Captain Mulrenan’s Florida Volunteer Coast Guard, organized under a Florida state special order, was mustered in, under first lieutenant Henry Mulrenan, in November, 1861, and sworn in, before Judge Steele, at Cedar Keys, on December 13th. Initially stationed at Tampa for a few days in mid-December, 1861, the unit took up station at Fort Buckley, Point Pinellas on December 21st, and remained in that vicinity for some time. During it's short existence, the unit members were mainly involved in the regular duties associated with a coast guard unit, such as drills, guard duties, observation of the coastline for enemy activities, etc.

Captain Robert
Blair Smith

However, it was not all work and no play, as their sojourn also included periods of welcome activities, such as fishing, hunting, singing, dancing and other similar episodes.

The sobriquet, Key West Avengers, was adopted by the men on January 30th, 1862, and they regularly crewed two small armed vessels, the Mollie Post and the Cate Dale. About mid-February of 1862, the men were advised that they would be taken into Confederate Army service, and by April 25th, 1862, most of them were mustered into service as company K, 7th Florida Infantry, with Robert B. Smith as company commander.

The 7th Regiment of Florida Volunteer Infantry was organized at Gainesville, Florida on April 26th, 1862, and mustered into Confederate service with ex-Governor Madison S. Perry as Colonel; Robert Bullock as Lieutenant-Colonel, and Tillman Ingram as Major. Other Florida regiments began heading north in the spring of 1862, a process that continued throughout the war. The 7th Regiment of Florida Volunteer Infantry went to serve with the Army of Tennessee on the Confederacy’s central front. The Regiment was posted to Chattanooga, Department of East Tennessee from June to July 1862. It guarded vital Confederate communications in Tennessee, skirmishing continuously. In the fall of 1862, the 7th Florida was with the main portion of the Army of the Tennessee under General Bragg during the Nashville Campaign, and participated in the Battle of Murphreesborough, or Stone’s River, on New Year’s Eve, 1863.

Colonel Madison
Stark Perry

In 1863, in the Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg, the regiment won distinction at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, (September 19-20, 1863). As units and individuals, Floridians won many citations for gallantry at Chickamauga and suffered extensive casualties. That was followed by the Battle of Chattanooga, Tennessee, (September 24, 1863) during which the regiment manned entrenchments at the foot of Missionary Ridge (November 25, 1863) and took frightful losses as the Federals pushed up those heights. Decimated at Chattanooga, the remnants of the Florida 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th regiments were consolidated into the Florida Brigade.

In the Atlanta Campaign fighting from Resaca, Georgia, (May 14, 1864) to Peachtree Creek, (July 19, 1864) the 7th won new laurels and then marched to the agony of the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, (November 30, 1864) and the terrible winter campaign against Nashville under General John Bell Hood. After the retreat from Nashville, the survivors helped in contesting General Sherman's march (starting January 30, 1865) across the Carolinas to the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, (March 19-21, 1865). This was the last major battle for the Army of Tennessee. Reduced to a handful, the Brigade surrendered at Durham Station, North Carolina, on April 26, 1865, with the rest of the Army of Tennessee. A month later it was disbanded at Augusta, Georgia. On that day, once large and powerful and always proud, the six combined regiments of the Florida Brigade numbered fewer than 200 men present and fit for duty.