The question of property ruminates
in your brain as your gaze wanders to a carved wooden signpost
along the path leading to the wharf. It says "Home of the
47th Pennsylvania Regiment, Home of the Brave - 1863." Meanwhile,
voices are coming from inside one of the buildings. "You
will therefore render them every assistance in your power and
protect them with your guns and all the force under your command,
if necessary."3* A uniformed man has just finished
reading a note. Seated around him are fifteen or so soldiers.
"That was sent yesterday from Key West."
The speaker gestures to his left to a man seated. "With
Enoch as a guide, Lt. Meyers of the 47th who arrived yesterday
will head inland with fifteen men to the Myakka River and Horse
"Enoch, any comments? After the meeting feel free to ask
him questions. He's been living here on the island for a couple
years and knows the area. Enoch?"
Enoch Daniel stands. "The beginning of the month, December
2, I left for Key West to talk with Federal officers about raising
a volunteer force from these parts. A few days ago, December
14, General Woodbury notified our commander in New Orleans of
the prospects we have here of enlisting to our cause rebel deserters
and draft evaders hiding out around Charlotte Harbor. We're in
the process forming a group called the Florida Rangers. One of
our bigger problems we need to deal with are the blockade runners
- those smaller ships getting through at night with troop supplies.
This area is big in cattle..." He's interrupted by a hand
in the far corner.
"Tell 'em what they can expect from the locals?"
"Good thought. There are essentially three types, the plantation
workers raising crops and cattle for the Confederate troops as
their contribution to the cause, the soldiers themselves and,"
pointing to himself, "Union sympathizers like me and James
Thompson there. Of course then there are those hiding out in
the back swamps avoiding either side."
Not long after that meeting, on Thursday, December 25, 1863,
three-year island residents and refugee James Henry Thompson
kissed his wife Sophire and three-year-old daughter Laura, and
met up with Enoch Daniel and others loyal to the Union along
with the island's reconnaissance force from the 47th Pennsylvania
3* Theater Commander
Theodorus Baily to Captain Baxter December 16, 1863.