Thursday, August 28, 2008

Natural Bridge Battlefield re-opens to public

The Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park near Woodville (south of Tallahassee) is once again open to the public. The park was closed a couple of days ago due to river flooding on the St. Marks River from Tropical Storm Fay.

As of today, most of the parks and historic sites in Florida are once again open to the public. Here is the current list of closed parks from the Department of Environmental Protection:

State Parks Closed (2)

Hontoon Island State Park
2309 River Ridge Road
Deland, Florida 32720

Kissimmee Prairie
33104 N.W. 192nd Avenue
Okeechobee, Florida 34972

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Natural Bridge Battlefield closes due to flooding


The torrential rains that fell in the Tallahassee area over the weekend from Tropical Storm Fay are having an impact on one of Florida's most important Civil War sites.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced today that Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park has been temporarily closed due to flooding.
The park is located along the banks of the St. Marks River and was the scene of the last significant Southern victory of the Civil War. A force of Confederate regulars, reservists, cadets and home guards turned back a Union assault force here on March 6, 1865, preserving Tallahassee's status as the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi River not conquered by Federal troops. The battle also protected the infrastructure and economy of a large region of North Florida and South Georgia.
To learn more about the battle, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nbindex.
The Tallahassee area received massive amounts of rain due to Tropical Storm Fay, with some areas reporting more than 20 inches as the system moved slowly across the region. That water is forcing the St. Marks and other area streams out of their banks and has led to the closing of the battlefield.
I'll let you know when the DEP announces its reopening.

Monday, August 25, 2008

San Marcos de Apalache reopens to public


Most of the Florida state parks that closed due to Tropical Storm Fay have now reopened. The last significant Civil War site still closed was San Marcos de Apalache in St. Marks, Florida. The state Department of Environmental Protection announced today, however, that San Marcos is once again open.
The site was the location of historic Spanish fortifications dating back to the 1600s and also preserves the earthwork remains of Fort Ward, a Confederate defense never captured by Union troops despite repeated efforts to do so. The fort was a key target during the Natural Bridge campaign in march of 1865.
Here is the latest list of state park facilities still closed in Florida as a result of the storm:
State Park Closures (7)

Hontoon Island State Park
2309 River Ridge Road
Deland, Florida 32720

Lafayette Blue Springs State Park
799 NW Blue Springs Road
Mayo, Florida 32066

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
3540 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32309

Kissimmee Prairie
33104 N.W. 192nd Avenue
Okeechobee, Florida 34972

Madison Blue Spring State Park
8300 N.E. State Road 6
Lee, Florida 32059

Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park
13802 Pumpkin Hill Road
Jacksonville, Florida 32226

Troy Springs State Park
674 N.E. Troy Springs Road
Branford, Florida 32008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay Update

Tropical Storm Fay is now causing a severe impact on much of the state of Florida as well as the southern halves of both Alabama and Georgia. If you are planning to travel to the area, please update yourself on the latest weather information.

Flights and highways are being affected and, to be honest, things are just a mess (due mostly to unbelievable amounts of rain). Some areas near Tallahassee are reporting nearly 22 inches of rain in the last 36 hours, Perry is reporting 18 inches and rain is now spreading throughout the region.

The Jackson County Times in Marianna is offering good updates on its website along with links to a variety of types of information on the storm. To visit them, just click here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Civil War in Panama City - Part Six


Continuing our look at the Civil War in and around Panama City, Florida, this is the marker for the St. Andrew Skirmish. This small but bloody encounter took place on the shore of St. Andrew Bay near the heart of what is now downtown Panama City.
The incident took place on March 20, 1863, when a party of Union sailors approached the abandoned village of St. Andrew in a launch mounted with a single brass howitzer. Nine men and an officer came ashore, leaving two additional sailors to guard the boat.

The Federals were not aware, however, that a company of Confederate troops under Captain Walter J. Robinson were then hidden in the vicinity watching their movements. As the Union seamen moved away from their boat, Robinson and his men moved forward and advanced to within 75 yards of their enemy before they were seen. The captain ordered the Federals to surrender, but instead they broke and ran for their boat.
The captain ordered his men to open fire and they unleashed a fierce volley on the Union sailors. Several men fell immediately, but the others continued to flee to their boat. Robinson and his men pursued, charging down to the water's edge where they targeted the two remaining sailors that were trying to bring their artillery piece to bear on the Confederate force. Both sailors were wounded and the cannon never fired.
It became obvious that there was no hope of escape, so the men on the boat lowered their flag and asked for quarter. Robinson agreed and ordered his men to cease fire. Contrary to the rules of war observed at the time, however, the Union men in the boat rescued several of their wounded comrades and then rowed away across the bay instead of surrendering as promised. An infuriated Robinson ordered his men to resume fire and at least one man sustained additional wounds.
The brief skirmish was a dramatic Confederate victory. Robinson captured a Union flag, 4 weapons, 3 cartridge boxes, 3 bayonets and one pair of oars.
The boat party, commanded by Acting Master James Folger from the U.S.S. Roebuck, sustained a loss of 6 killed and 3 wounded. The dead were buried on nearby Hurricane Island, but the bodies were removed after the war to Barrancas National Cemetery near Pensacola.
Robinson's company later became Company A of the 11th Florida Infantry when that regiment was organized. He and his men were praised by General P.G.T. Beauregard for their "soldierly conduct" and "resolute courage."
Our series on the Civil War in Panama City, Florida will continue.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

State Park Closings Update - Tropical Storm Fay

Here's the latest information from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on state park closings in Florida due to Tropical Storm Fay. The storm continues to create problems in Florida, so if you are planning to travel make sure to check the latest weather information. You can see regularly updated video reports on storm conditions at www.jacksoncountytimes.net.

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the closure and re-opening of several state recreation areas, preserves and district offices on Thursday, August 21. Closed facilities will remain closed until further notice due to imminent weather conditions.

Regulatory District Office Closed (1)

DEP Northeast District Office
7825 Baymeadows Way, Suite B200
Jacksonville, Florida 32256

Regulatory District Office Re-opening (1)

DEP Southeast District Branch Office
1801 SE Hilmoor Drive, Suite C-204
Port St. Lucie, Florida 34952

State Parks Re-opening (8)

Anastasia State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
1340-A State Road A1A South
St. Augustine, Florida 32080

Fort Pierce Inlet State Park
905 Shorewinds Drive
Ft. Pierce, Florida 34949

Faver-Dykes State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
1000 Faver-Dykes Road
St. Augustine, Florida 32086

Fort Clinch State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
2601 Atlantic Avenue
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034

Talbot Island State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
12157 Heckscher Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32226

Collier-Seminole State Park
20200 E. Tamiami Trail
Naples, Florida 34114

Highlands Hammock State Park
5931 Hammock Road
Sebring, Florida 33872

Long Key State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
67400 Overseas Highway
Long Key, Florida 33001

State Park Closures (5)
(Includes 2 New Closures *)

Gamble Rogers State Park
3100 S. State Road A1A
Flagler Beach, Florida 32136

Kissimmee Prairie
33104 N.W. 192nd Avenue
Okeechobee, Florida 34972

Tomoka State Park
2099 North Beach Street
Ormond Beach, Florida 32174

*Bulow Creek State Park
3351 Old Dixie Highway
Ormond Beach, Florida 32174

*Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park
County Road 2001
Flagler Beach, Florida

Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) Re-opening (1)

Southeast Aquatic Preserves Office
3300 Lewis Street
Ft. Pierce, Florida 34981

Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) Closures (3)
(Includes 1 New Closure *)

*Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
and Environmental Learning Center
505 Guana River Road
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32082

East Central Florida Aquatic Preserves
3783 North Indian River Drive
Cocoa, Florida 32926

Northeast Aquatic Preserves Office
13802 Pumpkin Hill Road
Jacksonville, Florida 32226

Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) Closures (5)
(Includes 2 Re-Closures *)

Cross Florida Greenway
Buckman Lock Visitor Center
200 Buckman Lock Road
Palatka, Florida 32177

Cross Florida Greenway
Rodman Campground
410 Rodman Road
Palatka, Florida 32177

Cross Florida Greenway
Santos Campground
3080 SE 80th Street
Ocala, Florida 34491

*Cross Florida Greenway
Sharpes Ferry Office
8282 SE Hwy 314
Ocala, Florida 34470

*Van Fleet State Trail Office
7500 Bay Lake Road
Groveland, Florida 34736

For additional information, visit www.dep.state.fl.us or www.floridadisaster.org.

Fort Clinch State Park impacted by Tropical Storm Fay

The campground at Fort Clinch State Park is now closed because of continuing weather-related problems from Tropical Storm Fay. The storm continues to have a major impact on Florida, so if you are planning to travel in the area this week, make sure to check the latest weather reports.

Here is the latest update on state park closings from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection:

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the closure and re-opening of several state recreation areas, preserves and district offices on Wednesday, August 20. Closed facilities will remain closed until further notice due to imminent weather conditions.

Regulatory District Offices Closed (2):

DEP Northeast District Office
7825 Baymeadows Way, Suite B200
Jacksonville, Florida 32256

DEP Southeast District Branch Office
1801 SE Hilmoor Dr., Suite C-204
Port St. Lucie, Florida 34952

State Parks Re-opening (35):

Alafia River State Park
14326 South County Road 39
Lithia, Florida 33547

Cayo Costa State Park
Located directly south of Boca Grande
Boca Grande, Florida 33921

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park
12301 Burnt Store Road
Punta Gorda, Florida 33955

Collier-Seminole State Park – Day Use Only
20200 E. Tamiami Trail
Naples, Florida 34114

Delnor Wiggins State Park
11135 Gulf Shores Drive
Naples, Florida 34108

Don Pedro Island State Park
Boating location is Nautical Waterproof Chart #25
Intercoastal Waterway sign guides visitors to the park
Boca Grande, Florida 33821

Estero Bay Preserve State Park
Located near Estero between Ft. Myers and Naples
Estero, Florida 33928

Fakahatchee Strand State Park
137 Coastline Drive
Copeland, Florida

Gasparilla Island State Park
880 Belcher Road
Boca Grande, Florida 33821

Hillsborough River State Park
15402 US 301 N
Thonotosassa, Florida 33592

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
3109 E. Sunrise Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33304

Koreshan State Park
U.S. 41 at Corkscrew Road
Estero, Florida 33928

Lake Manatee State Park
20007 SR 64
Bradenton, Florida 34202

Little Manatee River State Park
215 Lightfoot Road
Wimauma, Florida 33598

Lovers Key State Park
8700 Estero Blvd.
Ft. Myers Beach, Florida 33931

Mound Key State Park
Located several miles by boat from Lovers Key State Park or Koreshan State Park
Estero, Florida 33928

Myakka River State Park
13208 State Road 72
Sarasota, Florida 34241

Oscar Scherer State Park
1843 S. Tamiami Trail
Osprey, Florida 34229

Paynes Creek State Park
888 Lake Branch Road
Bowling Green, Florida 33834

Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
4905 34th Street South, #5000
St. Petersburg, Florida 33711

Stump Pass Beach State Park
Located at the end of Manasota Key off I-75, exit 191
Englewood, Florida

Atlantic Ridge State Park
16450 SE Federal Highway
Hobe Sound, Florida 33455

Avalon State Park
905 Shorewinds Drive
Ft. Pierce, Florida 34949

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
1200 S. Crandon Blvd.
Key Biscayne, Florida 33149

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
County Road 905
Key Largo, Florida 33037

Indian Key Historic State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5
Islamorada, Florida 33036

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
10900 State Road 703 A1A
North Palm Beach, Florida 33408

John U. Lloyd Beach State Park
6503 N. Ocean Drive
Dania Beach, Florida 33004

Jonathan Dickinson State Park – River Campground Closed
16450 SE Federal Hwy.
Hobe Sound, Florida 33455

Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5
Islamorada, Florida 33036

Oleta River State Park
3400 NE 163rd Street
N. Miami, Florida 33160

Seabranch Preserve State Park
State Road A1A near the VFW parking lot
Stuart, Florida 34997

St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park
4810 SE Cove Rd.
Stuart, Florida 34997

The Barnacle Historic State Park
3485 Main Hwy.
Coconut, Grove, Florida 33133

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5
Islamorada, Florida 33036

State Parks Closed (9):

Fort Clinch State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
2601 Atlantic Avenue
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

Talbot Island State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
12157 Heckscher Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32226

Kissimmee Prairie State Park
33104 NW 192nd Avenue
Okeechobee, Florida 34972

Gamble Rogers State Park
3100 S. State Road A1A
Flagler Beach, Florida 32136

Tomoka State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
2099 North Beach Street
Ormond Beach, FL 32174

Faver-Dykes State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
1000 Faver-Dykes Road
St. Augustine, FL 32086

Anastasia State Park – Day Use Open; Campground is Closed
1340-A State Road A1A South
St. Augustine, FL 32080

Highlands Hammock State Park
5931 Hammock Road
Sebring, FL 33872

Fort Pierce Inlet State Park
905 Shorewinds Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34949

Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas Closed (3):

East Central Florida Aquatic Preserves
3783 North Indian River Drive
Cocoa, FL 32926

Northeast Aquatic Preserves Office
13802 Pumpkin Hill Road
Jacksonville, FL 32226

Southeast Aquatic Preserves Office
3300 Lewis Street
Ft. Pierce, FL 34981

Greenways and Trails Re-opening (5):

Cross Florida Greenway
Sharpes Ferry Office
8282 SE Hwy 314
Ocala, Florida 34470

Cross Florida Greenway
Inglis Lock Office
20751 SE 90th Avenue
Inglis, Florida 34449

Withlacoochee State Trail Office
315 N Apopka
Inverness, Florida 34450

Nature Coast State Trail Office
22 SE 2nd Avenue
Chiefland, Florida 32693

Van Fleet State Trail Office
7500 Bay Lake Road
Groveland, Florida 34736

Greenways and Trails Closed (3):

Cross Florida Greenway
Buckman Lock Visitor Center
200 Buckman Lock Road
Palatka, Florida 32177

Cross Florida Greenway
Rodman Campground
410 Rodman Road
Palatka, Florida 32177

Cross Florida Greenway
Santos Campground
3080 SE 80th Street
Ocala, Florida 34491

For more information, visit www.dep.state.fl.us or www.floridadisaster.org.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Civil War sites among parks closing in Florida due to Tropical Storm

Fort Taylor in Key West and the Judah P. Benjamin State Park in Ellenton are among the dozens of state parks that closed in Florida as of 5 p.m. today due to the arrival of tropical storm conditions in the southern third of the state.

I'm including the latest list from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection below. If you plan to travel in Florida, please stay up to date on weather conditions and do not take risks. Tropical systems can be extremely dangerous to both lives and property.

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the closure of several state parks, preserves and district offices as of 5 p.m. until further notice due to imminent weather conditions.

Closed parks, preserves and offices include:

Regulatory District Offices (4):

South District Fort Myers Office
2295 Victoria Avenue
Ft. Myers, Florida 33901

South District Marathon Branch Office
2796 Overseas Highway, Suite 221
Marathon, Florida 33050

South District Sebring Satellite Office
2812 Kenilworth Blvd.
Sebring Florida 33870

Southwest District Office
13051 North Telecom Parkway
Temple Terrace, FL 33637-0926

State Parks Closed (41):

Bahia Honda State Park
36850 Overseas Hwy.
Big Pine Key, Florida 33043

Curry Hammock State Park
56200 Overseas Hwy.
Marathon, Florida 33050

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
County Road 905
Key Largo, Florida 33037

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
300 Truman Annex
Key West, Florida 33041

Indian Key Historic State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5
Islamorada, Florida 33036

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 102.5
Key Largo, Florida 33037

Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5
Islamorada, Florida 33036

Long Key State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 67.5
Long Key, Florida, 33001

San Pedro Underwater Archeological State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5
Islamorada, Florida 33036

Windly Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5
Islamorada, Florida 33036

Honeymoon Island State Park
#1 Causeway Blvd
Dunedin, Florida 34698

Caladesi Island State Park
#1 Causeway Blvd
Dunedin, Florida 34698

Anclote Key State Park
#1 Causeway Blvd
Dunedin, Florida 34698

Egmont Key State Park
4905 34th Street S., #5000
Dunedin, Florida 34698

Cayo Costa State Park
880 Belcher Road
Boca Grande, Florida 33921

Oscar Scherer State Park
1843 S. Tamiami Trail
Osprey, Florida 34229

Fakahatchee State Park
137 Coastline Drive
Copeland, Florida

Delnor Wiggins State Park
11135 Gulf Shores Drive
Naples, Florida 34108

Lovers Key State Park
8700 Estero Blvd.
Ft. Myers Beach, Florida 33931

Koreshan State Park
3800 Corkscrew Road
Estero, Florida 33928

Mound Key State Park
3800 Corkscrew Road
Estero, Florida 33928

Little Manatee Rive State Park
215 Lightfoot Road
Wimauma, Florida 33598

Myakka River State Park
13208 State Road 72.
Sarasota, Florida 34241

Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
#1 Causeway Blvd.
Dunedin, Florida 34698

Terra Ceia Preserve State Park
3708 Patton Ave.
Ellenton, Florida 34222

Madira Bickel Mound State Park
3708 Patton Ave.
Ellenton, Florida 34222

Judah P. Benjamin State Park
3708 Patton Ave.
Ellenton, Florida 34222

Lake Manatee State Park
20007 SR 64
Bradenton, Florida 34202

Beker State Park
3708 Patton Ave.
Ellenton, Florida 34222

Stump Pass Beach State Park
880 Belcher Road
Boca Grande, Florida 33821

Don Pedro Island State Park
880 Belcher Road
Boca Grande, Florida 33821

Gasparilla Island State Park
880 Belcher Road
Boca Grande, Florida 33821

Collier-Seminole State Park
20200 E. Tamiami Trail
Naples, Florida 34114

Estero Bay Preserve State Park
3800 Corkscrew Road
Estero, Florida 33928

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
3109 E. Sunrise Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33304

John U. Lloyd Beach State Park
6503 N. Ocean Drive
Dania Beach, Florida 33004

Oleta River State Park
3400 NE 163rd Street
N. Miami, Florida 33160

The Barnacle Historic State Park
3485 Main Hwy.
Coconut, Grove, Florida 33133

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
1200 S. Crandon Blvd.
Key Biscayne, Florida 33149

St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park
4810 SE Cove Rd.
Stuart, Florida 34997

Jonathan Dickinson State Park- Campground Closed
16450 SE Federal Hwy.
Hobe Sound, Florida 33455

Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (6):

Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve and Coral Reef Conservation Program:
1277 NE 79th Street Causeway
Miami, Florida 33138

Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves Office
12301 Burnt Store Road
Punta Gorda, Florida 33955

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve
700-1 Fishermans Wharf
Ft. Myers Beach, Florida 33931

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
33 East Quay Road
Key West, FL 33040
and
95230 Overseas Hwy.
Key Largo, Florida 33037

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
300 Tower Road
Naples, Florida 34113

Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve Office
130 Terra Ceia Road
Terra Ceia, Florida 34250

For more information on state park closures, visit www.floridastateparks.org. For additional information, visit www.dep.state.fl.us or www.floridadisaster.org.

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

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Civil War in Panama City - Part Four


From 1862 through 1865, the U.S. Navy engaged in repeated attempts to halt the massive Confederate saltmaking operations at St. Andrew Bay.
These efforts consisted of raids into the bay, usually by crews of sailors in small boats. Sometimes they would fire artillery at the saltworks dotting the shoreline of the network of saltwater bays around present-day Panama City. Other times they would come ashore and break up the works using hammers and mauls.
Many of these attacks were launched from the U.S.S. Restless, a bark assigned by the Union navy to enforce the blockade of St. Andrew Bay. When the vessel began her operations against the saltworks, as many as 2,500 men from Florida, Georgia and Alabama were engaged in making salt along the bay, especially around the perimiter of West Bay.
In December of 1863, Acting Master W.R. Browne commenced a second major assault on the saltworks, destroying an estimated 290 installations valued at over $3,000,000 in 1863 dollars.
Despite its massive size and success, the operation did not end saltmaking on the bay. The Confederates rebuilt as soon as the Federals pulled back from the interior of the bay and the saltmaking in the St. Andrew Bay area continued until the end of the war.
Our series on the Civil War in the Panama City area will continue.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Civil War in Panama City - Part Three


Resuming our series on the Civil War in and around Panama City, Florida, this unique artifact is a surviving Confederate salt kettle.
Now on display in a small park off Beach Drive near downtown Panama City, the kettle is one of the few surviving such artifacts still found in an area that was a major source of salt for the Confederacy.
From 1861 - 1865, particularly beginning in 1862, St. Andrew Bay and the adjoining waters produced thousands of tons of badly needed salt for the Confederate war effort. Florida, Alabama and Georgia were major sources of beef and pork for the Confederate armies and salt from the area was a vital component in preserving meat for use by the soldiers in the field.
At one point, hundreds of men were engaged in operating saltworks that stretched for miles along the shores of the bay. The Union navy constantly raided these operations, but the salt they produced was so badly needed that they were rebuilt and returned to service almost immediately.
In the next posting in this series, we'll take a closer look at some specific actions against the St. Andrew Bay saltworks.

Monday, August 4, 2008

International Attention for Marianna Battlefield


I'll pick back up with my delayed series on Civil War sites in the Panama City tomorrow, but I wanted to resume posting today with a fascinating story about Florida's Marianna battlefield.
Over the weekend, a group of more than 60 U.S. and international military officers spent three hours touring the scene of the Battle of Marianna to learn about tactics, strategy, etc. It was the largest organized tour of the scene by modern military personnel in history.
The group traveled down from Fort Rucker, Alabama, as part of the U.S. Army's "Strength through Allies" program. Most were from Central and South America and had spent some time studying the battle prior to the tour.
The Battle of Marianna was fought on September 17, 1864, at the culmination of the deepest Union penetration of Florida during the Civil War. Asboth's raid against Marianna actually covered more distance than Sherman's March to the Sea and resulted in the most significant damage to Confederate infrastructure experienced in Florida. Census data indicates that it took four Northwest Florida counties more than 50 years to recover from the economic losses sustained during the raid.
If you would like to learn more about the Battle of Marianna, please visit www.battleofmarianna.net. Also please consider my book on the top, available for purchase online by clicking here.