On October 8, 1863, Brigadier General Alexander Asboth was transferred to Pensacola to take command of the District of West Florida. Twenty-one days later he was instructed to take immediate steps to raise and enlist a regiment of men from the surrounding area; primarily the northwest Florida and south Alabama. He took the task up immediately, though he was never given the tools he requested to be as successful as he believed he could be. By May 1864 he had recruited enough local men to fill six companies (somewhere around 600 men). And by the end of the war, he had recruited about 100 more.
Unlike most of the other Union regiments of southern men (1st Alabama Cavalry also remained in the general area of recruitment), this regiment remained in the area where the men were recruited and then fought, recruited, and scouted for the Union for the last 16 months of the war. When I first started researching this regiment I was so disappointed that finding any information on the regiment and the men’s service was nearly impossible. So, I started with the muster rolls. The result is a book on the history of the regiment and the men who fought with it. As soon as it is published, I will be posting more information here on how to purchase.
What I would like to do for the next couple of posts is to present some of the more interesting aspects that won’t be in the book.
One of the reasons the book on the 1st Florida Cavalry isn’t finally published is I’ve spent the last year scanning the early church records from Yellow River Baptist Church in Oak Grove to create a book of membership records from 1840-1950. It didn’t take me long to discover something astonishing: 14 men from the Church are also in the 1st Florida Cavalry Union Volunteers muster rolls and an additional 4 sons of members. I had always known that the area was settled by folks who tended to be intensely independent (some of my family do use other terms here) but it was surprising to find so many who made what had to be a very difficult decision located in a relatively small area of the northwest Florida panhandle and all attending the same church. From this discovery I had to start wondering if the church somehow fostered a “Unionist” position on the war. That’s a question that probably won’t ever be answered because the church’s business records simply do not mention the war at all. Which is also somewhat interesting given the turmoil in the area during the war.
Here are the names that appear in both the Yellow River Baptist Church records and in the 1st Florida Union Cavalry. I would love to hear from any descendants of these men.
- Nicholas Baggett
- Seaborn Baggett
- Uriah Barton
- Allen Campbell
- Charles M. Campbell
- Jasper Chestnut
- James Millard Gaskin
- Seth Gaskin
- Moses Andrew George
- Zebedee Greenwood
- William L. Richbourg
- Archibald (Archy) Smith
- Henry W. Steele
- Celestine Josiah Ward
- William Lafayette Barrow, son of Richmond and Martha Barrow
- William P. Clary, son of James D. And Mary E. Clary
- Henry H. Dixon, son of A.B. and Ann Dixon
- David Allen Hart, son of John and Nancy Hart