Canter Brown, Jr.
Tampa in Civil War and Reconstruction
It was a time when the United States exploded in war and its people battled for the nation’s soul after peace finally arrived; yet, up until now no one has lifted for Tampans the heavy curtain that has barred them from the sight of their own dynamic Civil War and Reconstruction past. Instead of the mostly tranquil scenes of early Tampa previously depicted as the remote Gulf village of the 1860s and 1870s, historian Canter Brown Jr., here reveals a place and time teeming with conflict, danger, treachery, privations, and disasters natural and man-made. But, that is not all. The book sensitively explores the quiet and sometimes not-so-quiet heroism of men and women, black and white, who held their community together and who doggedly persisted in the belief that a better day would come. Brown’s narrative style draws the reader into the lives and experiences of historical characters and pursues the twists and turns that often reveal seemingly clear actions and motivations to be something else entirely. One remarkable passage typifies many others as it explores how a lionized Confederate hero’s heralded defiance of Union authority actually constituted a blunder that almost resulted in Tampa’s complete destruction. Based on superb research into previously neglected primary sources, Tampa in Civil War and Reconstruction offers a compelling and complex view of the period’s impact upon a tiny civilian outpost that would grow to be one of Florida’s and the nation’s great cities. This is a history that resonates with insight and humanity. This is a story that you will want to read and to share.