The summer of 1863 was a portentous time for the Confederate States of America. In May, Union General Ulysses S. Grant bottled up the last remaining Confederate redoubt along the Mississippi at Vicksburg. That same month saw the stunning victory at Chancellorsville for the Army of Northern Virginia, although tempered by the death of charismatic general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. By June, the Confederacy gambled that the Army of Northern Virginia's invasion of Pennsylvania would provoke a climactic battle that could secure victory and independence. Meanwhile, in the relatively calm surroundings of the Florida theatre, another kind of storm was brewing for the state's fiercely patriotic governor, John Milton. As the leader of a state with its major population centers on both Gulf and Atlantic coasts, Pensacola and Jacksonville, under Union occupation, Milton struggled to organize Florida's defenses and send beef, salt, and other foodstuffs north to supply the main Confederate armies. Since the state had no rail connection with the rest of the Confederacy and ports remained subject to the crippling Union blockade, Florida found itself in danger of becoming completely isolated from its fellow southern states in the summer of 1863.
Adams, Sean Patrick
"Patriotism Derailed: John Milton, David Yulee, and the Florida Railroad in 1863,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 86:
3, Article 8.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol86/iss3/8