Florida entered the Civil War as one of the original seceding states. Despite Union incursions and an ever tightening naval blockade, Florida ended 1862 as an increasingly brittle but intact member of the Confederacy.
In April 1864, a Union army expedition of almost 1,000 men from the 17th Connecticut Infantry, the 75th Ohio Mounted Infantry, and the 35th U.S. Colored Infantry, under the command of Brigadier General William Birney, moved into Volusia County to disrupt Confederate supply lines and destroy supply sources. One of the objectives of Birney's Raid was Spring Garden Plantation (now De Leon Springs State Park)where three cotton gins and a gristmill with four grinding stones for producing corn meal had been constructed. The mill and gins were all powered by an undershot water wheel supplied by a large natural spring. The Union soldiers destroyed the plantation and the gristmill machinery was thrown into the spring. The water wheel was reconstructed in 1999 and is now part of a restaurant at the park.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH:
During the Civil War, New Smyrna (the word Beach was added to the city's name in 1947) was an active area for blockade running and salt production. Several military actions took place there. In March 1862, a Union navy raiding lorce from the USS Penguin and the USS Henry Andrew was attacked at the Old Stone Wharfby Confederate soldiers of the 3rd Florida Infantry. The Union force suffered eight killed, several wounded and three taken prisoner. The Confederate force reported no casualties. An escaped slave who had guided the Union force was also captured and hanged. In July 1863, the Union navy returned to New Smyrna when the USS Oleander and the USS Beauregard quietly slipped into the Indian River and anchored opposite the town. In what the Confederates considered retaliation for the earlier Union defeat, the Union ships shelled the community and then sent a landing lorce ashore to burn those buildings which had escaped the shelling. After destroying large quantities of cotton and several vessels to prevent their capture, the community's residents Hed to the nearby woods. In May 1864, a column ol Union troops under the command ot Brigadier General William Birne) entered New Smyrna during an expedition into Central Florida. Ihev captured two schooners there, the Fannie and the Shell, loaded with cotton and ready to run the blockade.
OLD FORT PARK, NSB:
This city park contains massive coquina stone ruins known locally as the "Old Fort" but which arc- most likely the remnants of an 18th century British period residential or commercial structure. In the 1850s, a large wooden hotel with about 60 rooms was constructed bv John and Jane Sheldon on top ol the old coquina foundation. During the Union navy's bombardment of the community in July 1S63, the Sheldon Hotel was destroyed by the explosion of gunpowder that had been stored in the cellar. After the Civil War, the Sheldon family returned to New Smyrna and rebuilt their hotel on top of the ruins. The hotel remained standing until 1896 when it was torn down.