Author and Local NW Florida Historian
In the Fall of 1863, the Federal forces that were in possession of the military installations in Pensacola, Florida decided to capitalize on the intelligence they were receiving that there were many men in the area of northwest Florida and south Alabama who were not willing to serve the Confederacy and would be willing to join the Union army and fight for the Union. The new commander, Brigadier General Alexander Asboth set out to make his orders come to fruition. Within seven months he had succeeded in recruiting about 600 men and by the end of the war, he had recruited slightly over 700.
This book is the culmination of nearly two decades of research into the men who served in the 1st Florida Cavalry Union Volunteers (1st FCUV) and the history of the area that contributed the majority of the Southern men to this Union regiment. It is a combination of history and genealogy and includes a look at the 1860 demographic and economic indicators of the nine counties that provided the majority of these men to the regiment; a brief military history of the area; a genealogy outline of each man’s life and service, including any Confederate service found; and an analysis of the men in aggregate to better understand how their individual experiences were impacted by, and impacted, the area before and during the War.
It can be difficult to look back over 156 years and attempt to understand the circumstances and motivations of these men. They have been characterized as deserters, draft dodgers, Unionists and spies. They may have been some of each of these but they were certainly individuals presented with a War in their backyard. Food was scarce and safety was an illusion. In these circumstances, the men of the 1st Florida Cavalry Union Volunteers made their individual decisions to fight against their neighbors, and in some cases, their communities. Some did that with valor and some didn’t. Courage can be a difficult thing to define in these kinds of circumstances. Looking back, we should limit our need to judge and make a better effort at understanding.
The 1st Florida Cavalry Union Volunteers never served outside of Pensacola, the Florida panhandle and south Alabama but they certainly were a key component of the Federal occupation of Pensacola, played a role in disrupting the Confederate presence in the upper Gulf Coast and had a strong supportive role in the final campaign of the war in and around Mobile, AL.
"Have received your book,... and must say I am very impressed.... Your scholarship shows through in every chapter. The comprehensive roster showing which men rode in which campaigns is also very informative and precisely the information I am seeking. The opening chapters describing the makeup of the nearby counties in the years leading up to the war are very revealing.... (Y)our book is well written, beautifully researched and will offer hours of reflection on those dark days from the past when the country was torn in two by contending cultures. Thanks for all the hard work and for this book! " - Jim G.
"I've read your book... Excellent! It was a very smooth and easy read, and I learned a lot." - Mary K.
"Your book is very good - read it cover to cover." - Elaine W.
"It's a good book!" - Calvin R.
"This is quite well done....I was only vaguely aware of the 1st Florida....Keep up the good work. Future generations will thank you." - John B.
"I have just received your history of the 1st FL Cavalry. It was, for me, an answer to prayer! - Scott S."
"Using census data, Marsh analyzes and then paints an illuminating and socioeconomic portrait of the men who rode with the 1st Florida Union Cavalry, together with an analysis of the region they hailed from....
Kudos ... for this illuminating look into the historical, social, and economic backgrounds of the men and region that helped create the 1st Florida Cavalry Union Volunteers." - Paul Taylor, Civil War News, October 2018.