Cedar Key, Florida

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1. Cedar Key, Florida - Wikipedia
2. Florida Railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key history florida
3. The Battle of Station Four - Cedar Key, Florida

Cedar Key, Florida
During the Civil War Cedar Key was occupied by Federal forces on January 15, 1862.  Union forces from the U.S.S. Hatteras attacked the port and rail terminus at Cedar Key and destroyed all structures of military value. In March of that same year Federal forces took Fernandina.  The railroad was basically closed down for the duration of the war.  Rails were stripped north of Balwin to be used on another line.  Seahorse Key was used to house prisoners. Atsena Otie Key was used as a supply depot for Federal troops and a military hospital. Skirmishes were fought between Federal and Confederate forces at Number Four Bridge on the outskirts of Cedar Key.  Federal forces would also make frequent raids up the railroad and Suwannee River to confiscate cotton and cattle.  In the final days of the Civil War what was left of the Confederate treasury was brought by train to David Yulee's plantation (Cottonwood) near Archer.   When Federal troops caught up with the train it was found empty.  Rumors and tales of the treasury's disappearance abound in the area.

Island Hotel, Cedar Key
The structure that is now the Island Hotel was built sometime between 1859 and 1860. Records indicate that Major John Parsons bought the property in 1859. It is likely that construction was finished the following year. The Florida pioneers who settled Cedar Key made the building to last. They mixed oyster shell, limestone and sand to pour tabby walls 10 inches thick. Massive 12-inch oak beams were framed in the basement to support the wooden structure. (Their workmanship has withstood the ravages of time for more than 140 years. The building has survived innumerable hurricanes, floods, storms and other disasters. The floors are uneven. The building contracts and expands with the seasons and has all the "aches and pains" of an elderly lady.   Development of Cedar Key had begun in 1859 in anticipation of the prosperity that completion of the Florida Railroad was expected to bring to the port on the Gulf. Major Parsons and his partner and co-owner Francis E. Hale were among businessmen hoping to take advantage of the economic opportunity when they opened Parsons and Hale's General Store.
The outbreak of the Civil War forced an abrupt halt to Cedar Key development. Union troops considered it a strategic port. They invaded the town and burned down almost every building that wasn't needed to quarter troops or store supplies. The fact that Parsons and Hale's General Store survived the war lends credence to the strong probability that it served as a barracks and warehouse for the Yankees. It may have been used by Confederate troops as well during the times they managed to retake Cedar Key, since building owner Major Parsons was commander of a detachment of Confederate volunteers defending the Gulf Coast against Federal gunboats and troops.
The Fight at Station No. 4
Confederate Captain John Jackson Dickison's efforts weren't limited to the east Florida area. In early February 1865, Dickison moved to cut off a raid from Union-held Cedar Key on Florida's West Coast. On Feb. 8, Major Edmund Weeks led a force of 386 Federal troops -- 186 men of the Second Regiment of the Florida (Federal) Cavalry and 200 men from the Second Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry -- toward Clay Landing and Levyville, located near present day Chiefland. By Feb. 10, Weeks and his troops were near Levyville. On that day, Weeks elected to return to Station Four, on the Fernandina to Cedar Key railroad, and the entry point of the railroad into the Cedar Keys. As they left Levyville, they were observed by Confederate scouts sent by Dickison. Dickison had just returned from Waldo after completing a successful 10-day raid east of the St. John's -- including the fight near Braddock's farm. When Dickison arrived on the west side of the St. Johns, he learned of the Federal incursion from Cedar Key.
Confederate General Samuel Jones ordered Dickison and his tired unit west to drive the Federal troops back toward Cedar Key. On Feb. 12, Dickison arrived at Levyville, where he was joined by Captain Lutterloh and 18 soldiers, 37 militia under Captain King and some additional troops. They followed the Union troops as they withdrew toward Station Four. Weeks arrived at mid-afternoon of Feb. 12, along with 100 head of cattle, 50 former slaves, some wagons, 13 horses and five prisoners. Dickison followed Weeks to Station Four, camped for the night, and opened the skirmish at 7 a.m. on Feb. 13, when, according to Dickison, "the picket of the enemy fired upon my advance while near the Florida Railroad, at the point near the burnt house known as Geiger House." Captain E. Pease, Second U.S. Colored Infantry, was in charge of the advance pickets, when Dickison and his men approached Station Four. Dickison said that after a three and one-half hour battle "the enemy was defeated at all points." He estimated his opposition at 600 and said that he would have destroyed the entire force if he had not run out of ammunition. Dickison, reportedly carrying 200 rounds in his saddlebags, distributed the ammunition to his rear guard, allowing the remainder of his force an orderly withdrawal. Dickison reported that "with the loss of five men wounded, none mortally, we drove the enemy to Cedar Key, killing, wounding and capturing about 70 of his number, recapturing all of the cattle, horses and wagons which they had stolen in their thieving expedition from the citizens in the vicinity of his line of march, all of which has been returned to their proper owners."

Major Edmund Weeks viewed the fight differently, In his report he said that on the return from Levyville he "found his men flying in all directions," so "he left an officer to halt them and bring them up." Weeks found members of his cavalry unit south of the trestle (at Station Four) and "immediately pushed them across the bridge." Meanwhile, Dickison and his men were exchanging fire with Pease and his troops, about 40 in all, who charged the Rebel force approaching Station Four. Weeks said they took the bridge and "drove the enemy gradually back until they broke and took to flight. Union cavalry scouts followed the Rebels to Yearty's Place about six miles from Station Four. There they reported a large body of infantry, moving toward Station Four. Weeks had 250 men to oppose the Rebel force, but with night approaching, elected to move across the trestle to Way Key, completing the withdrawal just 20 minutes before Dickison and his men arrived at Station Four.

Sgt. H.C. Jones of the Second U.S. Colored Infantry provided another view of the skirmishing around Cedar Key in a letter reproduced here as it was written to the Weekly Anglo-African, dated Feb. 13, 1865. "I have been silent for some time, but once more I take opportunity offered to pen you the news from this vicinity. Our battalion (the 2nd) was ordered to move with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens and eight days' rations. After marching some 40 or 50 miles, we were attacked by the Rebels at a place called Day Landing. In this engagement we lost but one. We were then ordered to a place called Sodom, where we had one wounded, and from which place we camped for the night, being very tired. "The sun rose clear and beautiful, and many who saw it rise never witnessed its setting, for we were called again into battle.
Our men stood up bravely, although the thing was managed poorly by those in command, and we had twice our number to contend with. We had only three companies. They opened on us again with their artillery, and we replied with our small arms. We called for no quarter. We had no time for fun either. "We have to report that 35 were killed and 16 wounded on the Rebel side, while we had some five killed and eight or nine wounded."


(11-2006) Cedar Key Museum
Interpretive Sign: After the Federal Raid of January 16, 1862, David Yulee, President of the Florida Railroad, wrote Gen. Robert E. Lee, urging that Cedar Keys be re-taken by Confederate forces
Yulee's letter


(11-2006) Cedar Key Museum
Interpretive Sign: Although the town's population was not much over 100 during the War years, Cedar Key was important to the Confederacy as a shipping point. The conquest of Cedar Key by Federal forces was essential in the general blockade of the South


(11-2006) Cedar Key Museum
Interpretive Sign: The Santiago De Cuba, one of the Federal ships used to blockade the coast off Cedar Key


(11-2006) Cedar Key Museum
Interpretive Sign: During the occupation of Cedar Keys Federal troops made frequent raids into the interior, capturing slaves, horses, cattle, cotton, and food supplies

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