing societies have sprung up in every city, town and hamlet. No moment is idle-in the cars traveling, visiting, in the dark and in the light, the knitting needle is going perpetually to clothe the feet of our soldiers .... " Many companies were uniformed by the sewing societies in cloth of homespun. Even the legislature "in a moment of extreme patriotism, passed a joint resolution to send the carpets, used at the Capitol, to be used by Florida troops in the field for any use they deemed necessary."
A plea to the patriotic women of Florida came out on April 1, 1862. The women were asked to donate to a local treasurer what money, silver, and jewels they could. The Florida Sentinel noted that items already donated included: $5 and 2 silver forks; $2 and 1 pair of sugar tongs; 1 fork, 1 spoon, and 1 napkin ring.79 Catherine Hopley, the English tutor of Milton's children, wrote that: "At this time there was a perfect furore throughout the Confederacy for 'Ladies, gunboat funds.' Having supplied their soldiers with winter clothing, and used up all the flannels, cloths, and wools that were then procurable, in adding to their wants, their attention has turned to the gunboats. In Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Mobile, and Richmond, as well as other places, ladies were forming societies for this object. One saw columns and columns of names and subscriptions acknowledged in the papers. Those who had money gave it, those who had not, gave plate and jewelry; the wealthy not only gave money themselves, but purchased, by raffling, the gifts of others, so that thus double assistance was rendered to the object."
In the late spring of 1862 General P. G. T. Beauregard issued, what Catherine Hopley called, a "beautiful and pathetic appeal to the country to spare their church and plantation bells, to be molded into cannon .... It is scarcely necessary to state it met with ready response. Mrs. Milton, and all the people in our neighborhood, had their old bells, copper kettles, brass door knobs, lead and iron fragments collected, and forwarded to Columbus, Georgia .... " And the Tallahassee Florida Sentinel, of April 15, 1862, reported a resolution "that the Presbyterian Church in this city do now offer their Church Bell, weighing 955 lbs., to the Confederate Government when the materials of the same shall be needed for public defense."
The people of Florida possessed a leader in Milton whom General J. B. Floyd called "as noble a patriot as ever lived." To Milton the war was personal and intimate. The governor's slaves were used on defense fortifications and he often paid the expenses of his aides while on state business. "When sending donations which he had collected for the hospital in Richmond for Florida soldiers, Milton often enclosed his personal donations, sometimes as large as $1000 and the letters to be read to the sick and wounded about their homes.”
The federal blockade resulted in many shortages of articles only imported previously but there was no serious discomfort in the interior sections where there were willing hands to make substitutes for articles no longer available. Tea, coffee, and white sugar virtually disappeared although small supplies were hidden away for special occasions, or for the sick or sent to soldiers' hospitals. As substitutes, roasted wheat, rye, or sweet potatoes served for coffee and yupon or sassafras leaves were used for tea. Flour was imported from Georgia and Alabama to be exchanged for salt or fish. "The preparation of cakes and other delicacies called for ingenuity as well as skill. It was found that grinding corn meal a number of times, each grinding to be followed by rigid sifting and at last rubbing or pressing through a coarse woolen blanket would produce a soft light ingredient similar to flour in texture."
In the Manatee country high prices and scarcity of money encouraged larger crops of corn and potatoes along with cotton patches. Spinning wheels were used to make thread and some families had looms for weaving. Coloring of threads or homespun cloth was done with dyes made from the bark of hickory and mangrove trees. Cow, deer, and alligator hides were tanned and turned into shoes by cobblers in the community.
On the plantations the necessities of life were made by hand. Blacksmiths repaired the tools and those with a carpenter's bent fashioned articles from wood.
Thus, homespun clothes, homemade shoes, hats of palmetto and cornhusks, homemade candles and soap, and other articles carried the people through without the things imported before the war. At Sylvania, the Milton plantation, when the hogs were slaughtered "you could not look out of a door or window without beholding cart-loads of slaughtered pigs being carried to the yard to be cutup ... all sorts of appendages were strung upon lines to be dried, and a whole row of negroes were engaged in salting, packing and drying these portions of pigs .... " In the spring the plums and watermelons furnished fruit and melons for those who cultivated them while the abundance of vegetables brought "ten or twelve kinds on the table at once, several of which, such as okra, are peculiar to the South."
The newspapers of Florida gradually dropped their advertisements as the advertisers went to war and the shortages of paper forced reduction in size or in the case of many papers a suspension of publication. Newspapers carried articles in every issue on recipes for the home manufacture of soap, dye, vinegar, candles, and salt. In view of the shortage of medicine, the papers carried lists of roots and herbs that were needed for the army medical services. The army surgeons were badly handicapped by the lack of supplies. Quinine and morphine had to be smuggled through the federal lines or the blockade. In the spring of 1865 prices paid for commodities at the Lake City Hospital reveal the inflation of the times: eggs, $2.50 per dozen; tin pans, $15 each; whiskey, $125 a gallon; vinegar, $5 a gallon; milk, $ 1 a quart; $6 for a bottle of ink; and $5 for a pound of butter.
One of the major problems on the home front arose in the very early days of the war and continued until the surrender. It dealt with the necessary provisions for the dependents of the service men. In the first months the local citizenry tried to provide the support. Thus, when a volunteer company was formed at Pensacola "there was wanted 12 men to make out the requisite number. W. J. Norris was then a resident of Bluff Springs and wished to join the Guards but could leave no support for his family. I told him that if the relief committee did not provide for his family I would see that they were cared for until other and sufficient provisions were made. Accordingly I gave her credit at the provision store at Bluff Springs and she has got all that she called for. ... " When the federal forces moved into Fernandina, Jacksonville, St. Augustine and other settlements on the east coast most of the residents evacuated their homes and businesses and moved inland, where large numbers existed as refugees. Among these refugees were many soldiers' families. Governor Milton had promised to make provisions for the families of men leaving for the front. Through state action supplies of corn, syrup, potatoes, and peas along with bacon, pork, and beef were procured and distributed to these dependents. Nonetheless, if the few sources available are an indication of the contemporary situation there were many soldiers' dependents who subsisted through the last years of the war on the ragged edge of existence.
The legislature of 1862 appropriated $200,000 for the relief of the dependents of men in the armed forces, while the legislatures of 1863 and 1864 increased the amount to $500,000 annually. In addition, the legislature provided for the purchase and distribution of cotton and wool cards to be used in the home preparation of cotton and wool for spinning thread.
As the people who were residents of both coasts abandoned their homes with the advance of the Yankees and moved toward the interior the problem of caring for the refugees complicated the housing and supply problems. With few possessions and fewer resources there was much suffering. Many refugees settled with kinspeople while others were taken into private homes. In addition, the slaves of the refugees were moved to prevent their capture by the federal forces. Many slaves were transferred to plantations where their labor added some part to the production of foodstuffs and livestock.
The story of Margaret Fleming, mistress of Hibernia on the St. Johns, was but one of the thousands of heartache and suffering. When the war broke, Seton and Frank volunteered at once. In 1862, Lewis Fleming, her husband, died and the third son, Frederic, enlisted in the First Florida Cavalry at the age of fifteen. In 1863 William, the youngest son, enlisted at the age of thirteen. In 1864 Margaret received a blow over the heart when Seton was killed at Gettysburg. The climax was reached when Margaret fled the federal advance with three little girls walking toward Middleburg. From Middleburg, Margaret took her small brood to Lake City, where she worked in the hospital "to lighten the ever-increasing suffering, giving what comfort and help she could in a 'world gone bleak and comfortless for so many."
As the war drew towards the end, there was much bitterness in the hearts of those who had lost husbands, fathers, and brothers in action. Stricken in grief there were cries that the exempted serve in combat; that schools be closed, that there was a need for soldiers and fighters, not teachers and salt-makers. Yet "not all was sorrow," for "wedged in between these harsh and mournful occasions were little bits of joy and gladness inconsequential in scope, a husband home on furlough a brother or sweetheart perhaps a taffy pulling now and then a singing. Yes the people could still sing and every Sabbath found them faithful at the little church for worship .... There were days of fasting and prayer. These were rigidly observed. People prayed that the terrible ordeal would soon be over."
In the towns of the interior there was still some social gayety. The social tradition of the South, even in war-time, was such that parties and balls were often the order of the evening. When soldiers were in the community the military prestige of the uniforms added to the glamour that could be produced under tallow candles while dancing or partaking of such refreshments as could be conjured from behind the blockade. The ladies' dresses were remodeled from those of the pre-war wardrobes and even the dancing shoes perhaps hand-made. "For a little while, hearts were light-or seemed to be."
At Sylvania, the arrival of Milton's nephew, Major Milton Brown, from Texas, was the hour for "great doings" in the parlor. "The piano was giving forth the liveliest airs, while merry steps kept time to the music, and scarcely a day passed, that some other cousin did not arrive to add to the group. The girls were all excellent musicians, and there were two good pianos in the house, often both in use at the same time."
In the Manatee country a wedding at the glamorous Gamble Mansion at Christmas in 1862 was attended by most of the residents of that section. After the wedding and the wedding supper the furniture in the dining room was cleared away for dancing. "Henry Ware (Bud) was not yet of conscript age and was on hand as fiddler and prompter. Many of the guests, old and young, joined in the old square dance."
As for education in the war years, there remained but few schools at the end. Governor Milton was able to hire tutors for six of his ten children of school· age, and the little Miltons along with several other children of the planters in the neighborhood attended school in a large room across the yard from the plantation house. Captain Archibald McNeill, deputy commissary agent for Manatee County, hired Flora Ellen McLeod to reside with his wife at the Gamble Mansion as companion for his wife and teacher for their children. But the schools and academies at Ocala, Micanopy, Monticello, and other towns closed in the early years of the war.
Although the burden of the war fell heavily upon the men in combat, many of whom never returned to their homes, a heavier burden fell upon the women of the Confederacy who not only gave their sons and husbands to the "lost cause" but who stayed behind and "kept the home fires burning." Not only did the women of the Confederacy take charge of many of the farms and plantations, fell trees and roll logs, clear fields, and plant crops, plough and hoe, besides weaving, sewing, and cooking, but they also lived out the dreary days and sleepless nights waiting, waiting for news from the battlefront. Governor Milton paid homage to the women of Florida when he said that: "the brightest page in the future history of the Confederate States will distinguish the ladies of the South for their patriotism, courage and energy."
Catherine Hopley, the English teacher, observed that Mrs. Milton "with her ten children to work for, and her sewing machine out of repair, found it quite a task to keep the servants in order while the master was away ... what with her absent husband, the war and blockade, Mrs. Milton's life was no sinecure."
In Florida women joined in the efforts to establish hospitals at Lake City, Monticello, and Tallahassee for the sick and wounded. Through the work of Governor Milton, who with others was moved by the sad condition of the Florida troops in Richmond, a Florida Hospital was established. Later a ward in the Howard Grove Hospital at Richmond was assigned for the Florida sick and wounded. Mrs. Martha M. Reid, widow of Governor Robert R. Reid, served as matron of the Florida Hospital, while Mrs. Elizabeth Harris served as superintendent of the hospital for the western army. The names of these ladies, and others, are "held in reverence" for their "noble service to the sick and wounded."
As the last year of the war slowly wore on the strength of the Confederacy gradually ebbed away. Corn, meat, and salt were scarce; livestock had been impressed for the army; grim desolation held the occupied areas. Each day brought new disaster; a century of sorrow was crowded into a year. "The intermittent· post brought news of dead, dead, dead, until the very world seemed dying beneath the eyes of Florida's simple population .... The women at home, sad-eyed and poverty stricken" waited for the nightmare of misery to end. Thus, on a visit to the Whitaker homestead on Sarasota Bayou predatory Union bushwhackers ransacked the place and called for matches to set the house on fire. "Without arguing, Mary Whitaker went into the house and returned with a block of matches ... and with a calmness not altogether pretense she handed it to the commanding officer and said: 'Sir, I want to look into the eyes of a man who can stoop so low as to burn the home of a helpless Woman and her children.' ·"
Another segment of Florida society which, in its way, aided the southern fight for national independence was the Negro. At the time of secession roughly a half of Florida's population was composed of members of the black race of whom virtually all were slaves. At the outset the untutored may well wonder why the slave population of the South did not seek its freedom as the white population was engaged in a war to the death. The answer is generally found in the fact that American Negro slavery had become the greatest school for civilizing a race of barbaric savages that the world has ever known. From the day that the first African was introduced into North America the education and training of the Negro in the culture and folklore of Western Civilization began. Over the centuries as new slaves were introduced into the American environment this civilizing and educating process went on and was handed from generation to generation, to the extent that Castelnau, visiting the raw frontier of Middle Florida in 1838, could record the slaves' comment on the free Negro: "poor fellow," they say, "he has no master." The mass of the southern slaves were well-fed, well-housed, well-treated, well-watched, and well-controlled. The mass of the slaves were content; Whipple, Bryant, and other northern visitors to Florida were convinced that, in reality, the master was the slave!
At the outbreak of the war the slave patrol laws were strengthened, but by 1 864 over four-fifths of the ablebodied white males were in the armed services so that the enforcement of the patrol is doubtful. As has already been pointed out, the very large majority of the slaves in 1860 were in the seven plantation counties, and none of these counties were invaded by the federals until the last year of the war. The federal occupation of the east coast from Fernandina to St. Augustine, Cedar Key, Tampa, Ft. Myers, and Pensacola on the Gulf coast enabled some Negro slaves to cross the federal lines to freedom, but most of the slaves had been moved inland.
By the last year of the war, at Hibernia, "there were fewer and fewer 'hands' on the plantation, more neglected fields, fewer house servants. The slaves had almost all run away, with the exception of Mum Betty and Oldjuly." Yet when Frederic Fleming returned after the war an old family slave, living in the quarters, was the first person to greet the ex-soldier. In the Manatee country a number of Negro slaves were enticed away by Union sympathizers; but at Jacksonville in 1862 the federal plan to secure slaves for black regiments was a failure.
The Negro troops which wore service uniforms in Florida were all members of companies recruited from former slaves in Florida and the other southern states; the Confederacy was about to induct the slaves when the war ended. There is no doubt that federal raiding parties would have penetrated the interior areas of the state on protracted slave hunts had the Yankees not been stopped by the cavalry of John Jackson Dickison in East Florida and the "Cow Cavalry" of Charles J. Munnerlyn in South Florida.
Within the areas occupied by the federal forces the presence of Negroes gave the Yankees many opportunities to practice the program of freedom which the abolitionists had been preaching in the antebellum years. In 1864 the Freedman's Aid Society, with help from the army, had opened common schools for the Negroes with women teachers from the North. At Jacksonville the school was also open to white children, but by the end of the year the schools were closed.
After 1862 the problem of the legal status of the slaves of "loyal" Floridians as' opposed to "captured" slaves was finally settled on the basis that blacks that belonged to the "loyals" were still slaves; those of the "disloyal" were "free captives of war" when within the occupied areas. The emancipation proclamation which affected slaves in the rebellious states finally settled the provocative question.