Jackson County Times

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Marianna Resident Encounters the Union Navy

By Dale Cox
The following account of Marianna businessman Eli Moore’s encounter with the Union navy at St. Andrew Bay was written in 1862 by Miss Sarah Jones (pseudonym of Catherine Cooper Hopley). An English tutor hired to serve on the Sylvania plantation of Governor John Milton near Blue Spring, she witnessed many incidents of life in Jackson County during the Civil War period.

“A resident of Marianna had gone down to St. Andrew’s Bay to fit up temporary salt-works, in order to make enough for his own family use. Such practices were becoming common wherever persons lived in the neighborhood of the coast. Another gentleman contemplated establishing works, large enough to supply one of the midland towns, where he had been offered as much as ninety dollars a barrel!

“Our Marianna adventurer’s salt-works became known to the enemy, parties of whom were in the habit of landing for predatory excursions along the coast. One day a skirmishing party arrived on the shore, and coming up to the place, asked him what he was doing there.

“Mr. [Eli] Moore told them.

“‘How much are you making?’ asked the captain, ‘and for whom? Is it for sale? Is it for the Government? Is any one else making salt about here? Who? How far off? How long have they been making it? How long have you been engaged in this business?’

“All of which questions were replied to by the saltmaker.

“The Federal captain then expressed a wish to see the other works, but Mr. Moore hesitated, and made some excuses about the distance, and so forth.

“‘But I want to see them – I insist on it; or I will order my men to destroy these works of yours immediately,’ said the captain.

“The prudent salt-maker still hesitated, and pleaded the inconvenience of leaving his business; but upon the Federal captain becoming furious, and threatening to shoot him down on the spot, he changed his tone, and said in a sort of confidential manner, ‘Well, to tell the truth, there is a horse company (cavalry) not far from here, and I thought, may be, you’d rather not tumble up against them.’

“The captain suddenly recollected that he had an engagement which compelled his immediate return, and cried out, ‘Turn about, boys! – march!’ to his men; adding to the family salt-maker, ‘Well, well! I have not time to go so far to-day; but mind you do not make any salt for the rebel Government. I do not object to your making a little for yourself, but you must be quick about it; we shall not permit you to be here long.’

“By this pardonable ruse, Mr. Moore saved not only his own, but his neighbour’s salt-works, both of them making the most of the time their federal masters allowed to their sovereign subjects.”

Editor’s Note: This and other accounts of life in Jackson County during the Civil War years are among the stories found in writer and historian Dale Cox’s new book, The History of Jackson County, Florida: The War Between the States. The book is available locally at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna or online at www.amazon.com.

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