Artillery at Olustee
Confederate troops captured
six pieces of Union artillery
during the Battle of Olustee,
along with 1,600 muskets
and 130,000 cartridges.
The Pines of Olustee
The battle was fought in the
open pine woods so
prominent in East Florida.
Neither side used defenses.
The Battle of Olustee, Florida - Confederate Reports
The Battle of Olustee, Florida - Confederate Reports
The following excerpts are from The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official
Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 35, Part One (pages 330-308).
Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph Finegan
February 26, 1864
On the 20th instant, the enemy advanced in three columns, since ascertained to have been
twelve regiments of infantry (nine of white troops and three of black), estimated at 8,000, and
some artillery (number of guns unknown), and 1,400 cavalry. At 12 m., the enemy were within 3
miles of my position. I ordered the cavalry, under Col. C. Smith, Second Florida Cavalry,
supported by the Sixty-fourth Georgia, Colonel Evans commanding, and two companies of the
Thirty-second Georgia, to advance and skirmish with the enemy and draw them to our works.
The remaining force was placed under arms and prepared for action. Apprehending that the
enemy was too cautious to approach our works, I ordered Brigadier-General Colquitt,
commanding First Brigade, to advance with three of his regiments and a section of Gamble’s
artillery, and assume command of the entire force then ordered to front and feel the enemy by
skirmishing, and if he was not in too heavy force to press him heavily. I had previously
instructed Colonel Smith, commanding cavalry, to fall back as our infantry advanced and
protect their flanks. This movement was predicated on the information that the enemy had only
three regiments of infantry, with some cavalry and artillery. Perceiving that in this movement the
force under Brigadier-General Colquitt’s command might become too heavily engaged to
withdraw without a large supporting force, and intending that if the enemy should prove to be in
not too great strength to engage them, I ordered in quick succession, within the space of an
hour, the whole command to advance to the front as a supporting force, and myself went upon
the field. These re-enforcements were pushed rapidly forward, and, as I anticipated, reached
the field at the moment when the line was most heavily pressed, and at a time when their
presence gave confidence to our men and discouragement to the enemy.
I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Hopkins, commanding First Florida Battalion, and Major Bonaud,
commanding Bonaud’s battalion, to fall into line on the left in the direction of the enemy’s
heaviest firing. After I had ordered these re-enforcements, and they were some distance on the
way to the front, and while I was myself on the way to the front, I received from Brigadier-
General Colquitt, commanding in the front, a request for the re-enforcements which had
already been ordered.
The engagement became general very soon after its commencement. The enemy were found
in heavy force, their infantry draw up in three supporting lines, their artillery in position, cavalry
on their flanks and rear. I ordered Brigadier-General Colquitt to press them with vigor, which
he did with much judgment and gallantry. They contested the ground stubbornly, and the battle
lasted for four and a half hours. At the end of this time, the enemy’s lines having been broken
and reformed several times, and two fine Napoleon and three 10-pounder Parrott guns and
one set of colors captured from them, they gave way entirely, and were closely pressed for 3
miles until night-fall. I directed Brigadier-General Colquitt to continue the pursuit, intending to
occupy Sanderson that night; but in deference to his suggestion of the fatigue of the troops, the
absence of rations, and the disadvantages of the pursuit in the dark, and in consequence of a
report from an advanced cavalry picket that the enemy had halted for the night and taken a
position (which was subsequently ascertained to be incorrect, I withdrew the order. During the
continuance of the battle, also after the enemy had given way, I sent repeated orders to
Colonel Smith, commanding cavalry, to press the enemy on his flanks and to continue in the
pursuit. But through some misapprehension these orders failed to be executed by him, and
only two small companies on the left, and these but for a short distance, followed the enemy.
The enemy retreated that night, hastily and in some confusion, to Sanderson, leaving a large
number of their killed and wounded in our possession on the field. Their loss in killed, both
officers and men, was large. Four hundred and eighteen of their wounded were removed by us
from the field, and 400, or near that number, of their killed were buried by us; also nearly 200
prisoners were captured; several officers of high rank were killed and others severely
wounded. Their loss cannot be less than 2,000 or 2,500 men, 5 superior guns, 1 set of colors
captured, and 1,600 stand of arms; also 130,000 rounds of cartridges (damaged by having
been thrown into water)….
…The victory was complete and the enemy retired in rapid retreat, evacuating in quick
succession Barber’s and Baldwin, and falling back on Jacksonville. The enemy’s forces were
under command of Brig. Gen. T. Seymour, who was present on the field….
Report of Brig. Gen. Alfred H. Colquitt
February 26, 1864
…About 2 miles from Olustee Station I found the enemy advancing rapidly and our cavalry
retiring before them. I threw forward a party of skirmishers and hastily formed line of battle
under a brisk fire from the enemy’s advance. The Nineteenth Georgia was placed on the right
and the Twenty-eight Georgia on the left, with a section of Captain Gamble’s artillery in the
center. The Sixty-fourth Georgia and the two companies of the Thirty-second Georgia were
formed on the left of the Twenty-eighth, and the Sixth Georgia Regiment was sent still farther to
the left to prevent a flank movement of the enemy in that direction. Instructions were sent to
Colonel Smith, commanding cavalry, to place his regiments on the extreme flanks and to
guard against any movement of the enemy from either side.
The line of infantry was then ordered to advance, which was gallantly done, the enemy
contesting the ground and giving way slowly. Perceiving that the enemy were in strong force, I
sent back for re-enforcements and a fresh supply of ammunition. The Sixth Florida Battalion
and Twenty-third Georgia Regiment soon arrived for my support. The Sixth Florida Battalion
was formed on the right of the Nineteenth Georgia and in such position as to come in on the
left flank of the enemy. The Twenty-third Georgia was put on the left of the Sixty-fourth Georgia.
Colonel Harrison, coming up with the Thirty-second and First Georgia Regulars, took position
on the left, between the Twenty-third and Sixth Georgia Regiments, and was instructed to
assume the general direction of the left of the line.
The section of Gamble’s artillery in the center having been disabled by the loss of horses and
injury to limber, Captain Wheaton, who had early arrived upon the field with the Chatham
Artillery and had taken position on the right, was ordered to the center to relieve Captain
Gamble. This battery moved forward and took position under a heavy fire, and continued to
advance with the line of infantry until the close of the action. Toward night, when Captain
Wheaton’s ammunition was almost expended, a section of Guerard’s battery, of Harrison’s
brigade, under Lieutenant Gignilliat, moved up and opened fire on the enemy, furnishing
Captain Wheaton with part of his ammunition.
After our line had advanced about one-quarter of a mile the engagement became general and
the ground was stubbornly contested. With two batteries of artillery immediately in our front
and a long line of infantry strongly supported, the enemy stood their ground for some time,
until the Sixth Florida Battalion, on the right flank, and all the troops in front pressing steadily
forward, compelled them to fall back and leave five pieces of artillery in our possession. At this
time, our ammunition beginning to fail, I ordered the commanding officers to halt their
regiments and hold their respective positions until a fresh supply could be brought up from the
ordnance wagons , which, after much delay, had arrived upon the field.
Major Bonaud’s battalion came upon the field, followed soon after by the Twenty-seventh
Georgia Regiment and the First Florida Battalion. These troops were put in position near the
center of the line and a little in advance, to hold the enemy in check until the other commands
could be supplied with cartridges. As soon as this was accomplished I ordered a general
advance, at the same time sending instructions to Colonel Harrison to move the Sixth and
Thirty-second Georgia Regiments around on the right flank of the enemy. The Twenty-seventh
Georgia Regiment, under Colonel Zachry, pushing forward with great vigor upon the center,
and the whole line moving as directed, the enemy gave way in confusion. We continued the
pursuit for several miles, when night put an end to the conflict. Instructions were given to the
cavalry to follow close upon the enemy and seize every opportunity to strike a favorable blow….
The Union dead were buried
in a mass grave on the
battlefield. The traditional site
is now marked by a cross.
Union Line of Battle
This view looks down the trail
leading along the final Union
line of battle. Walking trails
allow visitors to explore the
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Last Updated: February 19, 2014
Civil War in Florida
Olustee Mini-Documentary. Just click the play button!