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., in 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. Navy victory. “It is gratifying to learn through a rebel source that we have captured Cedar Keys,” the newspaper says in an extensive report.
The newspaper account notes the Gulf Coast produces excellent hardwoods for shipbuilding and that the raid effectively shut off a key supply source for Confederate shipbuilders. It notes Union Navy forces which 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 through Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. With those areas coming under Union control or dominance, the newspaper 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.