Florida had only a few railroads when the Civil War began. Union attacks destroyed some sections of the Florida railroads. Florida's Confederate government temporarily removed tracks in other locations to prevent Union forces from using the railroads.
The Confederate government also moved to seize existing rails to reuse the iron for new rail lines to transport troops and supplies.
"I have respectfully urged upon you as President of the road, to yield the iron from certain parts of the road.."
Governor Milton recommends seizing iron rails from the Florida Railroad Company to build new rail lines to transport troops and supplies. David L. Yulee, president of the Florida Railroad Company, disagrees.
"Receivable in payment of all our dues."
The Tallahassee Rail Company issued its own scrip, which could be used for goods or services provided by the company. Although not legal tender, it was printed by the American Bank Note Company and commonly used as currency. These notes are dated 1866 and 1870.
Henry Flagler began building up a system of railroads on Florida’s Atlantic coast in 1885. He purchased several existing lines and built new tracks leading as far south as Miami by 1896. By 1912, Flagler had extended his road across the Florida Keys to Key West.
These chants were sung by workers to keep their pace as they built railroad tracks across Florida. Hurston talks about the process for lining railroad tracks and about the significance of the chants.