Let me shift hats from local historian to genealogist. If you really want to know how your Florida panhandle ancestor experienced the war, you must go beyond finding the same name on an index of Confederate soldiers from the general area where your ancestor lived and assuming it is the correct man and that the regiment listed is the only one he served in. Men not only served in regiments formed in the state they were living in but also neighboring states and/or states where significant family members lived. Likewise, in Florida, they may have been in a small, thinly populated county and traveled to a neighboring county to enlist or report after being drafted. At a minimum, the Compiled Service Record (CSRs) for each man with the same name should be downloaded and studied to determine which one may be the correct man. Try to match name, year of birth if given, location where he joined and see if any other known relatives of his were in the same unit (a good reason to research extended family). Family members tended to join together, though not always.
These records were compiled after the war so errors can be plentiful and information missing. Names can be spelled in any number of creative ways, or only initials will be used. And sometimes the unit just stopped recording any information on the men in the regiment, especially in 1864 and 1865. Study every card, read the fine print at the bottom of the card, record every piece of data on a separate piece of paper (especially when he was present, in the hospital, on leave, or on detached service) so you can visualize all that the data is telling you and where inconsistencies occurred. I’ve found the best place online to access CSRs is Fold3, though not all regiments are available yet. If you are already a paying member of Ancestry, you can get a discount at Fold3, and they sometimes run specials or provide a holiday or weekend free. This is the only way you can develop an accurate timeline of his service. Then turn to books, journal articles and maps to put some detail to his experiences. Finally, if they were in a regiment that was merged with another, they may have records in both. And if you pull all of the records, you may find that your ancestor went AWOL before the regiments were merged and therefore never actually served with the consolidated regiment.
In the example above for Seth J. Gaskin, his military headstone gives the 1st FL Cavalry Co B but indicates it was with the Confederacy, not the Union, which is incorrect. Ancestry provides links to his 3rd Battalion Florida Cavalry and his records in the 15th Confederate Cavalry if you search on initials rather than his name. Their transcribed info on the 3rd Florida Battalion Cavalry service doesn’t indicate he deserted before the unit was consolidated into the 15th Confederate Cavalry. So, if you aren’t thorough, you wind up with incomplete information.
If you use Fold3 to download your ancestors CSR, use the “browse” button to find the Confederate Civil War Service Records, in this case for Florida. Then find and click on the name of the battalion or regiment. Scroll down and be sure you have the right unit. You can see by the listings below, some are similar. Usually there will be two sets of cards at the beginning of the alphabetized and grouped names. One will be “Introduction” and the other will be “Unit Information”. The Introduction will give you good citation information for your source and the unit information will provide you a broad overview of the unit. You may find names of officers at the regiments inception, where various companies in the regiment were stationed at different times if they were separated, or a company commander’s brief notes on his company’s activities. It is good overall information on the regiment. Then look for your ancestor.
The following are very short summaries of some of the early regiments formed in Florida.
1st Regiment Florida Cavalry
They were organized July 1861 outside of Tallahassee. The counties where recruitment occurred were Columbia, Nassau, Clay, Suwanee, Leon, Levy, Duval and Alachua. They were stationed in Florida until the Spring of 1862. Seven companies (B-D and G-K) were dismounted. These seven companies were consolidated with the 4th Florida Infantry Regiment in 1863. They were surrendered on 26 April 1865.
1st Regiment Florida Infantry
They were organized March 1861 at the Chattahoochee Arsenal. The counties where recruitment occurred were Alachua, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon and Madison. A number of these men were originally enlisted for one year and had to re-enlist if they stayed with this unit. The regiment was merged with the 3rd Florida Infantry in December 1862. They too were surrendered on 26 April 1865.
2nd Regiment Florida Cavalry
They were organized July 1861 in Jacksonville, FL. While I could not find a list of counties where recruitment took place, a review of the unit information at Fold3 provides the following hints on the counties where they were recruited: Co A/B were originally called the “Milton Dragoons” as an Independent Cavalry Co, Co B/C were called the “St. Johns Rangers”, Co C/D were called the “Marion Dragoons”, Co D/E were called the “Tallahassee Guards”, Co E/F were called the “Beauregard Rangers”, Co F/H were called the “Confederate Rangers”, Co G/I did not list an original name, Co H/K were called the “Leo Dragoons”, Co I/A were called the “Ancilla Troop”, Co K/G were called “Amelia Island Guerillas, Florida Rangers”. They remained in Florida and were surrendered 17 May 1865 at Baldwin, FL.
2nd Regiment Florida Infantry
They were organized July 1861 in Jacksonville, FL. The counties they were recruited from were Escambia (Co. A), Columbia, Leon, Marion, Jackson, Alachua, St. Johns, Putnam, Hamilton, Nassau, and Madison. These men were all initially twelve-month recruits. They were stationed in the Eastern Theater and participated in the Battles of Seven Pines, Cold Harbor (62), Gaines’ Mill, Savage Station, Frazier’s Farm, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. 1864 and 1865 information is minimal. When they surrendered on 9 April 1865, they were a total of 66 men and officers.
3rd Battalion Florida Cavalry (Meyer’s) (15th Confederate Cavalry)
The 3rd Battalion FL Cavalry was organized in Pensacola, FL in March 1862. Originally it was only two companies but eventually was increased to five. It was stationed in Florida and was part of the Department of the Gulf. In September 1863, the 3rd Battalion FL Cavalry was merged into the 15th Confederate Cavalry. They continued to be stationed in the greater Pensacola area. Men may be listed in the Compiled Services records for both units. They may also have records in the 15th Confederate Cavalry, but they deserted well before the 3rd Battalion was merged into the 15th.
3rd Regiment Florida Infantry
The regiment was organized near Pensacola in July 1861. They served at Talbot Island and Cedar Keys until moved to Mobile in December 1862. There they were consolidated with the 3rd Florida Infantry in December 1862.
4th Regiment Florida Infantry
They were organized in Jacksonville, FL in the summer of 1861. The men were raised in the following counties: Gadsden, Franklin, Madison, New River, Lafayette, Columbia, Marion, Levy, Liberty, Washington, Jackson, and Hillsborough. They served in Florida on the east and west coasts of the peninsula until March of 1862 when they were first moved to Pensacola and then north to become part of Braxton Bragg’s Army in Tennessee. They fought at Murfreesboro, Jackson, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Nashville. They were consolidated with the 1st Florida Cavalry Regiment in December 1863.
5th Regiment Florida Infantry
They were organized in Tallahassee in the Spring of 1862 with over 1000 men. The men were raised in the following counties: Baker, Calhoun, Liberty, Madison, Polk, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, and Walton. They served in the Eastern Theater and fought in most of the battles from Second Manassas (1862) to Cold Harbor (1864). They were also stationed in Petersburg in 1864. It was surrendered with 53 men and officers.
6th Regiment Florida Infantry
The regiment was organized in Chattahoochee in March 1862. The men were raised in the following counties: Gadsden, Jackson, Union, Collier and Washington. They served in the Western Theater and fought in a number of battles including Chickamauga and Atlanta. They were surrendered in NC in 1865.
7th Regiment Florida Infantry
The regiment was organized at Gainesville in April 1862. . The men were raised in the following counties: Alachua, Bradford, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Marion. They served in the Western Theater with the Army of Tennessee and fought in a number of major battles including Chickamauga and Nashville. They were surrendered on 26 April 1865 after participating in the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina.
8th Regiment Florida Infantry
The regiment was organized at Lake City in the Summer of 1862. The 950 men were raised in the following counties: Escambia, Gadsden, Jackson, Leon, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington. They served in the Eastern Theater and fought in a number of battles including from Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Cold Harbor and the trenches of Petersburg. Thirty-two men and officers were surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865.
Until Next Month
- By the Noble Daring of Her Sons: The Florida Brigade of the Army of Tennessee, by Jonathan C. Sheppard
- Civil War Journal and Letters of Washington Ives, 4th FLA CSA, by Jim R. Cabaniss
- A Small But Spartan Band: The Florida Brigade in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, by James C. Edmonds