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Sandi Boehm
Sandi Boehm • 2 years ago

Many of today’s Florida lighthouses were in existence at the start of the Civil War (20 plus one light ship). Before the war, all lighthouses were federal property, administered by a local Superintendent under the Treasury Department. After the southern states’ secession and the formation of the CSA, the Confederate Congress created a Confederate Lighthouse Bureau, to be commanded by a senior officer in the Confederate Navy (Captain or Commander).

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Florida's oldest living Confederate war veteran in 1955

Florida was the third Southern state to secede, & some 15,000 Floridians fought in the Civil War. Florida also contributed 1,500 miles of unprotected shoreline to the war effort, creating a perfect haven for blockade runners. As the war raged on, hundreds of Union ships patrolled the coasts, seizing Rebel ships & confiscating cargoes. But Confederate ships were unfettered by the need to defend fixed positions or occupy territories and were free to roam the high seas, preying on isolated victims.

Florida in the Civil War

Commander Henry Walke volunteered his ship, the Carondelet, to run past the batteries.  Walke retrofitted the ship with anything available to help it stay together, including rope and chain.  He also went to great lengths to dampen the sound of the ship itself, diverting exhaust steam from the smokestacks to make it as silent as possible.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, Minnesota