Battle of Station Four
The remnants of the railroad
embankment used as a
breastwork by the Union
troops are still visible.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Station Four, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Station Four, Florida
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
The site of the Battle of
Station Four is now covered in
heavy growth and marsh.
Battle of Station Four
This sketch from the book
Dickison and his Men shows
Confederate troops firing with
the Number Four trestle in the
background.
Please Click the Photo to Enlarge.
Captain J.J. Dickison, C.S.A.
Known in his lifetime as the
"Swamp Fox" of Florida for his
Civil War exploits, Dickison
was a highly successful
Confederate officer.
The Battle of Station Four - Cedar Key, Florida
Florida's Swamp Fox in Action
On February 13, 1865, Confederate and
Union forces fought a sharp action on the
Gulf Coast of Florida that is remembered
today as the Battle of Station Four.

The action takes its name from Station Four,
a stop on the railroad leading from Cedar
Key to Fernandina in Florida. The station, a
mere spot where trains could stop to take on
passengers or cargo, was located on the
shore of the Number Four Channel, which
separates the cluster of islands known as
the Cedar Keys from the mainland of Florida.

The battle was the culmination of a Union
raid that began four days earlier on February
9th when Major Edmund C. Weeks led 186
men from the Second Florida U.S. Cavalry
and 200 men from the Second U.S. Colored
Troops (2nd USCT) across the bridge from
Cedar Key into Levy County. One column,
commanded by Major Benjamin Lincoln of
the 2nd USCT struck a Confederate camp at
Clay Landing on the Suwannee River, while
the other led by Weeks himself marched to
Levyville, an old community roughly between
today's towns of Bronson and Chiefland.

The swampy terrain tired out his men and the
necessity of detaching soldiers to guard the
few prisoners taken and the 50 slaves who
flocked to his column led Weeks to decide
that it would be best to return to Cedar Key.
He accordingly began his march back, but as
his column started to withdraw, it was
attacked from behind by a handful of
Confederate cavalrymen. Two of the Union
soldiers were wounded in the encounter, but
the rather courageous attack was beaten
back.

The men who attacked Weeks at Levyville
were the advance guard of a force of 145
men being rushed forward by the famed
Confederate "Swamp Fox of Florida," Captain
J.J. Dickison of the Second Florida Cavalry
(C.S.A.). With his advance guard continuing
to shadow the Federals as they headed back
to Cedar Key, Dickison followed with the
main body.

The Union column reached Number Four at
3 p.m. on Sunday, February 12, 1865. With
them they brought a herd of 100 "confiscated"
cattle, several wagons, 50 escaped slaves,
thirteen stolen horses and five prisoners of
war. Leaving the main body of his troops at
Number Four, Weeks crossed the trestle to
Cedar Key with the prisoners and some of
his men, leaving Lieutenant E. Pease of the
2nd Florida Cavalry U.S. in command.

As the Union soldiers set up camp at
Number Four, Captain Dickison continued
his pursuit. By dawn on Monday morning,
February 13, 1865, he was closing in on his
unsuspecting enemy. Forming his small
force into a line of battle, the captain was only
able to count 120 men ready to fight. The
other 25 stayed behind the line to guard and
secure the horses.

Dickison's command was a fairly mixed little
army. It included 52 men from Company H,
2nd Florida Cavalry (CSA), 18 men from
Company B, 2nd Florida Cavalry (CSA), 20
men from Company H, 5th Florida Cavalry
(CSA), 18 men from the Special Battalion of
Florida Cavalry (CSA) and 37 men from
various units of the 1st Florida Infantry
Reserves (CSA), with four different captains
in command. He also had a single cannon, a
12-pounder field piece.

The Battle of Station Four began at 7 a.m.
when Federal pickets saw the Confederates
approaching and opened fire. Despite a
shortage of ammunition for both his cannon
and small arms, Dickson opened a fierce fire
on the Union troops, who were using the
embankment of the railroad as a breastwork.
From his quarters in town, Major Weeks
heard the heavy firing coming from Station
Four. Rushing to the scene, he "found our
men flying in all directions." Reaching the
island end of the trestle bridge over Number
Four Channel, he found 60 men from the 2nd
Florida Cavalry (U.S.) still in some form of
order.

Leading the dismounted cavalrymen forward,
Weeks came under heavy fire from the lone
Confederate cannon, which would fire on the
Federals opposite the trestle then turn and
fire on the 30 Union soldiers still holding out
behind the railroad embankment.

What happened next depends on which
version you accept. Dickison said that, short
of ammunition, he opted to withdraw slightly
after killing, wounding or capturing 70 men.
The Federals, he said, then "left the field of
battle precipitately." The captain reported his
losses as 5 men wounded although in a
later account he indicated that 6 men had
been wounded in the fight. He also was able
to recapture the cattle, horses, wagons and
other items that had been taken during the
Union raid.

Weeks told a somewhat different story.
According to his report on the action, he
pushed across the bridge just as Lieutenant
Pease led his 30 men forward in a bold
counter-attack that forced the Confederates
to withdraw. He then withdrew his own men
across the trestle to Cedar Key. According to
Weeks, his total loss in the battle was 5
killed, 17 wounded and three captured.

The sharp fight took place on the eve of the
Union expedition that would end at the
Battle
of Natural Bridge just three weeks later. The
site today can best be viewed by stopping at
the end of the very nice dock just off Highway
24 as you cross Number Four Channel on
the first bridge leading into Cedar Key. The
battlefield is directly across the channel from
the end of the dock. There are no markers or
facilities on the battlefield itself, but you can
learn more at the Cedar Key Museum and
the Cedar Key Museum State Park.
Number Four Bridge Today
The Highway 24 bridge over
Number Four Channel has
long since replaced the
original railroad trestle that
connected Cedar Key to the
mainland of Florida.
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