Welcome to Black Hammock Island

The Civil War

The rivers of northeastern Florida played a very important role for ships to get necessary supplies in and out of the harbors.  Most importantly, the resources of lumber, salt, cattle, hogs and other food were critical for the livelihood and support the cause. 

The city of Jacksonville waterways were established to fight the Union army with locations at Mayport Mills-Fort Steele, St. Johns Bluff, Yellow Bluff, Pilot Town, Fort George Island, Kingsley Plantation and Cedar Point.  In 1861, Florida elected to leave the Union-Federalist to join the Southern states in the Confederacy and as a result Florida sent over 14,000 troops to battle.  

The first Union occupation in Jacksonville, Florida began on March 12, 1862 and ended 1864.  The first successful battle of the Union was when the Union naval fleet captured Fernandina to the north and St. Augustine to the south and which allowed the Union to establish a naval base at
Mayport Mills.  As a result, naval ships became very active with the freedom of slaves, freedmen and Union supporters Mayport Mills became a temporary refugee settlement. 

St. Johns Bluff was established on the southside of the St. John’s River on 9-9-1862 with the directions of Brigadier General Joseph Finegan of the Confederacy to secure 18 miles upriver. 

On 9-17-1862 a runaway slave told Commander Charles Steedman of the Union army that the Confederates had established their position of the access to the St. Johns River.   The first attempt to overcome the camp was not productive, therefore, on 10-1-1862 the Union gunboat squadron and 1500 troops were successful with the capturing of the bluff until the end of the Civil War. 

Yellow Bluff Fort was not actually a Fort, but provided location to store the T-shaped earthworks and large guns which was located about 5 miles north on the St. Johns River.

The Federal troops controlled  this area in 1862 until the end of the war.   After the end of the Civil War this location was utilized and became homes for 364 Federal troops from the Massachusetts Regiment.  

Pilot Town was given it’s name from the resident river pilots which is located on the Bratton Island and is on the St. Johns River across from Mayport Mills.  This strategic location played an important part in guiding the Federalist gunboats which patrolled the Atlantic Ocean and the dangerous sand bar.   Subsequently, a refugee colony was established housing over 100 people who consisted of freedmen, slaves and white Federalist supporters. 

Fort George Island is adjacent to the north of Bratton Island which includes the cotton plantation owned by Zephaniah Kingsley.  During the Civil War, the plantation was owned by Charles H. Barnwell who abandoned the plantation for the safety of his family.  He decided to move his family back to South Carolina, join the Confederate Army while leaving abondoning his plantation.     

The United States had passed laws making the importation of slaves illegal.  In East Florida, Ft. George Island, Fernandina on Amelia Island which guarded the entrance to the St. Marys River, was an open ports . Goods from all over the world were being smuggled into the country as American ports were closed to foreign ships.   These ports were frequnetly used by  smugglers, pirates and a haven for cutthroats and criminals. Many American and Spanish settlers profited from the illegal trade.  The Florida's Spanish government was too weak to stop this illicit activity.

Cedar Point is located in the northeastern section of Jacksonville, Florida that lies on Black Hammock Island.   Consequently, in July 1862, the Broward Plantation was shelled and burned by the Federialist-Union troops, completely destroying it.  The record of the Union Gunboat U.S.S. Cimarron documents the destruction of the salt works at Cedar Point in October, 1862

At the end of the Civil War the salt works which had been developed at Cedar Point proved to be the greatest contribution in terms of monetary value to the Confederate Army. 

By the war’s end, Florida production of salt had proved to be the greatest contribution in terms of monetary value to the Confederate economy. 

“Nothing I can conceive would strike a heavier blow at the Confederate forces, than the total destruction of all salt works on the cost and in it’s neighborhood”.   Union Commander
Maxwell Woodhull, Naval Officer, November, 1862.   
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