Monday, September 17, 2007


I've known about the trip for awhile but recently it was confirmed that I will be going to the Bahamas in February. I'm excited, this will be my first vacation with my girlfriend. It will also be my first vacation that is not family or Civil War orientated. But there is a small Civil War element to the trip. The Bahamas were part of the blockade running trade routes. I've been doing a bit of reading this past week on blockade running (something I've never really examined before) and have been amazed at just how much material was making it through the blockade. And Nassau was a pretty big link in the trade routes. I have not yet found a blockade running museum, nor do I expect to find one, but there is a pirate museum there and I bet they'll have a panel on their role as a fueling/trade center during the era of sailing ships.

There is also some Revolutionary War history there. In March 1776 John Paul Jones captured Fort Montagu in Nassau. And the fort still exists, along with two others. I definitely see a day of touring forts in my future. My girlfriend might be bored silly but maybe that day she can sit on the beach and drink something fruity with rum. I'll be getting in a battlefield fix in the most unlikely of places.

My reading also turned up that the CSS Florida was turned from a normal ship into a battle ship in the waters of the Bahamas. After it was built in England (its sister ship, which was not yet complete, was the CSS Alabama) it set sail for the Bahamas where it rendezvoused with its military equipment. In Nassau the US consul had figured out that something fishy was happening and the local admiralty court researched the situation. Despite contrary evidence the court allowed the ship to leave the harbor and it made its transformation near some smaller island in the area. Remarkably this transformation, which included moving several heavy guns, was accomplished with just 22 sailors. The court situation had made recruiting difficult so the ship started with far less than its normal 130 man crew. Then yellow fever gripped the crew. After picking up a doctor in Cuba they ran into Mobile Bay, apparently the day they ran the blockade into Mobile there was only 4 healthy sailors manning the ship. So now I've been doing some reading on the Florida. I doubt I'll find any more interesting connections with the Bahamas but it I'm sure it will still be interesting.


Don said...

And it sounds like a great trip!

Nick said...

I am looking forward to it. Not sure how I'll wander a blockade route (maybe a fishing expedition will count) but I'll be sure to post picks that have some sort of history element to them.