David J. Coles


The United States Navy’s primary mission during the Civil War was to blockade the Confederate coastline. To accomplish this, the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, East Gulf, and West Gulf Blockading Squadrons were established.1 Perhaps the least known of these was the East Gulf Blockading Squadron (EGBS), which was created January 20, 1862, and began independent operations a month later on February 22. Charged with responsibility for the blockade of the Florida peninsula from Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic coast to St. Andrew Bay in the Gulf of Mexico, the EGBS operated for three and one-half years. During that time, the squadron’s officers and men captured or destroyed 283 blockade-runners, virtually eliminated the sugar and salt industries along the Florida coast, provided haven for thousands of Unionist refugees, conducted scores of raids, and participated in combined operations with Federal forces located in the state.