Tampa Bay, and the steam of boiling brine rose from the mangrove swamps.
John S. C. Abbott in Harper's Magazine, 1866, states: (4) "Not far
from the entrance of this majestic bay there was the little town of St. Andrews,
an exceedingly convenient resort for blockade-runners. There was a small
blockading force guarding the coast there, under the command of Acting-
Master William R. Browne. Learning that there were some pretty extensive salt
works in operation far up the bay, in regions where they could not be reached
by our gunboats, and being fully convinced that in their wilderness seclusion
they would not be protected by any military force, Mr. Browne fitted out a
single boat's crew of bold men, and sent them on an exploring adventure up the
bay under the command of Acting-Ensign James J. Russell . . . .
"They rowed along, in a westerly direction about 20 miles, through a
varied scene of wilderness, desolation, and beauty, and then landing,
marched through the wilderness country five miles until they reached a large
sheet of salt-water, called Lake Ocala. Here they came suddenly upon
Kent's salt-works. There were 13 huge tanks or kettles in full blast, each
holding 200 gallons. It seemed as though they had fallen upon some realm of
Pluto, as they saw the immense fires blazing, Negroes running to and fro
feeding them with the resinous fuel, and the air filled with smoke and vapor.
They were producing 130 gallons of salt daily. Our boat's crew, who
certainly deserve the title of intrepid, broke the boilers into pieces, utterly
demolished the works and threw into the lake all the salt which they had
accumulated. Two large flat-boats and six ex-carts were destroyed, and 17
prisoners taken and paroled.