A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

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Documents Shed Light on Maritime Significance

The University of Miami at the following link http://scholar.library.miami.edu/shedd/letters/62oct19.html#lighth lists the letters of Calvin Shedd a New Hampshire Solider that spent time in St. Augustine during the Civil War.

We made a personal discovery and read the Shedd Papers in our search for information about the Confederate Privateer and former Slave Ship the Jefferson Davis. While it is impossible to know what Shedd meant by "beyond" the Lighthouse, this letter -- brought to our attention by one of our LAMP volunteers --- does reveal many colorful and personal details about the period and it's link to maritime history.

One of the remarkable tasks we perform at the lighthouse is the finding, gathering and saving artifacts and information about how the Nation's oldest city is inextricably linked to the sea. No doubt this letter was discovered first, long before we came along, but it's information may be new to some of you. Note the steamer bringing mail as well as the wreck of the Davis. I am also intrigued by the description of the gun boats that would be needed to hold the town if any Rebels were about.

The grinding of corn meal for breakfast is reminds us of a variety of grinds stones found in the shipwreck Industry which sank on the St. Augustine bar to the south in May of 1764. The Industry's grind stones may have been meant for sharpening weapons and axe heads rather than corn, but the techonology is the same. No wonder Shedd describes the technology in St. Augustine during the Civil War as 100 years behind the times! He was right on the money if this is any indication.

Another important piece of information available to archaeologists and historians is local knowlege of existing wrecks or artifacts. If you'd like to share information please email or call us.

Kathy

(Excerpt from University of Miami Libraries, Calvin Shedd Paper, 2006. Recovered On-line July 17, 2007. )

St Augustine Fla Oct 19th 62

Dear Ones At Home

The Gale has continued to blow so the Steamer with Mail has not left & may not leave for several days I just came off Gd at noon today it being Sunday & Inspection the Old Gd was not relieved soon as usual I concluded that it was about an even thing to walk outside & I rode consequently I am sore & lame [ ] today but I have got to get used to it think I shall like it when I can ride & not hurt me. We have Ponies about two thirds as large as common Horses they step short & are very hard on the Back. they are tough & will go all day do not eat much more than a mule. The Saddles are made of wood without covering, regular Cavalry, called the McClelland Saddle. There are no Rebels to be seen in this region the reason we are kept here I suppose is that it is cheaper to keep a regt than two or three Gunboats which they would have to hold the place in case there were no Soldiers stationed here I see no signs of any intention on the part of the Rebels to attack us we shall have to go inland for a fight when we have one.

Everything is a hundred years behind the times here in Slavedom they grind all their Corn in a large sized Coffee Mill how should you fancy grinding meal for Johnnycake for breakfast make the Breakfast little late wouldnt it....

There is a long narrow Island commencing at St A. running near the mainland, for 18 or 20 miles; on the No end there is a Light House which is about 2 miles from the City; just beyond it on the Bar is the wreck of the Privateer Jeff Davis, which was chased ashore by Gun Boats, I mean to get a Boat & go out there & see the wreck, if I can, as she was notorious in her day; I dont think of anything to write & will say Good Night with love to all Direct to Lieut C. Shedd Co. A. 7th Regt N.H. Vol PS Oct 20th the Mail has not left yet, think it will at high tide about 3PM; I am pretty well, in fact, I am very well, I think my health is better that is has been for any time for six months, I am sore & lame but I do not reckon that in, it was quite cool last night, we felt it as much this morning as a good smart Frosty Morning North; I presume we shall feel the Cold little as it is, very sensibly; we have had about 8 months of Burning hot weather to make us tender; I dont know what we should do if sent home in winter it would be the Death of many of us. I have nothing of interest to write & will go to dinner I went to Adams, this morning. expect to have Oysters for dinner

Goodby with love to all C. Shedd


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