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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fourth calendar year
    PCR #186  (Vol. 4, No. 42)  This edition is for the week of October 13--19, 2003.

The Civil War Ghosts That Roam Key West
by Will Moriaty
"Mystic River"
by Mike Smith
Beer Guzzling, Fried Food Eatiní, SUV driviní Nirvana
 by Vinnie Blesi
Terry Schiavo....Roy Horn and Montecore

by John Lewis
From This Week's Editorial....Check The Alleys of London....Fields of Greed....Do the Bartman....Bob Zemeckis and Nostradamus....Ahoy Mateys!....On Broadway
 by Mike Smith
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The Civil War Ghosts That Roam Key West

Hands down St. Augustine allegedly has the most hauntings in the State of Florida (see La Fla, PCR #133). This only stands to reason, as it is one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere. It is followed a close second by Pensacola which is also one of Florida's oldest cities.

Strangely enough, one of the next most haunted cities in Florida is Key West. Located at the very southern tip of the State in a location more typical of the Caribbean than southern Georgia or lower Alabama like the first two cities mentioned above, this is in large part due to the fact that Key West was one of the most economically prosperous and largest cities in Florida prior to the 1900's.

Florida in the Civil War
As has been reported in this column on several occasions, Florida was the fourth state to succeed from the Union. As this was the most remote and least populated of the Confederate States at the time, there was not much in the way of any large military resistance to the Union by Florida's Confederate soldiers with the exception of the Battle of Ocean Pond near Olustee, not far from the Georgia border.

As one headed further south in the state, Union resistance was even less organized and effective as evidenced by the fact that most lighthouses and forts from Egmont Key southward never fell into Confederate hands. One such fort was Fort Zachary Taylor, which was built in 1845 in Key West and named five years later after the country's President who occupied the office at that time.

Confederate Navy forces tried their best to take over Key West due to the large provision of cannons at Fort Zachary Taylor, their attempts could not prevail. The fort was pivotal in the Spanish-American War. In 1947, the army turned the fort over to the Navy, which operated the fort until 1976, when it was then obtained by the State of Florida and opened as a state park nine years later (http://www.floridastateparks.org/forttaylor/default.asp).

The Most Civil War Ghosts this side of Chickamauga
Although it is much further south than the major Civil War battlefields, Fort Zachary Taylor has the largest collection of civil war cannons in the United States, and one of the largest collections of Civil War ghosts in the country.

The majority of ghost sightings have occurred around the twilight hours or early morning before the sun rises. Park volunteers and rangers have heard ghosts whistle, howl or sing "Dixie". Others have seen spectral images of Civil War era soldiers line up in rows out of the corners of their eyes, while others yet have seen the ghostly soldiers look right at them, turn away, then disappear. Other witnesses have the soldiers walk back and forth near the latrine area, as well as the kitchen and dining hall. Others yet have heard disembodied voices carrying on indecipherable conversations, and even a call to "Attention!"

One evening Ranger Cliff Rogers heard doors slamming shut and went onto the fort grounds to investigate. He wandered out into the inky blackness and upon reaching the area where the sounds came from, determined that all of the doors were in their typical locked and undisturbed positions. The next night he was working in the same area again, except that this time he saw a Civil War soldier at the other end of the fort. The ghost walked all the way up to Rogers, stared at him, turned and walked away. Rogers said to himself "O.K., that's it - - I'm outta here!".

My wife Karen and I, plan to have a South Florida vacation this upcoming December which will include a visit to Fort Zachary Taylor, as well as two nights at the allegedly haunted Marrero's Guest Mansion in Key West (http://www.marreros.com/).

I will have plenty of stories and hopefully photos of that trip in an upcoming edition of "La Floridiana"!

Next week, "La Floridiana" continues its Halloween Series with "The Ghost of the Cabbage Key Inn", and a book review of "The Haunt Hunters Guide to Florida", all right here in Nolan's Pop Culture Review!

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.