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Volume 29, No. 7 – July 2016

The President’s Message:

There will be some very special items in the raffle for July and August. One is a framed memorabilia such as Minié ball and belt buckles from the New Market Battle. Buy your lucky tickets at the meeting.

Thank you to everyone who has brought a refreshment to a meeting. It is greatly appreciated.

Gerridine LaRovere

July 13, 2016 Program:

Williams Hines will be speaking on July 13, 2016 and his topic is "Civil War Transportation."  Mr. Hines has spoken to our CWRT before.  He is a retired park ranger.

June 9, 2016 Program:

Josh Liller is the Historian & Collection Manager at Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum.  He gave an interesting talk titled: The Civil War on the Indian River. 

Prologue:  July 23, 1859.  Although the slave trade has been illegal now for more than 50 years, the St. Augustine Examiner prints a distressing story.  The revenue cutter James C. Dobbins has returned from Indian River and Jupiter Inlets after investigating a report of a slave ship in that area.  The Dobbins is able to confirm the schooner Experiment put ashore its illegal human cargo near Jupiter, but they are several weeks too late to do anything about it.

The Indian River In 1860:  Florida in 1860 was a very different place than it is today.  The five largest cities were Key West, St. Augustine, Pensacola, Jacksonville, and Fernandina Beach.  The state’s population was concentrated in the agricultural belt in north central Florida.  Tampa was a small town; Miami (sometimes still called Fort Dallas) and Orlando were miniscule.  Dade County stretched from the upper Keys to Hillsboro Inlet (now Pompano Beach) with a population of less than 100 concentrated around Biscayne Bay.  Brevard County barely resembled its current borders, spanning the coast from Hillsboro Inlet to the area that is now Melbourne and inland to include what is now Okeechobee County and the area around Lake Kissimmee.  The county seat at the time was the tiny settlement of St. Lucie, near the former Fort Capron and just north of modern Fort Pierce; county population was about 250.  The rest of what is now Brevard County was then part of Volusia County.  Other than the keepers at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, completed in 1860, there were no known white settlers in what is now Martin or Palm Beach Counties.  Besides St. Lucie, the only other settlement of note was called Sand Point; we know it today as Titusville.  The pineapple industry would not take off for a couple decades and the citrus industry was even further in the future.   

Although railroads and good roads were decades into the future, this wilderness did contain one important transportation route: the Indian River Lagoon.  Although the Intracoastal Waterway was decades into the future, the Indian River was navigable along mostly the same route as it is today.  Vessels coming down from St. Augustine and New Smyrna via Mosquito Lagoon would have to transfer cargo across a strip of land dubbed the Haulover (no canal yet).  Alternatively, wagons could bring cargo and passengers between the St. Johns River and Sand Point.  In either case, a vessel would then travel down the wide Indian River, encountering the winding Indian River Narrows near modern Vero Beach, then on through another wide area to the St. Lucie settlement. 

It was this settlement that the first inlet was encountered, known as the Indian River Inlet.  This natural and reliably open inlet was located a few miles north of the present Fort Pierce Inlet.  The modern inlets at Sebastian and Canaveral did not exist; they are completely artificial 20th century constructs.  Continuing down wide St. Lucie Sound, a vessel would reach the mouth of what was then usually called the Halpatiokee River – today the St. Lucie River.  No inlet there; it was man-made in the 1890s.  Next came the challenging part: the North and South Jupiter Narrows, divided by Peck's Lake.  That lake is probably the location of an infrequently open inlet known as Gilbert's Bar; I have found no mention of it being open during the Civil War.  The Jupiter Narrows were considered treacherous because, although the winding channel was usually reasonably deep, it was not very wide and numerous false channels lead through the mangroves to dead ends.  After that the vessel would reach another wide area, Hobe Sound, and make its way to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.  The Jupiter Inlet – then located about a ½ mile SE of the current inlet – was not reliable.  It was mostly or completely closed during the 1850s, although it opened enough to be usable during most of the Civil War.  From here there was no point in going any further south without entering the Atlantic: Lake Worth Creek did not connect to Lake Worth, and Lake Worth had no inlet.  There were no connections between Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic coast navigable by anything larger than a canoe.

The short Haulover between Indian River and Mosquito Lagoons and some serviceable wagon roads between the Indian River and St. Johns River at least meant that remote section of coast had some connection to the rest of civilization.  Miami had no such luxury.  Although the Army cut a military trail from Fort Jupiter to Fort Lauderdale in 1838, it seems to have fallen into disuse by the 1860s.  Although a few brave souls occasionally walked the coast, the only real way to and from the Biscayne Bay area was by water, usually via Key West.

Significantly, the nearby Bahamas were a British colony at the time.  It is only about 80 miles from Jupiter Inlet to the nearest Bahamian island and a little over 200 to the capital and main port of Nassau.

A Light For Point Jupiter:  The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse had become a glaring need by around 1850.  The Lighthouse Board identified it as the location in greatest need of a first-order lighthouse on the entire Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.  David Dixon Porter, a future Civil War admiral, declared a lighthouse there was an “absolute necessity.”  There were dangerous reefs and shoals in the area which, being at the northern end of the Florida Straits, experienced heavy ship traffic.  Southbound ships would often keep close to the coast to avoid the Gulf Stream and had to avoid no only the reefs and shoals, but also the coastline angling southeastward.

Robert E. Lee surveyed the coast of Florida in 1849, but his thoughts on the Jupiter area are as yet unknown.  George Meade visited the area in 1854 under orders to select a lighthouse location and he picked a parabolic sand dune called Jones Hill (after an Army surveyor) at the junction of the Indian River and Loxahatchee River instead of Jupiter Island.  Construction of the lighthouse experienced numerous delays and serious work did not commence until 1859 and was not completed until 1860.  Then as now, the lighthouse had a 1st Order Fresnel lens – the largest size of an expensive cutting-age optic made of a series of prisms that would brightly project the light from an oil lamp out a great distance: typically 17-24 miles in good weather, depending on the size of the passing ship.  There were two other lighthouses in the southeastern area of Florida: Cape Canaveral (built in the 1820s and renovated in the 1840s and 1850s) and at Cape Florida (lit 1848).  The Florida Keys were home to several other lighthouses from Key Largo to Key West and in the Dry Tortugas.

Going Dark:  Florida was the third state to secede and by the time the Civil War broke out officially in April the Confederacy ordered all lighthouses disabled so as not to aid the Union Navy.  In some cases the lighthouses were blown up or burned down by the Confederates. More often their Fresnel lenses and other lighthouse supplies were removed to a safer inland location, leaving the tower intact, but useless for navigation at night.  The lighthouses in the Florida Keys remained under Union control and were never really threatened during the war.  Cape Canaveral was put out by the keeper after a visit from the Superintendent of Lights from St. Augustine, Paul Arnau.  Keeper Mills Olcutt Burnham remained at the light station throughout the war and was commended by the Federal government for his wartime caretaking of the station.  Jupiter Inlet and Cape Florida continued to shine into August of 1861.

One of the assistant keepers at Jupiter was Augustus Oswald Lang, an immigrant from Saxony, Germany who had lived in South Florida for about a decade.  A Confederate sympathizer, Lang decided the light must be put out of service.  When the head keeper, a Florida native of Minorcan descent named Joseph Papy, refused to do so, Lang quit and went up the river to the St. Lucie settlement where he met with James Paine.  Paine was a native Southerner, a veteran of both Seminole Wars, and seems to have been defacto leader of St. Lucie.  Paine, Lang, and a cracker cowman named Francis Ivey returned to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse on August 15, 1861.  The team put out the lights at both Jupiter and Cape Florida by removing the light, lens, and machinery.  They did not destroy anything.  The keeper, Papy, was forced to flee with his family to Key West.

Paine convened a meeting of the local residents and agreed on three resolutions: a request for a company of artillery to guard the Indian River Inlet, the formation of a home guard of local citizens, and the appointment of Paine as captain of said guard.  They also formally thanked Paine, Ivey, Lang, and “John Whitton” for putting out the lighthouses.  Interestingly, the meeting was chaired by William Benson Davis with James Armour as secretary.  Both were Yankee transplants: Davis in his 60s from Connecticut and one of the earliest settlers of the area in the 1840s, Armour about 35 and a more recent arrival from New York City.  In addition to being Yankees and neighbors, they were both experienced sailors and both had spent time as Sheriff and Justice of the Peace in recent years.  Indian River never got any artillery and no evidence has been found that the home guard company ever officially formed.

Trouble In Paradise: Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse seems to have fallen victim more to wartime hysteria and inaccurate information than actual malicious actions by the Confederates.  The Lighthouse Board reported: “A band of lawless persons visited the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse… and removed therefrom the illuminating apparatus.”  The same report did accurately state that “the same band visited the light at Cape Florida and destroyed the illuminating apparatus.”  The next year the Lighthouse Board mistakenly reported Jupiter's “tower and lantern destroyed.”

The Lighthouse Board should have known better.  In June 1862, a Union ship stopped to check on the Indian River and Jupiter Inlets.  The Indian River Inlet was only 4½’ deep at high tide. Cutters investigated the nearby river but found “that it is not a place of transshipment or of any business whatever.”  They also visited the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, finding “that the lamps had been taken away, but otherwise the lighthouse and machinery were in good order.”  James Paine (replacing Lang, who enlisted in the Confederate Army) wrote about this visit to the Confederate Lighthouse Bureau.  The Jupiter Inlet had recently reopened to a surprising depth of 7 ft.  A party from the Navy schooner took away paperwork relating to the lighthouse, but not any supplies or equipment which was still “hid away in the hammock.”

The situation seems to have changed within a few months’ time.  On 19 October 1862, “five young men” arrived in Key West from the Indian River.  They reported that “every man between the ages of 18 and 45 in that section… is being remorselessly pressed into the rebel army… no matter the condition of their families.”  Three of the five men had left behind families.  They also reported that “a lively trade is now constantly being carried on with Nassau” including 12 ships in the last 2 months.  USS Sagamore departed soon afterward to investigate, bringing two of the men along as pilots.  Sagamore's arrival resulted in James Paine fleeing to New Smyrna Beach.  The Yankees now control the Indian River.  Paine is forced to take up residence with a neighbor.

Paine hid the lighthouse's oil in the mangroves and property from the lighthouse at a palmetto hut in the woods “where I think it will be safe.”  Paine does not seem to have realized he was being hunted not only by the Union Navy, but by at least one of his former neighbors.  In December 1862, a boat rowed out to Sagamore with 7 men on board.  Their leader was Henry Crane, from Tampa.  For some reason he had come across the state rather than to the Unionist refugee camp on Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay.  He brought two companions with him and found 4-5 more volunteers from among the Indian River residents, one of the latter being James Armour.  Armour had been conscripted in the summer of 1862, but deserted at the first opportunity and returned to the Indian River.  With the approval of Rear Admiral Bailey, the regional commander, Crane and his volunteers embarked on a mission up the Indian River.  While some lofty goals of going overland to capture a Confederate steamer on the upper St. Johns River fell through the crew made good use of their time.  The group captured two schooners and two small boats, destroyed numerous stashes of salt totaling over 150 sacks, destroyed a sailyard, and captured several bales of cotton.  They also made a rather interesting find: whale oil, lamps, and oil pumps from the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse (and perhaps also from Cape Florida).  Although not specifically named in any report that I have found, James Armour is credited with making the find.  Hiding out in New Smyrna Beach, James Paine received word via one of the blockade runners captured by Sagamore about the recovery of the lamps and oil.  He notified the Confederate Lighthouse Bureau of this and that he was leaving Florida for Charleston until the war ended.

Admiral Bailey subsequently commended Crane and his volunteers in an official report, remarking on their “efficient service in clearing out the Rebels from Indian River and in breaking up their connection with the lawless traders of Nassau; and it is scarcely too much to say that without the local knowledge and personal acquaintance possessed by these men it would have been nearly impossible to effect this very desirable object.”

The Anaconda Squeezes The Indian River:  The Florida East Coast south from Cape Canaveral and most of the Florida Gulf Coast fell under the responsibility of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron, based out of Key West.  This long stretch of coast lacked any major ports and thus the Union Navy saw it as a backwater post.  The threat of malaria and yellow fever added to this feeling.

The earliest patrols off the Indian River and Jupiter Inlets occurred in the summer of 1862.  Starting with the Sagamore's patrol in October, 1-2 blockade ships were kept on station almost continuously until January 1865.  Generally, ships would go on patrol for a at most a couple months then  return to Key West before being rotated to another patrol station.  This could change based on specific missions, weather, condition of the crew, supplies (fuel, food, and fresh water), and the captures (prize ships needed to be taken to Key West and sometimes had to be towed).  Supply ships would sometimes visit the blockaders to provide relief during a longer patrol.  If two ships were on station then one would be posted at each inlet.  When there was only a single ship it would patrol back and forth between the two, probably focusing on whichever inlet seemed to offer the best conditions at the time.  The blockaders were at liberty give chase if when a vessel was sighted; they were not tethered to their patrol location.

At its peak, the East Gulf Blockading Squadron had more than 30 ships assigned to blockade duty.  At least 8 ships patrolled off the Indian River at least once during the war: Sagamore, Beauregard, Gem of the Sea, Pursuit, Roebuck, James S. Chamberlain, James L. Davis, and Union.

· Sagamore was 1 of 23 Unadilla-class “90-day” gunboats built during the war specifically as blockade ships.  These gunboats were combination single-screw steamers and two-masted schooners.  They carried only 5 guns, operated with a crew of about 114, and had a draft of less than 10 ft.  Sagamore was the most successful 90-day gunboat of the war with 21 captures.

· Beauregard was a schooner that began her career as a Confederate privateer.  Captured in the first year of the war, she was purchased by the US Navy which made the unusual choice to keeper her name, that of a Confederate general.

· Gem of the Sea and Pursuit were 6-gun barks.  Roebuck, James S. Chamberlain, and James L Davis were 4-gun barks.

Union was a large steamer originally used as a gunboat supply ship, but in 1863 she moved to blockade duty, albeit armed with a single gun.

Blockade duty tended to be tedious, but potentially lucrative with a good capture since the crew split prize money when a capture was sold by the Navy at auction.  It could be deadly: not from gun battles with blockade runners – who were usually unarmed and rarely fought back – but from nature.  A yellow fever epidemic hit Key West in 1864 and many ships had to be sent north to cooler climates to recover after their crews were stricken.  The James L. Davis became a victim of yellow fever while on blockade duty in the summer of 1864.  The first sick man – unfortunately, the ship's surgeon – reported sick on July 19.  34 men were stricken by August 8, leaving only 14 to operate the ship!  17 of the sick men eventually died, the last two by suicide probably induced by feverish delirium.

The Union Navy captured about 50 blockade runners in the Indian River, or in or near Indian River Inlet or Jupiter Inlet and a few others were taken off Cape Canaveral or between Jupiter and the Keys.  The runners were almost evenly split between schooners and sloops, plus one passing steamship.  Outgoing ships carried cotton and sometimes turpentine.  Incoming ships nearly always carried salt, often coffee and liquor, and sometimes dry goods.  Arms and ammunition were rare here.  About 60% of captured ships were British flagged and most of the rest were Confederate flagged. A few US flagged ships and 1 Spanish ship were caught as well.  The East Gulf Blockading Squadron is credited with 300 blockade runners captured or destroyed during the war.  Current estimates are that another 250 ships ran the blockade from Florida without being caught, mostly during the first two years of the war.

Finale:  After the fall of Vicksburg, the state of Florida took on an added importance for the Confederacy: beef.  Florida had the second largest cattle population in the Confederacy at the start of the war (after only Texas).  It is estimated than in 1860 there were 30 herds of cattle in Brevard County, 3 of them at least 4000 cattle and 1 over 10,000 cattle.  All cattle at the time were open range which meant a great deal of work when the time came to round them up.  Cattle drives occurred from the Kissimmee Prairie area up to the Georgia border, much like was depicted in “A Land Remembered.”

The Indian River got a famous visitor at the end of the war: John C. Breckenridge.  The former US vice president, Confederate general, and last Confederate secretary of war fled through Florida, accompanied by John Taylor Wood (grandson of Zachary Taylor) and several others.  Both Breckenridge and Wood later wrote about their experiences.  “Confederate Swamp Fox” J. J. Dickison provided a small boat from the Columbine, a river steamer that Dickinson had famously.  A local resident helped transport the boat from the St. Johns River to the Indian River.  Breckenridge cast off from Carlile's Landing (just north of modern Titusville) on May 31, 1865.  Traveling down the Indian River they avoided a camp of blockaders at the Indian River Inlet then crossed over to the Atlantic Ocean, probably at Peck's Lake.  They mention passing the darkened Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, but didn't stop there.  After a near miss with a Union blockade ship, some improvised piracy to swap their boat for a better one, and a tense visit to Miami the group eventually made it to Cuba.

With the war over, many blockade ships were sold off.  Among these was a sidewheel steamer that started as the blockade runner CSS Neptune, but was captured and turned into the blockade ship USS Clyde.  Sold in 1865, it was rechristened the Indian River and became the first steamboat on its namesake waterway only to sink near Indian River Inlet in Dec 1865.

With the war over, restoration of the Southern lighthouses became a major priority.  New York insurance companies even petitioned Congress about the importance of restoring the Cape Canaveral, Jupiter Inlet, and Cape Florida Lighthouses.  By June of 1866, Cape Florida and Jupiter Inlet were active once again.  Canaveral would wait until 1868 because of the need to build a new lighthouse – something that had been planned even before the war.


After his wildly successful forays on the Indian River, Henry Crane followed the Sagamore to the Gulf Coast.  Most of the rest of his volunteers left Navy service, but Crane remained until late 1863 when he transferred to the Army to form the 2nd Florida Union Cavalry.  This regiment consisted primarily of Unionist refugees and Confederate deserters, and operated out of Fort Myers against the Confederate cattle operations.  Crane’s son spent the war in the Confederate army and his wife and daughters fled Tampa for Key West, never to return.  They Cranes were one of the many torn apart by the war.

Joseph Papy never worked again as a lighthouse keeper.  His marriage failed and he worked the rest of his life in Key West as a grocery clerk.  His grandson, Bernie Papy, became a famous state representative nicknamed “The King of the Keys.”

Augustus Oswald Lang deserted from the Confederate Army in mid-1863.  He returned to Lake Worth where he lived as a hermit for several years and opened the first Lake Worth Inlet.  He later moved to what is now St. Lucie County, married a 14-year old, and was murdered in 1873 by cracker cowmen over a dispute unrelated to the war.

Lang's fellow lighthouse disablers, Francis Ivey and John Whidden/Whitton, both served under Henry Crane in the 2nd Florida Cavalry.  After the war, Whidden fatally stabbed Ivey in a petty dispute.  He continued to live a violent life, committing various crimes until finally jailed for a murder several decades after the war.  He died in jail.

James Paine eluded capture and returned to St. Lucie after the war.  The county seat had moved away during the war, but Paine and his family remained to ran a store/hotel/post office for decades.  He even served a single term as a state representative in the 1870s.

William Benson Davis fled the Indian River area for the safety of Key West where he ingratiated himself with the Collector of Customs.  He was appointed head keeper of the reactivated Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in which capacity he served for a few years before resigning for health reasons and returning to whence had had come in Connecticut three decades earlier.

James Armour earned letters of recommendation from the captain of the Sagamore and the Admiral Bailey of the EGBS.  His actions secured him a job as assistant keeper of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.  He married Almedia Carlile – of the Carlile Landing family – possibly after her brother, Lawrence John Carlile, had been another of Crane's volunteers.  Captain Armour, as he was commonly called, succeeded Davis as head keeper and served a total of 40 years as keeper.

At least 6 other Civil War veterans served as assistant keepers at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.  The first, Dempsey Cain, served with Davis and Armour.  He became sheriff of Brevard County then settled at the mouth of the Sebastian River.  He is considered the founder of the town of Roseland.  John Rogers Umfreville served the entire war in the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry, ending the war a Lieutenant.  He came to Jupiter, but died of an accidental gunshot wound.  Hannibal Pierce served in an Illinois cavalry regiment then as an officer in a USCT regiment, but decided he had enough of Chicago winters and came to Florida in 1872.  He was an assistant keeper for a year at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse then moved to Hypoluxo Island where he became one of the earliest pioneers of Palm Beach County.  The memoirs of his son are now the basis for a hugely successful series of children's books, “The Adventures of Charlie Pierce.”

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse still shines today.


Last changed:  06/23/16

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