|Harbor at Cedar Key, Florida|
Cedar Key in 1865 was garrisoned by troops from the 2nd Florida U.S. Cavalry and 2nd U.S. Colored Troops (USCT). The former regiment had been raised in Florida and was made up of Southern Unionists, Confederate deserters and others. The latter regiment was mustered into the service in Washington, D.C., and most of its men came from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Some had been born into slavery, while others were free African Americans.
|Men of the 99th USCT|
Companies C, D and E of the Second Florida U.S. Cavalry and Companies E, G and H of the Second U.S. Colored Troops boarded the transports at Cedar Key, where enough troops were left behind to defend the coastal post.
|James C. Haynes of Co. E, 2nd Florida U.S. Cavalry|
State Archives of Florida, Memory Collection
The three steamers, likely escorted by U.S. Navy warships, left Cedar Key on the afternoon of February 27, 1865 - 149 years ago today - and headed west along the coast for the mouth of the St. Marks River. A large flotilla of warships had been ordered to assemble there ahead of the coming attack.
I will post more on the Natural Bridge Expedition tomorrow. Be sure to read more and see the new mini-documentary on the Battle of Natural Bridge by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nbindex.
The annual reenactment of the battle will take place this weekend. For more information, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nbreenactment.