Sunday, April 22, 2012

St. Andrews Bay Salt Works Raid Event 21-22 April 2012

Salt works kettle/boiler display:

Salt works historic marker:

During the Civil War, St. Andrews Bay, Florida, was an immensely important area of salt production for the Confederacy along the Florida Gulf Coast. The second annual living history event commemorating Union Navy raids on Confederate salt works in St. Andrews Bay was held this weekend (21-22 April). The event is put together by the City of Panama City, the Panama City Historical Society, and the Steam Sloop Pawnee Marine Guard (a member organization of the CWN150 Blog). Participating organizations include the Port Columbus National Museum of Civil War Naval History, the USS Fort Henry Living History Association (both member organizations of the CWN150), and the USN Sea Cadet Corps. The event recalls and informs about the importance of salt making to the Confederacy and the Union efforts to disrupt these efforts during the Civil War.

Day 1 (Saturday, 21 April) began fair and cloudy and progressively degenerated into waves of strong rain squalls pushing onshore from the Gulf of Mexico. The day was scrubbed, with some activities in the morning, but no beach landing and assault in the afternoon due to the weather and safety concerns (lightning and strong winds).

Day 2 (Sunday, 22 April) dawned breezy and cloudy, but the sun was out in force by mid-morning. We had a complete day today, doing living history stuff in the morning, and in the afternoon a beach landing of marines and sailors on the Port Columbus Museum’s steam launch. The landing included pyrotechnics planted in the beach (to simulate bombardment from Union gunboats offshore); as we were about to hit the beach they went off, drenching the landing party with sand, detritus and water. Our objective was to destroy a Confederate salt works and withdraw back to our ship. After landing, the marines advanced and set up a defensive perimeter against Confederate home guard. On orders from our landing party officer, I advanced, protected by a contingent of seamen armed with pistol/cutlass and musket, set charges against the main salt works, and after orders from the landing party CO to ignite, we withdrew to the beach and watched the works blow.

I’ll be doing some posts on actions against salt works at St. Andrews Bay later this year as we hit the 150th Anniversary of these events.

US Navy steam launch landing marines and sailors to assault salt works last year (2011). Photo by Paige Creel:

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