Normally I don’t commemorate historical anniversaries here. Plenty of other websites do that, and I have a widget to mark them on the front page of The Xenophile Historian. However, my brother is a Florida history expert, and he pointed out that today is the anniversary of the battle of Olustee (February 20, 1864), Florida’s largest Civil War battle. I mentioned it in a footnote here, and below is a picture of the monument to the battle, just east of Lake City, FL.
And here is what my brother shared about the battle:
1864 – February 20: The largest Civil War battle to take place in the State of Florida occurred today at Ocean Pond/Olustee. Union and Confederate forces were about evenly matched with between 5,000 and 5,500 soldiers each. The Confederates, under the command of General Joseph J. Finegan, had prepared defenses in the area. The General selected the position because of the protection offered by two small lakes. It was also the location of the major road and railroad into the interior of the state. Failure of the Union commander, General Truman Seymour, to commit his forces in concert and as a whole gave the Confederates a strategic advantage. At the end of the day, the Confederates controlled the battlefield and Federal forces were in a hasty retreat toward Jacksonville and the safety of the guns of the Union navy. Finegan did not exploit the retreat, allowing most of the fleeing Union forces to reach Jacksonville. However, the Confederates did make a final attempt to engage the rear element of Seymour’s forces just before nightfall, but they were repulsed by elements of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the 35th United States Colored Troops, both composed of African-American soldiers. Union Casualties: 203 killed, 152 wounded, 506 missing. Confederate casualties: 93 killed, 847 wounded, 6 missing. Today, the battlefield is contained within the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, a part of the Florida State Park system. This park is located within the Osceola National Forest. Every February, thousands of reenactors from across the U.S., and around the world, come to the Park to reenact the Battle of Olustee.