On to Olustee
Article and Photos by Kathleen Walls
During the War
Between the States, Florida played an important, if understated, role.
True, no major battles were fought there. None of the battles were
turning points in the war. Florida's main service to the Confederacy was
feeding its armies. Florida provided
much of the beef, pork, fish, fruit and salt needed by the troops.
For the visitor
interested in visiting the historic Civil War Trail sites, one place
stands out. The Battle of Olustee was the largest and most bloody fought
in the state. Both sides had a lot at stake. For the South, it was
necessary to maintain a food supply. For the Union, Florida 's inland
area was a stronghold of the Confederates and a danger to any Union
soldiers who ventured in to it. That plus the fact it contained a large
population of African Americans who could be coerced into volunteering
for the Union Army.
In February 1864,
the Union army launched an expedition inward from the coastline to cut
Confederate supply lines. They also were actively recruiting African
Americans to join Union Army. Brigadier General Truman Seymour led over
5,000 men toward Lake City. Confederate General Joseph Finegan with
about 5,200 men met him at Olustee on February 20th. The battle resulted
in a Confederate victory and drove the Union Army back toward
Jacksonville. The Battle of Olustee was one of the bloodiest battles in
the Civil War. Almost 3,000 men out of the approximate 11,000 soldiers
were killed. Three regiments
of African American Union Troops fought in this battle and suffered
bytes)" width="491" height="368">
||African American Regiment Reenactors
annual reenactment there is a great way to experience history first hand
(well, almost first hand). Each year on the second weekend in February,
reenactors gather in great numbers to relive this tragic battle.
Visitors are welcomed. Besides the battle, there are historic
presentations, displays of period crafts and a authentic Suttlers' Row.
( I usually attend and if you come to my booth and tell me you read this
article, I will give you a 10% discount on any of my books.)
530 bytes)" width="423" height="440">
|A fallen Union soldier takes his part very
||Eric Hague and myself in front of my booth on
There is also a one day event in September, Civil War Expo,
with reenactors, both military and civilian, blacksmithing
exhibits, period musical performers and other period correct displays.
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park is a Florida State Park in
the Osceola National Forest, near the town of Olustee. The park is
located 50 miles west of Jacksonville and 15 miles east of Lake City,
on U.S. 90. If you are on I-10 the exit is clearly marked. Besides the
battle field, you can visit the museum and monument dedicated to this
battle and the Olustee Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is located in
an 1860s depot and also played an important in the transportation of
troops and supplies by rail.
|Old Depot Visitor Center
||Confederate and Union soldier at Musuem
State of Florida actually owns only 3.09 acres of the Park, but manages
another 688 acres of the original battlefield under a Special Use Permit
from the United States Forest Service.
Under the title of Olustee Battlefield, it was
added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on August 12, 1970.
is available at nearby in Osceola National Forest at Ocean Pond.
For more info:
273" width="120" height="240" alt="Get paid for your opinion."