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Florida Civil War Era Food History: Cow Cavalry
“Small militia groups were formed to protect the inner part of Florida. These units were mostly made up of ranchers and cowhands. They were called the “Cow Cavalry.” Small numbers of Union soldiers would hold cavalry raids in south Florida to capture cattle. The Union Navy would also conduct raids along the coast trying to destroy the salt work plants. It was the mission of the cow cavalry to protect the cattle ranches, salt works, and small towns of south Florida.
Numerous small battles occurred as the groups met, but most battles were never documented. Florida’s greatest contribution to the war, besides the 5,000 Floridian men who fought, was food supplies. Florida sent beef, pork, fish, and fruit to the Confederate troops. A vital part of the Confederate strategy was to keep Florida’s inland roads and rivers protected so that the supplies could get safely northward. The soldiers of the “Cow Calvary” helped keep the Confederate army supplied with food from Florida.” (source)
IN MEMORY COW CAVALRY CO. B 1ST BATTALION FL. SPECIAL CAVALRY C.S.A. 1863 - 1865 ERECTED BY PLANT CITY CHAPTER #1931 UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY NOVEMBER 17, 2007
“By 1863 the Confederate army was suffering severe food shortages. Capt. John T. Lesley was commissioned to recruit from Ichepuckssa (cork area of Plant City) a company of pioneer men to round up and drive the wild cattle of Florida north to the railroad stations. Many were too young or too old for regular military service. With great effort, along with 8 other companies in Florida, these men successfully completed their mission overseeing drives as far north as Charleston.”