Saturday, August 16, 2008
Civil War in Panama City - Part Five
This sleek and beautiful Civil War steamer was originally the blockade runner Florida (not to be confused with the C.S.S. Florida, a famed Southern warship).
Built in New York just before the war, the Florida was one of the finest vessels afloat in the Gulf of Mexico when the blockade began.
Seized by the Confederate government while in port at New Orleans, she was sent out through the Union blockade with a cargo of cotton. The Florida successfully carried its shipment to Havana, Cuba.
In March of 1862, the Florida returned to the Confederacy, this time carrying a cargo of arms and ammunition. Slipping into St. Andrew Bay, she steamed around to a point near the mouth of Bear Creek where the desperately needed arms and other suppies were offloaded and carried to Marianna by ox cart for distribution to other points.
Efforts then immediately began to provide her with another load of cotton for shipment out through the blockade. In one of the more daring naval raids to take place in St. Andrew Bay, however, a boat party from the U.S.S. Reckless moved against the Florida on April 9, 1862.
Coming in under cover of darkness, the sailors boarded the steamer and seized her before the crew could organize much of a defense. They then took her back through the bay, despite issues with shoals and shallow waters, and after a significant struggle with navigation finally got her out of the bay.
Converted to a warship by the Union navy, she became the U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson and spent the rest of the war enforcing the Union blockade. In March of 1865 she was one of the Union vessels that took part in the Natural Bridge campaign.
The Hudson returned to civilian use after the war, but was lost near Havana, Cuba on November 13, 1867.
Our series on the war in and around Panama City, Florida will continue