The following post is part of an ongoing series entitled Civil War Voices from Florida. Each day in October 2014, Florida Memory will post a document from the collections of the State Archives of Florida written exactly 150 years before that date, in October 1864.
Today we return to the Confederate ship Savannah to check in on Key Wester Robert Watson. It looks like the chill he spoke of earlier in the month has taken a turn for the worse:
The term “holystoning” refers to the use of a chunk of soft sandstone to scrub the deck of a ship. A couple of possible origins exist for the “holy” part of the word. Some say that since it seems to have originated with the British Navy, it could be a reference to the ruined churches on the Isle of Wight where British naval crews often acquired the stones. Others say it’s a reference to the fact that holystoning often required a sailor to remain on his knees for long periods of time, as though in prayer.
As for Robert Watson, he was intent on demonstrating that scraping, cleaning, and holystoning were not enough to bring him down, even with a possible serious illness in the works. We’ll be hearing from him again later in the month. Until then, check out the related resources below, and don’t forget to join us tomorrow for another edition of Civil War Voices. We’ll be back in the Executive Office in Tallahassee to hear from Governor John Milton.
Related Resources on Florida Memory:
- Robert Watson’s Confederate Pension Application (State Archives of Florida / Florida Memory)
- Florida Memory Learning Unit: Florida in the Civil War
- Florida Memory Exhibit: Distant Storm: Florida’s Role in the Civil War
Related Resources at the State Archives of Florida:
Related Resources in Print:
- Biographical Rosters of Florida’s Confederate and Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 (find in a library near you!)
- Florida in the Civil War, by Nicholas Wynne and Robert Taylor (find in a library near you!)