The subtitle is as follows: Florida's Contribution to the Confederacy. The author is Robert A. Taylor. As with a vast majority of books written on the 'Civil War', it has the usual slave-slant. I will freely admit that this aspect could have been worse and that he was right that slaves were laborer's for the South during the War. However, I won't go any farther into that subject. (At least he never claimed that slavery was the cause of the war--which it was not.)

Other than that, Mr. Taylor managed to come to his topic from a fairly neutral position. Starting with the economic boom of the 1850's, he sets the stage for the economic disaster of the 1860's. I learned that North Florida held fairly prosperous cotton and tabacco farms. Also, they exported lumber, turpentine, fish, and other natural resources both before and during the war.

After the start of the war, salt was the biggest export. By the end of the war, beef was second only to salt. Since I am doing a documentary on the Cow Cavalry, the beef part of the book was what I was most interested in. Mr. Taylor clearly outlined the immense need for beef, the Confederate struggle to provide enough, and the Yankee attempts to interupt the flow of the beef traffic (as well as all other goods going north into Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and as far north as Virginia.)

He closes the book by talking about the Federal troops stationed in Florida and how they helped the Union victory. However, these troops never quite suceeded in obtaining their goal. For instance, almost as soon as they destroyed a salt-making camp, it would spring back up and continue operation. Or, they'd clean out a fishing camp only to have the fishermen return and go back to work.

Without Florida the Confederate States of America would  have had to capitulate long before they did--simply because they were starving. I also found it interesting that Andersonville Prison was supplied with Florida beef as well. Of course, they weren't the main priority, but in reality, they Federal troops imprisoned in Andersonville didn't really fare much worse than the common Confederate soldier. (Excepting of course the fact that they were incarcerated.)

Rebel Storehouse has as an appendix a circular prepared by Major Pleasant W. White, Florida's Chief Commissary Agent. I found this document to be of the utmost interest. In it he pleads for the people of Florida to rally around the cause, to look to the future. While he fully understood that times were tough and nearly everyone was in bad straights, he was asking for a further tightening of the belt for a future victory and prosperity. It was quite an interesting read.

One final note on the book...I kind of expected it to be rather dry. It wasn't. While certainly not exciting like a novel, Mr. Taylor has an engaging writing style that holds your attention (so long as you aren't hungry or really sleepy :) )

I give this book a 5-star rating.

        Racheal

 


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