In July 1817, McGregor devised a plan to capture part of Florida and sell it to the United States.
Gregor McGregor was born in Scotland in 1786. After serving in the British Army for eight years he sold out of the army in 1810, having attained the rank of major. In 1812, McGregor sailed to South America to join the colonial revolution against the Spanish. He married a relative of Simón Bolivar and campaigned against the Spanish in South America and the Caribbean for several years.
In 1817, he left South America for North America to campaign against the Spanish in Florida. McGregor devised a plan to capture part of Florida and sell it to the United States. He obtained financial backing from an American mercantile company from Charleston, South Carolina, recruited veterans of the War of 1812, and invaded Amelia Island in North Florida.
Map from the Unconfirmed Spanish Land Grant of John McClure on Amelia Island, showing the location of Fuerte San Carlos (upper left) overtaken by McGregor on July 9, 1817
Quotation below from Narrative of a Voyage to the Spanish Main in the Ship Two Friends (J. Miller: London, 1819), 87-88.
“On the 9th of July (1817), the little band of McGregor, attended by two schooners and a few row boats, passing the shores of Cumberland island, at the entrance of the river St. Mary’s, anchored in the Spanish waters of Amelia, disembarking in all about 60 muskets, under the very guns of the fort of Fernandina, and two block houses intended as a defense for the rear of the town. McGregor, assisted by Colonel Posen of the United States Army as second in command, led his little band over a swamp, which divided the point of debarkation from the town, plunged up to their knees in mud, exposed to the means possessed by the Spaniards of totally annihilating them… The garrison… did not offer a single coup de canon of resistance from the fort, and only one gun was fired from the Block house and that without the orders of the commandant.”
Life as a soldier during the Civil War was rough business, and we’re not just talking about the fighting. Long marches, primitive camp facilities, disease, and unreliable supply chains were realities of life for the men serving on both sides of this conflict.
Music was one way of breaking up the monotony. Soldiers sang songs in camp to pass the time, and on marches to keep in step. Most of these songs were designed to commend either the Confederate or Union side, although in some cases the same tune was sung on both sides, just with different words. “The Battle Cry of Freedom” is one example; it has both a Union and Confederate version.
Young re-enactors serve as drummers at the Olustee Battlefield in Baker County (1994).
Here we present a small selection of recordings of famous Civil War songs sung over the years by the 97th Regimental String Band at the Florida Folk Festival, held annually at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center at White Springs. The 97th Regimental String Band uses authentic instruments and accurate lyrics to recreate as closely as possible the musical experiences of the soldiers who were singing these songs 150 years ago. This is only a selection; many more songs are available through our Audio page and on Florida Memory Radio.
NOTE: The lyrics in these songs sometimes vary depending on the performer and the context of the performance; we’ve selected lyrics for this post based on the ones used in the sound recordings.
We are a band of brothers And native to the soil, Fighting for our liberty With treasure, blood, and toil; And when our rights were threatened, The cry rose near and far– “Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star!”
CHORUS: Hurrah! Hurrah! For Southern rights, hurrah! Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star.
As long as the Union Was faithful to her trust, Like friends and like brethren Both kind were we and just; But now, when Northern treachery Attempts our rights to mar, We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
First gallant South Carolina Nobly made the stand, Then came Alabama, Who took her by the hand. Next quickly Mississippi, Georgia and Florida All raised on high the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
Ye men of valor, gather round The banner of the right; For Texas and fair Louisiana Join us in our fight. And Davis, our great president, And Stephens, statesmen rare; Now rally round the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
And here’s to brave Virginia– The Old Dominion State– Who with the young Confederacy At length has linked her fate; Impelled by her example, Now other states prepare To hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
Then cheer, boys, cheer; Raise the joyous shout, For Arkansas and North Carolina Now have both gone out; And let another rousing cheer For Tennessee be given, The single star of the Bonnie Blue Flag Has grown to be eleven! CHORUS
Then here’s to our Confederacy, Strong we are and brave; Like patriots of old we’ll fight Our heritage to save. And rather than submit to shame, To die we would prefer; So cheer for the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
Yes, we’ll rally round the flag, boys, We’ll rally once again, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom, We will rally from the hillside, We’ll gather from the plain, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom.
CHORUS: The Union forever, Hurrah! boys, hurrah! Down with the traitor, And up with the star; While we rally round the flag, boys, Rally once again, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom.
We are springing to the call For 300,000 more, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom; And we’ll fill our vacant ranks Of our brothers gone before, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom. CHORUS
We will welcome to our number The loyal, true and brave, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom; And although he may be poor, He shall never be a slave, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom. CHORUS
So we’re springing to the call From the East and from the West, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom; And we’ll hurl the rebel crew From the land that we love the best, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom. CHORUS
Sitting by the Roadside on a summer’s day, chatting with my messmates passing time away, Lying in the shadow underneath the trees, Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!
When a horseman passes, the soldiers have a rule, to cry out at their loudest “Mister here’s your mule.” But another pleasure enchantinger than these, is wearing out your grinders, eating goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!
Just before the battle the general hears a row, He says the Yanks are coming, I hear their rifles now, He turns around in wonder, and what do you think he sees, The Georgia Militia, eating goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!
I think my song has lasted almost long enough. The subject’s interesting, but rhymes are mighty rough. I wish this war was over – when free from rags and fleas, We’d kiss our wives and sweethearts and gobble goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!
Confederate Carnage: the Florida Brigade at Gettysburg
The monument commemorating the service of Florida Confederate soldiers at Gettysburg was dedicated on July 3, 1963, during ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Civil War’s most famous battle.
Standing along West Confederate Avenue in Gettysburg National Military Park, the gray rectangular piece of granite brings to mind a headstone more than heroics. The effect is apt. Of the 742 men in the three regiments that made up the Florida Brigade at the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, 461 were casualties (killed, wounded, or captured) at the end of the battle on July 3. In losing 62 percent of its strength, the Florida Brigade suffered a higher rate of loss than any other Confederate brigade in the battle. The Floridians’ role in the Battle of Gettysburg was but one of countless examples of sacrifice and slaughter performed by Union and Confederate troops during the three days of carnage that was the Battle of Gettysburg.
Monument to the Florida Brigade, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1970s
Florida Memory is funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services.