A blog by Southern writer and historian Dale Cox, Civil War Florida shares information on and discusses the events of the Civil War in Florida. Topics of interest include troops, battles, skirmishes, campaigns, raids, forts, naval actions, ships, soldiers, officers, books and historic sites.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Death of Colonel Carraway Smith, 1868
While doing some research on a different topic, I found this brief notice in the August 6, 1868, issue of the Tallahassee Sentinel:
Col. Carraway Smith, of Madison, died on Wednesday, 29th inst. Col. Smith commanded a regiment of Florida cavalry during the war in the Confederate service, and was at one time temporarily in command of the District of Florida. He was the commander of the cavalry at the battle of Natural Bridge.
So ended the life of a well-known Florida officer.
As the Sentinel noted, Colonel Smith had been on the field at the Battle of Natural Bridge, although his cavalry regiment actually fought as infantry there.
The story of his command of the 2nd Florida Cavalry (C.S.) was one of steady determination. His regiment, along with the 5th Florida Cavalry, was one of the few commands left to protect Florida after authorities in Richmond pulled virtually all of the regular infantry from the state. For the most part, Smith and the 2nd Florida fought in scattered skirmishes across the state as individual companies from the regiment moved here and there trying to scout the coastlines and protect the interior.
On two notable occassions, however, the 2nd Florida took the field in strong (although not complete) force. The first of these major fights was the Battle of Olustee, fought between Jacksonville and Lake City on February 20, 1864. Smith received some criticism after Olustee because his regiment did not effectively pursue the rapidly retreating Union army. In truth, though, Smith's men were mounted on less than desirable horses and were woefully short of equipment.
Natural Bridge Battlefield
The second major fight involving a large portion of the 2nd Florida Cavalry was the Battle of Natural Bridge, fought south of Tallahassee on March 6, 1865. In that battle, one of the last significant Confederate victories of the war, Colonel Smith and his men arrived on the field in the afternoon after having come by train and on foot from East Florida. Arriving just after the last Union attack had been thrown back, the 2nd Florida was pushed forward in an attack across the St. Marks River on the Union forces. The men fought bravely at Natural Bridge and once the Federals began to retreat, Smith and his men drove them so hard they fell back to the Gulf of Mexico in a single day.