Sunday, January 15

This Week in the Civil War: Sunday, Jan. 15, 1862

USS Hatteras Pounds Cedar Key, Fla.

The Union Navy, intent on further tightening the blockade on the South and seizing Confederate outposts all along its coast, dispatches the USS Hatteras to Cedar Key, Fla., this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. The warship destroys seven small ships suspected of blockade running that are loaded with cotton and other goods at this key supply point along Florida's Gulf coast. Dispatches of the era report heavy firing is heard for miles all around as the raid opens. Troops go ashore and destroy the railroad depot, which is at the western terminus of the Florida Railroad. They also damage the telegraph office and other buildings. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports afterward that Union forces rejoiced in the latest U.S. Naval victory. "It is gratifying to learn through a rebel source that we have captured Cedar Keys," the newspaper says in an extensive report on the ramifications. The newspaper account notes the Gulf Coast produces excellent cedar and other hardwoods for shipbuilding and that the raid has shut off a key supply source for Confederate shipbuilders. It notes Union Navy forces that also went to Key West and earlier seized Fort Pickens on the Florida Gulf Coast have had a string of startling successes in blocking Confederate supply routes to Florida through the Gulf of Mexico. With those areas under Union control, the paper boasts, "there is not much left of the state of Florida worth having." The USS Hatteras would go on to sink several suspected blockade runners in the Gulf before being sunk itself by a Confederate attack off the Texas coast later in the war.

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