THE FLORIDA S'l ATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
FAR FROM FIELDS OF GLORY
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN FLORKIDA DURING THE CIVIL WAR,
DAVID JAMES COLES
A Dissertationl submitted to the
Department of Hstory
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Doctor ol Phiiosophy
Fall semester, 1996
All rights Restrved
R chelle A. Marrinan
Outside Committee Member
This work is lovingly dedicated to
Michael Drew Coles and K~athryn Alexandra Coles
and to the memory of
Christopher David Coles
research, I received a Dissertation Yeur Fellowship from the United States Army's
Center of Military History, which enabled me to travel to various archives and libraries.
The staff at these repositories were unfailingly helpful in providing access to their
collections and suggesting places for further research. Phyllis Holzenberg, a former
employee of the Interlibrary Loan Department, Strozier Library, Florida State
University, cheerfully supplied many obscure nineteenth century source materials.
James Burke ofilic Florida State Archives read the manuscript and caught a number of
enrors- while Sam Bums gave vital assistance over the final weeks when it seemed even
try computer was conspiring against me. I thank both of them for their help Russell
Alexander, Joan Morris, Jody Nomian. Richard Roberts, and the rest of the Archives'
staff also provided me with encouragement
Over the many years it has taken to complete this dissertation, Dr. James P.
Jones has served as my major professor. He has become a close friend as well as
professional mentor, willing to help me with my work or simply to talk sports. politics,
music. or military history Is Batter-Up open yet? Dr, William W. Rogers also offered
encouragement and, when needed. a swift kick in the pants to get me going. This work
of History. They provided helpful comments and suggestions along the way,. and I
thank them for their patience and their assistance. Dr. Rochelle Marrinan served as mv?
outside committee member, and I appreciate her willingness to take time out of her busy
schedule for this purpose. Dr J Leitch Wright. Jr served as one of my master's thesis
advisers. anld assisted me during the early phases of my doctoral program. His tragic
death deprived Florida State University of one of its foremost scholars and was a
heartbreaking personal loss as well.
Over the past fourteen years I developed a number of close friendships among
my fellow graduate -tudents. Mary have completed their degrees, others wre pulrsuing
different careers, but all have provided companionship and support when needed
Thanks to Frank Alduino, Will Benedicts, James M. Denham. Mary Louise Ellis,
Stephen Engle, Tim Fevv, Kathryn Holland-Braund. Joe Knetsch. Miguel Lemus.
Christopher Meyers. David Proctor. Lynn Willoughby, mid many, many others.
Canter Brown proved to be a loyal friend and supporter. who helped corn. i ne
me that I could finish this project w hen I had almost given up hope my self. He also
read most of the following chapters and his keen editorial eye saved me from
innumerable croors in grammar, style. and interpretation. Richard Ferry of Macclenny.
Florida, unselfishly shared many Olustee-related items from his v luminous mn \ate
collection- Bruce G;raetz of the Museum, of Florida History and the foremost scholar of
the St. Markis experdition, read that chapter of my dissertation and gav'e me access to rare
source material from his files. Charles Sv itzer of 'eachtrce City. Georgia, allowed me
to examine and quote from the journal of his ancestor. Michael McCormick: while
Robert DB Carlisle and Dr Roger Lochhead of Chatham. Massachusetts similarly
allowed me access to the autobiography of Charles Rockwell. Likevwise, Duane Ashe
pro% ided several valuable sources relating to the Second Maine Cavalry.
Don Hillhouse and Zack Waters deserve special thanks. Fellow students of
Florida's role in the Civil War, both have become close friends who I have been able to
ask for favors anld advice. They have also shown a remarkable ability to locate
previously unknown manuscript materials which they have generously shaped. This
work would be poorer without their help Yes. Zack. I'll finish the Gettysburg book!
Of course, completion ofa work such as this is impossible without a supportive
family- My parents. grandmother, and in-laws always provided encouragement. My
children, Michael and Kathryn, have had to sacrifice some. but hopefully not too many,
family outings while dad was "at the archives," or 'at the library." I hope that this work
justifies those absences. My wife Belinda kept the family together during those periods.
and was always willing to help me in a variety of ways with the dissertation. or simply
by providing me with a shoulder to lemon Thank you for your patience, love, and
I "OUR FLORIDA ENTERPRISE'": NATIONAL POLITICS AND)
TH1E 1864 FLORIDA EXPEDITION .......................
2. "STICKNEY AND OTHERS HAVE MISINFORMED YOU":
OPENING MOVEMENTS OF I HE 1864 FLORIDA
EXPED IT IONN .......... ........... ............... ......... ................ ... ....... .
3 M EN AND ARM S .................. .......... ...... ....... .. ......... ...................
4. "YOU ',ILL COME BACK FASTER THAN YOU GiO": THE BATTLE
OF OLUSTEE ............... . -- ...... ... ..... .. ..................... ..........I
5. "SHOOTING NIGGERS SIR": CONFEDERATE MISTREATMENT
OF CAPTURED BLACKS AT THE BATTLE OF OLUSTEE 14....l
6. RECRIMINA~TIONS. RAIDS. AND RETRENCH IMENT: OPERATIONS
IN NORTHEAST FLORIDA, MARCH 1964-MARCH 1965 .. ......... I
7. C`AI-TLE WARS: THE CIVIL WAR IN SOUTH FLORIDA.
THE FORGOTTEN CONFLICT WARINTHEFLORIDA
PANH'AND)LE.1864-1865 ..... .................
LAST CHANCE FOR GLORY: THE ST MARKS EXPEDITION
AND THE 13ATTLE OF NATURAL BRIDGE .. ......
"A'i TERRIBLE AND SAD RESULT": THE END OF THE CIVIL
WAR IN FLORIDA. MARCH-JUNE 1865 ........ ..... .-..
BIBLIOGR APHY .. .......... ... .......... ...
BIOGRAPHICA L SKETCH .......... .. .............
LIST OF FIGURES
I "Johnson's Florida ........ ............... ..... ....... .. ....... .10
2. "`Perrine s New Topographical War Map ofthe Southern States"....... 20
3. Detail ofJacksonville and vivmnit) ........... ...................... ........ .. ..... .49
4. Detail ofnortheast Florida ........... -.............. .. ..... .... .............-....... .... 54
5. Detail of region between Lake City and Columbus .................. ... ....... 64
6 "Sketch of the Battle-Field of Oceanl Pond" ...... ......................................1 117
7. First phase of the battle....... ......... ................... ................ ... __ .............. 120
8. Second phase oftlac battle -. ...... ........................................ ............. ... 126
9 Third phase of the battle ..... .... .. ............... .. ... .............................. 137
10. Fourth and final phase ofthe battle .. ............. ....... .............. .... -. 140
11 "Jlacksonville and Vichaty ............ .. ..... .. ........ ........ ........ .187
12 Upper St. Johns River .. ... ... ....... ......... ........................ .............. .. 05
13 b lorida gulf coast, vicinity of Cedar Keys.. .. ............ ......................... .. 234
14. South Florida ........... ... ... ... .... ... .....-.................... .... .. .. 25
15. Pensacola Bay ............... ... ................ ... ... .. ..... ......... ...... ...... 277
16. Confederate officer's map of gulf coast from Mobile. Alabama to
Milton, Flonida ... ........ .... ............. ........ .. ..... 1-82
17. Western I lorida panhandle and Alabama gulf coast ... .....
18. Florida panhandle from the Apalachicola to the Choctawhatcht
19. "Scene of Operations Against St. Mark's Florida March 1865"'
M0. Area between Tallahassee mild St. Marks. including St. Marks
River mid Natulral Bridge..... .. ....... .. ..................... ...
21. Natumil Bridie battlefield ... ........ ............... .
During the last tw o y-ears, of the Civil War. military operations within the state i
F~lorida increased dramatically. This dissertation focuses on that time period, begiruini
with the political, military, and economic background to the 1864 Federal invasion of
cast Florida. which ended in defeat at the battle of Olustee. Presidential politics playei:
a major role in launching the expedition. while Florida's increased economic
importance, in the ferna ofcattle. hogs, salt- and sugar to feed southern armies. also
contributed to the decision to invade the state.
Following the reverse at O~lustce, Union forces continued to occupy
Jacksonville. and over the next year a series of small engagements and raids took place
in northeast Florida. The southern peninsula also became the scene of milita, activity
during this period. as Union forces occupied positions on the mainland in an attempt I(
disrupt the Confederate cattle trade. In the panhandle. northern solchera occupied
fortifications near Pensacola tluoughout the war. During 1 864-1865 they launched
numerous i aids into the interior, culminating in the battle Of Marianna Necar the war's
The North's use of a significant number of black units in Florida, as well a!
formation of two. regiments of Florida Unionists. is explored in this study Combor
arrny-navy operations. the impact of econo-ic considerations on milit-I) acti Itie
the increased Unionist sentiment aniong Florida's civilian Populatiton are also exar
Florida remains the forgotten state of the Confederacy Ranking last in
population and wealth. and located far from the maj or theaters of the war. the "smallest
tadpole in the dirty pool of secession." has received little recognition of its role in the
Nevertheless. Florida provided some 15,000 men to the Confederate comes
Small when compared with more populous states like Virginia and North Carolina- this
number represented an amount greater than Florida's Iota] number ofregistered voters in
1 960. and -a perhaps the highest percentage ofpopulation to enlistments ofany
Confederate state. Additionally, during the later stages of the war mnd particularly after
the fall of Vicksburg. Florida became a significant source of supplies. providing
southern annies with large amounts of beef, pork. fish. sugar. molasses. and salt.
While no major battles on the scale of those in Virginia and Terraessee occurred
on Florida's soil. the state experienced considerable military activity. Fort Pickens near
Pensacola remained in Union hands throughout the war. Ratheil thanl Fort Sunnier,
Pensacola Ba might easily have become the location where hostilities conamenced in
the spring of 1861 Later in 1861-1862, several bombardments and one minor battle
Uontederate command evacuated Vensacola, as well as cmandina, ,I. Augustine,
Jack~sonville. Union troops occupied the first two locations and held them for the i
the war, while Jacksom, ille suffered through four separate occupations.
Throughout the war- Florida was the scene of numerous raids and skirmilshel
with much of the coastal region of the state. as well as southern Florida mild the wee
panhandle. remaining a no-man's land where neither side exercised effective conrno
Some ofthe bitterest brother-against-brother fighting took place in the state. equal
many- respects to the brutal Loyalist-Patriot clashes of the Aracricari Revolution.
Although small in number and ill-equipped and trained, Florida's Confederate deft
thwarted Union attempts to take the state and, at the time of Tallahassee's surrende
May. 1865j. it remained the last Confederate capital east oftlic Mississippi not yet
captured by Union troops.
Military operations increased in the state during the last two years of the al
This dissertation will detail the military operations during the period ofthe most ir
activity. from January 1864. until the end ofthe war Thle largest and most serious
Union expedition into H~orida occurred in February. 1864. when approximately 7,(
troops landed at Jacksonville for the purpose of restoring northern role. The camp;
ended in disaster on February 20 with the Battle of Olustee. the bloodiest military
deserves recognition for a number of reasons It "as an overwLIhelming Confedecrate
victory at a time when the South desperately needed one. Union losses approached
fort) percent. among the highest casualty percentages of the entire war. Union
participants referred to the battle as a second Braddock's or Dade's massacre.
More significantly. the political causes and consequences of the campaign far
outweighed the relatively low number of troops involved. The 1 864 Florida expedition
culminated ovecr two yewrs ofintrigue at the highest levels of Washing ton government.
Treasurv Secretary Salmon P Chase's presidential aspirations contributed to the fiasco,
as he hoped to reconstruct the state in time to send delegates to the 1864 Republican
Convention. Chase appointee Lymmm D Sticknce. member of the Florida Direct Tax
Commission. assisted the secretary in this goal through a series of dubious business and
Less directly involved in Florida affairs. President Lincoln nonetheless sent his
private secretary, John Hay. to the state to aid in the registration of voters who took a
loy~alty oath to the United States government. The president hoped to promote his own
political interests at Chase's expense. With the unsuccessful conclusion ofthc
tllaCK; troops COmprisce a large portion Ot the Feederal force at Olustee. I he battle
occurred during a crucial transitional phase in the use of Negro troops This period,
from mid-] 863 to early 1864, sawr the role of black units expand from an experimental
nature to an integral pail of the Union war effort At Battery Wagner, Port Hudson. and
Olustee. blacks earned the right to fight for their freedom alongside whites These
battles presaged the even larger role ofl~egro soldiers in the war's last months.
Another feature of the battle as Confederate Mistreatment of the large numbers
of blacks captured there. Previlous students of the campaign have ignored or
dowpnplayed this tragic event, but extensi~e primary research stronON) indicates that
such mistreatment took place. Undoubtedly numbers of black soldiers captured at
Olustee v~cre killed or otherwise abused by their southern captors.
These ingredients make the 1864 Florida campaign a legitimate: subject for
historical study it is unusual. therefore- that so little scholxrly research has been
devoted to the topic. Onl. a handful of articles or books hav-e dealt with Olusice.
Mostly an a cursory fashion, and few have attempted to combine the political and
military aspects into a detailed description ofthe entire canipaignn
O)lustee did not end military operations in the state. Federal troops remained in
Jacksonville after the battle, and both sides for a time actually increased the wie of their
forces in the state. The Yankees established garrisons on the upper St. Johns River
while the Rebels seeded the river with torpedoes to destroy Union gunboats. The
Federal hcaxily fortified Jackisonville. mid the Confederates established strong
positions at Camp Milton. east ofthe town. Each side, mea-hile, undertook
expeditions to test enemy defenses. Eventually both sides reduced their forces in the
state. Still, over die next sixteen months Union and Confederate soldiers met in a
number of smaller battles and skirmishes. including those at Marianna. Station Number
Four, Fort Myers. and Natural Bridge.
South Florida became the scene of nmllitar activity during 1864-1865 because of
the increasing importance of Florida beef. Confederate officials established a cavalry
force to ceuard the cattle region. and Union troops occupied Fort Myers in an effort to
disrupt cattle shipments.s Northern military and naval leaders in Florida encouraged
Unilonist sentiment within the state. Eventually two regiments, the Firlst and Second
Florida Union Cavalry were organized The Second Regiment served primarily in South
Florida. and also occupied posts as far north as Cedar Keys. General Alexander Asboth.
cocurnander of the District of West Florida, organized the First Florida C-1alry, which
fought in the Florida parthandle and in southern Alabama in 1864-1865 Unionism
represents another aspect of the war in Florida which has previously received little
Late in the war, in a combined army -navy operation. the Federals made an effort
to capture the blockade running port of St Marks. They also likel) hoped to capture
Tallahassee. At the battle of Natural Bridge a motley- force of defenders repelled the
invaders and kept the capital in Rebel hands for two more months. When the
Confederacy finally collapsed. Florida's defenders were among the last organized troops
east of the Mississippi River to capitulate. In the aftermath, political refugees like Judah
Benjamin and John C Breckinridge trav eled through die state in an effort to avoid
capture. T~he Federals apprehended some. while others reached safety in Cuba or the
Bahamas. By June 1865, Florida's Civil War had ended. In providing details on the!
subjects- arid by integrating military, political. economic. and social issues into a sing
narrative, it is hoped that this work will fill a void in Civil War scholarship and prom
Presidential election yecar politics set in motion the chain of events that
culminated in the Febmuary 20. 1864 battle of Olustee, the largest Civil ar engagement
to take place on Florida soil Treasury Secretary Salmon Portland Chase hoped to u-est
the 1864 Republican nomination from President Abruhaaa Lincoln. As part of this goal,
Chase and his supporters worked d to establish a loyal Florida govcmiment that \\wuld
support the secretary at his part 's convention- Lincoln also became interested in
Florida affairs. partly to counter Chasess activities, but also as a test of his 1863
Reconstruction Proclamation. Additionally, in the event ofa presidential election sent
to the House of Representatives, a ne~rly-reconstructed Florida government -ould ha~e
the satne voting strength as much larger states like New York, Penns) Ivania. or Ohio.
The 1 864 Florida exnedition culminate ed mote than two vears of political intnizue at the
Northern involvement in Florida began soon aft er the outbreak- of hosailnrlt
Union officials apparently became convinced that large numbers of Floridians ren
loyal to the flag. and eagerly awaited the return ofnarthern troops In early Marcl
1862 Federal soldiers occupied the coastal towns of Fernandina. St. Augustine- an
Jacksonville, which had been largely stripped of Confederate defenders following
defeats in Tennessee.2
Soon after thle return of Federal forces a group ofl-Inionists met in Jacksor
They declared Florida's secession void. and asked the Union military to maintain ;
presence within the state to protect their interests. This positive reaction to the Fe
occupation seemed to reinforce the view* that many Floridians desired the quick rc,
of United States rule. Unfortunately for the Jacksonville Uralonists. General Davii
Hunter, commander of the Department of the South which included east Florida. %
not impressed with Union sentiment within the state. As a result northern troops
evacuated Jacktsonville in early April 1862, although they continued to maintain
footholds at Fernandina and St. Augustine In the fall of 1862 Union troops again
These tax commissioners w ere under the authority of the Department of the
Treasury and appointed directly b y! Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase. Considered by
many to be the most serious rix a[ to President Lincoln for the 1 864 Republican
nomination. Chase recognized thle enormous power that could be w ielded by these
commissioners. He moved quickly to appoint men in Flor-ida who represented his own
political interests In Septembesr. 1862 Chase chose John S Sanums. Hairrison Reed.
and Lyman D. Stickney to senve as Direct Tax Commissioners for the State of Florida
Sticktney soon rose to become the most prominent and powerful of the three, and it was
largely through his efforts and Chase's that the Federal govcriurrent maintained an
interest in the reconstruction of a loyal state goverourent in Florida.'
Stickney proved a strong and able ally for Chase. He might best be described as
a professional opportunist, familiar with politics at the local. state and national le\-els.
Bomn in Vermont. SticloneY studied law in his native state before moving to Robert
Owens' utopian command ry at Ne Hanmon3 Indianla. in the 1940's. After subsequent
antebellum careers in railroad speculation and newspaper editing. he appeared in Florida
shordv! before the outbreak of the Civill Wan. During the wi mer of 1860-1861 Suickney
obtained a grant of land from the Florida Leg islature for the founding a fa colony in the
so uthern pon ion of the state. He "professfedi to be thle agent and partner of an
L IJ R t.11
develop tropical agriculture in H~onda.-~ Sticliey's Florida trip had actuallN been
financed by several small farmers, and when he finally established a colony near
present-day Fort Myers, it was rumored to be "a base for receiving African slaves."''
Although his colony collapsed in the spring of 1861. Stickney remained in the
state Movilng to Key West and proclaiming himself a Unionist. he actually ran a ship
between the Keys and the mainland. trading with both sides. When he left Key West in
May or June. 1861. Stick~ney's major legacy was an unpaid hotel bill of$144.00.
Following his departure from Florida, Stickne) traveled to Washington. "~prospecting
for a good spot at the public trough "' He promoted himself as a Florida Unionist. and
even authored articles for the Agriculture Department on soil arid climate conditions and
on tropical agriculture inthe state '
During the next year Stickney became known to Salmon Chase, and in
September. 1 862 the secretary chose him to serve as tax commissioner for Florida. The
two men held similar views on future operations in the state. Already nurturng 1864
presidential ambitions, Chase vilewed Florida as one of several areas offiossible support
Stickney, meanwhile. clinging tightly to the secretary'~s coattails. believed that a Chase
victory could only increase his own power and prestige. Unfortunately for Chase, as
historian William W. Davis has writen-
labor reg generation of the South, Soon. though. his interest turned to Florida. He hoped
eventually to colonize the state wilth between twenty and fifty thousand northern
volunteers, who would defeat mny Confederate forces in the state. and then remain as
colonists. In early 1862 Thayer apparently discussed the venture with President
Lincoln. who initially gave the project his tentative support.12
Despite the Union occupation mnd subsequent withdrawal from Jacksonville in
early 1862, Thayer continued his interest in the state. After Stickney's appointment in
the, finll oftlint ve-r Thav- rollnh,,,T,,i with th, -cmmrinc i b-, frriun
resettlement, and the permanent subjugation of the southern white popu-
lation-all ... ran counter to Lincoln's stand against the anti-slavery
radicals (such as Chase. llhaddeus S~tevens. Berriamin F. Wade, and
Zachariah Chandler) within his own part) `"
Despite Lincoln's coolness, Thayer persisted in his proposal. Chase strongly supported
the scheme, which was also promoted by other leaders in the Republican Party.
Ulltmately a Februay 7, 1863 meeting offrhaye supports atthe Coper nstitte i
Niew York formed a "Committee of Five"~ to present his plan to Congress
Unfortunately for Tlhayer's backers, the legislature took no firm action onl the proposal."
By the spring of 1863 Thayer's Florida colonization scheme had large])- been
abandoned. but some northerners retained a stronger interest in the state. In particular.
Samuel P Chase and Lyman Stickney still hoped to manipulate elcnts to their own
After his appointment as tax commissioner in the fall of 1862, Lyroan Stickne.
remained in Washington for several months. Not until January. 1863 did he and the
othcr commissioners. John S. Sammis and Harrison Reed. arrive at Fernandina. Soon
became obvious that, in addition to his desire to increase his sphere ofinfluence in the
state, Stickney hoped to profit personally from his appointment. He shipped- at
government expense, large quantities of consumer goods to Fernandina. and establish,
a corrinercial company, with two political allies. Calvin Robinson and Williari Momil
(Robinson. Morrll. and Company) Stickney remained a silent partner in the firm.
replenishing its stock from government stores and confiscated goods. In addition, he
beccme involved in such varied activities as the selling of iron confiscated front the
Florida Railroad Company. and the operation of newspapers in Beaufort, South
Carolina. and Fernandina (The Free South and The Peninsula). His newspapers profit
greatly from the sale of inflated advertising space to the government. These
advertisements were used to inform property owners oftax appraisals and auctions. A
further detailing of Stickney's business transactions is beyond the scope ofthis work.
might simply' be stated that wherever money could be made in Florida. Stickney vwas
there to make ii. and he w~as certainly not hesitant in using his public position to
improve his personal finances. "'
Like Stickney. the twoD other members of the Florida Tax Commission. Harrison
Reed and Johni Sarmais, secured personal enrichment through their appointments Reed
had always been Stickney's: rival for control of the commission. while Sammis had at
first been a Stickney all%. Ho-ever, the two clashed over the railroad iron sale. mid
Sammis eventually turned against his former friend. In June. 1863. during one of
Stickney's frequent absences from the state. Reed and Sammis held an auction of
confiscated property at Fernandina. The auction tooki place on short notice, and raised a
disappointinglN low suni- In addition, Reed and Sammis each purchased several pieces
of property for themselves. This event precipitated a long squabble between Stickney
and thle other two commissioners, which received much critical attention in the northern
press. The Internal Revenue Commission eventualIN disallowed the Fernandina sales.
and b early 1864 both Sammus and Reed had resigned their positions."'
The resignations of his rivals left Stickne, in ulndisputed control of the Florida
Tax Commission. Throughout the controversy he had maintained the confidence and
support of Chase. who saw the commissioner as an important ally in the reconstruction
ofatiro-Chase Florida government. By the fall of 1863, Chase was seriously uork~ing
for the 1 864 Republican nomination H e perceived the race between President Lincoln
and himself as extremely close. and felt the balance of fitmer might rest in the hands of
the delegates w~ho would attend from reconstructed Southern states. This explains
Chase's continuing interest in Florida, air interest that might otherwise have seemed
peculiar. conlsidering the relative unimportance of Florida on the national level. He felt
that the state. "ifireconstructed under Siickney's leadership. would fit well into the
category ofusefull delegations ""8
In order to assure Florida's support for Chase in 1864. fur-ther militant) activity
would be necessary to extend the area of Federal control in the state. Throughout 1863
Lyman Stick~ney had lobbied to promote the advantages of such activity in Florida.
Ovid Futch perceptively writes that. to restore Florida to the Union.
the politicians needed railitary aid. Stickney and Chase were acutely
aware that their plans for reconstruction in Florida weitec completely
dependent upon successful military operations They rcalired that
military conquest and occupation of Florida were more likely- to come to
pass if they encouraged it Hence they let slip no opportunity to inforru
the proper persons of the extreme need for'liberating' the southeastern
peninsula. Northern newspapers began to pairu. woeful scenes of the
suffering of loy.] Floridians. A few rebels were in control of the state.
but ifthe loyal citizens could only get a bit of aicL they could thrown off
the rebel yoke."g
Fortunately for Stickney. he maintained good relationships with various
commanders in the Department of the South, thre military district that included the
coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia. and the eastern half of Florida Much ofhis
time was scent shuttlmQs between Floridal. W\ashintiton. and South Carolina. conterrinn
)on after the St. Marys raid Stickney. Higginson and black troop orgari~re
ufux Saxton met with Departmen of the South commander General Dav
id persuaded him to authorize mother expedition to Jacksonville. In a Icl
of War Stanton. Saxton justified thle operation by stressing the possibliv.
Stickney supported the proposal because a colony of freedmesn ould undoubtedly
prove strong supporters of Chase's more radical political and social policies.
On March 10. 1863 Higginson led a small force up the St Jokns and casil took
Jacksonville. The Union force included Higginson's First South Carolina. Colonel
James Montgomery's Second South Carolina Colored Volunteers, and later the Eighth
Maine and Sixth Connecticut Infantry Regiments For several weeks the Federals
conducted raids up the St. Johns as far as Palatka gathering supplies and new' recruits
for the black regiments. Unfortunately for the ambitious Stickney, the third occupation
of Jackson% i Ile proved to be as short as the previous two. About to conumence
operations against Charleston. General Hunter needed all available men for dutN there.
He could not afford the luxury of a seconclar, mieration ef dubious worth in Florida
To one less intrepid than Chase's political organizer. this third evacuation
officktsonville might well have been the end of hopc and the
culmination of despair. But the undaunted Stickney was worried ont)
for fear Chase might be discouraged.2'
For the remainder of 1863 "'Judge"~ Stick~ney, as he was referred to because of
background, worked hard for the return of Union troops to east Florida. and to
nce Chase of the continued feasibility of such a plan In April he traveled to
1ngton to coDIfer with Chase. asking that the secretary use his influence to obtain
troops for Florida He still believed that it was possible "'to make Florida a loy
Late before the meeting of the next Congress," and that if military forces could 1,
D the state. "nothung further, except arms to supply negros as they are enlisted ir
my, will be required to restore the jurisdiction of the United States throughout
[a 1'2 For his part, Chase maintained his enthusiasm for operations both in Floni
wecral other Southern states where conditions looked promising for his candidacy
mter he mentioned the possibility of organizing free states in Florida- Alabama,
iana. and Texas 21
During May and June. 1863 Chase and Stickney contacted political generals
G(arfield and James Wadsworth, to make proposals regarding future military
Lions in Florida The% were by now\ seriously promoting the extensive use of bi;
ents in the stale. Neither Garfeld nor W'ad-orth pro\ed interested enough in i
Figure 2. "Petrine~s Newr Topoeraphical War M~ap of the Southemn States.-
Published b E. R. Jewett & Co Buffalo. NY. 1861.
proposal to become actively involved themselves, with the latter replying. "I have
always been opposed to detaching troops to operate in the extremities of the
Confederacy, and what I should prefer for myself w-ould be a field of more active
military operatiors."27 After this setback Chase attempted to interest Mansfield Frer
"a belligerent Northern missionary to the Sea Islands"~ to recruit a black regiment fon
service in Florida "' French replied enthusiastically-
I believe no power can be bghrouhtobear on ereeini Florida equal to
that ofa colored army, [he womele marchh five thousand of these wronged.
injured victims. against their cruel. guilty. oppressors--let it be trumpeted in
advance, by a hundred negroes that the 'day ofjubilee' had come .... and y(
would see such a panic, as when the Syrians Iled, through few,. from Sumarkr
.The rebels would see justice in such a war ... Let the colored men do this
work and it would be the crowning work of all the \\ar.`'
Although French could not have known the details. Union militant, and political lead
had already begun developing similar plans. Obviously Chase was becoming embrc
in what Stickney called "our Florida enterprise,""
On June 12 General Quincy Adarns Gllruoie assumed command of the
Department of the South The thirty-eight year old Gillmore grachlated at the top of
1849q West Poilnt class, and had had an distinguished antebellum engineering career
After the outbreak of the war lie won fame for his engineering feats along the Adlant
coast. particularly in his direction of siege operations against Fort Pulaski. Georgia. in
April. 1962. Not surprisingIN. Lymart Stipleney soon contacted thle new department
commander and discussed with him the possibility of another Florida expedition. He
found in Gillmore a strong, ambitious ally who supported both the Florida plan and the
Chase nomination movement. In a later letter to the secretary. Stick~ney 'Tole that
Gillmore "has given me very- strong evidence that he's your frieri."
Fully in September, Sticknev visited Chase in Washington, The secretary
described the meeting in his diary:
In the afternoon Mr. Stickney called. He hadjust arrived from Florida,
and lastly from Morris Island. He says that it is casy now to take
possession of Florida: that five thousand men can accomplish it. Gen.
Saxton desires the command and Gen. Gilmore [sic] approves the
expedition. and is killing to spare one or two regiments to aid it. If the
business can be promptly taken hold of. and pushed vigorously, Mr.
Stickney is confident that Florida can be restored as a Free State by the
Subsequoent events moved rapidly. and If Stickricy's date for FloridarS
reconstruction prove ed slightly pieniature, he did convince Chase that the time w~as
quickly approaching for a major miiitarr intervention into the state Not content to
remain exclusively committed to Chase, Stickney apparently met with or at least
To strengthen his power base in Florida, in October Chase appointed his
ial secretary, Homer G. Planiz. as Key West District Attorney. Plantz promoted
!'s interests in the southern part of Florida while Sticknev' did the same in the
John flay, Abraham Lincoln's private secretary and soon to be deeply involved it
[a affairs himself. later wrote that Plantz went to Ke) West "wilth but twn ideas. to
noney for himself& votes for Chase."" "In this sorry Florida episode," writes a
:biographer, the Treasury Secretary. "was the victim of o~erly optimistic
ragement bv his Florida agents who had ex-pected to profit through his candidacy.
eagerness to believe the positive reports that he could be nominated, Chase had
rsely accepted the views of the unscrupulous Stickney and Plaraz.'-"
L~yman Stickney again met with Quincy Gillman, in early December.
gently at this meeting definite plans were forriulated for a movement into Florida
ommissioner reported to Chase that Gilhoore "gave his cordial assent" to such an
the enate ought to be in a harry to conflinn him as Mal generall Wait
until the D~elegation in Congress from Florida ask his confirmation for
his service in conquering the rebels of their state.""
In early December. 1863 Salmon 13. Chase's prospects for the 1864 Republican
nomination appeared bright On December 8, Linoln issued his lenient Proclamation
of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which provided for the readmirtance of the seceded
states after only ten percent of their 1860 voters took an oaih of allegiance to the United
Stalicsgovernment The more radical elements of the Republican Party blasted the plan.
The following day a group ofinfluential pro-Chose Republicans met in Washington to
criticize the president anld announce their support for the Treasury Secretarv Chase.
who -'had never totally reconciled himself to the loss of the presidential nomination in
1 860 ... [wras propelled] into a fun,~ of effort to win the nomination in 1864.`7
It was against this background that Quincy Gillmore asked the War Department
for permission to commence operations in Florida. In a December 15 letter to General-
in-chief Henry; Haiieckt. Gillmore, noted that his operations against Charleston could not
succeed without increased naval support, and suggested twoo possible altematf~es One
option consisted of the surprise capture of Savannah. w hile the other possbihty? was to
1 operate in f- lorida and reco% er all the most valuable portion of that state. cut off a rich
source of thle enemy's supplies. and increase the number of in) colored troops ,31"
Halleck replied to Gillmore on December 22. authorizing him to "undertake
such operations in your department as you may dearn best. making secure the posilionss
you already hold in front ol'Charleston "" He added that Gillmore should not expect
any reinforcements to aid in these im\ ements. These qualifications would hamper
Gilllmore's ability to launch a major new operation, since the total number of troops In
the Departolell of the Sonth in December. 1863, was only 33.506. Many of these
troops were needed to maintain the positions before Charleston and Savannah. while
others were preparing to return north for thirty days furlough after reenlistin, "
Despite these handicaps. Gillmore seemed enthusiastic about the possibilities of
the campaign. Suclbney meanwhile, now that his plans appeared close to fruition.
became even bolder in his activities. On December 14 he appeared on board the U.S S
Vermont at Port Royal Harbor, South Carolina, and told its commander that several
gunboats would soon be needed to assist in an upcoming expedition into Florida.
Commander William Reynolds of the Vermont informed the commissioner that orders
from Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren. commander of the South Atlantic Blockading
Squadron, would be required for the Navy's participation. Dahigren complained to the
Secretary of the Navy Gideon W~elles of Stickiney's interference, claiming that any
Florida movement might hamper Union activities against Charleston. The admiral had
governmem. While his motives were unclear, Ovid Futch writes that Stick~ney was
simply "~making an effort to ingsratiate himself with the President, so that he would be in
line for political rewards regardless of the outcome of the contest."" in furtherance of
this aim. Sticknev also wrote to John Hay, Lincoln's private secretary. Hay had visited
Florida in 186, and became enchanted with the state. The commissioner asked ifhe
would be interested in serving in a free state Florida legislature. At Lincoln's urging. Ha]
the state to conduct thle registration ofctzn citizens who had taken the IoN a]ty oath, and
provided with enough blank forms and other paraphernaia to conduct his mission.""
On January 13. 1864 the president wrote directly to General Glillmore. informinn
the officer of Hay's appointment and his purpose for going to Florida. This letter Mas
delivered to Gtllmore by Hay when he reached Hilton Head on January 19-
1 understand air effort is being made by some orth? gentlemen to
reconstruct a loyal state government in Florida. Florida is in your
department. and it is not unlikely that you may be there in person I have
given Mr. Hay a commission of Major, and sent him to you with some
blank books and other blanks. to aid in the reconstruction He-11l
explain, as to the marmer of using the blanks. and also my general views
on the subject It is desirable for all to cooperate, but ifireconcileable
differences ofopinion shall arise, you are master. I wish the thing done
in the most speedy way possible. so that. when done. it lie within the
range of the late proclamation on the subject. The detail labor, of course.
lll have to be done by' others, but I shall be greatly- obliged ify on will
give It Such general supervision as you can find consistent with vour
there preparatory to an advance west at an early day."'" He then asked Secretary of War
Stanton to send to his department the sev era] new black regiments that were being
organizedIn the North. Gi I more outlined his plan for the upcoming Florida expedition
to Stanton and asked for The new~ units to relieve his veterans for participation in the
campaign. He also complained about the lack of experienced cavalry in his department,
hinting for reinforcements.""
Stanton and Halleck. apparently had reservations about the operation. but
informed Gillmore that "the mattet had been left entirely to your judgment and
discretion, with the means at your command."' Halleck felt:
it is impossible to judge here of its [the campaign's] advantages or
practicability. Ifit is expected togive anoutlet for cotton. or open a
favorable field for the enlistment ofcoloned troops- the adv-antages may
be sufficient to justifj- the expense in money and troops. But simply as
military operations I attach very little importance to such expeditions If
successful they merely absorb our troops in garinsons to occupy the
places. but have little or no influence upon the progress of the wanr 5'
Halleck's and Stanton's lack of enthusiasm failed to deter Gillmore, who outlined
the specific purposes of the Florida movement to them in a January 31 letter:
First. To procure an outlet for cotton. lumber. timber. turpentine. read the
other products of that State Second. To cut off one of the enemy's
sources of conumssary- supplies He now draws largely upon the hends
of Florida for his beef. and is making preparations to take up a portion of
the Fernandina and Saint Mark's Railroad for the purpose of connecting
the road from Jacksom~ille and Tallahassee with Thomasvlle.. on the
Savannah. Albany and GCulf Railroad. and perhaps with Albany. on the
Southwestern Railroad. Third To obtain recruits for mN colored
regiments Fourth l~o inaugurate measures for the speedy restoration of
Florida to her allegiance. in accordance with instructions which I have
received from the President by the Iamds of Ma3 John Hay', assi .stant
I arn expected to accomplish these objects ith the means at my
command. The only requisitions which I have made mn excess of my
ordinary wants to enable me to accomplish this vork\ speedily are for
1.500 horses and 1,500 sets horse equipment. to enable me to mount
someminantry If the filling of these requisitions ill occasion any
embarassmeml to the departments of supply they can be reduced 30 per
In his earlier communications withl Washington, (ii Imore had ignored the
campaign's political considerations, preferring instead to concentrate on the marginal
military ach, antages inherent in the invasion.. Perhaps he had hoped the Lincoln
administration remained unaware offus close ties with the Stickney-Cliase faction. and
the influence that these had had on his decision to invade the state. The military
objectives of the expedition were not entirely without merit. Lo? al businessmen in both
the north and south longed for new outlets for cotton and other southern goods. and it
was also believed that Florida represented a favorable area for the recruitment of black,
units The foremost military consideration.. however. inv-olv ed cutting off the suppIN of
Florida foodstuffs from the Confederacy With Vicksburg's surrendet in July, 1 963, the
trans-Mississippi states became logistically useless to the remainder of the South, and
the cattle and grain of Florida grew in importance.'
Confederate supply officers soon besieged Major Pleasants W. Whhite.
Confederate commissary agent for the state. with urgent appeals for supplies to feed the
major Southern armies White, a prominent Quincy lawyer appointed art Jure 1863.
took, his position seriously and "soon canned a reputation as a talented and zealous
administrator, inspiring to his subordinates." Within months ofhis appointment, the
catastrophic impact of the Vicksburg defeat became evident. CommussarY- officers from
the Confederate anincs in Charleston and north Georgia besieged "Nhite with appeals
for beef. pork,. and other Florida supplies O)ne South Carolina official lamented: "we
are almost entirely dependent on Florida our situation is full of danger from want of
meat." A another wrTote. "I] assure you that near], all now depends on yo.."',
White responded to these appeals in November 1863 by issuing a circular which
urged the collection of food and supplies Instead of ordering its pub] ication. w 'hich
would have alerted Federal informants and damaged Confederate morale. he provided
the document to his district commissaries and ordered its distribution throughout the
state In the document White stated, in part
fG]eneral and immediate action is imperative to save our arm. ith it our
cause, from disaster. The issues ofthis contest are nowv transferred to the people
at home. Ifthe) fail to do their duty and sustain the army in its present position
it must fall back .... [T]he best-appointed army cannot maintain its position
without support at home. The people should never suffer it be said that they
alucd their cattle and hogs, their comn and money, mom: than their liberties and
honor, and that they had to be compelled to support an army they sent to battle
in their defense . These brave men are now suffering for want of food. Not
out), men from F~lorida. but the hole army of the South wre in this condition.
Our honor as a people demands that we do our duty to them. They must be
Confederate leaders later assumed that the Federals had learned of this
document's existence. and that the "W'hite Circular" was a major reason for the Florida
campaign Robert Taylor. author of the principle study of Florida's economy during the
har years. agrees with this assessment "Itr did not prove difficult for Union intelligence
officers to acquire the W\hite Circular and pass the information it disclosed 10 Such
generals as Gillmore aInd Seymour before operations began." he writes. and -[t]here can
be little doubt that this extraordinary report influenced Union leaders inl their decision to
move deep iiito northern Florida in 1864.""' Florida 0% ~il War historians are divided on
the issue, with William Nulty also arguing that suppIN issues overrode political concerns
in leading to the campaign. John Johns and William Davis both downplay the
sigenificance ofthe Minet Circular. with Johns determining "the influence this had on
the Unilon decision to invade is questionable.""' Indeed, no specific mention ofthe
circular can be found in the cor-respondence of Federal military leaders in the period
prior to the campaign The Federals obtained a copy of the W-hitc Circular when theN-
occupied Baldwin on February 10. and the Newf York, Herald subsequently published it
in its entirety in the February 20 issue, but this w~as [on, after the decision to invade
Florida hiad been made. Federal commanders had a general idea of Florida's increased
logistical importance to the Confederacy, but there is no indication that the White
Circular specificalb, affected the decision to invade east Florida'
xistcci. the Florida expedition would not have taken p
w\entually occurred The occupation of'Jacksonville vr
:cold still aggressively raid into the interior had the po
'onfeclerate supply operations The Florida campaign
the efforts of Salmon P. Chase and Ilyman Stickney contributed greatly to the
continued Federal interest in Florida. In the year and a half between his appointment a.
Direct Tax Commissioner and the Union inv asion of Februar), 1864. Sticicnev, labored
incessantly for an increased Nonthemn presence in the state. His main goal w~as to
promote the interests of lus ally Chase. and at tire Salle time increase his own power.
President Lincoln became involved in Florida affairs comparativelyr late. Unldoubtedly
aware of Chase's activities, the president showed serious interest only after General
Gillmore had already determined to commence military operations within the state
Lincoln's motives were tw-ofield. He believed that Florida would prov-e a useful testing
ground for his December, 1863 Reconstruction Proclamation and. more selfishl). hoped
that a loyal Florida government would support him for renomination or in a general
election sent to the House of Representatives."
While Lincoln's motives were far from pure. he did little to deserve the abuse
heaped upon him after the Florida disaster. Above all, the Olostec campaign was a
Chase and Sticknev affair Stickney-s intrigues, and Chase's inability or unwillingness
to recognize the tax commissioner's exaggerations and basic dishorrestv, led to the
manipulation ofilorthern political and military leaders that ended in tire pine barrens of
north central Florida on February 20, 1864 near a railroad stop called Olustee.
Remarkably. in the charg-s and recriminations that followed. the large, managed to
escape public scrutiny Despite this. the fact remains that the time. effort. and nearlv-
[cai tUacliground ol tric v lorioa campai!
'hasc and Radical Politics in Florida,
)2: idem. "Salmon P. Chase and Civij
.. .... .... .. .
I V. .1 1.
tinent repots and corespondence
58, Treasury Department. Internal Revenue Office Records. National A~rchives.
P Chase. May 6, 1864. ad Wiliam H on Pfster f] to hase. ay 12 1864,Direc
' pach."Samon CaseandRadial oliics" 1819;Stikne to has. My 6
'Futch. "Salmon P. Chase and Radical Politics," 1-6. See also ide. "tcne oSalmon P hs
Salmon P Chase- 218-219 'lim o fse ?]t hs.M) I.16,Drc
had been enthusiastic about the plan ms M~ayandtheFrutraio
Smith- "Carpetbag Imperialism. 122. i I i-
l bid_. 129-130: Futch, -Salmon P. Chase and Radical Politics," 21-23.
Finuch, "Salmon P. Chase and Radical Politics, 23-25. 28-29: Smith. "Carpetbag
Imperialism," 260-262: Shofner. Nor Is It Over Yet. 5-9; "Theodore Bissell's testirao
against L D. Stickney." Direct T- C(ommission Records.
'7Shofnesr, "Andrew Johnson and the Fernandinal Unionists,"' 213-215: Smith,
"'Carpetbag Imperialism," 268-275 Futch. "Salmon P. Chase and Radical Polifics," 3
'"Smith, "Carpetbag Imperialism," 276.
'"Futch. "Salmon P. Chase and Radical Politics," 47.
Library ofCongrcss. Washington. DC.
I L--~. '"''. .' I II IIn. LIni. .
!?OR-A. 1. XIV. 423.
FinFuch. "Salmon P Chase and Radical Politics.'- 3 1-32. See also Smith. "Carpetbage
':Quoted in Smith, "Carpetbag Imperialism." 268
!9Mansfield French to Salmon P. Chase. October 10, 1863. Chase PUPCTS. In this and
A - - ' ' I . sic- to indicate
'"Stickricy to Chase, J- & h 1863, Chase Papers
i . I I I... ir. I F 1 . .1 1.
j I I H .
"Blue. Salmon P. Chase, 19
St Sicknev to Chase, December IL. 1863. Chase Papers.
'iOR-A. 1, XV[11. Pt 2, 129
I I H . 1 ....I .I . 1 .
Igust 27. 1863 and September 2. 1863. 'Miae to John F- Cumming
;: and White to Jarnes McKay. October 2. 1863 for early letrters
importance of Floida's beef supplies.
I' ~laylor. Rebel Storehouse. 1J7.
ii I I i~ !'~i. ~I I ? I I L II I !
II .!.:~ ..I
'~'l~ea YarL Hemld. February? 20. 186-(.
~1.11 ~1 .I I 1;11- 1 I I 1.11 1:. .;
' - ~ ,rll;.l.. .. ~...~1. .. ? ,I; i.~: ~ .. I .~~ ~~1.
' 'Y h !. II. 1l n i I IIIT 11~1?11 1111
'.I 1.1 11111 1111 Illil III II
~'I '' ' "' I '~~~ ~' -' - I! 'I.. ..;.i ..- ! 1 1.,11
'-~II~-~ !-1 ! .?-,I ..".:il.l.
II-.? I II ...~ ,1.. .~ : ...1. i.....;. ,..,.....
~' I'- 1 11.1! ~;l~i 'I I ~ .I- Ir.,,.i ?riiri
and another 1.000 sailors mid marines. They had come to attempt the "Third Annual
Conquest of Florida." as one participant would facetioulsly refer 10 the expedition.' It
was FebruarN 6. 1864 A fortnight later a large percentage of these men would become
casualties in what was one of the most complete defeats suffered bN the Union armN
during the war
As detailed in the previous chapter. political and milittm, considerations had. by
Jarman) 18X64, convinced Major General Quincv Gillmore of the desirability of com-
mencin, military operations in east F~lorida at an early date. With the arrival of John
Hm) at Gillmore's Hilton Head. South Carolina. headquarters on Januar% 19, serious
preparations for the campaign began. By Febritan 1, Gillmore had obtained final
approval to proceed. He began selecting units to participate in the operation. and oxer
the next several cla~s regiments began arriving at Hilton Head from Fort Pulaski.
chosen to lead the expedcition.2
Giihnotre ordered Sevniour to "embark without delay the following regiments
and batteries of your command-"' including Colonel Williana Barton's Brigade with the
Seventh Connecticut. Se\ enth New Hampshire. and the Eighth United States Colored
Troops (USCTT): and Colonel Jarnes Montg!omery's Brigade with the Second South
Carolina Colored lrdfantr the Third Unitedd States Colored. and the Fifty-fourth
M~assachusetts, also a black unit. The Fortieth Massachusetts Mounted Infantry.. an
Independent Battalion of hassachusctts Cavalry. and three artillery batteries were also
selected for the expedition Colonel Guy V He-r led this last mounted brigade. Not
included in the first movement order but also assiv dt h xpdto ee h ov
seventh, FonLy-eighth, and 11 5dil New York Infantry.'
Vague in his early orders to Seymour. Gillmnore hoped to keep the destination of
the movement a secret for as long as possible. There could have been little doubt
among the troops. however. that they could soon be involv-ed in active campaigning
Orders went out for each man to carr six days' rations. at least sixt) rounds of
ammunition, and his personal equipment. The regiments onl brought two wagons
apiece (and one for each mounted company) to carry additional material.'
Additionally. Seymour was instructed to "~see that no females [accompany] your
command. and [to] give strict orders that none shall follow except rejpularlN appointed
yesterday we had [a) General review by Gillmore 8,- last knight the cooks
was ordered to cook scix days raitions & that we should have too days
rations in our hav ersacks we wre not to take our tents or anything except
our knapsacks lightly packed with just what we need it is hard telling
where we are going but i think we will find out when we get to the
Stoping place all the troops are going with one battcry of light artillery 10
regiments in all Some Says we we going down to florida to Jackrson% ille
and Some Says up to polkataligo to destroy the brige that crosses the
,quaaron wouic. ne necoea to iranspon mIe Y ar-ec troops me severin nuriarec nines
from South Carolina to Florida. The arin) commander contacted Dahlgren on
Febhruary 5, informing the admiral of his desire "'tio throm, a force into Florida on the
west bank of [thel St. Johns River"~' anld asking for the navy'., assistance 7
Despite his earlier criticisms of L) man Stick~ney`s activities and his view that
operations in Florida merely detracted horn the more important theaters ofwar.
Dahlgren agreed to provide vessels for thle expedition. President Lincoln's recent
interest in the movement certainly contributed to this chatage of attitude. Politics
permeated even, aspect of tbe Florida campaign. Dabigren quickly assembled an
impressive naval armada which, by the time of the Union landings at Jacksonville,
included tbitty-eight transports. tugs, and warships. They would prove invaluable in the
combined operations that followed.'
February, 5 clawned cold, rainy. and windy. "not a nice day- for arr excursion." as
described by John Appleton. white major in the black, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts. "We
are hoping that the start will be put offuntil tomorrow but wre getting ready all the
same."' At nine p m. Gillmore ordered Se) mour to begin loading his men onto
Dahlgren's "raitinlg ships, in hopes that they could be at sea before daybreak on
Fcbruaryi 6. He further explained that the entire fleet was to rendezvous off the Mouth
of the St. Joints on the morning of February 7. Although Seymour wras to be in tactical
command of the expedition. Gillmore would accompany it in tire early stages.""
By the morning of the sixth, the invasion force was at sea. Most of the men still
had no idea of their destination. Milton Whoodford of the Seventh Connecticut later
seemingly to find into how small a compass a regiment could be packed
The 7th Conn. and the 7th N.H. were both put on the 'Ben Delffrd.' a
moderate sized steamer. and if you ever saw a flock of sheep or drove of
pigs in a small pen. you can form some idea of the shape m e were in.
For a whille me had no room to lie down or even to sit down, and
just had to stand as close as me could stand all ox-er the boat. Afier a
while one or another would fund a comer or space somewhere to stow
himself, until we could finally all sit down; then ifone wanted to go an
deck, he had to walk over the rest.-.
The sea was rather rough, and about nine or ten o'clock a good
many might have been seen Icarring over the side of the vessel, paying
their tribute to 'Old Ncp.' In fact, more than half of us were sea-sick. 0
suchai ime! WVere %on everrsea-sicV? If so. I need not describe it to )ou.
and if not. I need not try. for I couldn't."
Despite these rclativcly minor problems, the Union fleet arm ~ed off the mouth of
the St- Johns early on February 7. The transport Island Cit,\ reached the area the day
befine. to informl the gunboats Ottawa and Norwich. on blockading, dutv at [he river's
mouth. of the fleet's imminent a-nva I, I he I hur iet D. Weed had also been sent in
advance to mark the river's channel for the main bodN On The sixth the navy landed
pickets at the rivers month to prevent word of the ships' arrival from reaching the
Confederate defenders. In addition, a group of Flondal Unionists volunteered to go
ashore mid "cut the telegraph wire and bumn a railroad bridge." helping to isolate
On the morning of February 7. the remainder of the northern fleet arrn\ed off the
St. Johns and tugs began assisting u s lid ata~rpn oerte hll~snda
at thle river's mouth. One t-asport, the Burnside. foundered on the bar and washed
ashore a total wreck-. Fortunately no one was killed in the episode. The remainder of
the fleet entered the river without further incident and ascended it towards Jacksonville.
located on the river's west bank about twenty miles fioln its mouth "
John Appleton was aboard the steamer Maple Leaf along with General
Seymour. his staff. and a number of Florida Unionist reftigees who were returning to act
as guides and pilots. As the ship entered the St. Johns, Appleton described [he scene in
[H]eautiful black &~ white birds, pelicans and others. fly and swim about
us. The white sardy beaches on each side with the lines of dark green
foliage, make a pretty picture. The entrance to the river is marked by
two white Light houses- As we steamed up river we passed mart)
usly csanining the shoreline for Confederate defenders. Finding
sports approached the w~harv-es along the town's waterfront to begin
-icCh, meanwhile, continued upriver to the mouth of McGirt's
Confederate blockade runner St. Mlarv's there and forcing its crew to
second Mate Elrjah Norris of the General Hunter led the first party
-d the wharves a group of Rebel pickets. who had hidden themselves
I o continue the chase about twenty Union cavalrymena from the Massachusetts
Independent Batrtalion were put ashore and galloped off after the southerners. They
follo,,ed the Rebels w~estward for about five miles "'over a rotten plank road, capturing;
signal station. and several prisoners ""8 Union signal officer Gustavus Dania
accompanied the cavaolrymen to the signal station west ofiocn -1here the northerners
found "a 30 pdr [cannon] loaded with broken glass, cowr shoes & nails and pointed
down the road in the direction we were approaching." fortunately for the Federals, the
Confederate defenders had, in their confusion, neglected to fire the piece. In all,
twenty-two prisoners were captured by the Federals "V
The northern troops that landed at Jacksonvller found it largely deserted. The
previous Union occupations bad taken their toll on the town. Some buildings lay gutted
from the fires set by withdrawing Union troops in 18613. and many of the remainder
were emptv. Ofthe nearly 3,000O people who had lived in Jacksonville at the thrie of the
1860O United States Census. few remained. Most of these were women and children
who, not surprisingly, professed to be Unionists. The presence of black soldiers
shocked the inhabitants. A soldier in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts described "Ltlhe
faces of the ladies in Jackisonville. indicat[ing] a sort of Parisimn disgust as the wvell-
appointed Union anmy-. composed in part ofl-incoln's 'niggers, fi led through the
street S -' Another northerner thought the town Ilook~ed] much like a devastated
Northern city. with its ruined gas-wrorkrs. burned saw mills, and warehouses."~ Others
were impressed by the beauty of the town. despite the damage it had suffered "
By dark on the seventh, Jacksonville was in Unijon hands Federal troops troved
to the western outskirts ofthe town and established defensive positions. General
Seymour had hoped to move quickie against Camp Filnegan- a Confederate position about
eight miles west of the cit3 astride the Florida, Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad- but a
nuniber of Union transports had difficulty clearing the bar at the mouth of the St. Johns
and did not arrive at Jacksonville until the afternoon ofFebniary 8 Despite this delay.
Gillmore and Seymour had every reason to be pleased with the operation to this point.
Union gunboats controlled the St. Johns. Jackisonville had been occupied with little
bloodshed. and northern forces were prepared to move westward as soon as the remainder
of their troops arrived. Thus fur the reconstruction of Florida appeared as easy as Lyrziar
Stickinev and Salmon Chase had envisioned, and President Lincoln had hopcd.-2
BN late afternoon on February S. most of Scy mourn's troops had landed at
Jacksonville. The general immediately moved against Camp Finegan, where he
believed "that the enemy would make a stand with some force of cavalry and
artil e, 2 The Federal advance consisted of Colonel Henry's mounted brigade on the
right. Colonel W\illiam Barton's in thie center- and James Har~lev's on the left. Between
the cmbarkation from South Carolina and the landings in Florida, the Federals made
various alterations in the organization oftheir forces. Colonel Barron was given
command of a ne, brigade made up of the Fort -seventh. Foru -eighmh. and I I 5th New~
Fiue eai f Ics-il advciiyfrm"NrhrnPrto; ord.
Co pldadPbise tteUiedSae os i'e fi ,16
York. while Colonel Hawlev was placed in charge of Rarton's old brigade. H-awley had
previously commanded the Seventh Connecticut. Additional regiments also arrived In
Jacksonville in the days following the initial landings. including the First North
Carolina Colored Volunteers (also known as the Thirty -fifth USCT). the Third UISCT.
the Tventy-founth Massachusetts. and the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts."
Seymour originally designed the attack on Camp Finegan as ajoint operation by
the three brigades. Hemr's mounted troops, however, soon outpaced the slower foot
soldiers and moved on toward the Confederate camp by themselves. Thle Union czo alry
rode swiftly westward in pitch darkness and along unfamiliar roads. hoping to reach the
crimp before the Confederates could escape. A company from thle Massachusetts
Cavalry Battalion led the advance, and about tvo miles from Camp Finegan charged
and captured six Rebel pickets 2'
The Confederate force at Camp Finegan consisted of about 350 men under the
conimand of Colonel Aibner Mclcormick, Second Florida Cavalry. As neither
MlcCormick nor Henry desired a major battle. Henry decided to bypass the Rebels and
continued westward, while McCormick's men abandoned their camp. The Union
commander hoped to reach an artillery camp located at Ten Mile Run. several miles
further west. He left the securing ofCarup Finegarn to the following Union infantry,
who camped there later that evening. "Col Wished to capture the Bann? at 10 Mil[c]
station bc ond.- wrote Massachusetts cavwitiaymn Clotaire Gav in his diarv. and 'said
The Fcclcrals reached Camp Cooper at Ten M~ile Run at about midnight. and to
their arnaz~ement found the Confederate defenders of the Milton Light Artillery sitting
around campfires or sleeping. "peacefully dreaming of a future great Confederacy '27
The southerners had been in the process ofwithdrawing their guris to the west. but,
unaware of the close proximity of the Federals. Captain Joseph L Dunharn had allowed
his men to rest for the night. ^The Rebels were am akened by a sergeant riding through
the camp shouting. "Save yourselves if you cart: the ene-) is right upon you!" They
had little time to react."s Hem,) quirkll lined up his troopers. ordered his bugler to
sound the charge. and shouted- Affever you yell in your lives. buys. yell now."'2' An
eyewitness remembered. "in halfa minute's time our caN air), had dashed into the center
ofthe carop and surrounded it on all sides."" Clotanre Glay recalled "Churg[ing] in at
Day Brake [we] captured ... artillery Cotton Turpentine & Rosen & Commissary~
Some eighteen Confederates were taken in the attack. along with a large amour
of equipment and four pieces ofartillmr. As the elated Feclerals rummaged through th
captured camp- they discovered a Confederate telegraph operator in the act of sending
message to his commanders, informing them of the disaster. Major AtLherton Stevens
the Massachusetts cavalry "walked into the room and seized the fellow by the throat....
and in a few seconds his instrument was knocked to pieces and the mrire cut,"32
Henn'-s cominand did not return to Jacksonville after these spectacular
successes. They instead continued mrestward- deeper into Confederate controlled
territorv. A~t clawn on Februarv 9- the Yarkees had reached Baldmin. a tinv vll-en of
belied its importance, located as it was at the intersection of the only two major rail
lines in Florida. the Pensacola and Georgia and the Florida. Atlantic. and Giulf Central.
rumming cast-west from Tallahassee through Lake City to Jacksom ille. and the Florida
Railroad, running northeast-southwest from Fernandina through Gainesville to Cedar
Key. A Union occupation of Baldwin could virtually shut down rail traffic in the state
One Confederate official went so far as to call the tow~n "the key to the Peninsula -"
Despite Baldwin's importance, the speed of Henry's advance. coupled with tile
confusion and lack, of Confederate defenders in east Florida. left the town virtually
undefended when the Federals arrived. The Union cavalrymen captured a huge amount
of equipment and supplies at the depot, including three railroad cars. one of~hich held
mother Rebel fieldpiece. Approximately half a million dollars worth of material was
captured in the town "
More southern prisoners felt into Union hands at Baldwin. Among these w~as
Lieutenant Joseph Barco offfid First Florida Battalion Balrro had escaped from Callip
Finegan the previous night. losing all of his extra clothing mid equipment in what he
called the Confederate "~stampede" from that location. Following a brief imprisonment
at Jacksonville. Banrco was subsequenfly' sent to Hilton Head Fort Nlfflcnr. Mary land:
and Governor's Island, New York In a letter writen to his wife, Barco noted thle good
After capturing Baldwin, Henry
security of Baldwin to the following in]
had been for Sevniour's troops to advar
possible. and Henry was determined to
down for breakfast at the town's lone hr
currenev found in the trash at the train
plantation (present dav Macclenny) wh,
companies of the Second Florida Caval
over the south branch of the St. Mar s I
Casualties before reforming. drawing pi:
scattering the Rebel defenders. The Fe(
Captain Charles Currier of the F:
As the Federal skirmishers approached
pickets of the enemy in considerable for
creek." Major Stevens "sent a company,
was the emptying of a number of saddic
and fired se\eral rounds. while -the cha
wind went the [Massachusetts] Indepen
",as dismounted and followed, fording
high. charging up the banki and into the
Yankee cheer. mil)- to find the encre b
's troopers again struck w~estward. leaving the
'antry Go~emor Gillmore's initial instructions
ce aslar towards the Suwannee River as
do just that. Before leaving, some Yankees sat
)tel. Thc) paid for the meal with Confederate
lepot. Hem's~ force continued on to Barber's
2re the found Majut Robert I larrison and two
n. defending a "strong position" opposite a ford
iver. Henr' s men suffered about a score of
stols and sabres. and charging across the stream,
Jerals captured a number of Rebels and about
ortieth Massachusetts participated in the action.
the ri-er. he remembered, they "encountered the
rce in a thicket on the farther side of Swift
, down the road to draw their fire. The result
!s." Elder's artillery then unlimbered its guns
Tge was sounded, and on to them like a whirl
dent Battalion The Fortieth Massachusetts
thle creek through wIater in some places breast
thicket. under the inspiration of a rousing
broken and on the run." The IFederals rounded on
'1^. 1 .- '
the Con federate prisoners arid tended to their owrn casualties. The cncm! dead. Currie
noted, "were left where they had fallen."3'
At six p no that evening. after destroying portions of the railroad. the raiders
reached Sanderson, fifteen miles further uest. The Confederates had abandoned the
town. leaving "the central portion wrapped in flames." Henry now eyed Lake City. the
most important town between Jacksonvillle and Florida's capital city of Tallahassee.
Despite the exhaustion of both men and horses, the Union command rested at Sandersl
for only a fie, hours before continuing its march. Sanderson was then occupied by tht
Union infantry that was following Henr)'s last-moving troopers."8
By riding all night. at midmorning of February I I the Federals had approaches
to within three miles of Lake City Here they found a significant force of Confederater
in a strong defensive position. In the days since the Union landings. Brigadier Genera
Joseph Finegan. conarander of Confederate forces in east Florida. bad assembled a
force of 490 infantry, I 10O cav-alry, and two pieces of artillery from his scattered
command On February 8, for example, the First Georgia Regulars mild the TweniN-
eighth Georgia I leavy A4rtillery Battalion (Bonaud's) left their camps along the
Apalachicola River for Lake City, which they reached mwo davs liter The town's
citirers had previously treated soldiers from these units poorly, evecn refusing to sell
them food. "The near approach ofthe enemy has made the change,- wrote First
Sergeant William A~ndrews. and the townspeople provided a "beautifuli dinner" for the
troops. "A4 friend in need is a friend indeed.- Andrews sarcastically commented. On
on they were in sight, and. on seeing our sk~im
)-eded to attack\ uq. It was a foggy morning e
)ached within seventy-flive or a hundred yards
-h mh-e I w- -- ---ommad ffth hrmr
railroad bridge over the Suvarmee River at Colutubus. I he
crical advantage over the Confederate defenders of Lake City.
heir mounts been in better condition," writes historian Wll-lu
-es could have easily been bypassed. and Henry could have
)r no opposition to destroy the railroad bridge over the
s, hils expedition had already accomplished part ofthe military
condition of transportation, admissible, and indeed that what has been
said ofthe desire of F Iorida tocombac no isa dl u o The
backbone of rebeldom is not here, and Florida will not cast its lot until
more important successes elsewhere are assured I.. would advise that the
forces be withdrawn at once from the interior. that Jack~sonvller alone be
held and that Palatka [upri\cr from Jacksonville] be also held. which
xvill permit as many~ Union people- &- c.. to come in as %ill join us
oluntarilN This movement is in opposition to sound strategy, and is not
directed. I understand. by General Halleck, who would doubtless have
not advised it. Many more men than you have here now will be required
to support its operation, which has not been matured, as should have
been done. As far as I can ]earn yet, Lake City will be defended by muie
artillery and infantry than I ha% -e with mie. To be thwarted. defeated. wi I
be a sad termination to a project, brilliant thus fax, but for which you
would not answer- in case of mishap. to your military superior. and
Stickiney and others have misinformed you. The Union cause would
have been far more benefited by Jeff, Davis having removed this railroad
to Virginia than by any trival and noti-strategic, success you may meet,
because victories must be decisive elsewhere before Florida can be wun
back, bN heart devotion. BN all means. theiefore, fall back. to
Jacksonville. which y-ou arc now bound to hold.. and use the Saint John's
as a base for your operations into the middle of the State bN detachments
of cavalry- instead offirittering a~ay the infantry of your department in
such an operation as this. I believe I am not alone in these view~s."
This letter is the first indication in the official records that either of the Union
commanders held such views A Federal officer. however, later recalled that Gilllmore
and Seymour had met at Baldwin on icbmaryv 10. and, from what the officer heard,
"neither general had much faith in the success of the expedition .. [feeling] that it was
purely a political move "' Of course. Gillmore had been aware from the first of the
political nature ofthe campaign. and had in fact been heavily involved in the intrigue that
led to the expedition."i
In an event, on the evening of the eleventh Giillmorc instructed Seymour to
concentrate at Sanderson if he met strong resistance. He also informed the general that
pall of tbe Fifty-lburth Massachusetts was being sent to Baldwin for support. On
February 12, following Henry's repulse in front of Lakte City.. the department
commander ordered Seymour's forces to concentrate at Baldwin "without delay." fie
was concerned about reports that Confederate reinforcements were arriving in Florida
and might threaten Seymour's flank."e
Over the next several days Sey-mour's confidence seems to have remmred The
fon% ard elements of his command retired to Barber's but not as far as Baldw in. He
informed Gillmore that the evacuation of Barber's would hamper an), future advance
Just two days before. he had insisted that onlN Jacksonville be held and that no further
yestwaurd advance be made. Seymour also ordered a part ion of Colonel Henry's
-ommand to raid Giaires% le and capture or destroy the railroad trains that were
)elicved to be there Captain G. E. Marshall of the Fortieth Massachusetts led this raid,
)ccupied Gainesville for fifty-six hours and skirmished with a small force from the
;ccond Florida Cavalry before returning oni February 17 17
NV'nile Seymour's enthusiasm for the Florida campaign was returning, Gilmore's
;eems to have been declining. On February 13. he wrote to Major General Hemy)
Talleck. describing the early movements of the campaign. H-e then added
I intend to construct small works, capable ofresisting a coup de main. at
Jacksonville, Baldwin. Palatka, and perhaps one or two other important
points, so strong that 200 or 300 men will be sufficient at each point.
Twenty-fivec hundred men. in addition to the two regiments that havee
been permanently stationed in this State (one at Saint Augustine and one
at Fernandina). ought to be ampie in Florida.. I have written to the
Secretat,' of the Treasury iecommendinR that the nort of Jacksonville be
On the fifteenth General Glltiore le
Hilton Head. Before leaving he placed Seyi
of Florida. Three davs after his departure,((
from Seymour that stated he now intended z
ostensible objective was the destruction oftt
the difficulty of accurmilating enough supp]:
vwas no operative locomotive to use along th
to advance "wi~ithout supplies."' Continuing.
demonstration against Savannah. to deter th.
force against him. He informed the startled
up to Barbers and that "'by the time you rece
&dancing to the Suw~annee River. His
he railroad bridge at Columbus. He note(
ies for an advance, particularly. since there,
e occupied railroad, but added he propost
Seymour urged Gillmore to make a
- Confederates from assembling a large
Giillmore that he was moving all his trool
ive this I shall be in motion.""0 Perhaps
are heart Iy tired of the war."~ This directly contradicted the views expressed in his
pessimistic letter of February I I
Immediately after being informed of Sevmour's intention to move westward
toward the Suwanneer. the shocked Gillmore sent his chief-of-staff. Brigadier General
John Turner, to Florida with a letter instructing Seymour to stop his advance. J11] am
very much surprised at ... the character of your plans."' he wrote,
You must have forgotten my last instructions. which were for the present
to hold Baldwin and the Saint Mary's South Fork,. as your outposts to the
westward ofJacksonvlle, and to occupy Palatka, Magnolia, on the Saint
Johns Your project distinctly and avowedly ignores these operations
and sulbstitutes a plan which not only involves your command in a distant
movement. without provisions, far beyond a point from which vou once
withdrew on account of'precisely the sanne necessity. but presupposes a
simultaneous demonstration of'great importance' lo you elsewhere, over
which you have no control, and which requires the co-operation of the
Gllnuire continued bv- quoting Seymour's own letters of February I I and 16. noting thl
complete rev ersal of lus opinions on the importance of moving on Lake City. and the
question of Union sentiment in Florida Not surprisingly he added. "I arn very much
cont!Aed by these conflicting views.'-i General Turner. who later noted that "General
Gilmore did not intend or expect General Seymour to advance, although it was not
expressed in so man)- words, as 'You shall not advance,"' should have arrived in Flor
in time to stop Seymour from launching his westward movement. Unfortunately.
ston~ eater claied hisshi fo io. htgh hours. By the time Turner reached
Jacksonville Seymour's army was already engaged in battle 5'
It is impossible to determine vhy Seymour decided to resume his advance on
Lake City and the Suwannee River. His actions during the early portion of the
cauripaign were inconsistent at best. alternating between extremes of caution and basic
despair and optimism. John Hay noted his peculiar behavior:
Seymour has seemed very unsteady and queer since the beginning of the
campaign. He has been subject to violent alternations oftimidity &
rashness, now declaring Florida loyalty was all bosh, no" lauding it as
the purest article extant. now insisting that Beauregurd was in front with
the whole Confederacy & now asserting that he could whip all the rebels
in Florida with good brigade "
Due to the scarcity of Seymour manuscript material, histormas can onl!v
speculate on the general's state of mind in mid-February 1864.5' In a post-,ar article,
General Joseph Hawley wrote that Seymour held a council ofw\ar witlh his principle
subordinates a dav' or two before the battle Accordinp to Hawtlev. of those present
Ir~ .1 ; I '
Seymour "may have become disenchanted with the prospect of being involved ith an
operation smaller in scale and less strategical Iy important" than another he had
previlously proposed for a rad against a railroad junction in South Carolina. Seymour
belle% ed, Nulty argues, that the destruction of the Suwannee River brndge at Columbus
was strategically significant since its loss "would separate East and West Florida."' The
general may have also believed in the existence ofa second bridge: over the Suwaonce
near Suipher Springs on the still incomplete connector line between Live Oak. Florida.
and Lawmon. Georgia. "'The existence of even an incomplete connector rail line,
particularly one crossing the Suw~annee River relatrvel close to the bridge at Columbus
may also have tempted General Sey~mour to risk an advance." Nulty concludes."s
While the second bridge theor) is intriguing. there is no evidence in the official
records to indicate that SCVMOUT WaS even aware of its existence. in a post-battle letter
to a fellow officer. Seymour did state that the capture of Lake City and the subsequent
destruction of the Columbus bridge were the expedition-s original goals. Fle blamed
Gillmore for not providing his command with adequate transportation. which might
have enabled him to easily occupy Lake City-
Gen G. charged himself\~ith putting a Locomotive on the R. R INl had had it I
should have crossed to the Solstice without an hour's delay, but I couldn't
supply my, men wilth the few, wagons I had--& when Henn, got to L[akel City
with his Cavalo I couldn't make a fight. because I couldn't stay there, if
successful. As I w~as convinced that we could not hold a point so far in the
interior I urged holding the S. Fork of St Marys (Barbers) as a base. instead of
Lake City. This was done. The instant I could accumulate provisions enough to
sally out, in pursuit of~the original aim & end of~the expedition, the destroying
[ofl communications bv the Suwanee-thaat moment I advanced "
This remarkable letter ignores the correspondence in which Gillmore ordered
Seymour to construct defenses at Baldwin and to attempt no farther advance If a
private understanding had existed to allow an advance to Lake City, it seems unlikelN
that Giillmore would have immediately sent his chief of staff to Florida to stop
Seymour's movement Seymour certanly acted rashly and in violation of his orders, at
least from Gillmore's perspective Probably he assumed he could easily take Lake City
and advanced to the Suwannee. destroying the bridge and then returning to his position at
Baldwin A spectacular. successfull raid would improve his standing with Gillmorc. and
restore sonic of his reputation so badly damaged the year before with his defeat at
Battery Wagner near Charleston."o Seymour later wrote that he believed he acted in
accordance with Gillmore~s instructions. "`I must add that my movements have been
entirely and fully in accordance with my views of the designs expressed to me by
[General Gilllmore]," Sey~mour contended, modified as I have a right to modify them by
a personal presence and command.- He had always "expected to advance from
[Barbers] when% er and wherever it might seem proper." as soon as enough supplies
had been stockpiled, Seymlour "saw; no reason why I should not carryout the major-
general's expressed desire--that is. to push on to the Suwarmece ""'
While Trunian SeVmouT contemplated his westward advance, the political
considerations and intrigue that had led to the 1 864 cast Florida campaign continued,
The primary) goal of the Unilon expedition remained the registration of enough loval
voters to bring a reconstructed Florida back into the union before the 1864 election.
Both the Chase and Lincoln factions certainly agreed with this The point on which
they differed was over who would gain control of this free Florida government
following its organization Following his arrival at Hilton Head in nnidJanuar..John
Hay traveled to Union-occupied Fernandina, to see for himself the true, feelings of the
population. In a February 8 letter to Lincoln- Hay conamented:
I have found among the leading men I have met a most
graulk ing unanimity ofsentiment. Those who have firmiri! been
classed as Conservative are killing to accept readily, the accomplished
events of the war and to come back at once: while those ofmort radical
views who, we have reason to fear. would rather embarrass us. are
readily in favor of your plan as exhibited in the case of Louisiana and
Ark~ansas. There is no opposition to be apprehended from either native
Unionists or Treasury Agents. The people are ignorant and apathetic.
'They seem to know nothing and care nothing about the matter. They
ha% e % ague objections to being shot and ha% ing their houses burned. but
don't know why it is to be done. They will be very glad to see a
government stroriL enough to protect them against these every day
incidents of the last two years. I have the best assurances that we will get
the tenth required although so large a portion of the rebel population is
in the army &r so many of the loyal people refugees in the North. that the
state is well-nigh depopulated. We will have a clean slate to begin
After his briefstay in Fernandina. Hay hastened to Jackrsonville. arriving there
on February 9 The following day he posted copies oflincoln's Reconstruction
Proclamation around the town, "The few citizens gathered around--the lettered reading
the unlettered listening with something that looked like a ghost of interest I [a)
began his search for loyal voters on Februan? 11, with a visit to the captured
Confederate soldiers held in the Jacksonville guardhouse. He read Lincoln's
Proclamation to the assembled prisoners and explained
-ights as citizens of the UI.S.
'It is a matter for )r own choice. There is to be neither force nor
)ersuasion used in the matter. It is u matter you must decide for yrselve
'Thlere has been some doubt expressed as to whether you ixiiI be
protected I am authorized to promise thiat you will be, ...
'Inducement is peace & protection & reestablishment ofvr State
lovt' NVhen I finished the little I had to say they crowded around me
asking innumerable questions. I got away & had au office fixed up in th
juartermaster's block & w aited for my flock. They. soon canie. a dinty,
lirtv swumn of tivey coats & filed into the room. escorted bv a neero
inhabitants remained hesitant. wouried about Confederate reprisals should the Yanke
again abandonl Jacksonville. Despite this the Major believed:
The fact that more than 50O per cent of the prisoners of ivu were eager to
desert & get out of the service shows how the spirit ofthe common
people is broken. E-rr~body seemed tired of the war Peace on anv
terms was what they wanted. They have no care for the political
quoestions involv ed. Most ofthern had not read tile oath & w hen I
insisted on their learning what it was they would say listlessly.'Yes, I
guess I'll take it.' Some of the mosrt intelligent cursed their politicians &
especially South Carolina, but most looked hopefully to the prospect of
having a government to protect them after the anarchy of the fewl years
past. There was little of what might be called loyalty. But what I built
rav hopes on is the evident weariness of the war & anxiety for peace.
The leading man of the town, Judee Burritt. is deeply exercised
about the reconstruction .... Between the Gillmorc who is here & the
Finegan that may return he knows not how to choose. If he is true to
Gillmore he mav get cotton. If he is false to Finegan he maN stretch
whom the rebellion has left in the state there are not fifty who were ever
in the habit of taking any political position or leading action of any
consequence who are not rank secessionists--and there are very [Few
men an~yhow~ not in the army who are not of the subdued. ignorant.
spiritless poor cracker sort. So far then as this movemecnt ma)' have an5
political design I regard it as a thorough humbug--and (he child of
Stickney & Co.'s intrigues & his Florida will quietly follow the fate of
the leading states ofthe Confederacy & when the head & licart of the
rebellion are destroyed at Richmond Cumberland Gap and Chattanooga
we shall hewr very little from poor Flonda.17
Ha? left for St Augustine on Feboaraw 12. to continue his efforts in that town,
while Colonel Edward Hallowell of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts administered the
oath-taking in Jacksonville. Unfortunalteh,. the number of nckv signees slowed
drainatically after the first day. A major problem was the fact, as Hay noted in a letter
As might be expected, Lyman Stickney also arrived in Florida with the
expedition. staying actively inv~olved in political and militant, affairs that concerned the
state. He presented himselfto Flay as a strong supporter of the president, while writing
to Chase on Fehruary 16 that "the President'splan f~or the restoration of Florida will be;
failure.""' Stickney would have preferred to bring Florida back into the Union with a
.'ramp convention composed ofa small group of carpetbaggers and poor-hihte
unionists," which he could more easily control; "he had notfung to gain iLincoln's
prestige increased due to a successful execution ofthe ten percent plan."~'
Confederate leaders were unprepared for the initial Union landings in Florida
After some initial confusion though, thev reacted quickly and decisively to the Nontherr
threat to Florida. At the time of the occupation of Jacksonville. about 1.500 troops
under the command of Brigadier General Joseph FinegEan defended eastern Florida. Tlu
District of F~ast Florida, which included the portion of Florida cast of the Suwarmce
River, was part of the Department of South Carolina. Georgia, and Florida. comonatrded
by General Pienre Gustave Toutant Beauregard. The entire number of effecti- troops
in his department w~as only about 30.000. with which Beaturegard had to conduct the
defense, fChcrl,.,uou and ,, -11 -,i P-l-,a I ----~rrrl mvpmnt
mid-Januar 1864 General Beauregard received reports of enemv actix it), around Hi [tot"
Head that led him to belic% e a Union oflensive w\as imminent. Vier~in' Sa\annah as
the most fiikel target, Beauregard went to that city on Januar-v 16. where he remained
until FebruatT 3 Whenl no Union attack material-cld, the general remumed to
Charleston. He left instructions with the militat-v commander at Savannah. Major
by onh! a small detachment of cavalry). ith several hundred more cavalry mid artillery
at Camp Finegan and Tenl Mile Run a few\ miles to the west. The General immediately
inforried Beauregard of these developments. who ordered him to "do what you can to
hold enemv at bax end prevent capture of slaves Finegan quickly mov-ed to
consolidate the scattered troops of his district. with which he hoped to limit the Yankee
advance until help arrived from other areas."l
In the first cla) s of~the invasion Finegan could do little more than harass the
Unilonists. In this achvilr,. wiMth the exception of the debacles at Camp Finegan and Tel
Mile Run, his troops proved fairly successful. The troopers of the Second Florida
Cavalry remained in the saddle for days, continually skirmishing with the Union
invaders. Captain Winston Stephens conunanded one of these companies. He describe
his unit's activities in a letter to his wife Octavia.
We have so far been able to elude the cnem, though we have at times
been surrounded & front appearances we thought our prospect was fair
for a northern prison Our command consists of 256 men in the Infantry
and 56 cavalry and we are trying tojoin Gerd Finegan but so far the
encroy's Cavalry have untraveled us. I don't know ifvve will be able to
get out without being captured We are having hard times and plenty
of it. I think the Enemv are some ten thousand or more. I have lost some
men captured and somee lost and nlot .et reported I have but about 45
men with me.`
possibility of removal front his command. His inexperience in handling troops in
combat discouraged both Beauregard and Florida Go~cernor Job. Milton. who preferred
a more seasoned officer in commatid of the district. Another Confederate officer ~Tote
from Tallaharssee that there w'as a "vant of ecadidence" in Fineean "as cri untried and
on icave were rouncea up ana place in new regiments.
; one such man. On leave from Company A- Third Florida
usin's house at Mandarin, (rtelas found hirnself forcibl.,
emr to the front."~ Ellen Call Long. daughter of former
th Call. remembered that three teen-aped soldiers were
Notice To the People of Flouida," asking citizens to 'ronibin[e] themselves in efficient
military organizations of mounted troops, if they have horses, and of infantry, if they]
have riot, anld reporting to are for temporary military service Ile urged Floridians to:
[Clome forward anld exhibit the patriotism and bravery which are their
characteristic traits. and. with their aid our gallant troops will soon di-ke
the enemy front the Cmuntr Let all unite in this honorable and manly
purpose, and lose no time in commencing the most ~igorous and
determined action `0
Despite such stirring appeals, the bulk of Finegean's reinforcements came From
South Carolina and Georgia. not Florida As mentioned previously, Generaal Bearroegan,
began sending troops to Florida immediately upon hewing of the Union landings.
Brigadier General Alfred Colquitt's Brigade left the Charleston defenses for F~lorida, but
was held up again because ofa Februar 9 Union drversionw, mo\ ement on Johns
Island by F~ederal troops under Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelfennig. This
diversion. and another near Savannah. accomplished their objectives of disrupting the
flow of troops from South Carolina to Florida, but the Unionists did not exploit them
fully. Schimnclfennig's movement lasted onl!v several days, and the Confederates were
able to repulse it. and then continue sending men south to F~lorida. Conlquitt's Brilgade
reached Lake Cit. just davs before the Battle of Olustee In retrospect,
boarded trains for Lake whi~.uhle others marched from Valdosta to Madison. YL)-crat
soldiers' accounts mention the generosity of the citizens of Madison, who provided
refreshments for the weary soldiers as they passed through."'
By February 13 Finegan had assembled a force of about 1,800 infantry, 450
cavalry, and several batteries ofartillery. Over the next week; Colquit's Brigade arrived
at Lake Cit, increasing his totals to 4600 infantry, 600 cavalry, and assorted artillery
units. In less than two w-eek~s the Confederates had reacted to the Union threat and
assembled a force that could meet the approaching Union army with rough purity. By
the nineteenth Seymour had concentrated his army at Barbers in preparation of mov ing
westward the next morning. Finegan. meanwhile, had brought his force thirteen miles
out from Lake City. near the village of Olustee and Ocean Pond, He established a
position known as Camp Beauregard. and his chief enginecr, Lieutenant M. B Grant,
began supervising construction of a line ol defensive fortifications stretching from
Ocean Pond on the left, across the railroad and the L~ake City and Jacksonville road,
with its right flank protected by an impassable swamp. Here he awaited the Union
advance: he did not have lorn, to wait.''
f-.I . - j A I -.. r .. n . I 1. .. I C r 1I
Captain A~lfred Sears of the First New York Engineers, stationed at Fort Clinch near
Femandina during the campaign. See Alfred Sewrs to Thomas Brooks. March 15. 1864
Thomas Benton Brooks Papers, Florida State Nrchi~es. Tallahassee. Florida.
OP,,. I. XXXV. Pt. 1. 280: Bold. The Federal Campainn of 1864, 4.
j'; I I i..l '- I i:
'ORN. 1. XV, 273, 276-277.
Ib id. See previous chapter for Dablaeren's views on Stick~neN and on operations in1
OPAOI. 1, XXXV. Pt. 1. 280-281.
SVaughn D. Bomet. ed., "A Connecticut Yarikee After Olustee." Florida I listorica
Ouanrlerh -17(January 1949): 242-243.
''ORN. 1, XV, 278-28 1.
"' ORM 1I, WV 278-281 New York Times. February 20. 1864, Martin and Schafer.
Jacksorrvillc'r Ordeal bv Fire, 1 80-182 Nulty, Confederate F'lorida. 81-81.
':Appleton Journal, February 7. 1 864, Appleton Papcrs Emilio, History of the HIIN-,
isLester L. Srrift, ed., "Captain Dana in Florida: A Narrative of the Seymour
Expedition,- Civil War Hision I (September 1965): 247.
2' Adams. ed., On the Altar of Freedom. 1 13.
they had caused.
22 Nulty. Confederate Florida, 91-86.
21 ORA, 1. XXXV, pt 1, 295-296.
I~: I ~ .~ II~i~.~ ;!, I I F .I
i 996) 67-70
h I I;: I I I I ~I. 1 1 1 1 1 i;
j1 1 . 1 . . - I
Joseph Barco to ife,, Match 2. 1864, Joseph Barco Papers, Florida Collection, Sta
brary of Florida, Tallahassee. Florida.
Currier Recollection, 73-74.
Cro-nnshicid.. History of the First Regiment, 261.
-~I I I : P.
f. T "' '"'~ " "~111''"
'"ORA\. 1, XXXV, Pt. 1. 293. Most ofthe relevant correspondence is also published
'nORA, 1. XXXV, Pt. 1, 27T.
Ibi~lbd.. 284. 2K6 Nulty- Confederate Florida. 114-119.
'?ORA, 1, XXXV,. Pt. 1, 285-286,
"ORA, 1, XXXV. Pt. 1, 286
SNulty, Confederate Florid 115-116; U. S. Congress, Senate Report No. 4 9.
SDeruiett. Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of~lohn Flay\. 164.
SUnfortunatelN. no large collection of Sey mour manuscript material has survived.
Individual Ictterrs are in the Loomis Langdon Papers, Florida State Archives,
Tallahasee. Florida: and the Truman Sey mour Papers. P. K. Yonge Library- of Florid
is r I .... .... t. l I
I A A J..- .' r....''r_- l
'BNulty. Confederate Florida. 116-118: ORWr 1. 1-111. 9S-98.
'9Truman Seymour to John T. SpragEue, March 26, 1864-. Seymour Papers- National
O'ORA- 1, XXXV. Pt. 1. 287.
62 Quoted in Smith, "Carpetbag Imperialism." 283-284.
"'Dennect. Lincoln and the Civil War in the Letters and Diaries of John Hav. 159.
67 Joseph Hawley~ to wife,. February 16, 1864, Joseph Hawley Papers. Librar) of
Record Group 393, United States Army Continental Commands. 1821-1920. National
"LLman D. Stickne to Salmon 1'. Chase, February 16. 1864, Salmon P Chase Papers.
~"Smith, "Carpetbag Imperialism," 288.
ORA 1. XXXV. Pt. 1. 321-322.
Ibidhi.. 578. 580.
:'Ibid., 579. 94-59j.
`'Winston Stephens to Octavia Stephens. F~ebruary- 11, 1864, Stephcns-Br~ant Papers.
P. K. Yongee Library ofFlorida History. Uni% ersin! of~florida.
71 (),A. 1. LIN, 3 09
77ORA. I, XXXV. Pt. 1. 323. 326.
r h. I I I .
%UThe Floridian and Journal, March 5, 1864.
"'General Schimmelfenig's Report of the Demonstration on Johns Island, 1864. Record
Group 393, United States A~rmy Continental Commands, 1821- 1920. National Archives,
II ~ ~~ I : I~,- I ' I. I- ... .....
; 1 : 11~ 11 11 .1 2 ii i do" h H! 1?1 )11
i ~~~ I I H 1 1 r.171 I 1 1 -1 1 1 4 111 ~1.
R'OR-k 1. XY-XV, Pt. I. 326 331; 1, XXV. 3,38-3411. Gcorge Dav. Leshlr PenN- and
i r i. I I l lll i 1 .1. .1 .1 I I i...
and old, veterans and recruits, heroes and cowardss In their composition. armarrents,
tramung and ability. they typified the volunteers that fought for the Union and
Confederacy. and a stud) of these =tiesz can serve as a microcosm for Civil War
armies as whole.
The Union army. comiranded by Brigadier General Trunin Seymour, spent the
night of February t19 at Barbers Station. about twenty)-five miles cast of Lake City.
Their commander wuss a thirty-nmne year old Vermonter, son of a Methodist minister and
1846 graduate of West Point. An artilleryman. Seymour served in the Mexican and
Florida wars. receiving several brevet promotions. He was present at the Fort Surrite
bombardment in April. 1861. and in early 1862 was promoted to brigadier general.
serving in the Ami) of the Potomac's Fifth Corps during the Peninsular Campaign. At
Second Bull Run. South Mountain and Antietam lie performed capably. particularly in
his brigade's capture of Turner's Gap, MarN land. SeN in
ofthe South late in 1862, where he gained notoriety for
controversial assault on Baltcry Wagnerr in July 1863
little field duty for the remainder of the Near One of Ot
experienced subordinates, Seymour was chosen to cantl
for the Florida campaign, and- following Gillmore's reul
himself in charge of the expedition Full-lieuded. but
appearance, SeN mour's reputation was dial of an aggres
commander. wvho often succeeded in battle, but at a hea
at Olustee reaffinued this estimate of his generalship.'
Weakened by the necessity of posting garrisons
Jacksonville to Barbers Station- the Union ariny approal
onlv 5.000 to s,500 effective. These reductions negate
superiorit over the Confederates, and should have con,
advised advance After all the reductions and transfers
commander organized his remaining units into three Inf
cavalry and mounted infantry. and supporting artillen ce
Sevniour's small anniN consisted of the I-ortN-seventh. F
York Infantry. commanded by Colonel William B. Bart
provided the Federal commander with his most reliable
The Fortyseventh New York\. also known as the Washington GraysF. had been
recruited mostly in New York City and B~rooklyn. botween.kily and September 186).
Following its muster into Federal service, the regiment went tlo Washington. where it
remained in carrp for several months. Soon, however. the New Yorkers were
transferred to the South Carolina coastal islands. recently captured by a Union
expedition under Generaal Ambrose E. Burnside. The Oray s remained in South Carofir
throughout 1862 and 1863. and were actively engaged in operations against Charlestor
Despite its long period of service in the Carolinas. the Fort% -sevecnth had not yet
participated in a rnajor battle. A veteran regiment, at the finec of the Florida expeditior
the Forly-seventh still had not proved itselfin combat 3
The second regiment in Barton's New York brigade was the Forty-eighth New
York Volunteer Infantry. Organized in Brooklyn, New York\ City, and Peekskill durri
the late summer of 1861i a dark period lot the North following the humiliation of First
Bull Run, the regiment also included companies from New Jersey- Connecticut, and
The Forty-eighth was also known as the Continental Guards Regiment or
"Perry's Saints." The foriner designation referred to the multi-state composition of the
unit, while the later honored the regiment' organizer and first commander. Colonel
James H Perry. Perry had attended West Point for three years in the I 930's. before
resigning to serve prominently in the Army of [lie Republic of Texas during its War of
Independenlce with Mexico. Disillusioned by the bloodshed and carnage of that war. hi
the Methodist Church in lsle York. Because of Perry's prominence as a minister. the
Forty-eighth attracted a different kind ofrmmcrit Many seminar) students and others
with strongly religious backgrounds had joined the regiment. Perry contributed to the
unusual, if not unique. composition of the unit by- discouraging the consumption of
alcohol In June 1862 the regirrent was at Tybee Island. near Savannah. when a
quantity of alcohol washed ashore from a stranded ship. Mau of Perry's men
consurned these spirits and became drunk. Colonel Perry died of a heart attack the nex
day, but whether his at tack was the result of the previous dav's activities is unclear.'
Soon after its organization- the Forty -eighth left for the lower A~tlantic Coast,
where it would actively campaign for the next two years. Unlike. the Forty-sevcendl
New 'fork, Perry's Saints participated in se-eral heated battles during the period.
including the bloody, ill-fated assault on Batter Wagner in July 1803, in which the
regiment suffered nearly 250 casualties. The Forty-ecighth saw no further combat actiol
after Batter) Wagner, serving on garrison duty at St. Augustine arid in various locations
along the Georgia and South Carolina coast At the time of the Florida carapaign. the
regiment was seriously understrength. Nearly 300 veterans of the unit had recently bcc
awarded thinty-day furloughs as a reward for their reenlistment mad had left for the
The 11 5th New York, or "Iron Hearted Regiment," made up the remainder oftl-
brigeade Composed of lough upstaters from the Mohawk Valley. the regiment suffere,
through an ignominious initiation into military service. Barely two weeks after its
Aup.ust 30. 1862. departure from New~ York, the regintent was included in the