Historic Markers Across Florida



Bayport in the Civil War/The Battle of Bayport



Marker ID: FLHM F-915
Location: 4140 Cortez Blvd, Spring Hill, FL
County: Hernando
Coordinates: N 28° 32.19    W 082° 39.082
  28.5365    -82.65136666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMKV4M
 



Text:

Bayport in the Civil War


Bayport was a shallow-water gulf port town in the 1850s. The town was designated the Hernando County Seat and a port of delivery by Congress in 1854. Before the Civil War, the port shipped lumber cut from locally grown cedar trees, which was widely used to make pencils. By 1861, the town consisted of approximately 40 houses, a customs house, warehouses, and a wharf. The plantations and ranches surrounding Bayport supplied cattle, natural resources such as turpentine from native longleaf pine trees, and cypress and pine lumber. Salt made from sea water in evaporation ponds, along with cotton and corn, helped support the Confederate fighting forces. The Union blockade of Confederate ports forced blockade runners to use smaller and more innocuous ports such as Bayport. As the Civil War progressed, Bayport became a haven for blockade runners operating between Florida's gulf coast and Cuba, providing numerous critical war commodities for the Confederate war effort. Between 1862 and 1865, vessels belonging to the Union's East Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron intercepted eleven blockade runners near Bayport.


The Battle of Bayport


Two attacks targeted Bayport in 1863. The first attack, on April 2nd, used seven boats from the Union warships St. Lawrence, Sagamore, and Fort Henry. They advanced to within 400 yards of Bayport under difficult conditions. The Confederates hid four of six blockade runners up a nearby creek. Union forces found the schooner, Helen, captured its crew and set it afire. Confederates burned the sixth vessel, a large schooner loaded with cotton that was anchored in the harbor and ready for sea. The Union boats withdrew from the battle with disabled guns. On September 14, a Union squadron consisting of the warships James Battle, Two Sisters, Annie, and two boats from the Fort Henry targeted a British side-wheel steamer flying a French flag. Confederates burned the steamer and a nearby warehouse and the Union boats withdrew. The Florida Public Archaeology Network and Hernando Historic Preservation Society in 2010 located mid-19th century ship remains, possibly related to these battles. The Gulf Archaeology Research Institute in 2014-15 found the original harbor and Confederate positions north of Bayport County Park.





F-915 Sponsored by
The Hernado County Environmentally Sensitive Lands Program,
Historic Hernando Preservation Society, Inc.,
Hernando Historical Museum Association, Inc.,
Florida Public Archaeology Network,
Gulf Archaeology Research Institute,
and the Florida Department of State
2016