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Thomas S. Blythe was born in 1848 at St. Marks, Florida, in the state of Florida in the United States. He was the son of William Blythe, a Stevedore, and Ellen Maria Shine Blythe. Thomas was a mariner by profession and mustered in as a Seaman in the Noyes Coast Guard, joining the Confederate service at St. Marks, Florida on October 9, 1861 at fourteen years of age. William Blythe, his father, born in 1820 in England was also listed as a Coxswain on Thomas’s ship; having been mustered into the same company on October 8th 1861. Thomas Blythe was mustered in at the age of 14 on October 14th, six days after his father, for a term of 3 months, stationed at St. Marks, Florida.

Besides the Noyes Coast Guard unit, Thomas Blythe also enlisted aboard the CSS “Spray” on October 14, 1861 and later served aboard that same vessel as First Class Boy in September 1863. Thomas Blythe while aboard the Spray deserted to the Federals, just prior to the Battle of Natural Bridge. A man named Tom Bly, known to be Thomas Blythe, had been on board a Confederate warship, consisting of a small river steamboat manned with one gun, when he deserted and went to the Yankees; but after staying with them awhile he got homesick and returned. He then found himself as a deserter, facing a firing squad, but when he reported that a Yankee fleet was landing in the Gulf, close to St. Mark’s and intended on making a speedy assault towards Tallahassee, he was informed that if his information proved true, the bullets of the firing squad would be turned in another direction; which is what occurred. The battle took place at Newport, Florida about twenty-four miles from Tallahassee, the Capital of Florida, on the St. Mark’s River at Natural Bridge.

The CSS “Spray” was a new, small, very modern high-pressure steam tug, 3 gun Confederate gun-boat, in constant use transporting troops and material to Lighthouse Point in the vicinity of the naval station at St. Marks, Florida during 1863 & 1865 and was the object of much attention by Federal forces in that vicinity. She was commanded by Lieutenants C. W. Hays, CSN, and H. L. Lewis, CSN, had three guns aboard for attack and protection and was in action on April 30th and November 4, 1864.

In February 1862 the CS Gunboat “SPRAY”, steamed downriver to below Port Leon and began shelling out into the bay  In reality it was returning fire on the Union ship “Mohawk”  who had positioned itself off Lighthouse Point and was shelling the saltworks near the lighthouse; where Captain Scott's Cavalry, the Tallahassee Guards, had moved in quickly to ward off any potential invasion. After a near damageless exchange of cannon shot the Federal ship halted the short chase and moved out into the Gulf of Mexico. The “Spray” was reported to have surrendered to Federal forces in late May 1865, but is also reported by the Confederate Naval Research Center in Alabama as having been sunk by Confederates on the St. Mary’s River.

The Victorian public records reveal that Thomas, at twenty-five years of age was married to Johanna Guerin of Limerick, in 1872, and Victorian Immigration records show that Thomas Blyth at age 42 arrived in Australia in April 1889 aboard the “Murrumbidge”. Another entry reveals that yet another Thomas Blyth, aged 35, arrived in December 1872, aboard the “Asia”. Marriage certificate records show he was married on January 30, 1872 in the district of East Bourke, colony of Victoria, to Johanna Guerin. Thomas Stuart Blythe lived for many years in Victoria, then disappeared off the face of the earth.  

It seems no one has to date knows where Thomas S. Blythe went, what happened to him, when he died or where he is buried. It is assumed he may be buried in Victoria or elsewhere in Australia, as Florida State records reveal never returned to Florida; but nothing has yet been found to confirm his continued presence in Australia. He was though, a well known Australian after his arrival, and is therefore included in the Victoria section until information is disclosed to prove otherwise.

Anyone with information on Thomas S. Blythe is requested to make such information available so his mystery may be cleared up.

 

1860 Census of the state of Florida.

 “Biographical Rosters of Florida's Confederate and Union Soldiers”, Hartman and Coles

 Confederate Navy Research Centre, Mobile, Alabama

 “Confederate Veteran”, magazine, 1919, “Battle of Natural Bridge” by Gus. H. West, Waco, Texas

 CSS Spray muster roll, Frame #0248, Record Group 365, Treasury Department Collections, Confederate Records, Entry 66, Navy Rolls

 Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Centre

 Florida State Archives

 Muster Rolls, CSS “Spray”, Frame #0248, Record Group 365, Treasury Department Collections of Confederate Records, Entry 66, Navy Rolls

 Paul Eugene Camp, Special Collections, University of South Florida

 “Soldiers of Florida”, Board of State Institutions, 1903

 State Library of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida 

 U.S. Consulate Files

 U.S. Treasury Department Collections of Confederate Records, Muster roll, Record Group 365, Entry 66, Navy Rolls

 Victorian Immigration Records

 

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