Thomas Graham


The Civil War was only nine months old in January 1862, and many persons, North and South, still clung to the hope the war would soon be over. Florida was a long distance away from where the major military and political decisions affecting her future were being made. There had been little activity since the tumultuous early weeks of the war when the Confederacy took over many of the Federal installations within the state. Some of the more important fortifications like those at Key West and Fort Pickens in Pensacola were to be denied to the Confederates throughout the war. Meanwhile, because of military demands elsewhere, the Confederate government had decided that most of Florida’s troops would be sent to fight on the fronts in Tennessee and Virginia. It had also become apparent that the large and ever-ready United States Navy could quickly and successfully attack and even occupy any place on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts of Florida it wished. So far in 1861 that had not happened, but there were rumors of expeditions being mounted to seize Fernandina, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine. Then, on January 15, 1862, the first major raid on Florida shores by the Federal navy was carried out against Cedar Key. The purpose was to capture the lighthouse guarding the coast, the town, and the terminals of the Florida Railroad. The attack caught twenty-two-year-old Andrew Anderson of St. Augustine in Cedar Key, making him an unwilling participant in the first episode of what would become in Florida a repeated occurrence during the war. Anderson and his friend William Edwards wrote the letters which are presented here describing events at Cedar Key and Anderson’s subsequent escape through the Union naval blockade.