Fall of Tallahassee

Brigadier General Edward M. McCook, one of the famous “Fighting McCooks” of Ohio

Horses’ hooves could be heard pounding the dirt roads outside of town accompanied by the dust clouds associated with it. Brigadier General Edward McCook and his five staffers came trotting in Tallahassee, Florida, the capital of the state. The next day McCook and entourage was joined by elements from the 2nd Indiana and 7th Kentucky Cavalry.

McCook though wasted no time, rendezvousing with Confederate Major General Sam Jones upon arrival in Tallahassee on the 10th.  Approximately 8,000 Confederate soldiers would receive their paroles or be listed as paroled

In addition to the parolees, McCook and his men received the following former Confederate military supplies:

40 artillery pieces, 2,500 small arms, 450 cavalry sabres, 1,618 bayonets, 1,200 cartridge boxes, 710 waist belts, 63,000 pounds of lead, 2,000 pounds of nitre pounds, 10,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, over 121,900 small arms rounds, 700 pounds of musket balls, 325 pikes and lances, among other military supplies.

From the Confederate quartermaster stores located around the Florida capital, the Union forces captured:

70 horses, 80 mules, 40 wagons, 4 ambulances, along with tools, stationary, clothing, and camp supplies.

The commissary officers in turn, handed over:

170,000 pounds of bacon, 300 barrels of salt, 150 barrels of sugar, 100 barrels of syrup, 7,000 bushels of corn, 1,200 heads of cattle, and small amounts of other foodstuffs.

The Union cavalry commander also reported the general feeling of the inhabitants of the Florida city, informing his superiors that “I found only the most entire spirit of submission to my authority, and in the majority of instances an apparent cheerful acquiescence in the present order of things.”

Apparently, the only hindrance to the peaceful transition was the local pastor of the Episcopal Church who purposely neglected to mention the president of the United States which was customary at that time. McCook, “thought it my duty to Christianize him if possible and succeeded in convincing him of the error of his way…He prayed for the President that afternoon.” Whatever communication McCook used was not enclosed in the report cited from above.

Florida Capitol, 1845

With all that accounted for the last capital of a Confederate state and the only capital not captured, garrisoned, or torched, east of the “Father of all Waters” fell to the Union. Concluding that busy May day was the raising of the Stars and Stripes, according to McCook, over the “State House, and fort at St. Marks.”


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4 Responses to Fall of Tallahassee

  1. Stan Killian says:

    Interesting story that I’d not heard before. BTW, at first glance, I thought the Capitol building had window air conditioners! LOL!

  2. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but the only time the Union army came close to Tallahassee was at the battle of Natural Bridge in March of 1863. I like to think of it as the “New Market” of Florida where cadets from the Florida Military and Collegiate Institute came out to resist General John Newton’s Federals from reaching the capital. Fun story. That battlefield needs a makeover though. The info signs are terribly worn out.

    • Phill Greenwalt says:

      Hey Sheritta,

      Good afternoon. You would be correct, as the Battle of Natural Bridge happened approximately 15 miles from downtown Tallahassee. However, the battle was fought in March of 1865. You are correct about the rest of the battle (and having not been there since 2015) I am sorry to hear about the state of the information signs. I think one of the cadets was the son of Florida’s governor at the time as well.

      • Oops. My bad on the date. I visited the park in 2019 and was impressed by the monument dedicated there. It would be cool if Civil War Trails could spruce up the signs, but I don’t know the legalities of that since it’s technically a state park.

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