Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 1862 - Comply or be Arrested at Fernandina, Florida

General Wright's Headquarters in Fernandina, 1864
If the remaining citizens of Fernandina and Amelia Island had any doubts remaining as to their status, they were erased 150 years ago today.

Federal troops had occupied their community on the previous day and although many residents had fled under the protection of the withdrawing soldiers of the 4th Florida Infantry, perhaps 100 or so had remained behind in their homes. They learned on March 5, 1862, that, for the time being at least, they would be living under martial law:

Fernandina, Fla., March 5, 1862.
Wright's Headquarters, Sketched in 1862

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 10. - 1. All persons, whether white or colored, now on Amelia Island, and not connected with the army or navy, will immediately present themselves at the office of the Provost-Marshal, in order that their names and residences may be registered and their persons and property protected. Any person failing to comply with this order will be arrested and dealt with as an enemy of the Government of the United States.

2. No person will be allowed in the streets between the hour of tattoo and reveille, nor will any one be permitted to pass the pickets without written permission from these Headquarters. By command of

Brig.-Gen. H.C. WRIGHT.
C.W.Foster, Ass. Adj.-Gen.

The news that they would be living under the constant watch of Northern soldiers likely came as a surprise for many of the citizens remaining in Fernandina, as the majority of then were either Unionists or had taken no active part in the war. They would continue to live under the guns of the Union army not just for the duration of the war, however, but for years afterwards. Fernandina would be a focal point of military rule in Florida during the Reconstruction era.

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