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News From the Front

An Announcement from Florida Researchers Zack Waters and Jimmy Edmonds

January 18th, 2008As the visitors of the Civil War Florida website are well aware, thousands of gallant Floridians fought and died in R.E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from 1861-1865. History, however, has ignored their story for nearly a century and a half.

Now, after years of research and writing, the story of these brave men from the southernmost state has finally been told. Historians Zack C. Waters and James C. Edmonds are excited to announce the completion of “A Small But Spartan Band” - the first full-length history of the Florida Brigade ever to be written. Our book is tentatively due for publication in mid-2008.

We chose to announce this happy news on the Civil War Florida website for two reasons. First of all, the majority of you are descendants of the men profiled in this book and thus should be the first to know. Secondly, we need your help! We hope you will spread the word among family, friends … basically everyone you know or meet.

Stay tuned to Civil War Florida for further updates as we get closer to publication.

Thanks in advance,

Zack C. Waters
James C. Edmonds

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Muster Rolls come Full Cricle

August 22nd, 2007I originally posted this on another site, but thought it should be shown here. I have some quite interesting information to share about an artifact I've recently acquired.

Captain A. Perry Amaker's signature from Civil War Microfilm websiteIt's common knowledge that the First Florida Infantry "officially" mustered into Confederate service in early April 1861, becoming the first unit from Florida to do so. Captain A. Perry Amaker's militia company -- the "Leon Rifles" of Tallahassee -- became known as Company A, the first company in the First Florida Infantry Regiment. Of course I've got all of the Compiled Service Records for Company A on microfilm (it's what I do) -- the earliest roll in the National Archives records dates from April 19th, 1861 at Camp Magnolia. It also shows an enrollment date of April 2, 1861 at Tallahassee.

Here's where things get a bit interesting. I've now got an original muster roll of this unit covering the period of January 14 through January 29, 1861 at Tallahassee. Prewar militia muster rolls, especially of Florida troops, aren't exactly common, but they're out there. However, there are several unique things about this one:

  • It begins on Monday, January 14th, 1861 -- just four days after Florida seceded from the Union

  • It's on an official Confederate muster roll form (yes, an actual parchment "roll" -- about 23" x 31") printed by Ritchie & Dunnovant Printers of Richmond, VA rather than in the form of handwritten letter or list of names (like every other militia roll I've ever seen). This is quite unusual. It's got the "Army of the Confederate States of America" header of the form scratched out (which may be interpreted to mean that the unit was not yet in Confederate service).

  • It's from the first company of the first regiment from Florida to muster into Confederate service.

Captain A. Perry Amaker's signature from January 14th -- 29th 1861 muster roll#2 is really the interesting thing -- why is it on an official Confederate form? Was Tallahassee receiving supplies from the fledgling Confederate government, including stationary, even before the troops were mustered in? Or was this simply a later transcription of a pre-Confederate roll done on newly-obtained Confederate forms (for example, to backpay troops who had enlisted right after secession)? It is signed and dated January 29, 1861, so a post-muster transcription may be unlikely. I haven't yet transcribed all of the names -- will be very interesting to see the deltas between this roll and the first roll in the NARA microfilm.

This is the real deal -- Captain Amaker's signature on the roll matches his signatures found in the NARA microfilm on the various personal papers in his CSR. It's also quite symbolic of what the Civil War Microfilm project is all about, and reaffirms that there's still worlds more information out there about our history just waiting to be discovered and connected with what we already know.

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Civil War Florida earns slot on Civil War Interactive Top 20 List

August 8th, 2007The CWi Readers Choice Top 20 Civil War WebsitesCivil War Florida has been awarded a spot on Civil War Interactive's Top 20 List for this year. I know the webmasters of a few of the other sites personally -- congratulations!

On an unrelated note, the Message Board been thoroughly overhauled after the last massive spam attack. With more popularity comes more spammers hoping to ride your coattails and boost their Google PageRank by spamming links back to their sites on your forum. So, unfortunately, you've now got to be logged in to post a comment. Hopefully this won't discourage folks from posting legitimate comments too much. However, remember that creating an account is free!

Comment . . .

Is this Site still being Maintained?

January 27th, 2007Many of you have emailed me or posted comments over the past few months asking about the current status of this site. First off, my sincere apologies. I’ve been working on a few other projects lately (the biggest of which is the new Civil War Microfilm website), and I haven’t been able to personally respond to everyone who’s written or asked about a soldier they’ve submitted for inclusion on this site.

As many of you have noticed or guessed, there’s a huge backlog of soldiers and other information which folks have added to the database. It all needs to be reviewed and approved before it appears on the public site. The traffic coming into this website increased dramatically in 2006, which is a good thing – but along with that came a corresponding increase in user-submitted content. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m only one guy, and the amount of content as grown well past the point where one person can manage it.

So here’s what we’re going to do: Starting soon (as soon as I can get it built and tested), users will be able to volunteer (as several have already offered) to become Editors on this site. Editors will be able to approve content submitted by other users, fix any errors they find, delete spam and other junk on the Message Board, etc. In return for this service, Editors will be granted complimentary access to the Florida Research Bundle on the Civil War Microfilm website. The idea is that a lot of the “event-level” details one can find on this site are originally found in the Florida Compiled Service Records (which make up the bulk of the Florida Research Bundle), so editors should be able to access these records in order to validate the content they’re entering / editing. I’ll be fleshing out the details over the next week on exactly how this will work and how users can “sign up” to become editors.

Another change that is coming: all submitted content will require citation (i.e., how do you know this and from what source (book, newspaper, etc.) did you find this information?) in order for it to be approved. Linking back to primary sources such as a letter, a specific page of a Pension Application or a card in the CSRs will be highly encouraged.

I’ve you’ve already submitted a soldier / location / other information and it hasn’t yet been approved, 1) I apologize, 2) you’re not alone, 3) and you don’t need to resubmit the information. It’s in the database and it will be approved and made visible on the public site as soon as possible.

Thanks for your patience and continued interest in Florida’s Civil War history as we work through these growing pains.

-- Jim

Jim Studnicki
Webmaster, Civil War Florida

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"When the Secret history of the war is Known - then we will get justice I hope - " -- Captain Council Allen Bryan, Company C, 5th Florida Infantry, regarding the Gettysburg Campaign

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