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“The Story of Florida’s Confederate Cow Cavalry”

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by CSA Today, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. CSA Today

    CSA Today Major

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    In another thread much was said by another poster that the greed of Florida farmers led to much privation and hunger in the Confederate army. Actually Florida was a major provider of food to the Confederate army – primarily beef. It was Florida not Texas that furnished the most beef to the Confederate armies – especially in the eastern theatre.

    http://www.floridareenactorsonline.com/cowcav.htm


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  3. 20thncarolina

    20thncarolina Corporal

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    Great read, thanks for posting. IIRC the quality of the beef left something to be desired, could be wrong.
  4. CSA Today

    CSA Today Major

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    You are probably right, the Florida cattle were range fed and then driven to market much in the same way as later western cattle drives, but the typical Florida drive would in all likelihood been a good bit shorter. The resulting Florida beef product, like the western one of the day, was likely lean, stringy and tough.

    “While I am able for service I intend to stand by the cause while a banner floats to tell where freedom’s sons still supports her cause.”

    Major Walter Clark of the North Carolina Junior Reserve Brigade in a letter to his mother
  5. CSA Today

    CSA Today Major

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    The last glow of the setting sun falls on a cattle drive through Florida pines. The trail leads to a marshy bank, and in the distance is the silhouette of a train, pulled slowly by a regiment of soldiers. A Civil War drum in the foreground is a reminder of the call to war-and the bullet holes in its shell-of the cost. This is the 1860s.

    Conflicts with native tribes had been subdued, and the pathway for pioneers was clear. Land grants and recent statehood attracted families searching for a new start. Most were poor, and eked out a living by subsistence farming and cow hunting.

    Pasture land was scarce and expensive, so cattle were allowed to freely roam and graze, later to be captured. Cow hunters seasonally searched out their cattle, branded them, and sorted out the calves. The hardy breed of cow introduced by the Spanish formed the foundation for the cattle industry that eventually became a major economic force in Florida.

    Florida was a very recent member of the American Union, and seemed on its way to becoming another southern cotton state. As the country struggled to abolish slavery, the state's influential planters, who relied on slave labor, resisted. In 1861, following the lead of Mississippi and South Carolina, Florida seceded from the Union-joining the Confederate States of America when it was formed shortly afterward.

    The state prepared for a short war, expecting little Northern challenge. The least populous Confederate state, Florida provided 15,000 men to the southern war effort, most fighting far from home, leaving women, children, and the elderly to carry on in the pioneer environment. Florida also contributed critical supplies-including salt, beef, pork, and cotton. Battles within the state were mainly small raids on salt operations or cotton supply boats en route to Cuba, led by the Union troops who occupied many coastal towns and forts.

    Florida's largest battle-the Battle of Olustee-took place in an area near Ocean Pond in 1864. Union soldiers attempted to cut off the cattle route near Lake City. They were defeated, and in retreat toward Jacksonville, they placed wounded men on flatbed railroad cars. When the train broke down, the 54th Massachusetts regiment came to its aid, pulling the engine and four cars for five miles. Some of these soldiers were escaped Florida slaves, and all were lauded for this heroic deed.

    The war had taken a heavy toll by 1865, and Floridians longed for peace. Yet in March, a final Union incursion that threatened Tallahassee was thwarted by Confederate troops and local militia, including a company of cadets from West Florida Seminary (a predecessor of Florida State University) in a battle at Natural Bridge. Tallahassee was the only southern capital east of the Mississippi uncaptured at the war's end a month later.


    http://www.christopherstill.com/mural_reflecting_on_ocean_pond.htm
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  6. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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  7. Red Harvest

    Red Harvest 2nd Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

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    The lack of rail connection at the outset of the war was a major problem for the beef transfer. The Union navy controlled the coasts and islands greatly restricting salt production with raids. There were also a number of Union families that fled to the protection of Union held zones along the coasts. Union forces were raised from them.

    West Floridians were known as "gophers" before the war as they supplied gopher tortoises (from the pine, palmetto, and wiregrass regions) to sailors in trade.
  8. damYankee

    damYankee Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    The Texas cattle industry didn't take off until after war with the development of the rail system into Kansas and the famous Chisholm Trail was established in 1867.
  9. MarylandLine

    MarylandLine Sergeant

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    Good article CSA today.

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