The Navy’s Great Salt Raids (including map showing US Navy shore raids)

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Belle Montgomery

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“Salt works are as plentiful in Florida as blackbirds in a rice field.”
–New York Herald January 5, 1864


Salt no longer has the importance today as it had until the advent of refrigeration. For centuries it was crucial for the preservation of meat and fish, in packing cheese and eggs, and in the preserving of hides. It was worth so much in ancient times that part of the Roman soldier’s pay was “salarium” or salt for their families. This is where the word salary is derived from and the old term, “worth his salt” originated.

During the Civil War, salt was a critical item for both sides of the conflict, and in the South, salt workers were exempt from military service. Salt for the South was produced in Saltville Virginia, Manchester Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. The Kentucky and West Virginia salt producing areas were lost to the South early in the war and later the Louisiana salt was cutoff from the Confederacy. The Saltville works and a substantial works in Morehead City, North Carolina escaped destruction during the war.

Much of the salt for the South during the last half of the war came from the extensive salt works along Florida’s Gulf coast. There Florida residents and many people from Alabama established salt works along the coast, from Choctawhatchee Bay Florida, to Tampa Bay. The government of Florida passed a resolution in December of 1862, giving citizens of other states the permission to produce salt along the Gulf Coast of Florida. They were organized into companies and given arms and ammunition to protect themselves. They were also exempted from military service in the regular army. It is estimated that over 2,500 men were employed in making salt around the St. Andrew’s Bay area alone.

For the first part of the war, until the Union Navy built up its blockading presence in the Gulf of Mexico, these salt works were untouched. Once the Navy had the resources in the area, it expanded its mission from just blockading ports and capturing blockade runners, to making raids along the coast to capture and destroy war goods, pick up run away slaves (contrabands) and to disrupt anything that could assist the Southern war effort. It was these works that the four ocean blockading fleets attacked on a regular basis from 1862 till the end of the war. The North Atlantic, South Atlantic, East Gulf and West Gulf Blockading Fleets raided the salterns as they discovered them.

Of the fleets, it was the East Gulf Squadron that inflicted the most devastating raids. There were several documented raids on the salt manufacturing along the West Coast of Florida, ranging from simple personal salt works to very elaborate works that produced several hundred bushels of the precious commodity a day. The largest raid of them all destroyed over $3,000,000.00 in salt and equipment, a huge loss to the Confederacy driving the price of the prized commodity to an all time high. All told by estimates of the Confederate government, the Federal Navy cost the South over $6,000,000.00 in damages and lost product.

“The Rebels here needed a lesson and they have had it!”
declared the captain of the Somerset.


These raids were comprised of sailors and Marines of the blockading vessels. Armed with sledge hammers, awls, top mauls and axes, they would come ashore and break up the brick furnaces, cast iron boilers, cauldrons, and drying pans. Some of the boilers and vats were so thick, they had to be destroyed by the use of a landing howitzer, or planting explosive shells under them. Quite often they were aided by local Unionists and contrabands.

REST OF ARTICLE with map showing US Navy shore raids Florida: https://www.navyandmarine.org/ondeck/1862saltraids.htm
 
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nitrofd

Colonel
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north central florida
“Salt works are as plentiful in Florida as blackbirds in a rice field.”
–New York Herald January 5, 1864


Salt no longer has the importance today as it had until the advent of refrigeration. For centuries it was crucial for the preservation of meat and fish, in packing cheese and eggs, and in the preserving of hides. It was worth so much in ancient times that part of the Roman soldier’s pay was “salarium” or salt for their families. This is where the word salary is derived from and the old term, “worth his salt” originated.

During the Civil War, salt was a critical item for both sides of the conflict, and in the South, salt workers were exempt from military service. Salt for the South was produced in Saltville Virginia, Manchester Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. The Kentucky and West Virginia salt producing areas were lost to the South early in the war and later the Louisiana salt was cutoff from the Confederacy. The Saltville works and a substantial works in Morehead City, North Carolina escaped destruction during the war.

Much of the salt for the South during the last half of the war came from the extensive salt works along Florida’s Gulf coast. There Florida residents and many people from Alabama established salt works along the coast, from Choctawhatchee Bay Florida, to Tampa Bay. The government of Florida passed a resolution in December of 1862, giving citizens of other states the permission to produce salt along the Gulf Coast of Florida. They were organized into companies and given arms and ammunition to protect themselves. They were also exempted from military service in the regular army. It is estimated that over 2,500 men were employed in making salt around the St. Andrew’s Bay area alone.

For the first part of the war, until the Union Navy built up its blockading presence in the Gulf of Mexico, these salt works were untouched. Once the Navy had the resources in the area, it expanded its mission from just blockading ports and capturing blockade runners, to making raids along the coast to capture and destroy war goods, pick up run away slaves (contrabands) and to disrupt anything that could assist the Southern war effort. It was these works that the four ocean blockading fleets attacked on a regular basis from 1862 till the end of the war. The North Atlantic, South Atlantic, East Gulf and West Gulf Blockading Fleets raided the salterns as they discovered them.

Of the fleets, it was the East Gulf Squadron that inflicted the most devastating raids. There were several documented raids on the salt manufacturing along the West Coast of Florida, ranging from simple personal salt works to very elaborate works that produced several hundred bushels of the precious commodity a day. The largest raid of them all destroyed over $3,000,000.00 in salt and equipment, a huge loss to the Confederacy driving the price of the prized commodity to an all time high. All told by estimates of the Confederate government, the Federal Navy cost the South over $6,000,000.00 in damages and lost product.

“The Rebels here needed a lesson and they have had it!”
declared the captain of the Somerset.


These raids were comprised of sailors and Marines of the blockading vessels. Armed with sledge hammers, awls, top mauls and axes, they would come ashore and break up the brick furnaces, cast iron boilers, cauldrons, and drying pans. Some of the boilers and vats were so thick, they had to be destroyed by the use of a landing howitzer, or planting explosive shells under them. Quite often they were aided by local Unionists and contrabands.

REST OF ARTICLE with map showing US Navy shore raids Florida: https://www.navyandmarine.org/ondeck/1862saltraids.htm
There is a lot of history f these raids at Cedar Key.their museum is small but worth seeing.
 

leftyhunter

Colonel
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May 27, 2011
Messages
16,962
Location
los angeles ca
“Salt works are as plentiful in Florida as blackbirds in a rice field.”
–New York Herald January 5, 1864


Salt no longer has the importance today as it had until the advent of refrigeration. For centuries it was crucial for the preservation of meat and fish, in packing cheese and eggs, and in the preserving of hides. It was worth so much in ancient times that part of the Roman soldier’s pay was “salarium” or salt for their families. This is where the word salary is derived from and the old term, “worth his salt” originated.

During the Civil War, salt was a critical item for both sides of the conflict, and in the South, salt workers were exempt from military service. Salt for the South was produced in Saltville Virginia, Manchester Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. The Kentucky and West Virginia salt producing areas were lost to the South early in the war and later the Louisiana salt was cutoff from the Confederacy. The Saltville works and a substantial works in Morehead City, North Carolina escaped destruction during the war.

Much of the salt for the South during the last half of the war came from the extensive salt works along Florida’s Gulf coast. There Florida residents and many people from Alabama established salt works along the coast, from Choctawhatchee Bay Florida, to Tampa Bay. The government of Florida passed a resolution in December of 1862, giving citizens of other states the permission to produce salt along the Gulf Coast of Florida. They were organized into companies and given arms and ammunition to protect themselves. They were also exempted from military service in the regular army. It is estimated that over 2,500 men were employed in making salt around the St. Andrew’s Bay area alone.

For the first part of the war, until the Union Navy built up its blockading presence in the Gulf of Mexico, these salt works were untouched. Once the Navy had the resources in the area, it expanded its mission from just blockading ports and capturing blockade runners, to making raids along the coast to capture and destroy war goods, pick up run away slaves (contrabands) and to disrupt anything that could assist the Southern war effort. It was these works that the four ocean blockading fleets attacked on a regular basis from 1862 till the end of the war. The North Atlantic, South Atlantic, East Gulf and West Gulf Blockading Fleets raided the salterns as they discovered them.

Of the fleets, it was the East Gulf Squadron that inflicted the most devastating raids. There were several documented raids on the salt manufacturing along the West Coast of Florida, ranging from simple personal salt works to very elaborate works that produced several hundred bushels of the precious commodity a day. The largest raid of them all destroyed over $3,000,000.00 in salt and equipment, a huge loss to the Confederacy driving the price of the prized commodity to an all time high. All told by estimates of the Confederate government, the Federal Navy cost the South over $6,000,000.00 in damages and lost product.

“The Rebels here needed a lesson and they have had it!”
declared the captain of the Somerset.


These raids were comprised of sailors and Marines of the blockading vessels. Armed with sledge hammers, awls, top mauls and axes, they would come ashore and break up the brick furnaces, cast iron boilers, cauldrons, and drying pans. Some of the boilers and vats were so thick, they had to be destroyed by the use of a landing howitzer, or planting explosive shells under them. Quite often they were aided by local Unionists and contrabands.

REST OF ARTICLE with map showing US Navy shore raids Florida: https://www.navyandmarine.org/ondeck/1862saltraids.htm
George Burker has a good book that covers this sunject but I am not home now.
The U.S. Navy formed the 2nd Florida Calvary Union composed mostly of Confederate deserters to raid the salt works. The 2nd Florida Calvary Union was latter paired with a USCT regiment. As far as I know that is the only time a Unionist regiment was paired with a USCT regiment.
Leftyhunter
 

nitrofd

Colonel
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
13,808
Location
north central florida
There is a lot of history f these raids at Cedar Key.their museum is small but worth seeing.
If You really want to get away from the world,Cedar Key is a worthwhile day trip.it sits on the Gulf of Mexico,peaceful not many peeople.you can go scalloping,claming or for oysterscas the warm is warm and shallow.there are some excellent places to from normal fare to fine dinning.call ahead because IIRC most of the sidewalks are rolled up on Mondays.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
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