Dr. R. Boyd Murphree

Florida’s role in the American Civil War spanned the entire conflict. From the earliest days of secession in January 1861, when war threatened to break out in Pensacola, to the final surrender of Confederate forces in Florida in May 1865, Floridians experienced all aspects of the war that the South faced as a whole: economic hardship, naval blockade, internal dissension, battle, and final defeat. The purpose of this guide is to identify and describe the Civil War collections and publications available to researchers at the State Archives of Florida and the Florida Collection of the State Library. The following short history provides an overview of the Civil War in Florida and the service of Floridians in the war outside of the state.

Florida Secedes

Battery Lincoln, erected upon Santa Rosa Island, Florida (1861)
Commanding the navy yard at Pensacola and the approaches to Fort Pickens (1861) [RC05598]

The catalyst for the secession of Florida was the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of the United States in November 1860. Fearful that Lincoln and the Republican Party would seek to abolish slavery and thereby destroy the traditional economic and social order of the South, Florida secessionists, led by Governor Madison Starke Perry, called for the state to arm itself in preparation for secession from the United States and the creation of an independent Southern confederacy. The legislature met in regular session on November 26 and voted to call for the election of delegates to a state convention that would convene in January 1861 to decide for or against secession. Every delegate elected to the Convention of the People of Florida [Series S 540] that assembled at Tallahassee on January 3, 1861, supported secession. Their main concern was not whether to secede, but when. The more moderate delegates, known as “cooperationists,” wanted to delay secession until several southern states were ready to leave the Union together. Radical or “fire-eater” delegates demanded Florida’s immediate withdrawal from the United States. The radicals won the debate: the convention passed an ordinance of secession on January 10. The next day, the convention assembled at the state capitol to sign the Ordinance of Secession, which declared Florida’s decision to dissolve its association with the United States and become “a Sovereign and Independent Nation,” making Florida the third state to leave the Union behind South Carolina and Mississippi.

Article and Photo's  from the Florida Memory Collection

 [ AUP

back to Military index

back to Polk Co.,home

updated, Jan.16, 2010

Peggy McSwain