Battle of Station Four - Cedar Key, Florida
Battle of Station Four
The railroad embankment used as
a breastwork by the Union troops
as a breastwork is still visible in the
|Battle of Station Four
The battle took place on the ground visible here
opposite Number Four Channel from the fishing dock
at Cedar Key, Florida.
Station Four Battlefield
Natural growth and marsh covers
much of the site of the Battle of
Station Four. The battlefield is
adjacent to State Road 24.
Battle of Station Four
A sketch from Dickison and his Men
shows Confederate troops firing on
the Federals. Number Four trestle
in the background.
Please Click the Photo to Enlarge.
Captain J.J. Dickison, C.S.A.
Called the Swamp Fox of Florida,
Dickison was a highly successful
commander of Confederate cavalry
often given responsibility far above
BATTLE OF STATION FOUR
Cedar Key, Florida
Florida's Swamp Fox in Action
The Battle of Station Four was an action of
the War Between the States (or Civil War). It
took place on February 13, 1865, near Cedar
The battle takes its name from Station Four,
a stop on the railroad leading from Cedar
Key to Fernandina in Florida. The station was
just a spot where trains could stop to take on
passengers or cargo. It was located on the
shore of the Number Four Channel, the
waterway that separates the Cedar Keys
from the mainland of Florida.
The Battle of Station Four marked the end of
a Union raid that began four days earlier.
Major Edmund C. Weeks had taken 186 men
from the Second Florida Cavalry (U.S.) and
200 men from the Second U.S. Colored
Infantry (2nd USCT) inland from Cedar Key
on February 9, 1865.
After crossing the bridge across Number
Four Channel to the mainland of Levy County,
he divided his command into two columns.
Major Benjamin Lincoln of the 2nd USCT
struck a Confederate camp at Clay Landing
on the Suwannee River while Major Weeks
led the second column in person up the
railroad to Levyville. The community was
between today's cities of Bronson and
The swampy terrain tired out the men of
Weeks' column, which was further weakened
because the major had to detach soldiers to
guard prisoners and the 50 African American
slaves liberated by the Federal troops. After
penetrating as far as he thought advisable,
the Union commander ordered his men to
begin their return march to Cedar Key.
As the Federals started to withdraw, however,
they were attacked by a mere handful of
Confederate cavalrymen. The attack was
beaten back, but two Union soldiers were
wounded. The aggressive charge by the
outnumbered Confederates was just the
beginning of a disaster for Weeks' command.
The small detachment of Confederates that
attacked the Union column at Levyville was
the advance guard of a force of 145 men
being rushed to the scene of the raid by the
famed Swamp Fox of Florida, Captain J.J.
Dickison of the Second Florida Cavalry (C.S.).
The Union column reached Number Four at
3 p.m. on Sunday, February 12, 1865. The
raid had netted Weeks a herd of 100
confiscated cattle, several wagons, 50
escaped slaves, 13 stolen horses and five
prisoners of war.
Apparently believing that any danger had
pased, Major Weeks crossed the trestle to
Cedar Key with the prisoners and some of
his men. The rest of his command was left
behind at Station Four under Lt. E. Pease of
the 2nd Florida Cavalry (U.S.).
Captain Dickison's Confederates, however,
were approaching fast. Leaving 25 men to
the rear to hold the horses, he led forward a
battle line of 120 men at dawn on Monday
morning, February 13, 1865. The Southern
troops were angry over the damage caused
to civilian property by the Union raid and were
spoiling for a fight.
Dickison's command was a fairly mixed little
army. Included were 52 men from Company
H, 2nd Florida Cavalry (C.S.), 18 men from
Company B, 2nd Florida Cavalry (C.S.), 20
men from Company H, 5th Florida Cavalry
(C.S.), 18 men from the Special Battalion of
Florida Cavalry (C.S.) and 37 men from
various units of the 1st Florida Reserves
(C.S.). Four different captains command the
variety of detachments. The Swamp Fox also
had a single 12-pounder cannon.
The Battle of Station Four began at 7 a.m.
Federal pickets saw the Confederate line
coming and opened fire. Dickison was short
on ammunition for both his small arms and
cannon, but opened a fierce fire on the Union
Lieutenant Pease and about 30 men used
the railroad embankment as a breastwork
but the rest of the Union force retreated.
Major Weeks was in Cedar Key when he
heard the sounds of battle. Rushing back to
Station Four, he "found our men flying in all
directions." At the island end of the trestle
over Number Four Channel he found about
60 men from the 2nd Florida Cavalry (U.S.)
still in some form of order.
The major led the dismounted cavalrymen
forward, coming under heavy fire from the
lone Confederate cannon. The Southern
gunners were alternating their fire between
the force accompanying weeks and the 30 or
so Union soldiers under Lt. Pease still
holding the railroad embankment.
What happened next depends on which
version the battle you chose to accept.
Dickison said that he withdrew slightly due to
an ammunition shortage after killing,
wounding or capturing 70 men. The rest of
the Federals left the battle precipitately."
Confederate losses were reported as 5 men
wounded, although this was adjusted in a
later account to 6 men wounded. Dickison
was able to recapture the cattle, horses,
wagons and other items stolen during the
Major Weeks gave a different account of the
Battle of Station Four. According to his report,
Lt. Pease led a bold counter-attack with only
30 men that forced Dickison's Confederates
to withdraw. Weeks crossed the trestle just
as this attack was taken place and then
withdrew all of his men across the channel.
He reported his losses as 5 killed, 17
wounded and three captured.
The sharp fight at Station Four took place
shortly before the Union expedition that
ended at the Battle of Natural Bridge just
three weeks later. Weeks and many of his
men also took part in that encounter.
The battlefield at Station Number Four has
not been developed, but can be viewed from
the public dock on the island side of Number
Four Channel. Turn left to the dock just after
acrossing the State Road 24 bridge over the
channel. The battlefield is directly across the
water from the end of the dock.
There are no markers or interpretive facilities
on the battlefield itself, but you can learn
more at the Cedar Key Museum in downtown
Cedar Key and at the nearby Cedar Key
Museum State Park on 166th Court.
Please click hear to learn more about the
historic island city of Cedar Key, Florida.
Number Four Today
The State Road 24 bridge over
Number Four Channel has long
since replaced the original railroad
trestle. It connects Cedar Key to the
mainland of Florida.
|Copyright 2012 & 2015 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: February 9, 2015
Battlefields & Forts in Florida