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1865 March 2: “We shall do our best and if we get wiped out so be it”

March 2, 2015

The Battle of Olustee (February 20, 1864) was the only major Civil War battle in Florida.  Throughout the rest of 1864 and into the spring of 1865, the 2nd Florida Cavalry repeatedly thwarted Union attempts to take any of the Confederate-held northern and central portions of the state.  About all the Union forces could do is blockade the state, and Union troops occupied major ports such as Key West.  Captain Frank Harding’s letter may be referring to what will become known as the Battle of Natural Bridge on March 6 on the St. Marks River.  Perhaps his next letter will tell us.

The original letter is in the Frank D. Harding Papers (River Falls Mss AB), University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives and Area Research Center.

On board Str. [Steamer] Magnolia
Off the harbor of St. Marks Fla.
March 2d 1865

Dear Father

                       As this may be my last chance for writing, I will drop you a few lines.

We left Key West Feb. 22d and arrived off this place three days ago.  We have been prevented from landing on account of dense Fog (it is thick enough to cut).  As soon as it clears up we shall land, and try and take the place.  They have a nice little fort here which I suppose that they will try and keep but we shall do our best and if we get wiped out so be it.  The Union has just come along and says that he will take our letters home, so I must stop.  Give my love to Mother & Diantha.  If I come out right side up I will write you again.  Should any thing happen that I should not be able to write, some one will do it for me.

Yours, Frank

/   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   /

Frank Harding letter of March 2, 1865, from the Frank D. Harding Papers (River Falls Mss AB) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Frank Harding letter of March 2, 1865, from the Frank D. Harding Papers (River Falls Mss AB) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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