The Cow Cavalry: Florida Food for the Confederacy
In the two years after the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter in 1861, the Civil War had ravaged the American landscape. Once sleepy fields of Manassas, Shiloh and Antietam now served as the final resting ground to soldiers in both blue and gray. Even in the Florida pine scrub and oak hammocks, communities who called this rugged land home felt the echoes of war. When the Confederate Army lost control of the Mississippi River in 1863 after the fall of Vicksburg, they also lost their supply of Texas beef. Desperate to feed a starving army, the Confederate forces found an unlikely solution – hardy, Spanish cattle from Florida, and with them, the cowmen who understood their swampy frontier, forming what was known as the “Cow Cavalry.” In Time Sifters’ October program, Morrison examines the history of these tough cattle, their often-under-recognized role in the Civil War, and the multiple layers of early Florida perspectives and histories that led up to this pivotal American conflict.