War Between the States
The Florida Battles
Battle of Fort Brooke
A minor engagement fought 16-18 October 1863, near Tampa, Florida, during the War Between the States.
Two Union Navy ships, the USS Tahoma and the USS Adela, bombarded Fort Brooke on 16 October 1863. Two days later, on 18 October 1863, as conflict continued, the Battle of Ballast Point took place. A Union raiding party, under Acting Master T.R. Harris, disembarked at Ballast Point, landing at the current intersection of Gandy Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. Under the protracted diversionary bombardment of the city of Tampa and Fort Brooke by two ships, the USS Tahoma and the USS Adela, the Union divisions marched 14 miles to the Hillsborough River near the site of today's Lowry Park Zoo.
They surprised, captured, and burned two notorious ships, the blockade runner Scottish Chief, a steamship, and the sloop Kate Dale a few miles up the river. The ships were owned by the future mayor of Tampa, James McKay. Escaping capture by mere minutes, with members of his crew in tow, James McKay sped to the city of Tampa and warned all of the landing party and the fate of his ships.
After the burning of the ships, the Confederate forces were alerted to the raiding party's location, and commenced pursuit. Harris's Union forces were surprised by a detachment of the garrison, the 2nd Florida Infantry Battalion. A brief but sharp exchange resulted in a few casualties before the Union troops returned to sea.
A Confederate cavalry unit, the Oklawaha Rangers, finally caught up with the Union raiders, and a full engagement ensued. The union soldiers came under direct fire as they boarded their dinghies in a tactical retreat. The Confederate defenders destroyed the steamer A.B. Noyes to preclude her capture.
Battle of Ballast Point
Fought on 18 October 1863 at Ballast Point, Tampa, Florida, was considered a continuation of The Battle of Fort Brooke.
Battle of Cedar Creek (Jacksonville)
On the morning of 1 March 1864 a portion of the 2nd Florida Cavalry went east toward Jacksonville to probe defenses. On that same day an expedition of a Union cavalry of the 40th Massachusetts left Camp Mooney and went west to probe the Confederate position. The Union expedition consisted of companies B, C, and D of 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, a squadron of Massachusetts infantry and one gun of Elders Horse Artillery under Major Stevens. At mid-morning the 2nd Florida Cavalry met the Union forces about 2 miles west of Camp Finegan. The Confederate forces were then joined by reinforcements and pushed the Union forces back through Camp Finegan.
At Cedar Creek the Union forces made a stand. The creek offered a natural barrier that hampered the Confederate advance. An intense but short fight erupted between the two armies at the creek but the Union was forced out to 3 Mile Run or McCoys Creek. The Confederates followed but the Union rear guard ambushed them killing Captain Winston Stephens and a private. The Confederate infantry managed to cross Cedar Creek and advanced toward Jacksonville. The Union forces met reinforcements from Camp Mooney and were ordered back to Cedar Creek but retreated again to their defense breastworks at Three Mile Run. At the end of the day 7 Confederates were killed, 12 wounded, 2 Union killed, 3 wounded and 5 captured. Confederates stayed in the area and guarded it from more Union encroachments while the Union held Jacksonville for the remainder of the war.
Battle of Fort Myers
On 20 February 1865 Confederates of the 1st Battalion (Cattle Guard), Florida Special Cavalry attacked Fort Myers. They were ordered to attack Fort Myers because it was learned that the fort might soon be abandoned. Three companies and one artillery piece arrived at old Fort Thomson (LaBelle, Florida) on 19 February. They marched down the river and camped near Billy's Creek. The next morning, they surprised several Union soldiers on picket duty and shot them as they tried to flee.
The firing had alerted the fort, so the Confederates fired a warning shot from their cannon, followed by a messenger demanding the Union troops surrender. The fort's commanding officer, Capt. James Doyle, sent back a refusal: "Your demand for an unconditional surrender has been received. I respectfully decline; I have force enough to maintain my position and will fight you to the last." Doyle wheeled his own two cannons outside the fort. A battle began with the Union soldiers firing the artillery and the Union cavalrymen firing their carbines. Throughout the day, both sides continued sporadic firing, which finally ceased at dark. One Federal soldier had been killed in the skirmishing.
The next morning, the Cattle Guard Battalion returned to Fort Meade. Even though the attack had been repelled, Fort Myers was abandoned by its garrison in early March.
Battle of Gainesville
The Battle of Gainesville took place on 17 August 1864, in the town square; many townspeople viewed the fighting from the windows of the nearby Beville house.
A Union column of 342 men under the command of Col. Andrew L. Harris had occupied Gainesville that morning. It was composed of the 75th Ohio Mounted infantry, two companies of the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry, Battery A, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery with 3 cannon, and a small unit of Floridians loyal to the Union. They were attacked from the rear by soldiers of the Second Florida Cavalry under the command of Captain John Jackson Dickison (companies’ H and F), supported by local militia, elements of 5th Florida Cavalry Battalion, and a small artillery battery of two cannons. Dickison's men numbered about 290, although only 175 entered Gainesville and engaged in the fighting.
The Union troops were tired from a two-day march from Baldwin in the August heat. They were taken by surprise and had not fully deployed when the Confederate attack began. After about two hours Col. Harris gave the order to retreat from Gainesville; the Confederates continued to close in on the disorganized Union columns. Union losses numbered 28 dead, 5 wounded, 86 missing or unaccounted for, 188 captured, 260 horses and a 12-pound howitzer; the Confederates lost three killed and five wounded, of whom two died the next day. About 40 Union troops, including Colonel Harris, escaped. He reported his column was destroyed by a large Confederate force of 600—800 men and three cannon.
After hearing his account, the remaining Union forces in the north central Florida area withdrew to the garrisons at Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Gainesville remained in Confederate control for the duration of the war.
Battle of Marianna
On the morning of 27 September, the Federal riders proceeded toward Marianna. When they passed the Old Fort crossroads, Montgomery finally could be certain of their destination. He called out the homeguard and assembled what reserves were already on hand. Montgomery's cavalry contested the crossing of Hopkins' Branch, 3 miles (4.8 km) from Marianna with the intention of falling back into town via an old bypass (now Kelson Avenue) rather than the main road.
In Marianna, Montgomery deployed the conscripts, militia and homeguard in ambush along the main road (now West Lafayette street). As his skirmishers at Hopkins' Branch withdrew along the bypass, the homeguard waited behind fences and a crude barricade of wagons and carts. St. Luke's Episcopal Church was a few feet away and would play a pivotal role later.
Here the plans of both sides ran afoul of one another. Asboth divided his force and led the main contingent on a headlong charge down the main road. Meanwhile, he sent another portion of his force around the bypass along the route Montgomery's cavalry had taken. Seeing this and realizing his whole force could be trapped, Montgomery attempted to pull out, but it was too late. The homeguard and militia at the barricades would not budge.
Unaware of what awaited him, Asboth's wing of the attack rounded the corner straight into a scorching volley by the waiting homeguard. Asboth was wounded in the face and he lost many other senior officers in this volley. Despite being stunned, the Union cavalry rapidly overwhelmed the Confederate cavalry and pushed down the road in pursuit as the flanking force swept in from behind. Many of the Rebel troopers were able to push their way past the Union flanking force and escape, but many homeguards, conscripts, and militia were pinned in town. Colonel Montgomery was captured while attempting to flee to the Chipola River bridge. His escaping cavalry took up positions on the other shore and were able to deter the Union forces from crossing the bridge.
In town, the remaining defenders on the south side of the street broke and ran, but those near the church stubbornly held out as the detachment of U.S. Colored Troops engaged them. A dismounted bayonet charge finally forced their surrender. However, several Confederates continued to fire from the church and nearby homes. This led to the church being set ablaze and the defenders shot down as they were smoked out.
Battle of Natural Bridge
The Union's Brig. Gen. John Newton had undertaken a joint force expedition to engage and destroy Confederate troops that had attacked at Cedar Keys, Florida and Fort Myers and were allegedly encamped somewhere around St. Marks. The Union Navy had trouble getting its ships up the St. Marks River. The Army force, however, had advanced and, after finding one bridge destroyed, started before dawn on 6 March 1865 to attempt to cross the river at Natural Bridge. The troops initially pushed Rebel forces back, but not away from the bridge.
Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. William Miller, protected by breastworks, guarded all of the approaches and the bridge itself. The action at Natural Bridge lasted most of the day, but, unable to take the bridge in three separate charges, the Union troops retreated to the protection of the fleet.
Based on the involvement of the students from the Florida Military and Collegiate Institute, the Florida State University Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program is one of only four Army ROTC programs to have a battle streamer for their actions in the Civil War. Since it was originally part of the Army, FSU's Air Force ROTC unit also displays the same battle streamer.
Battle of Olustee (a.k.a. Battle of Ocean Pond)
Following the Florida, Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad, Seymour led his 5,500 men in the direction of Lake City. At approximately 2:30 in the afternoon of 20 February, the Union force approached General Finnegan's 5,000 Confederates entrenched near Olustee Station. Finnegan sent out an infantry brigade to meet Seymour's advance units and lure them into the Confederate entrenchments, but this plan went awry. The opposing forces met at Ocean Pond and the battle began. Seymour made the mistake of assuming he was once again facing Florida militia units he had previously routed with ease and committed his troops piecemeal into the battle. Finnegan and Seymour both reinforced their engaged units during the afternoon and the battle took place in open pine woods. The Union forces attacked but were savagely repulsed by withering barrages of rifle and cannon fire.
The battle raged throughout the afternoon until, as Finnegan committed the last of his reserves, the Union line broke and began to retreat. Finnegan did not exploit the retreat, allowing most of the fleeing Union forces to reach Jacksonville. However, the Confederates did make a final attempt to engage the rear element of Seymour's forces just before nightfall, but they were repulsed by elements of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the 35th United States Colored Troops, both composed of black soldiers. The Confederate cavalry commander received criticism for failing to pursue the retreating Union forces.
Battle of St. John's Bluff
1–3 October 1862, Brig. Gen. John M. Brannan [US]; Lt. Col. Charles F. Hopkins [CS]. A fortified Confederate battery on St. John' s Bluff near Jacksonville, designed to stop the movement of Federal ships up the St. Johns River. Union Brig. Gen. John M. Brannan embarked with about 1,500 infantry aboard the transports on 30 September. The flotilla arrived at the mouth of the St. John' s River on 1 October, where Cdr. Charles Steedman' s gunboats—Paul Jones, Cimarron, Uncas, Patroon, Hale, and Water Witch—joined them. The Bluff held off the Naval squadron until the troops were landed to come up behind it, the Confederates abandoned the works.
Battle of Santa Rosa Island (Pensacola)
After midnight on 9 October 1861, Brig. Gen. Richard Anderson crossed from the mainland to Santa Rosa Island with 1,200 men in two small steamers to surprise the Union camps and capture Fort Pickens. He landed on the north beach about four miles east of Fort Pickens and divided his command into three columns. After proceeding about three miles, the Confederates surprised the 6th Regiment, New York Volunteers, in its camp and routed the regiment. Gen. Anderson then adopted a defensive stance to entice the Federals to leave the fort and attack. Receiving reinforcements, Col. Harvey Brown sallied against the Confederates, who re-embarked and returned to the mainland.
The Union loss was 14 killed, 29 wounded and 24 captured or missing. General Braxton Bragg and Lieutenant Hamel, commanding the Confederate forces at Pensacola, reported their loss as "30 or 40 killed and wounded," but a Confederate newspaper, found by Lieut. Seeley a few days after the occurrence, gave the total casualties as 175. Maj. Israel Vodges, of the 1st artillery, was captured, and on the Confederate side Gen. Anderson was severely wounded. The camp of the 6th N. Y. was partially destroyed.
Battle of Tampa (a.k.a. Yankee Outrage at Tampa)
On 30 June 1862, USS Sagamore, a Union gunboat, came into Tampa Bay, opened her ports, and turned her broadside on the town. The gunboat then launched a boat with 20 men flying a flag of truce. In his post-action report, Captain John William Pearson, CSA, reported to Gen. Joseph Finegan, CSA, what transpired. “I immediately manned one of my boats with 18 men met them in the bay, determined that they should not land on my shore, and on meeting the boat the lieutenant in command reported he had been sent by Captain Drake to demand an unconditional surrender of the town. My reply to him was that we did not understand the meaning of the word surrender; there was no such letter in our book; we don’t surrender. He then said they would commence shelling the town at 6 o’clock, and I told him to pitch in. We then gave three hearty cheers for the Southern Confederacy and the Federal boat crew said nothing…. At 6 o’clock they promptly opened fire on us with heavy shell and shot, and after two from them we opened from our batteries, consisting of three 24-pounder cannon. Both parties then kept up a regular fire until 7 p.m.” At that point, U.S.S. Sagamore withdrew. On 1 July, between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., the gunboat fired from beyond the range of the Confederate cannon. After a two-hour break for lunch, USS Sagamore fired two more rounds, weighed anchor, and sailed away. There were no Confederate casualties
Battle of Braddock Farm (a.k.a. Battle of Dunn's Lake - currently called Crescent Lake)
8 February 1865, also known as the. A Federal wagon train on a mission of pillage and plunder, under the command of Colonel Wilcoxon and the 17th Connecticut Regiment was attacked and captured by Captain J. J. Dickison with elements of Companies B and H or the Fifth Florida Battalion of Cavalry. The Federal colonel was killed by Captain Dickison as the battle concluded in a (Hollywood style) man to man action. For the south it represents the ability of the Confederates even at this late date in the war to stage a significant raid behind Union lines and escape with prisoners and supplies across the St. Johns River.
Battle of Station Four
On 13 February 1865, at 7 a.m, Union pickets spotted the Confederates approaching and opened fire. The Confederates responded with the fire of 120 rifles and a 12-pounder field gun. The Confederates finally ran short of ammunition and fell back slightly, a move that also gave the Federals a chance to fall back across the trestle into Cedar Key.
Skirmish of the Brick Church
On 17 March 1865, when Confederates heard the Union forces landed in Jacksonville Colonel Davis sent a detachment of cavalry to Camp Langford near Jacksonville. Confederate scouts reported that Federals established a strong picket outpost at a brick church. Colonel W. S. Dilworth was conducting raids and attacking Union pickets to annoy the enemy. One attack on a Union picket erupted into a battle at a brick church. Lieutenant Strange of the Third Florida at the brick church was ordered to capture the Confederates and if possible with no bloodshed. Thirty Confederates encountered five Federals in the vicinity of the brick church. The Federals were behind tombstones, trees and in the church yard shooting at the advancing Confederate force. The five Federals were forced to retreated inside the church only to have the Confederates storm the church. Two Federals in the church were killed and the remaining three surrendered.
Further Confederate advance was halted by return fire from the 4th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry with one confederate killed and two taken prisoner. Lacking forces to engage the Union forces directly, Colonel Dilworth continued hit-and-run raids.
Affair at New Smyrna
On 22 March 1862, boat crews from the USS Penguin and USS Henry Andrew pulled into what was called Mosquito Inlet in the 19th century (a.k.a. Ponce de Leon Inlet).
The captains of the vessels, Acting Lieutenant T.A. Budd and Acting Master S.W. Mather, had been warned there might be Confederate troops in the area. Blockade runners had been reported to be using the inlet and the Union navy was aware that an earthwork fort, pierced for three guns, had been built inside the inlet at New Smyrna. It was believed that the fort had been evacuated at about the time of the fall of St. Augustine, but no one knew for sure.
The total Union party consisted of four or five boats and 41 men. As each of the boats came up, they also took heavy fire from the Confederates, who turned out to be trained soldiers from the Third Florida Infantry. The sailors had carried along a boat howitzer to give themselves greater firepower, but strangely had mounted the cannon on a boat from which it could not be fired.
The successful attack on the Federal boats at New Smyrna gave the Confederates in East Florida a badly needed boost in morale. Colonel W.S. Dilworth, commander of the Third Florida Infantry, hailed the success of his men in a report dated 4 April 1862.
Dilworth went on to report that a blockade runner recently had landed a large shipment of arms at New Smyrna and that he believed the Union was trying to seize the weapons. In reality, the Union navy had learned that a large stockpile of oak lumber was stored near Mosquito (Ponce de Leon) Inlet and was trying to find it.
The victory by Captain Bird's men was complete. The final casualty report for the Federal boat party listed 7 killed and 7 wounded. Two of the wounded were reported to have been taken prisoner. The Confederates reported no losses in the fight.
The site of the Skirmish at New Smyrna is located on South Riverside Drive near its intersection with Clinch Street in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. A stone monument marks the site.
Battle of Palatka
On 27 March 1863, the Battle of Horse Landing in Palatka, Florida began when the Confederacy sank a federal gunboat off the river shores by Palatka. This skirmish involved approximately 100 soldiers.
Artillery Duel at Pensacola
In September 1861, angered by the Union Navy’s destruction of the privateer Judah, Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, commanding the CS Army forces garrisoning Pensacola and the Pensacola Navy Yard, sent a force of 1,200 soldiers to Santa Rosa Island. The force landed at night on 8 October 1861 and assaulted the camp of the 6th New York, a Zouave regiment. The Union troops were initially routed, but reinforcements from Ft. Pickens helped them reform and they pushed the Confederate forces back, who then departed the island by the next morning.
In response to this attack, and the increasing size of the Confederate force garrisoning Pensacola, Col. Harvey Brown, now commanding the Union forces in Ft. Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, ordered his artillery to open fire on the mainland on 22 November. The army artillery was supplemented by gunfire from the steam frigate USS Niagra and steam sloop USS Richmond. The Confederates returned the Union gunfire. For two days, the bombardment continued, with thousands of rounds expended by both sides. Ft. McRee was destroyed by the gunfire from the US Navy ships, and portions of the Navy Yard and adjacent villages were set on fire from the barrage. Richmond suffered one sailor killed and seven injured by fire from the Confederate batteries. Hostilities ceased on the night of 23 November.
Affair at Crooked River (Carrabelle)
On 20 May 1862, there was a brief skirmish when 21 Union sailors from the blockade ship Sagamore, came up river and encountered the Carrabelle Irregulars under the command of Captain Blocker of the Beauregard Rangers who were ready to defend the city and their homes.
Seventeen of the boat’s occupants were either killed or wounded. There were no Confederate casualties. The port continued to change hands repeatedly throughout the war, usually without serious conflict.
Skirmish at Barber's Place
After halting for a day at Baldwin, the Federal troops resumed their advance on 10 February 1864. They soon found themselves facing surprisingly stiff resistance from a small Confederate force under Major Robert Harrison of the Second Florida Cavalry.
The fight erupted when the head of the Union column reached Barber's Plantation at the South Prong or South Fork of the St. Marys River. The stream flows between today's communities of Macclenny and Glen St. Mary.
Harrison, with two companies of men from the Second Florida, had been making his way down from Camp Cooper north of Jacksonville to link up with the Southern force that Brigadier General Joseph Finegan was assembling to oppose the Federal invasion. They were near Barber's Plantation when they learned that Union troops were approaching. Taking up positions on the west side of the South Prong, they prepared to resist.
The Union force involved in the fight consisted of the Independent Battalion of Massachusetts Cavalry, the Fortieth Massachusetts Infantry (Mounted) and Elder's horse battery of the First Union Artillery.
General Finegan's report of the encounter was similar and assuming that each commander reported his own casualties with accuracy, losses in the skirmish were as follows: Union 3 killed, 10 wounded; Confederate 2 killed, 2 wounded.
Heavily outnumbered, Harrison was forced back from his position and withdrew to join Finegan at Lake City, Florida. The Federals continued to move west along the railroad and reached Sanderson by nightfall. The Confederates had removed most of the supplies warehoused by the railroad there, although they were forced to burn 1,500 bushels of corn.
By reaching Sanderson, the Union force had advanced roughly 38 miles into eastern Florida from their landing point at Jacksonville with known losses of only 4 killed and 10 wounded. At least one other Union soldier had been captured. Known Confederate losses totaled 2 killed and a handful captured.
Although the Federals had maintained the initiative up to the night of 10 February, the situation would begin to change the next day. Brigadier General Joseph Finegan was at Lake City assembling a force to oppose their advance. He would achieve the first Confederate success of the Olustee Campaign on the following day.
Skirmish at (one mile east of) Lake City
On the morning of 11 February 1864, following the railroad tracks west from Sanderson, the Union mounted forces under Colonel Guy V. Henry crossed over the later Olustee Battlefield and arrived outside Lake City. The principal Federal units on the ground were the Independent Battalion of Massachusetts Cavalry, the Fortieth Massachusetts Infantry (Mounted) and Elder's horse battery from the First Union Artillery.
News of the Union landing and advance, however, had electrified points up and down the railroad. Telegraph lines connected Lake City with Madison, Monticello, Tallahassee, Quincy and even Marianna. Even as the Federals had pushed forward from Jacksonville, Confederate troops had begun boarding trains for the ride east to Lake City, Florida.
Most of these men came from the District of Middle Florida and by the evening of 10 February they were pouring into Lake City where Brigadier General Joseph Finegan was assembling his force. In a rare reversal of circumstance, the Confederate forces had the advantage of rail transportation and better communication lines during the Olustee Campaign and the advantage first began to show as Henry's Federals neared Lake City.
The site that Finegan selected to position his force is near Watertown Lake on the east side of Lake City. The site of his battle line is now bisected by the railroad and Northeast Washington Street just east of the city limits.
Watertown Lake, on his left or north flank, eliminated the possibility of his line being easily flanked in that direction. On his right or south flank, ponds and wetland areas feeding into Alligator Lake eliminated the chance he could be outflanked in that direction. If his men held against the larger Union force, then the enemy would not get into Lake City.
Digging in and placing his two cannon in position to receive the Federals, Finegan advanced part of his force as skirmishers to oppose the Union troops as they approached his main line. According to the report of Brigadier General Truman Seymour (US), the skirmish at Lake City lasted about 60 minutes (Finegan said several hours). Finegan reported that the skirmishing was severe until the Federals came within view of his main line and artillery, at which point they withdrew.
How quickly communications were passing between Confederate commanders is evidenced by a dispatch sent from Charleston by General P.G.T. Beauregard to the War Department in Richmond. Reporting a demonstration near Savannah that he believed was a diversion for the Florida movements, Beauregard noted that, "General Finegan reports enemy advancing on Lake City from Baldwin." The Confederate report was dated on the same day as the skirmish at Lake City.
Meanwhile, even as Finegan was turning back Henry's force at Lake City, the troops of Colquitt's Brigade were making their way south from Charleston to Florida. They had been ordered to board trains as soon as as Beauregard became convinced that the main Union target was Florida. Their ability to move almost the entire distance by rail would allow them to reach Olustee in time for the coming battle.
By 12 February, Beauregard was able to report that Finegan had beaten the Union at Lake City and that he was impressed with the latter general's abilities. Finegan's performance at Lake City was to be repeated on a larger scale 9 days later at the Battle of Olustee. It also allowed the continued use of the town as a staging point for that battle and prevented the capture of the military supplies there.
Finally, the Confederate victory at Lake City started the turning of the tide of the Olustee Campaign. Under capable command, outnumbered Southern troops had stood their ground and turned back a larger force. From 11 February forward, Finegan would begin to seize the initiative. Olustee was yet to be fought, but the defeat of Lincoln's attempt to return Florida to the Union had begun.
Battle at McGirts Creek (Camp Milton, Jacksonville)
In 1864, Camp Milton was a key Confederate installation aimed at blocking Union advances toward Baldwin, a supply center and railhead. Although no major battles were fought on the grounds, Camp Milton served as a base for skirmishes between the 8,000 Confederate troops and 12,000 Union soldiers in Jacksonville, about a dozen miles to the east.
General P.G.T. Beauregard consolidated the Confederate army into positions behind McGirt's Creek, a natural moat that provided a layer of defense should the Union Army try again to advance. Intending to protect the railroad and prevent any further penetration of the country by Seymour's forces, the Louisiana born general put his engineering expertise to work.
Taking advantage of the natural bends and twists of McGirt's Creek, Beauregard designed and supervised the construction of one of the most impressive systems of field works every built in the Deep South. By 7 March 1864, the position had been named Camp Milton in honor of Florida's Confederate Governor, John Milton.
Camp Milton was a three-mile-long system of fortifications manned by the growing Confederate army of 7,500 men. Additionally, General Beauregard assembled an impressive array of field artillery that he positioned at key points along the line to sweep the approaches to McGirt's Creek, preventing the Union Army's spread into the interior of north Florida.
Sinking of Union transports Maple Leaf and General Hunter (Jacksonville)
On 1 April 1864, Union Army transport Maple Leaf was struck by a Confederate torpedo as it was crossing the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida. Four crew members lost their lives in the sinking. This was the first torpedo casualty of the War. The USS Norwich was dispatched to assess the condition of the wreck on 2 April, and Captain Henry W. Dale concluded his ship and cargo as a total loss.
On 16 April 1864, Union Army transport General Hunter was similarly destroyed at almost the same place near Mandarin Point on the St. John’s River. Confederate torpedoes continued to play an increasing role in the defense of rivers and harbors. As Major General Patton Anderson, CSA, noted, the torpedoes "taught him [the Northerner] to be cautious in the navigation of our waters."