Letter from James Paine, A. Oswald Lang and Francis A. Ivey to Governor Madison Starke Perry, 1861

Letter from James Paine, A. Oswald Lang and Francis A. Ivey to Governor Madison Starke Perry, 1861


His Excellency M.S.
Perry Governor of Florida

We the undersigned residents of Indian River, believing it a Solmen duty of every Citizen, to try and serve his State and Country in whatever capacity he may be most able, would in accordance to such feelings, report to your Excellency, that we have taken the responsibility of putting out the Lights at both Jupiter Inlet and Cape Florida, believing them to be of no use or benefit to our Government, but on the contrary of great importance to our enemies.

We had felt the importance of such a measure for some time, thinking some authorized Agent of our Government would be sent to perform it, but finding no effort was made by either the Government of the Keeper of the Light, we resolved to assume the responsibility ourselves, and report the result to your Excellency, hoping that it may meet your approval-- At Jupiter we destroyed no property whatever, the Light being a revolving one and of very costly make, we took away only enough of the machinery to make it unserviceable-- There is a quantity of property belonging to the Light consisting of Tools, machinery, Paints, oil &c which we have secured under lock and key-

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State Archives of Florida: Series S577, Box 01, Folder 8


A report from Confederate sympathizers who dismantled the lights at the Jupiter Inlet and Cape Florida lighthouses sent to Florida Governor Madison Starke Perry. The letter from James Paine, A. Oswald Lang and Francis A. Ivey explains that they chose to destroy the lights because they needed to be protected from the enemy during the war.




Paine, James

Lang, A. Oswald|Ivey, Francis A.


Letters (correspondence)


Civil War Florida (1861-1865)

General Note

When the Civil War began, Union officials viewed the numerous lighthouses along Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts as particularly vulnerable to Confederate attack. They reported that the loss of the lights "for a single night would be disastrous." These fears proved justified when in August 1861 a small group of southern sympathizers from Indian River rendered inoperable the lighthouses at Jupiter Inlet and Cape Florida. They removed the lenses from the Jupiter light and destroyed those of the latter lighthouse. Federal officials branded the men "a gang of pirates" and recommended "that early measures be adopted for the security of the lights on the reef."