M76 - 139 Collection Description

Record Group:


Call Number:

M76- 139


Watson, Robert, 1835-1911






0.25 cubic ft.



Biographical / Historical Note:

Born in the Bahamas, Robert Watson first came to Florida in 1847. He settled in Key West, where he became a carpenter.Watson left Union-occupied Key West in September 1861 and he enrolled in a Florida "Coast Guard" company at Cedar Key.In April 1862 this company was mustered into Confederate service as Company K, Seventh Florida Infantry Regiment.Watson's company remained along Florida's west coast, primarily at Tampa and Point Pinellas, until late June, when it joined the Confederate Army in Tennessee.

Watson's unit participated in the Confederate invasion of Kentucky in 1862.On September 2, ill with fever, Watson was captured and paroled by Union troops at Boston, Kentucky.He returned to his unit in March 1863.During the rest of 1863, his unit campaigned primarily in east Tennessee.In September the unit fought in the bloody battle of Chickamauga, a Confederate victory, followed by defeat around Chattanooga, two months later.Watson and a number of men from his company were transferred to the Confederate States Navy in March 1864.He served aboard the C.S.S. Savannah until December of that year, when, upon the evacuation of Savannah, the ship was scuttled to prevent it from falling into Union hands.Watson was briefly sent to Charleston, South Carolina; then to Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina.

Following the fall of Fort Fisher in January 1865, Watson traveled by rail to Richmond, Virginia, assisting in the defense of the James River. Watson accompanied Lee's Army of Northern Virginia when it evacuated the Confederate capital.He was captured by Federal forces on April 8, 1865, one day before the surrender at Appomattox.After the war, Watson returned to Key West, Florida.

Summary Scope Note:

The collection contains the Civil War diary, 1861-1865, of Robert Watson. It documents his service during the Civil War in the 7th Florida Infantry Regiment and in the Confederate Navy.The first entry is September 27, 1861 from Key West (Monroe County).The diary continues with fairly regular entries until April 25, 1865.A part of the diary was originally printed in the Pass-a-Grille Gulf Beach News; copies of this version are also in the collection.It is arguably the most detailed and complete diary kept by a Floridian during the Civil War, and it is certainly unique in documenting the activities of a Floridian who served in the Confederate States Navy.

Reproduction Note:


Location of Originals: