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DICKISON AND 7IS ME$.
REMINISCENCESOF THE WAR IN FLORIDA.
By MARY ELIZABET7t DICKISON.
DICKISO$ A#M HIS ME$.
REMINISCENCESOF THE WAR IN FLORIDA.
By MARY ELIZABETH DICKISON.
"THESE ARE DEEDS THAT SHOULD NOT PASSAWAY,
AND NAMES THAT MUST NOT WITHER."
A FACSIMILE REPRODUCTION
of the 1890 EDITION
by SAMUEL PROCTOR
FLORIDIANA FACSIMILE & REPRINT SERIES
University of Florida Press
1962 FACSIMILE REPRODUCTION OF THE 1890 EDITION
WITH PREFACE, INTRODUCTION, AND NOTES ADDED
NEW MATERIAL COPYRIGHT, 1962
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
STATE INSTITUTIONS OF FLORIDA
Library of Congress Casalogue Card No. 62.14790
LITHOPRINTED BY DOUGLAS PRINTING COMPANY, INC.
BOUND BY UNIVERSAL-DIXIE BINDERY, INC.
IN 1861 CONFEDERATE LEADERS expected little from Florida. The
state's population of 140,424 was approximately 30 per cent of that
of Arkansas, which ranked tenth among the eleven states of the Con-
federacy. Florida possessed only a few hundred miles of railways,
practically no industries, and relatively little agriculture. Faced by
apparently unbeatable federal armies in the Mississippi Valley and
in Virginia, the Confederate military withdrew troops from Florida in
1862 and left the state defenseless. Two years later the South was
relying heavily on meat from the 660,000 head of cattle and the count-
less number of razorback hogs in Florida. In 1863 the Confederate
administration sent troops into Florida to defend the, "breadbasket
of the South," and on February 20, 1864, the only real battle on
Florida soil during the Civil War was fought at Olustee. Even there
Federal and Confederates together numbered fewer than 11,000 men.
It is not surprising that few wartime reminiscences relate to
activities in Florida. The state did send 15,000 soldiers into Con-
federate armies, and more than 2,000 into the Union forces. Despite
the absence of large armies, there were many skirmishes in Florida, and
residents of the state suffered the loss of a large percentage of their
property. Dear to them was the mobile force led by Captain John J.
Dickison, which sped from place to place to interpose itself between
the Federal raiders and frightened citizens. Almost a quarter-century
after the war Mary Elizabeth Dickison recorded the exploits of her
husband in Dickison and His Men. Probably the book was either
written by Dickison or dictated by him to his wife. The result was
not a great book, or even a good one by the standards of yesterday or
today. It was, however, unique, and its descriptions of men, skirmishes,
and conditions within the state during the war give it enduring value.
vi EDITORIAL PREFACE.
The introduction to Dickison and His Men was written by Samuel
Proctor, a native of Florida and associate professor of social science
and history at the University of Florida. For more than a decade he
has taught Florida history at the University, and he is the author of
Napoleon Bonaparte Broward: Florida's Fighting Democrat. Dr.
Proctor is historical consultant to the Florida Civil War Centennial
Commission and editor of the Commission's popular monthly publica-
tion, Florida a Hundred Years Ago.
REMBERT W. PATRICK
University of Florida General Editor of the
April, 1962 FLORIDIANA SERIES
"THE MOST CONSPICUOUS SOLDIER Florida contributed to the Civil
War"-these were the words a Florida newspaper used to describe
John Jackson Dickison, the subject of Dickison and His Men.1
Other Florida soldiers had achievements as important and their
names too will be long remembered, but none was held in higher
regard or had a reputation as illustrious as Dickison's.2 He became a
legend in his own lifetime. A host of tales attested his courage, integ-
rity, bravery, and military skill and prowess. Poems celebrated him,
newspaper editorials extolled him, and battle standards carried his
embroidered initials. Even today it is difficult to separate fact from
fiction and to determine the historical validity of many of the incidents
in which he was supposedly involved. Archival records are scarce for
the Civil War period in Florida, and consequently the researching
historian finds it difficult to give Dickison's military career the sound
nonpartisan evaluation that it should have. But to Floridians of his day
Dickison was the perfect soldier-hero-a Christian gentleman who was
generous to a fault, unswerving in his loyalty to the cause, unflinching
in the face of death, gentle in his treatment of women and children,
just in his attitude toward the enemy, and considerate, kind, and
protective toward the men of his command.
It is surprising and unfortunate that so little is known about the
early life of Dickison. He was born in Virginia. The marker at his
grave gives the birth date as March 27, 1816, but this date cannot be
authenticated. The census records of 1860 show the year as 1820, his
military service record indicates 1822, and obituaries of him say 1815.3
Why there should be this discrepancy is not known, since in all
instances the dates must have been furnished either by Dickison him-
self or by immediate members of his family.
At an early age Dickison moved to South Carolina. There he later
met and married, in Charleston, Mary Elizabeth Ling, the author of
this memoir.4 Although no record has been found of an earlier mar-
riage, this one must have been his second. In his Military History of
Florida Dickison told of the death of his son Charles, born in 1845,
and added: "His pure spirit took its heavenward flight to the bright
world where his angel mother awaited him with rapturous welcome."5
In 1845 Mary Elizabeth Ling was, by the records, either ten or twelve
or fifteen years old.
Of his other activities in South Carolina we know that Dickison
served in the state militia as a cavalry officer, In 1856 he moved with
his family to Florida, settling on a sizable tract of land near Orange
Lake, a small community north of Ocala, in Marion County. By then
there were three more children-R. L. was born in 1849, John J. in
1851, and Mary Elizabeth, the only daughter, in 1853.0
Marion County during the 1850's was one of Florida's larger coun-
ties and one of its richest. Its population in 1850 was 3,338 out of a
state total of 87,445. Ocala was its county seat, and almost 400 people
lived there. The town had a business district consisting of several
stores, a hotel, two churches, a courthouse built of pine poles and used
also as a meeting hall and theater, a post office, and a saloon. A large
percentage of the county population were, like the Dickisons, from
South Carolina, and the plantations were described as "among the
largest and finest in the South."7
These were educated and cultivated people who organized in 1851
a school, the East Florida Independent Institute, which two years later
was taken over by the state and renamed the East Florida State Semi-
nary. This was Florida's first state-supported institution of higher
learning and a parent of the University of Florida.
The county was the center of one of the most important agricul-
tural producing areas of Florida. Its lush grazing lands sustained large
herds of cattle and sheep; beef, dairy products, and wool were im-
portant county exports. Thousands of pine trees were boxed for
turpentine, large citrus groves thrived, and the plantations and farms
harvested abundant quantities of corn and cotton. J. J. Didcison owned
one of the large plantations in the Orange Lake section of the county,
and the federal census of 1860 revealed that his real estate was valued
at $14,000 and his personal property at $12,000, and that he owned
This prosperity was not to last. The emotion-packed events of the
1850's foreshadowed the tragic, bitter years when it would be destroyed.
North and South, the states were rapidly severing the invisible bonds
which had held the Union together for seventy years. The great Whig
party, which had strongly upheld the national idea, disintegrated dur-
ing the decade, and the Republican party that took its place accepted
a platform which inflamed an already agitated South. The Kansas-
Nebraska controversy, the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas
debates were coals added to fires already blazing under cauldrons of
sectional suspicion and distrust. John Brown raided Harper's Ferry in
1859, and secessionists argued passionately that the raid furnished con-
crete evidence that abolitionists intended to set slaves upon their masters
and to overthrow the institution which was the base of Southern society.
Tensions between the sections became so great by 1860 that the admi-
rable art of compromise, which had hitherto preserved the American
experiment of democratic government, failed to function. Only disaster
No part of the country was isolated from the slavery and state rights
controversies. The people of Florida, although they were living in the
newest of the slaveholding states, were caught up in this maelstrom
and became a part of the surging tide that carried the country into the
Civil War. Floridians like Dickison who owned land and slaves rode
the crest of the Southern wave.8
The presidential election of November 7, 1860, climaxed the politi-
cal strife. In Florida not a single vote was cast for Lincoln. Dickison
was to describe him as "the Republican sectional candidate" who sup-
ported "an avowed sectional policy."' But he was the President-elect,
and for most Floridians and Southerners this could mean only one
thing-secession. The Fernandina East Floridian on November 14,
1860, printed on its masthead the popular program: "The Secession of
the State of Florida, The Dissolution of the Union, The Formation
of a Southern Confederacy." Governor Madison Starke Perry, from
Alachua County, assembled the legislature into special session on
November 26. Four days later he signed the bill calling for a secession
convention to meet in Tallahassee on January 3, 1861.10 On December
22, 1860, elections were held to select convention delegates. On Decem-
ber 29 the editor of the St. Augustine Examiner, in an optimistic
editorial, confidently predicted that the new year would witness "the
onset of the Irrepressible Conflict." It was a tempest, he said, that
Southerners would meet "with stout hearts and armed nerves," and
without fear or trepidation.
There were some men in Florida-foremost among them Richard
Keith Call-1-who hoped the Union could be preserved, but the vast
majority of Floridians were like Dickison, who later insisted with a
still hot passion that "the ablest jurists and statesmen of the country,
having firmly asserted, dearly elucidated and bravely vindicated the
legal right of a State to secede from the general government, an in-
telligent, chivalrous people, proudly assured of the justice of their
convictions, could not forswear the great principles of a lifetime."12
Florida's secession convention assembled in Tallahassee at the
appointed time, and in a matter of just one week it prayed, listened to
inflammatory speeches by Florida citizens and by secessionists from
other states, and drew up the ordinance that took Florida out of the
Union it had joined in 1845. By a vote of 62 to 1, at exactly 12:22
P.M. on January 10, 1861, the convention declared that all political
connections between Florida and the United States were severed and
that whatever legal ties had existed were broken. Florida had become
"a sovereign and independent nation."13
On February 28 Florida joined the Confederacy and ratified the
provisional constitution of the Confederate States of America. On
March 6 the Confederate Congress authorized President Jefferson
Davis, lately senator from Mississippi, formerly secretary of war in
President Pierce's cabinet, and a veteran of the war with Mexico, to
accept 100,000 volunteers for 12-month enlistment in the army that
would be used to defend the South and to protect its rights. On March
9 the Confederate secretary of war announced that at least 5,000 men
would be needed to guard Pensacola.14
Governor Perry received Florida's first formal troop requisition on
March 12. The call was for 500 men, but volunteer enlistments were
so spontaneous and so overwhelming that this request could have been
met several times over. Throughout the state volunteer companies were
being organized by local patriots, who had convinced themselves and
their neighbors that, even if hostilities became widespread, the force of
Southern arms and the mighty will of the Southern people would
guarantee a short war.15
In Marion County William A. Owens organized an independent
company of cavalry called the Marion Dragoons (10).16 Dickison
described the men of this organization as being "so superb, their horse-
manship so splendid, and their equipment of such superior quality,"
that Robert E. Lee, who saw them when he visited Fernandina in the
late fall of 1861, compared the company favorably with the Black
Horse cavalry of Virginia.
Dickison announced his own plan to organize a second cavalry
company in Marion County, but before his muster rolls were filled,
Captain John M. Martin, a local luminary who had been educated in a
South Carolina military school, persuaded him to change the company
to artillery.17 In October, 1861, the Marion Light Artillery, one of
Florida's most famous Civil War fighting units, was organized with
Martin as captain and Dickison as lieutenant (10-11). This company
was ordered to Femandina on November 4 (13-14), and it remained
there until the Federals invaded Amelia Island four months later. After
leaving Fernandina, the company encamped near the St. Marys River,
moved to Sanderson, and then went on to Camp Langford and Three-
Mile Branch near Jacksonville. When the company reorganized in the
latter part of May, 1862, Dickison resigned and returned to Ocala,
determined to organize a cavalry company.18
Meanwhile, Captain Owens of the Marion Dragoons had with-
drawn from his command because of failing health and had returned
to "Rutland," his Orange Lake plantation. Subsequently, the Dragoons
were divided into two companies, and Florida then had nine inde-
pendent cavalry companies.19 General Joseph Finegan, Confederate
commander of the Department of East and Middle Florida, authorized
Lieutenant Dickison, on July 2, 1862, to raise a tenth company so that
a full regiment, the Second Florida Cavalry, could be mustered into
Confederate service for three years or the war's duration (17).
Dickison's company was composed of men from Marion, Alachua,
St. Johns, Putnam, Bradford, Duval, Columbia, Clay, Volusia, Sumter,
Hillsborough, Nassau, and Madison counties. It was mustered in at
Flotard's Pond, Marion County, as Company H, Second Florida
Cavalry, in August, 1862. Dickison was elected captain; there were
twelve other officers and sixty-three privates (44-46).20 After a week
at Camp Lee in Gainesville, securing arms and equipment,21 Dickison
and his men were ordered to La Villa, on the western edge of Jackson-
ville, for three weeks of picket and guard duty. Later the company
was transferred to Yellow Bluff Fort and Camp Finegan near Jackson-
ville, and when the Federals commenced "demonstrations upon the
waters of the St. John's," Dickison was ordered to Palatka some seventy
miles up the river (46). Thus begins the exciting history of this fast-
riding, highly maneuverable company that harassed the enemy when
its harassment was needed, fought pitched battles when the moment
demanded, and guarded large and important areas of the state so that
vitally needed food and supply lines from Florida to the rest of the
South could be kept open. According to one appraisal, "Union enter-
prise gave Dickison early and many opportunities to show his daring
and skill, which he never failed to do."22
Dickison and His Men recounts in vivid and flowery detail the
various skirmishes, raids, small battles, scouting expeditions, and forced
marches that engaged the company from the time it was organized
until the end of the war. Although they were not part of Florida's
Partizan Rangers, also organized in the summer of 1862 by Lieutenant
Theodore W. Brevard of Tallahassee and Captain A. J. T. Wright of
Lake City,23 Dickison's men lived and fought like a guerrilla force
and it was as a "partizan" that Dickison earned his great reputation.
Like most leaders of guerrilla forces, Dickison soon discovered that
supply was a major problem and that lack of food and guns often pre-
vented him from achieving all of his objectives. The men more often
than not had to subsist off the countryside where because of the block-
ade food was in short supply. They found forage for their mounts
wherever they could. They often took arms, ammunition, and horses
in raids against outlying fortifications, attacks upon pickets, or skir-
mishes against an enemy that was usually more numerous and better fed
and armed than they could hope to be.
Dickison's official reports are replete with descriptions of the arms
and equipment he captured. For instance, in May, 1864, he led a small
detachment, under cover of darkness, across the St. Johns and sur-
prised enemy forces at Welaka. Sixty-four Federals and "a sizeable
quantity of arms and ammunition" were taken. The next day Dickison's
men fired on a Union-held farmhouse at Fort Butler and "liberated
twelve slaves and two farm wagons" (58). At the Battle of Gaines-
ville, August 17, 1864, Dickison captured several hundred rifles, one
12-pound howitzer, and 260 horses. Again, on October 24, 1864, at
Finegan's Ford, which the road crossed between Green Cove Springs
and Middleburg, Dickison defeated a force of Federal cavalrymen and
took "75 fine horses and all [the] arms, consisting of Spencer rifles,
pistols and sabers."24 Dickison and His Men describes a number of
other engagements which helped accumulate a sizable store of military
equipment and supplies.
Dickison had received orders "to act as any emergency may re-
quire"; he was told to "strike the enemy whenever you have the
opportunity to do so" (54). His wife's book reveals that he and the
men of Company H accepted this responsibility willingly and with
enthusiasm. He was a skilled soldier who fought with courage against
an enemy force which almost always outnumbered his men and usually
possessed superior fire power. Dickison, though, held the geographic
and terrain advantage. The swamps, pine hammocks, and marshy man-
grove jungles afforded him safe camp sites and resting places for his
men and their mounts. He used these places not only to regroup his
forces and to secure supplies but to launch surprise attacks against an
unwary enemy who found, sometimes too late, that the mournful cry
of a hoot owl or the raucous bellow of an alligator were really signals
from one of Dickison's reconnoitering groups. Palmetto fronds, hollow
cypress logs, and heavy underbrush provided excellent hiding places
for his scouts, and tall pines and thick-leafed gum trees were utilized
frequently as lookout posts.
By 1864 the tide had tragically turned against the Confederacy.
The blockade was causing great privation and hardship, and everything
from food to ammunition was in short supply. Battle casualties con-
stantly mounted and many wondered if this cruel war would ever end.
The South was losing more battles than it was winning, most of the
great ports had been captured, and Union armies had thrust deep into
Confederate territory. Perhaps it was because victories were so rare that
Southerners thrilled to successes scored by such colorful, hard-riding
groups as Dickison and his men. His name became "a synonym of
victory, and every household felt safe when Dickison was near ..
His forced marches were wonderful, his captures were planned and
executed with consummate skill, and his repeated victories over great
odds filled the state with the glory of his name."2s
Some of Dickison's feats do seem somewhat incredible as we read
of them in Dickison and His Men. For instance, on one occasion, May
23, 1864, he captured a sizable, fully equipped Northern gunboat, the
Columbine, on the St. Johns. Dickison, a small artillery battery with
two guns-a Napoleon and a 12-pound howitzer-and a handful of
sharpshooters concealed themselves behind a thick dump of cypress
trees on a wooded bluff at Horse Landing pear Palatka. About three
o'dock that afternoon the Columbine, which had moved up the river
the evening before, hove slowly in sight. The Confederates held their
fire until the ship was about sixty feet away, and then Dickison signaled
an attack. The very first shots seriously disabled the vessel and she
floated out of control about 200 yards down river where she struck a
sand bar. Maintaining a steady and accurate fire, Confederate sharp
shooters took a heavy toll of the men exposed on the open decks. The
two 32-pounders aboard the Columbine were almost useless, and after
some forty-five minutes the Union commander hoisted a white sur-
render flag. Of the 148 Federals, over half had been killed or wounded
when Dickison came aboard. Several drowned trying to escape to the
far shore of the St. Johns; a few of the critically wounded died during
the night. All of the officers except the commander had been killed or
disabled during the battle. The Confederates did not report a single
casualty. Orders discovered on the Columbine showed that the vessel
actually had been searching for Dickison. It was supposed to prevent
him from crossing to the west bank, while two regiments were scouring
the countryside for him (63-68).2s
The Federals often referred to Dickison as "Dixie" and to the area
of Florida which his men patrolled and guarded as "Dixieland" (56).
Dickison's men felt that the title was really a compliment and often
affectionately used it themselves in speaking of him. He was also called
the "Gray Fox" and the "War Eagle," and Mrs. Didkison insists that
the enemy had good reason to fear his attacks (95). He scored an
amazing number of military successes, almost more than one would
think possible under the circumstances. Often newspapers hailed his
victories with such headlines as "Dickison Wins Again Over Great
Mrs. Dickison, in attempting to explain the basis for this military
good fortune, says that her husband was "born under a lucky planet,"
that he bore "a charmed life." Dickison himself was a deeply religious
man, and often said that his hair-breadth escapes were "effected alone
by the direct agency of His almighty power." For instance, he credited
his victory at the Battle of Gainesville in August, 1864, to "Divine
Providence, and the justice of our cause" (102-3). On another occasion
he said that it was with "the blessing of God" that he had won over
the enemy in a skirmish near Cedar Key, February 13, 1865 (141).
Because he felt his men needed spiritual guidance and counseling, one
of the first things that he did after receiving command of all state
troops on August 13, 1864, was to appoint the Reverend Mr. Frank C.
Johnson chaplain for the Florida forces (202). Religious interest and
spiritual devotion remained constant in Dickison throughout his life.
Next to religion, Dickison believed that patriotism was the domi-
nating influence in every man's life. "Love of country," he insisted,
"comes next to our love and allegiance to God." "It must follow," he
believed, "that a people panoplied with righteousness must be a highly
patriotic people." For him the Civil War was from the very beginning
a conflict between good and evil, a fight between the righteous and
those who had "fallen from grace." Southerners, he said, "with a
patriotic and heroic sense of their great duty," fought to protect their
families and homes, and all that they held dear, against an enemy that
insisted upon waging an unconstitutional war. They were resisting
"the wicked design of sectional partisans to wage a cruel war to coer-
con." Although he was neither a bloodthirsty nor a harsh man, the
war with all its sorrow and bloodshed produced in many ways "years
of undimmed glory" for Dickison and his men. According to his own
testimony, one could not "find in all the annals of history a grander
record or prouder roll of honor, nor more just fame for bravery, patient
endurance of hardships, and sacrifices."27
The spring of 1865 found Dickison and his men encamped at
Waldo, and it was there that the company received news of Lee's sur-
render at Appomattox. Telegraph lines were down all over Florida
and many thought the whole thing "a damned Yankee lie." General
Sam Jones at Tallahassee cautioned his troops against accepting "wild
and untrue" rumors.28 Then came the news of General Johnston's sur-
render in North Carolina. There was no escaping the reality that the
South had lost the war, that defeat had destroyed the bright dream of
a Confederate States of America.
Brigadier General E. M. McCook received the surrender of the
Confederate forces at Tallahassee on May 10, and two days later he
raised the Union flag over Fort Ward at St. Marks.2 During the next
few weeks small forces of Confederate and state troops capitulated
throughout Florida. Dickison's company was paroled at Waldo on May
20, 1865. Under the terms of surrender all officers and men, with a
few exceptions, were immediately paroled and allowed to return home.
Officers retained their side arms, baggage, and horses; privates were
permitted to keep whatever equipment, including horses, they pos-
sessed. It was a sad moment for Dickison and his men. In his farewell
address the leader said that separation from the men who for three
years had been his "pride and admiration" was "a severe trial." Sur-
render was made necessary, he insisted, by a lack of ammunition and
provisions, and not because of military defeat. Even at this moment of
capitulation, he proclaimed, "We are not whipped-only over-powered.
We stand firm, unshaken, united" (243).
In these final moments of the war Dickison was caught up in yet
another colorful and exciting adventure. In the flight of the Confed-
erate cabinet and- other high officials from Richmond a few eluded
capture and reached Florida. One of these was John S. Breckinridge,
former United States senator, one time vice-president of the United
States, and lately Confederate secretary of war. Traveling by night
through an unsettled part of southeast Georgia, Breckinridge, accom-
panied by his aide and a servant, crossed the border into Florida, reach-
ing a point near Madison on the evening of May 15. After a few
hours' rest, the men secured fast horses and started out along the
Bellamy Road for the Suwannee River. They were supposed to rendez-
vous there with Colonel John Taylor Wood, grandson of President
Zachary Taylor, and nephew and former aide of Jefferson Davis, and
continue to the east coast. On the afternoon of May 16 the party crossed
the Sante Fe River at the Natural Bridge and rode on through
Newnansville to Gainesville, reaching there after nightfall. They had
to be extremely cautious because of Federal search parties looking for
them and deserters who would have been only too glad to turn them in
for a possible reward.
Breckinridge's plight was desperate. All of Florida's ports and
most of its coast were being patrolled, and everywhere Union soldiers
were looking for runaway Confederate officials who could be made "to
pay"' for the war. Someone was badly needed who knew the trails and
back roads and would guide the group to the coast. The man they were
looking for was Dickison, only a few miles away. They knew he had
the courage and tenacity they were seeking and he might also know
the whereabouts of a boat.
Arriving in Gainesville, Dickison went directly to the home of
former Confederate Congressman James B. Dawkins, where a secret
midnight conference was taking place. The only vessel available, Dicki-
son revealed, was a lifeboat of the gutted Columbine. He had sunk the
lifeboat in a lake near Palatka to keep it out of Union hands. Upon his
advice it was agreed that Breckinridge would hide out at the plan-
tation of Colonel Samuel Owens at Orange Lake, while Colonel
Wood, disguised and armed with one of Dickison's revolvers, quietly
searched the area for Judah P. Benjamin, former Confederate secretary
of state, who was believed to be nearby.
Meanwhile, Dickison sent three of his paroled men across country
to the lake to raise the lifeboat. They sailed it to Fort Butler on the St.
Johns, where the Breckinridge party, guided by another of Dickison's
men, was to meet them. Everything went according to plan, and two
of the soldiers from Company H, Sergeant S. O'Toole and Corporal R.
Russell, sailed with Breckinridge up the St. Johns as far as it was
navigable, helped haul the vessel some.twelve miles overland to the
Indian River, and then down to Jupiter Inlet on the Atlantic. Finally,
after many hardships and several narrow escapes from shipwreck and
capture, the half-starved, sunburned group reached the northern coast
of Cuba on the morning of June 11, 1865 (224-26).a0
Breckinridge wrote Dickison on June 26, 1865, of his safe arrival
and thanked him for the help and advice he had given (227). The
letter was addressed to Colonel J. J. Dickison. The promotion had been
made by President Davis on April 5 (211). There is a question as to
when Dickison actually received official confirmation of this promotion.
Mrs. Dickison in her book sheds no light on this matter, but some
historians believe that Breckinridge was carrying these orders when he
arrived in Florida and that he delivered them personally to Dickison
the night they conferred in Gainesville.
After being paroled on May 20, Dickison went first to Quincy
where his family had moved during the war. He was accompanied by
his son, R. L., who had enlisted in Dickison's organization at the very
end of the war. R. L. was just sixteen when he was paroled from
Colonel Dickison fully shared in the economic adversity brought
to Florida by war and defeat. Years of neglect had ruined "Sunny-
side," his plantation at Orange Lake. His wealth was gone. He mourned
the death of his oldest son Charles, who had been killed in a skirmish
near Palatka, August 2, 1864 (76-78). The fact that Sergeant Charles
Dickison was a member of Company H, Second Florida Cavalry, one
of Dickison's own men, and that he died a hero, did little to assuage
the sorrow in Dickison's heart.
Even though no records can be found which describe his private
life after the war, we know that Dickison continued his deep interest
in the military affairs of Florida and the South. Governor George B.
Drew appointed him state adjutant general in 1877, and thus he
became a member of the first Democratic state cabinet after Reconstruc-
tion. When the Florida Division, United Confederate Veterans, was
organized in 1888, he was elected commander and he served six con-
secutive terms, holding the state military tide of major general. Upon
his retirement from this office he was named honorary commander's
In 1899 he wrote his Military History of Florida, one part of a
multi-volume history issued by the Confederate Publishing Company
of Atlanta, Georgia. The book has long been considered a valuable
source of information on nineteenth-century Florida history, and is a
major reference for the state's Civil War period. Dickison was in fail-
ing health for several years and had become almost an invalid when he
died on the evening of August 23, 1902, at his home in Ocala.
According to his wishes, his body, clad in his Confederate uniform,
was transported by train to Jacksonville, and there on Tuesday morn-
ing, August 26, it was laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery. Many stores
and offices throughout the city dosed for the funeral, and thousands of
people lined the sidewalks to watch the black-draped, horse-drawn
caisson move slowly out Main Street toward the cemetery. State and
local officials, representatives of veterans' and civic organizations, and
a host of Confederate veterans were present. People from every walk
of life, many who knew him only by reputation, mourned the soldier-
hero of Florida whom many compared with General Francis Marion
of Revolutionary War fame.u
Mrs. Dickison was as interested in Confederate veteran affairs as
was her renowned husband. She was a lifelong member of the J. J.
Dickison Chapter (Ocala), Florida Division, United Daughters of the
Confederacy, and she served from 1896 to 1899 as Florida Division
After her husband's death, Mrs. Dickison moved to Jacksonville,
and the city directory of 1907 indicates that she was boarding at a place
called "The Manor," 126 Newnan Street. Without private means, she
applied in 1904 for a Confederate widow's pension, which at the time
amounted to only $96.00 a year.85 Learning of her straitened cir-
cumstances, the legislature in 1905 passed a bill which granted her
$25.00 a month."8 The Florida United Daughters of the Confederacy
created a special Dickison Fund, which supplemented her pension and
allowed her to live in modest circumstances. Presumably, Mrs. Dickison
earned very little from Dickison and His Men. During the summer of
1911 she left Jacksonville to live with Charles T. Brian, her daughter's
son, at his home in Waco, Texas. She died there on January 15, 1913,
at or near the age of eighty-one."7
Dickison and His Men was no rival of the formal histories and
more important memoirs of the war that were rapidly being written
during the late nineteenth century by Northern and Southern soldiers
and civilians. But over the years Mrs. Dickison's book has come to have
a closer kinship with the larger and more voluminous works than was
anticipated when it was first published in 1890. Many scholars and
Civil War buffs have come to depend upon it for an insight into the
war in Florida.
The book is too filled with hero worship and partisanship for it
to be wholly acceptable to the scholar. The author makes no excuse for
her bias and in no way attempts to hide it. Obviously she is unable to
see clearly the distinctions between the romance and the realism of
war. For her every Southern soldier was a handsome, brave hero, fight-
ing a holy war to protect his home and "the cause that he held dearer
than life itself" against a vengeful and rapacious foe. But if the author
fails to view the war and warriors with the candor and common sense
and humor that the scholar and researcher demands, she does give us
information and factual data not available elsewhere.
Surely Mrs. Dickison used her husband's papers, although if her
book is any indication, they were at best meager. However, some of the
dispatches and several of the letters which appear are not to be found
in any other published form, not even in the Oficial Records. Un-
doubtedly her husband read and corrected the manuscript before it was
sent to be published. It is possible that he wrote a sizable part, or even
all, of it. When one compares the manner and wording of Dickison
and His Men with the Military History of Florida the possibility de-
velops into a likelihood. On page after page the similarity is so apparent
that it can hardly be considered a coincidence. For instance, the attack
on the Columbine is described on page 66 in Dickison and His Men
as follows: "From his point of observation, the approach of the boat
could be seen a half mile off. At three o'clock in the evening he
reported her in sight, bidding his men be cool and not fire without
orders. The boat moved slowly on, and, though bearing dread missiles
of destruction, was truly 'a thing of beauty.' It was soon seen that she
would pass near the landing and, as a caution that no mistake should
be made in the engagement, she was allowed to come within sixty
yards before a gun was fired. The order was then given to fire." In the
Military History, page 95, this same incident is described: "At 3 o'dock
in the evening she came in sight, and Captain Dickison cautioned his
men to be cool and not fire without orders. The boat moved slowly on
and though bearing dread missiles of destruction was truly a 'thing of
beauty.' She was allowed to come within sixty yards before a gun was
fired. The wildest confusion ensued."
Again, in Dickison and His Men (126-27) there is a description
of the reaction of Floridians and Southerners to Dickison's military
successes along the St. Johns River in February, 1865. In the Military
History of Florida (129) this episode is recounted with hardly a word
or a phrase changed. Throughout the two books numerous other
similarities may be noted.
The reader might ask why credit of authorship should be given to
Colonel Dickison, rather than to his wife, since her book appeared
nine years before his was published. A perusal of the dispatches and
letters written by Dickison during the war, some of which appear in
Dickison and His Men and others in the Offcial Records, shows that
his style and much of the phraseology is similar to that in both these
books. Mrs. Dickison was hardly available to write military dispatches.
Perhaps the husband did write the book for which his wife receives
credit, but modesty forbade him to claim a volume which was so lauda-
tory of him and his praiseworthy deeds. Knowing that his story
would not be forgotten and that his place in Florida history would be
assured was probably satisfaction enough for Dickison. Many a man is
willing to purchase immortality for less. Proof of Dickison's author-
ship of this Florida war memoir is impossible in the light of the
sources presently available. But that is unimportant. Dickison and His
Men is a valuable contribution to the history of Florida, and the story
it tells is both exciting and thrilling.
1. Ocala Banner, August 24, 1902.
2. See biographical sketches in F. L. Robertson, Soldiers of Florida in the
Seminole Indian, Civil, and Spanish.American Wars (Live Oak: Democratic
Book and Job Print, 1903), 323-38.
3. Clement A. Evans (ed.), Confederate Military History (Atlanta: Con-
federate Publishing Company, 1899), I, x; 8th United States Censas, 1860,
Population Schedules, Free Inhabitants, Marion County, II, 23, microfilm in
P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida, Gainesville;
"Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organiza-
tions From the State of Florida," National Archives, Microcopy No. 251, Roll
7, Yonge Library; Ocala Banner, August 24, 1902; Florida Times-Union and
Citizen (Jacksonville), August 25, 1902.
4. Clara McDonald, "J. J. Dickison" (typescript, Florida State Library,
5. Dickison, Military History of Florida (Vol. X of Evans, Confederate
Military History), 101.
6. U. S. Census, 1860.
7. J. C. Ley, Fifty-two Years in Florida (Nashville: M. E. Church South
Publishing House, 1899), 42; Eloise Knight Jones Compp.), Ocala Cavalcade
Through One Hundred Years (Ocala: S. E. McCready, 1946), 26; J. O. D.
Clarke, Ocala, Florida, A Sketch of Its History, Residences, Business Interests,
etc., With Illustrations of Picturesque Scenery and Portraits of Leading Citizens
(New York: The Republic Press, 1891), 1-16.
8. William Watson Davis, The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida
(New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1913), 3-46; Dorothy Dodd, 'The
Secession Movement in Florida, 1850-1861, Part I," Florida Historical Quarterly,
9. Military History, 5.
10. Dodd, "The Secession Movement in Florida, 1850-1861, Part H," FHQ,
11. Herbert J. Doherty, Jr., Richard Keith Call, Southern Unionist (Gaines-
ville: University of Florida Press, 1961), 159.
12. Military History, 5.
13. Dorothy Dodd, "Edmund Ruffin's Account of the Florida Secession
Movement, 1861," FHQ, XII, 67-76; Journal of the Proceedings of the Con-
vention of the People of Florida, 1861 (Tallahassee: Dyke and Carlisle, 1861).
14. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Offcial Records of the
Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-
1901), Ser. IV, Vol. I, p. 126; Ser. I, Vol. I, p. 135.
15. Davis, 93; Ellen Call Long, Florida Breezes; or Florida, New and Old
(Jacksonville: Ashmead Brothers, 1882), 303.
16. Parenthetical page citations in the text are to Dickison'and His Men.
17. Military History, 49, 50.
18. Ibid., 51, 52.
19. Ibid., 49, 52.
20. See also Soldiers of Florida, 273-74; Military History, 52-53.
21. Charles H. Hildreth, "The History of Gainesville, Florida" (Ph.D. dis-
sertation, University of Florida, 1954), 45.
22. Florida Times-Union and Citizen, August 25, 1902.
23. Their advertisement for volunteers appeared in the Florida Sentinel
(Tallahassee), June 17, 1862.
24. Military History, 88, 120; Rowland H. Rerick, Memoirs of Florida
(Atlanta: The Southern Historical Association, 1902), I, 275-76; Ofiial
Records, Ser. I, Vol. XXXV, Pt. I, p. 439; F. W. Buchholz, History of Florida
(St. Augustine: The Record Co., 1929), 127.
25. Ocala Banner, August 23, 1902.
26. See also Military History, 93-96.
27. Ibid., 3-5.
28. Official Record, Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, Pt. 3, p. 409; Vol. XLIX, Pt. 2,
p. 682; Davis, 325.
29. Davis, 327.
30. See especially A. J. Hanna, Flight Into Oblivion (Richmond: Johnson
Publishing Company, 1938), 128-71.
31. R. L.'s name does not appear on the roster of Company H as published
in Soldiers of Florida, 274-75, or in Dickison and His Men, 253-57, but "Com-
piled Service Records" shows that he was a private in the company, and was
paroled at Waldo, May 20, 1865.
32. Florida Times-Unios and Citizen, August 25, 1902.
33. Ibid., August 27, 1902.
34. Mrs. Townes R. Leigh, "History of the Florida Division, United
Daughters of the Confederacy" (MS, Yonge Library, 1927), Vol. II, Sec. I, pp.
35. The application is filed as Certificate No. 11508-A, State Board of
Pensions Office, Tallahassee.
36. Laws of Florida, 1905, Chap. 5584.
37. Mrs. Dickison's pension application shows her age in 1904 as sixty-nine,
thus born in 1835. In the census record of 1860 her age is twenty-eight, thus
born in 1832. Mixntes, 18th Annual Convention, Florida Division, U.D.C., 37,
in a note of her death gives her birth date as 1830. An inability to remember
birth dates seems to have been a common failing in the Dickison family.
DICKISO$ AnD HIS REN.
REMINISCENCESOF THE WAR IN FLORIDA.
By MARY ELIZABETH DICKISON.
CAPTAIN J. J. DICKISON,
C. S. A., 1864.
DIG1ISO$ AND BIS E).
REMINISCENCESOF THE WAR IN FLORIDA.
By MARY ELIZABETH DICKISON.
"THESE ARE DEEDS THAT SHOULD NOT PASS AWAY,
AND NAMES THAT MUST NOT WITHER."
COURIER-JOURNAL JOB PRINTING COMPANY.
Governor IDavib S. Walker:
OUR DISTINGUISHED EX-CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND
I RESPECTFULLY DEDICATE THIS LITTLE VOLUME.
Honored for your public services, adorned by every so-
cial virtue, admired for the gentle dignity and suavity of
manner, and beloved by the people among whom your
noble life has been passed, I feel a proper pride when I
present you to the youth of our fair land as one whose
example is a model for imitation.
"In action faithful and in honor clear,
Who broke no promise, served no private end,
Who won a title, and who lost no friend"
"DICKISON PARK," July 4, 1889.
To THE READER: Let me feel your hand clasp in kindly greeting,
while I tell of the daring deeds of DICKISON AND His MEN."
In the development of our reasoning powers, there is a fascination
in the beautiful truth revealed, the charming lesson taught, that our
life is a dual one, made up of the material and spiritual, the real and
ideal. Truly inspiring and elevating the knowledge that it is not
all of life to eat and sleep; for in our hearts throbs loud the truth,
that "man for nobler ends has birth." We daily learn that more
than one-half our pains and pleasures is derived from the imagina-
tion of the mind, either in the contemplation of ideal beauty or in
brooding over imaginary evils. There is an inspiration that awakens
the deepest emotions in the soul, in contemplating objects that bring up
associations of the past. There is an inexpressible pleasure in the
perusal of long-treasured letters written by our loved ones around
their camp fires, or by dear ones who have gone before to the spirit
world. How sweet the silent language even a faded flower breathes,
of brighter, happier days!
We can not well analyze the sentiment, but it seems to be an attri-
bute of the human mind to pay instinctive homage to all that is noble
and grand in the warrior, the statesman, the poet, the artist. With
what earnestness and interest do we gaze upon some trifling relic that
bears the impress of ancient workmanship The excavations in Indian
mounds reveal long-buried utensils of pottery that were made by
these untutored sons of the forest, and are regarded with interest by
the race that now own their old hunting grounds, and have built cities
over the burial places of their dead.
The museums of the world are filled with coins and trinkets that
seem but broken links in that mysterious chain which connects the
spirit of the living present with the long-buried past.
The recent exhibition in Paris of curious portraits more than two
thousand years old, that have been lately opened, once ornamented
Egyptian burial places, and have been admirably preserved. Only
the classic student and antiquary can properly appreciate this valuable
collection of antique relics.
We know that the governments of Europe expend annually large
sums of money in digging up the ruins of old, buried and almost for-
gotten, cities-some of them once buried beneath a deep river of
burning lava flowing from Vesuvius, and, in the course of centuries,
forming an almost impenetrable crust; and they treasure, as almost
beyond price, defaced images and broken columns that possess no other
value or merit than that they were carved by hands now moldering in
the dust of long-gone centuries.
To a practical mind such relics possess no value, and the public
bounty expended in discovering and collecting them seems to be an
unpardonable waste of time, labor and money. But the wise and
sagacious statesmen understand human nature to a better purpose, and
know, that in catering to that almost universal sentiment of the human
mind and heart, they are insensibly binding the affections of the sub-
ject and strengthening the hands of government. Among these
ancient collections of art and trophies of war, that crowd the pal-
aces and public edifices of the capitals of Europe, are many held in
such sacred veneration that their loss would be regarded as a national
In obedience to that all-pervading sentiment I have so feebly
attempted to describe and illustrate, I have lovingly cherished many
sacred memories of the "Lost Cause," and carefully guarded the
records of as gallant a defense as was ever made by a wronged
people, and am now led by its promptings to chronicle a few events
of our struggle to secure our independence, and establish for ourselves
a separate government.
It is no historic effort, only a simple narrative of events that tran-
spired in our own little State, and have been so long familiar they seem
a part of my own home life. It is not my purpose, in this record of
our eventful struggle, to defend the right of a State to secede from
the general government, or attempt a vindication of the secession of
the Southern States from the Union. Such action has been firmly
asserted, clearly elucidated and bravely vindicated by our wise and
able statesmen; and, though disastrous the results, I repeat the lan-
guage of our illustrious chieftain, President Davis:
"We have cause to feel proud that the course of the Southern
States has left no stain nor blot upon the honor and chivalry of their
And if our children must obey,
They must-but thinking on our day,
'Twill less debase them to submit.' "
Many friends, during the years that have so rapidly gone by,
have urged me to write up the brilliant achievements of my husband's
campaigns during the war.
As a young matron, a peculiar sensitiveness restrained me from
such publicity. I could not "sing of arms and a man," when the
hero was my own liege lord. But now, that I wear the silver crown
of declining years, and the strong hand of sorrow having struck the
" harp of life," tuning all its chords, and, self-exorcised, has passed
in music out of sight," I fear no unkind criticism. Encouraged by
the hope that the same love of the heroic that makes the school boy
and girl read with rapturous delight Plutarch's Lives of Illustrious
Men," the grand epics of Virgil and Homer, and later on the glori-
ous deeds of our own revolutionary heroes, may lead the youth of our
fair Southland, the rising generation upon whom the mantle of their
noble fathers will, in time, fall, to read the daring deeds of heroism
performed by their own loved sires and friends who were ever a living
bulwark between their homes and a cruel foe.
Though my heart swells with a just pride at this review of the
faithful services rendered by my husband to the State of his adoption,
and of the lofty patriotism and affectionate devotion of the gallant
men who followed him into battle, never faltering in their confidence,
and ever willing to follow where he led, no selfish exultation sullies
the purity of my homage. For every patriot citizen who unsheathed
his sword in defense of our rights, or laid his rich mental gifts upon
our country's altar, and, in clarion tones, told of her wrongs, and
inspired every heart to deeds of gallant daring, who were ever faith-
ful guardians of our liberties, my heart pours out a rich tribute of
grateful praise. They well deserve the love and veneration of their
countrymen, and their names shall be
"The immortal names that were not born. to die."
While our proud successes failed to reach the glorious consumma-
tion so earnestly desired and prayed for, we can not forget that it is
God who alone decides the contest and gives the victory. So we
bow in humble submission to His will.
May we ever remember that it is His wisdom that guides our
councils, His providence which has shielded us to the present hour
and saved us from internal dissensions by the inspiration of a moral
heroism which challenges comparison in the affairs of men. Most
earnestly should we pray that peace may ever reign within our borders.
July 4, z889.
CAI'TAIN JOHN M. MARTIN,
C. s. A., 1864.
DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
"Now then to conquer, or to die prepare;
To die, or conquer, are the terms of war;
And for our country, 'tis a bliss to die."
The storm that had been steadily gathering during
the administration of .President Buchanan, culminated
a short time previous to his retirement to private life,
by the withdrawal of South Carolina from the Union.
Mississippi soon followed, then Florida, and, in rapid
succession, the rest of the Southern States.
At the commencement of hostilities in Charleston
harbor, and the proclamation of President Lincoln,
calling for troops to make an unconstitutional war on
the seceded States, the war-cloud darkened over our
little State, and every heart burned with indigna-
tion. And, with the spirit that had inspired their
fathers in 1776, they resolved to unite in the patriotic
effort to secure for the South an independent gov-
ernment, as the constitution, framed by their fore-
fathers, had been violated, and the people of the
Southern States wantonly deprived of their rights to
an equal citizenship.
With a patriotic and heroic sense of this great
duty, our brave citizens began to form themselves
10 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
into a military family, and companies of cavalry, artil-
lery and infantry were rapidly and successfully formed.
General William A. Owens, one of Marion
county's honored citizens, was the first to organize a
fine cavalry company, known as the "Marion Dra-
goons," and composed of the chivalry of Marion,
Alachua and other counties.
Major J. J. Dickison, another of Marion's honored
citizens, also engaged in enrolling men for a cavalry
company. Before the organization was complete, a
proposition was made by that noble gentleman, John
M. Martin, also a citizen of Marion county, to
become a member if the company would be changed
to artillery. This was agreed to, provided he would
accept the position of captain, to which proposal he
assented. They enrolled a sufficient number of mem-
bers to make up the company; it was then organized
at Ocala as the Marion Light Artillery," and the
following officers were elected:
JOHN M. MARTIN, Captain.
J. J. DICKISON, First Lieutenant.
R. P. MCCANTS, Second Lieutenant.
WM. TIDWELL, Third Lieutenant.
THOS. W. GORDON, First Sergeant.
W. W. CATHCART, Second Sergeant.
WILEY CURRY, Third Sergeant.
JOHN D. LEITNER, Fourth Sergeant.
J. C. STRICKLAND, First Corporal.
J. N. MCNABB, Second Corporal.
Wu. HOLSHOUSER, Third Corporal.
L. D. DUPREE, Fourth Corporal.
DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
PRIVATES MUSTERED IN, OCTOBER, I86 :
Andrews, A. K.
Boring, J. W.
Brinson, J. J.
Brown, Dr. A. C.
Barnes, Asa O.
Barnes, John A.
Carlton, R. A.
Cothran, J. W.
Cross, A. F.
Foy, F. N.
Goin, A. S.
Gibson, John A
Hall, J. W.
Jerkins, S. T.
Jones, W. A.
Jordan, W. E.
Leitner, W. F.
Morrison, W. M.
Priest, B. F.
Phillips, M. L.
Roberts, R. M.
Seigler, J. M.
Tommey, O. P.
Thomas, Geo. W.
Vogt, Dr. A. D.
Wells, S. J.
White, A. J.
Watson, M. D.
Watkins, W. C.
Williams, L. W.
Zeigler, J. J.
Members enrolled after the organization in 1861 and
the reorganization in 1862:
T. W. GORDON, Sergeant.
JOHN D. LEITNER, Sergeant.
LEONARD DOZIER, JR., Sergeant.
W. W. HOLSHOUSER, Sergeant.
J. C. STRICKLAND, Sergeant.
J. N. G. McNABB, Sergeant
W. R. NAPIER, Sergeant.
E. W. POWERS, Sergeant.
E. B. LANE, Corporal.
P. BROWARD, Corporal.
H. PETERSON, Corporal.
GEO. PASTEUR, Corporal.
GEO. L. PRICE, Corporal.
C. CARMAN, Corporal.
T. HAGGERDON, Bugler.
W. GEIGER, Bugler.
Arnon, B. J.
Asten, J. J.
Barnard, J. J.
DICEISON AND HIS MEN.
Broward, M. L.
Brooker, S. E.
Burton, W. H.
Bostick, J. H.
Broome, G. H.
Coker, W. A.
Colding, S. B.
Cribb, R. H.
Doucin, O. M.
Fife, R. M.
Goss, J. H.
Ha-nmond, S. N.
Haddock, D. T.
Hilton, J. M.
Hines, W. J.
Hinton, F. R.
Hawthorne, E. T.
Hinton, F. R.
Hogan, D. N.
Holmes, Dr. H. M.
Johnson, A. H.
Johnson, J. J.
Leitner, W. T.
Lacey, D. C.
Mitchell, S. S.
Matthews, J. M.
Marlow, T. C.
Mott, B. L.
Minton, J. T.
Mack, A. J.
McNabb, J. G.
Neal, A. J.
Norton, W. R
Norton, N. B.
Perry, T. J.
Rhance, L. F.
Stevens, W. C.
Stoddard, L. H.
Tracy, S. P.
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 13
Tillman, John Vaughn, G., Jr. Wall, T.
Thompson, Jos. Vaughn, A. J. West, T.
Timmons, S. E. Vanyard, Wells, F.
Usina, Wall, H. Wingate, J. G.
Vaughn, G., Sr. Wall, H. D. Wilson, Geo. C.
Subsequent changes of commissioned officers: Cap-
tain J. M. Martin succeeded by Lieutenant R. P.McCants.
An election soon followed and T. W. Perry was elected
captain and A. J. Neal, James C. Davis, George K.
Broome, C. S. Briggs, respectively, filled the position of
HEADQUARTERS ADJUTANT AND INSPECTOR-GENERAL.
[SPECIAL ORDER No. 48.]
"TALLAHASSEE, FLA., November 4, 1861.
" To Captain John M. Martin, Marion Flying Artillery :
(I.) Call on Colonel D. P. Holland at Fernandina,
without delay, for the battery of field pieces in his
possession, belonging to the State of Florida, and all
its equipment and ammunition, for which you will
give him duplicate receipts, taking duplicate invoices
of the property received.
(2.) You will then report to Brigadier-General
Trapier, of the C. S. Army, in command in Florida,
for the Confederate States' service, showing your in-
structions from the office, November 2, 186r.
"By order of the Governor and Commander-in-Chief,
"T. L. DANCY,
"Adjutant and Inspector-General."
"P. S.-Should Captain Martin not be at home,
Lieutenant J. J. Dickison will muster the company
14 DICKISON AND HIS MrN.
without delay, and proceed to Fernandina and report
to General Trapier.
"T. L. DANCY,
"Adjutant and Inspector-General."
"* TALLAHASSEE, November 12, i86i.
" To CaptainJ. M. Martin, or LieutenantJ. J. Dickison :
GENTLEMEN: You, or either of you, were directed
by order from this department on the 2d of November
to proceed with your company, the Marion Flying
Artillery, without delay to Fernandina and report to
General Trapier of the C. S. Army, commanding in
Florida, for service, with the least possible delay.
This order I can not at present lay my hand upon,
but copies were sent to Captain Martin or Lieutenant
Dickison, the one or the other of which, I trust, has
I now reiterate the order that you proceed to
Fernandina and report to General Trapier or the
senior officer present in command, and carry out the
order No. 48. By order
T. L. DANCY,
"Adjutant and Inspector-General."
FERNANDINA, FLA., November 17, 1861.
" T. L. Dancy, Adjutant and Inspector-General:
"SIR: Your special order No. 48 is received. We
arrived at this place last evening with Captain J. M.
Martin's company, Marion Light Artillery. Called on
Colonel D. P. Holland for the battery of field pieces.
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 15
In the absence of Colonel W. S. Dilsworth, he re-
fuses to deliver the guns. Will wait instructions from
Colonel Dilsworth. I reported our command to Col.
Hopkins, now in command of this post. He has
received our company into the Confederate States' ser-
vice. Very respectfully,
"J. J. DICKISON,
FERNANDINA, November 21, I861.
"Colonel W. S. Dilsworth, Commanding Post East and
"Pursuant to order No. 48, of his Excellency, Gov-
ernor John Milton, I beg leave to make the following
report of Captain John M. Martin's company of
Marion Light Artillery. First and second lieu-
tenants being present with six non-commissioned offi-
cers and forty-four privates and twenty-six horses,
with a certainty of twenty-nine additional privates,
with the requisite number of horses, and the re-
mainder of commissioned and non-commissioned offi-
cers, who will be here in a few days with roll of
one hundred and six men. Respectfully submitted,
J. J. DICKISON,
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT OF FLORIDA.
[SPECIAL ORDER No. 99.]
FORT CLINCH, November 27, i861.
"Lieutenant J. J. Dickison, Commanding Company
You are hereby authorized to make requisitions
on the Quartermaster C. S. Army for quartermaster
DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
supplies, and on the Commissary for commissary sup-
plies, who will furnish the same, your company hav-
ing been received into the service of the C. S. Army,
as a company of field artillery, and attached to the
Third Regiment of Florida Volunteers, C. S. Army.
"W. S. DILSWORTH,
"Colonel Commanding Department."
Captain Martin remained on the island with his
command about five months doing duty. On the con-
centration of the enemy's gunboats, in good view of
the island, the commanding general deemed it advis-
able to remove his forces to the main land. During
the evacuation of the island, the gunboats came up
and shelled our trains as they were moving out,
doing no injury to our troops, but killing two worthy
and prominent citizens.
Couriers continually coming in with reports that
the enepy were landing, this gallant command, being
ever ready for any emergency, was ordered from place
to place to meet them.
They were for a short time encamped near the
St. Mary's river, thence ordered to Sanderson, where,
from the unprecedented severity of the weather, these
noble defenders of our rights suffered many priva-
tions, with much sickness, which resulted in several
deaths from measles and pneumonia.
They were then ordered to Camp Langford, thence
to the two-mile branch, near Jacksonville, where they
remained, faithful sentinels on the outposts, until the
reorganization of the company late in the month of
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 17
May, 1862. At the reorganization of the company,
Lieutenant Dickison withdrew from the command,
and, early in July, received the following order from
General Finegan to raise a cavalry company, to com-
plete the Second Florida Cavalry Regiment.
HEADQUARTERS PROVISIONAL FORCES, DEPARTMENT
EAST AND MIDDLE FLORIDA.
[SPECIAL ORDER No. 590.]
"TALLAHASSEE, July 2, 1862.
"Lieutenant J. J. Dickison, late of the Marion
Light Artillery, C. S. Army, is hereby authorized
to raise a company of cavalry, to be mustered into
the Confederate States' service for three years, or the
war to be raised, if possible, within the present
By order, brigadier-general commanding,
On severing his connection with the Marion
Light Artillpry, Lieutenant Dickison received the
following letter from his loved and honored captain:
"HEADQUARTERS CAMP HUNT.
"May 31, 1862.
"Lieutenant J. j. Dickison:
"DEAR SIR: In a few moments the sad duty of
bidding you adieu will devolve on me, as a brother
officer; and while it is with pleasure that I desire to
record the fidelity, zeal, energy and promptness that
15 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
have characterized you during your connection with
the Marion Light Artillery, still fond memory of
the past is saddened by the thought, that your place
in ranks, in future, will not be filled by you. But,
sir, however painful it may be, I remember that such
is the reward of merit. Our blessed Lord and
Master, as perfect as He was, as self-sacrificing as
He was, as devoted as He was to the salvation of
mankind, had His enemies, His persecutors. You
have made many sacrifices, you have toiled to
advance the interest of the company, you have
labored to see it in a prosperous condition, but not
permitted to enjoy the consummation of your desires.
However pleasant it may have been to you, and
however agreeable to me, to be still connected with
each other, as brother officers in freedom's glorious
cause, it is denied us, and I am now called upon to
bid you farewell, not as a friend, but as an officer.
Remember that you leave behind many who will
cherish your name with the highest esteem, many
who will not forget your many acts of kindness,
many who, upon the battle-field, will be reminded of
you by that beautiful flag, with which one dear and
true to you is closely connected.
"As an officer, you have done your duty. As a
friend, you have been true. May success follow
you in the organization of the military command you
purpose, and may fortune attend you through life.
May happiness ever smile over your 'domestic
bower.' Farewell. Yours truly and respectfully,
"JOHN M. MARTIN,
Captain Commanding Marion Light Artillery."
"And must they fall, the young, the proud, the brave,
No step between submission and a grave ? "
The Marion Light Artillery was soon ordered
to the West to join General Kirby Smith, and did
most effective service in -their first and most impor-
tant fight at Richmond, Ky.
On this memorable occasion, the noble and heroic
Martin was seriously, and at the time feared to be
mortally, wounded. Our brave Johnson, Tidwell,
Boring and Holshouser were killed early in the en-
gagement, nobly illustrating the valor and chivalry of
men devoted to a sacred cause.
We can not better express our admiration for this
glorious little ba.d, than in the following notice
clipped from the Knoxville Register:
We invite the attention of our readers to
the lines addressed to the flag of the Florida Bat-
tery in the battle of Richmond, Ky. The circum-
stances which call forth these beautiful lines are
briefly these: At the battle of Richmond, the Ma-
rion Light Artillery, being the only corps from Flori-
da present, were placed in a most honorable position,
and were briefly addressed by Lieutenant-General
Kirby Smith, just as the fight commenced, who, in
his own eloquent manner, appealed to this corps to
maintain the honor of their State in the coming fight;
20 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
and most nobly did they respond to the appeal. The
battery was immediately moved forward into the hot-
test part of the fight, and, by its efficiency, contrib-
uted in no small degree to the glorious achieve-
ments of that memorable day.
"The material of which the flag was made, as
the writer has most happily shown us in his poem,
was a magnificent crimson shawl, presented by Mrs.
J. J. Dickison, while the rings by which it was at-
tached to the lance were manufactured from the
jewelry, brooches and ornaments contributed by the
ladies of Orange Lake, Fla., the ferrule being forged
from a superb silver comb, contributed Jby Mrs. Dicki-
son, and worn by the fair donor on her bridal night.
"The poem is from the pen of a field officer of
the Florida Brigade, Colonel William T. Stockton,
and, if we are capable of forming a correct judgment,
will be treasured among the bright and beautiful sen-
timents to which the heroic deeds of this revolution
have given birth, long after the rude alarms of war
TO THE FLAG OF THE FLORIDA BATTERY.
THX MARION IGHT ARTILLUT IN THR BATTLE OF IrICMMOMD, KY.
" Hear ye e'er of the Flag which so proudly was borne
In the ranks of the brave, on that bright summer morn,
When the word reached our land, On to Richmond we go!'
And fiercely our battery was, hurled on the foe?
When we crested the hilltop, as round as an arch,
We heard 'Forward into battery, left oblique, march t
Opened then their artillery, quickly and fast,
And their close-serried cohorts upon us were cast-
That Flag waved above us, in crimson and gold,
And looked smilingly down, from each graceful 'fold,
DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
On that gallant command in that tempest of hell,
Where the minie-ball hissed and where hurtled the shell
If a pulse beat the faster, or quivered a nerve,
A glance at that Flag forbade any to swerve
From the oath which each soldier had silently sworn
To guard safely that banner, though tattered and torn.
What though Johnson and Tidwell were slain in the fight,
They saw that Flag safe with their last look in life;
What though gallant Holshouser and Boring went down,
Our Flag cheerily waved and looked smilingly on.
It saw they had freely and willingly given
Their blood to the grand cause in which they had striven.
What though Martin, our captain, no longer was heard-
Thrill through us no more his encouraging word-
Aloft waved our Flag and almost seemed to say,
We can even lose him and can yet win the day;
For has not our chief said, as the troops cheered us on
' When we move to the front, the battle's begun!
Of Florida's sons, you, alone, are here now;
Let our State have no shadow of shame on her brow.'
Yet stormed fiercely still, that tempest of hell,
Where the minie-ball hissed and where hurtled the shell.
"Too severe was our fire, for in sight of that Flag,
Not one heart e'er grew weak, nor did one muscle lag.
' The foe are in flight! Now on them the horse;
Let no well-stricken blow bring its giver remorse.'
And our noble chief said, with voice clear and loud:
' You have won us the battle, our Florida's proud.'
That Flag has a story, which now shall be told I
The women of Marion,' the loved ones we have left
To furnish that Banner, themselves had bereft
Of mantle and brooch, of rich comb and of ring,
With soft-uttered prayers, which to heaven took wing.
Those soft folds of rich crimson, from far, distant Ind.
Had screened beauty's form from the rough, blowing wind.
Those brooches from fair bosoms, so earnestly given,
Which devotion to country alone thence had riven;
22 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
Those rings from fair hands, so soft and so light,
Which tremblingly gave, at the thought of the fight,
By the artisan's skill, bound the Flag to the lance,
Made its spear head to gleam, and our motto to glance,
' God and our Rights'--'twas the brave Norman, old war-cry,
Which the Puritan strikes at, but for which we will die.
Our soil gave the Red Bay, fit emblem of pride
For the staff whence the sheen of our Banner gleams wide.
The comb which had a fair bride's tresses restrained,
To guard e'en its base, in its bright silver deigned.
Then thanks to the loved ones, who pray for us now,
They never need fear, lest we fail in our vow."
"T. W. S."
Faithful to their trust, this noble and heroic little
band guarded, with almost reverential care, this flag
hallowed by so many sacred memories. That chi-
valrous gentleman and gallant soldier, Lieutenant A.
J. Neal, though beset with danger on every side,
with a masterful will to overcome every obstacle, by
untiring vigilance and the inspiration of a lofty
patriotism, conveyed this cherished standard of the
dauntless corps, he so nobly illustrated, to his
home in Georgia, where, in the safe custody of his
loved mother and sisters, it remained during those
dark, perilous days of "Sherman's March to the
Sea," a line of march, the eulogist of his exploits
describes as "wide-spreading columns of smoke, ris-
ing wherever the army went."
As the "apple of the eye," these noble, true-
Itearted Georgians, bright jewels in the glorious dia-
dem that crowns our sister State, lovingly guarded
this proud memorial of a gallant people during the
dark, dark days that followed the surrender of our
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 23
brave and unconquered defenders, who only yielded
to overwhelming numbers.
Not until the almost impenetrable gloom, that had
so long rested like a funeral pall upon our beloved
land in its desolation, had partially cleared away, and
the star of hope dawned on the distant horizon,
where the blue clouds seem to be kissing mother
earth, could these dear noble ladies be reconciled
to make a surrender of their sacred trust to the
sisterhood who had laid the gift on their country's
Though only a silken banner, there was a silent
eloquence around its crimson folds that made it seem
to them a "thing of life." Dear mother and sis-
ters! Every heart that has "bled like thine and
mine" can enfold you in a sympathetic embrace.
That flag told you the sad, sad story, that so many
hopeless, anguished hearts had learned, of the young
and brave-hearted, who had buckled on their armor
and gone forth from peaceful, happy homes with a
mother's, wife's and sister's kiss warm upon their
dear lips, strong in the resolve to drive back the
ruthless invaders who had desolated our fair pros-
perous land, and who had marched even to the port-
als of the sanctuary of our homes and desecrated
that God-given refuge to weary man. Its crimson
tints told of the life-drops that were freely poured
out in defense of all that was dear to man.
All honor to the gentle mother and sisters and
venerable father of the heroic A. J. Neal, who fell a
noble martyr to freedom's cause while gallantly re-
pulsing the Federals near Atlanta in I864.
24 DICKISON AND HIS MAN.
This historic flag was returned by the father of
our lamented friend, Lieutenant Neal, to Colonel John
M. Martin, the gallant officer who led the brilliant
charge made by the Marion Light Artillery at the
battle of Richmond, Ky.
By request of the ladies of the Soldiers' Friends'
Association of Orange Lake, it has been confided
to the care of the writer of this humble tribute to
the heroes who fell gallantly fighting in vindication of
right and "saw that flag waving over them with
their last look in life."
In proper time, it will be placed arrong the ar-
chives of the State. It is now partially furled near the
cherished portraits of our beloved Lee" and Stone-
wall Jackson." Our own dear soldier boy, who fell
on the battle-field, looks upon it with eyes that seem
to me to speak the thoughts that never die in a hero's
"Our flag still waves over the home of the brave."
For the gratification of the survivors of the Ma-
rion Light Artillery in Florida, and the relatives of
the brave men who gave their lives for their country,
who are residents now of other States, I feel it a duty
to contribute to their pleasure by placing before them
the following interesting letters, which will revive
many memories that may be somewhat effaced by the
hand of time, or held in abeyance by the manifold
g cares that have pressed so heavily upon them in the
hard struggle to build up their lost or wrecked for-
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 25
OCALA, December Io, 1881.
" Mrs. J. j. Dickison, Dickison Park:
"DEAR MADAM: On April 8, 1862, the ladies
of the Orange Lake Soldiers' Friends' Association
presented to the Marion Light Artillery, through
their true and noble friend, the Hon. James B. Owens,
a flag without a name inscribed to tell of the donors.
Yet, each letter on its crimson field, each ornament,
ah! each thread and, crowning all, its inspiring watch-
word, silently and modestly spoke more beautifully
than verse can tell that the self-sacrificing matrons
and maidens of Orange Lake had each and every one
placed upon that sacred flag some precious relic.
Quietly, silently, prayerfully, they sent it to us on the
tented field, by their patriot friend, with one injunc-
tion-' Guard it well.'
"On that memorable day, as that gallant corps
looked upon its beautiful folds, its gilded motto, its
glittering spear and suggestive design, the names of
each member of the Soldiers' Friends' Association
were inscribed upon their hearts and memory, and
they swore, before God and their country, it should
"Through years of war, hours of cruel suffering,
battles of fiercest struggles, was that flag guarded
well. Accompanying this. I send you a letter from
the venerable and heroic Mr. John Neal, now of At-
lanta, Ga., which will explain his connection with the
flag and the cause of his having it in his possession.
Sorrowfully, and with deep regret, was it furled
in obedience to orders and for reasons given us. Too
far from home to place it in the protection of its
26 DICKISON AND -Pr MYN.
gentle givers, and, unwilling to leave it in the rear,
where danger was greatest, the genial, brave and gal-
lant soldier, Lieutenant A. J. Neal, entrusted it to his
noble mother, sisters and father, knowing they would
keep careful watch over it until it could be safely
conveyed to whence it came.
To you, madam, and by the request and instruc-
tion of the ladies of the Soldiers' Friends' Associa-
tion, of which you were an honored and conspicuous
member, we return unsullied and without a spot of
shame, this consecrated banner, prouder than when
you gave it.
"Though it once former L part of your bridal
attire, and made dear to you by memories of years
gone by, when, as a happy bride, its rich folds encir-
cled your youthful form; though its jewels will recall
sweet thoughts of your girlhood's happy days, we be-
lieve that it will be dearer now than ever to you, and
the ladies of the association, for you will remember that
it once waved over as brave men as ever went on
battle-field, who, when weary and worn, it cheered,
and when despairing and almost hopeless, it bid them
trust in God.
All did their duty; all, all were brave, faithful and
true; all loved it. Then, for the sake of those whose
graves are in far-off battle-fields, in memory of those
who have died, and in the names of the living, we
ask you to 'guard it well.' With respect,
I am your obedient servant,
JOHN M. MARTIN.
We regret that the roll of the company has been
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 27
misplaced. Their names ought never perish, but
should be written on tablets of stone. Every effort
will be made to obtain it, and it shall be placed in
your hands, assured that it will be in noble custody.
"J. M. M."
ATLANTA, GA., October I 1881.
" ColonelJohn M. Martin, Ocala, Fla.:
"DEAR SIR: By to-day's express I forward you the
flag and staff of the Marion Florida Light Artillery,
placed in my care at Zebulon, Ga., July, 1864, by my
son, Lieutenant A. J. Neal, of that gallant little
band, for safe-keeping; stating that, by order of the
general commanding, none but flags of large bodies ot
troops would be retained. This request was faithfully
fulfilled by myself, wife and two daughters, the only
members of my family then at home.
I deeply regret the shameful manner in which the
beautiful spear that ornamented the staff was lost.
The value of the spear is beyond price in dollars and
cents, when we remember that it was gotten up by the
contributions of Florida's noble sons and daughters,
especially the latter, who so generously contributed
' mantle and jewels,' as will appear by an appropriate
and beautifully-written article, after the battle of Rich-
mond, Ky., 1863, a copy of which I inclose.
That little band, then and ever since, have appre-
ciated those contributions, and held them as sacred as
the cause they volunteered to sustain.
"The loss of the spear occurred in April, 1865.
A large body of the Federal army passed through
28 DICKISON AND HIS MNN.
Zebulon. There being only three old men beside myself
left in the town, we were entirely unprotected.
Mrs. Neal had prepared two large pockets, in
which she concealed our daughters' jewelry and the
After the main body had passed, there came sud-
denly through our garden four men; armed and wearing
Federal uniforms. Mrs. Neal fled with the jewels, but
was pursued by the ruffianly thieves, overtaken, and
robbed of everything, including the spear. They then
searched my person and took a small sum of money.
About this time, another body of troops.in passing saw
the excitement, came in, and said to the thieves that
such conduct was contrary to orders, threatening to
report them. The scamps then returned through the
garden, mounted their horses, and left. God forbid
My son, A. J. Neal, was killed two and one-half
miles west of Atlanta, August Io, 1864. His brother,
Jas. H. Neal, colonel of the Tenth Georgia Regiment,
was killed near Kingston, N. C., March 8, 1865.
"I have since had their remains reinterred in my
family graveyard, Oaklawn Cemetery,' Atlanta, and
have had a marble tombstone erected over their
graves, in the form of an arch, with suitable inscrip-
tions, showing date of their birth, military position,
and when killed. Their memory we will cherish
while life lasts.
"I most respectfully invite you .and command to
visit their graves if ever convenient.
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 29
The flag was saved by Miss Ella Neal, now Mrs.
John Kelly, who concealed it beneath her overskirt
while the army was passing. The staff was con-
cealed in the garden. J. N."
Take thy banner I and beneath
The battle-cloud's encircling wreath,
Guard it !-'till our homes are free!
Guard it !-God will prosper thee!"
[At the time of the presentation of the flag to the Marion Light Artillery,
J. J. Dickison was first lieutenant of the company.]
SOfficers and Soldiers of the Marion Light Artillery :
At the request and in behalf of the ladies of the
Orange Lake Soldiers' Friends' Association, it would
have afforded me great pleasure to address you in per-
son; but, as circumstances do not permit of this, I must
resort to the less satisfactory mode of communicating
what I have to say in writing.
"I therefore propose, as their honored instrument,
not to impose a lengthy address upon your patience,
but, in the fewest words by which I can accomplish
the agreeable task, give expression to the deep-seated
and lively sentiments and feelings they so earnestly
cherish toward you.
"Sensibly do they realize that the destiny of our
country stands poised in the trembling balance; that
their highest and brightest earthly prospects, as well
as those of the generations that are to come after
them, are speedily to be settled by the arbitrament
30 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
of the sword which, by authoritative declaration, has
been unsheathed for months gone by, and now not
only gleams in the light of the day that is upon us, but
is stained by the blood of those who have fallen upon
the fields so fiercely contested, and that to you in
common with your valiant brothers in arms must
they look, under the blessing of the Omnipotent dis-
poser of all events, for the preservation of the price-
less heritage so nobly won and bequeathed them by
their gallant sires of 1776.
"They know that, as patriots and brave men
ready to peril your lives in defense of liberty and
the fair ones of the land, who, of right, expect safety
both of person and interests at the hands of the
sterner sex, you promptly exchanged the comforts
and endearments of home for the deprivation and
dangers of a soldier's life. In all that you have un-
dergone in the past, you have their tenderest sym-
pathies. In all that you may have to encounter in
the future, you will have, not only their sympathies,
but their most fervent prayers for your security and
Did circumstances permit, gladly would they
stand as guardians and ministering angels by your
side, shielding you from disease, accident and the
leaden messengers of death that may be sent into
your midst by the rude invaders of our soil, giving
solace to the sick upon his couch; cheer to the weary
I upon his march, resistless courage and strength to
all in the hour of furious conflict, and a louder shout
of praise to every tongue when bright plumaged
victory will have perched with gilded crest, upon
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 31
your proudly floating banner. Buit their more fragile
frames, their feebler constitutions, and the delicacy
so fitly blending in, and essential to, true female char-
acter, deny them this privilege. Nevertheless, they
would not be unrepresented in your gallant corps;
hence they have deputed me, and I am proud of the
honor, to present you the accompanying beautiful
"'01 long may it wave,
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.'
"True, that like the sensitive maiden whose gen-
tle bosom is suddenly heaved by unutterable emotions
within, while her previously sparkling eyes are con-
verted into fountains of tears, her rose-tinged cheeks
flushed with a far deeper and feverish hue, or swept
over as by the discoloring brush of time, who rides
upon the pale horse," and her lips sealed in tremu-
lous, ominous silence, it, too, is mute. But in that
muteness, unwritten; though instructive lessons may
be read by the reflecting mind. When you gaze
with admiration upon its glittering folds, together
with its significant emblems and motto, your thoughts
will involuntarily run back, with electric speed, to its
fair, lovely, anxious and prayerful donors; and thus
you will be restrained and purified in camp, quick-
ened in your steps on the march, and enthused to
the highest pitch of heroic daring, when, face to face
and hand to hand, you meet the foe upon the ensan-
guined and smoking field.
"This splendid flag is the handiwork and appro-
priate representative of the intelligent, patriotic ma-
32 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
trons and maidens who compose the society, and
while through it they would each speak to you, as one
voice, words of affection, confidence and encourage-
ment, thereby appealing to the loftiest sentiments
and noblest impulses of your natures, and imposing
upon you obligations which you will not fail to recog-
nize, ever to preserve it as the spotless and price-
less jewel of your company.
"Of the many other facts connected with it, to
which I would gladly allude were it not for protract-
ing this communication beyond its proper length, there
is only one of which I will speak, and that needs but
to be mentioned in order, not only to add greatly to
the interest and sacredness with which you will be
disposed to contemplate and hold it, but also to im-
part to it a degree even of magic influence.
"That fact is, that, owing to the entire absence
from our mercantile houses, in consequence of the
blockade, of suitable goods for its ground-work, the
rich and costly material of which it is made is a gen-
erous offering from the wardrobe of the estimable wife
of your worthy first lieutenant.
Then allow me, in their cherished names, to com-
mit it to your charge, believing that, when the rude
shock of battle comes,' these inspiring names will be
heard to ring in clearest accents above the cannon's
roar, inciting you to bear it fearlessly and proudly on
into the thickest of the fight, until it shall float in
, glorious triumph over the conquered field, or its
crimson folds be made the winding-sheet of the last
brave man of the Marion Light Artillery, who, like
the rest of his unfaltering comrades, with eye intently
DICKISON AND HIS MN. 33
fixed and weapon still firmly grasped, falls a devoted
martyr to freedom's bleeding cause,
With his face toward heaven and his feet to the foe.'
With the deep solicitude for your safety and
success, natural upon the part of a friend involved
with you in a common and glorious cause,
"I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
"JAMES B. OWENs.
"To Captain John M. Martin and Company."
CAMP LANGFORD, April 1o, 1862.
"Hon. James B. Owens:
DEAR SIR: It is the honored privilege of the
members of the Marion Light Artillery to receive,
through you, the handsome and appropriate flag pre-
sented to them by the ladies of the Orange Lake
Soldiers' Friends' Association.
When the hour was darkest and the heavens
seemed to hang with indifference to freedom's cause,
inducing the soldier to contemplate with anxiety the
future, and with heavy hearts turned to those for
whose safety and welfare he had unsheathed his
sword; its crimson folds were unfurled, displaying the
motto: God and our Rights.'
If it were possible for defeat to lessen a South-
ron's zeal, or his toils and hardships cause him one
moment to falter, the watchword thereon inscribed
will ever encourage and prompt him to deeds of valor.
Nor can they fail to be cherished by us with the
deepest gratitude, those fair and noble daughters of
34 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
the South, who have honored us with so distinguished
It is, therefore, my pleasant duty, in behalf of the
company I have the honor to command, to give
utterance to our feelings of pride, that, while we
may be separated from the cheerful fireside and de-
nied the comforts of peaceful and happy homes, they
have proven, by this demonstration, their confidence,
and entrusted to our care and safe-keeping a flag
which we will ever cherish, ever be proud of, and trust
in God, will ever defend.
"' Where hath not woman stood,
Strong in affection's might, a reed upborne
By an o'ermastering current ?'
It is true her feeble constitution and her refined
feelings deprive her a place in the scene of action.
Still, upon every field is she represented by her handi-
work or some insignia indicative of her devotion to
her country, thereby urging the brave to vigilance,
giving courage to the timid, and reminding the true
that their smiles and blessings will ever rest upon
them. It is not only our fortune to have these in-
centives to action, but we remember the rich mate-
rial of this banner is from the wardrobe of that noble
lady, who, like one of Carthage, would rather con-
sign herself to the flames than see it ignobly defended.
s Nor can we forget that the Southern Cross,' its
gilded spear, and its bindings to the polished staff,
are from the caskets of the fair ones who have made
this offering upon their country's altar, not only as a
DICKISON AND HIS MZN. 35
token of friendship, but to enjoin upon us obedience
to God and fidelity to our country.
Permit me then, as the humble representative of
the Marion Light Artillery, through you to return
our thanks to these ladies, whose partiality and fre-
quent acts of kindness have placed us under many
obligations. We will ever guard this beautiful flag
as a cherished gift, see that no harm befalls it, and,
when led to meet the foe, God and our Rights' shall
be our battle-cry.
Allow me to express the high regard and esteem
entertained for you by the corps, and well wishes for
your prosperity by your most respectful and
"JOHN M. MARTIN."
"Their friends and people, to their future praise,
A marble tomb and monument shall raise,
And lasting honors to their ashes give;
Their fame, 'tis all the dead can have, shall live I"
Dazzled as we are by the transcendent brilliancy
of the military achievements of our great leaders,
Lee, Jackson, Johnston, Longstreet, Gordon, Hill,
Stewart, Hampton, Ashby, Forest, Morgan, and a
host of others, whose names will shine through the
ages with undimmed luster on the page of history,
yet there were thousands of gallant men in our own
noble little State whose brave hearts never faltered,
even at the cannon's mouth, the grandeur of whose
character and warlike deeds have proudly illustrated
the age, renowned, as it is, with heroes and events
unparalleled in the history of the world.
Such heroes, though many are unknown to fame,
it has been my privilege to present to the reader in
this simple, truthful record of their devotion to the
cause they were willing to give their lives to defend.
All did their duty grandly, and their deeds of valor
will live in the heart of every true patriot and lover
of the land that gave birth to such noble sons.
Before closing this sketch of the Marion Light
Artillery, I feel it will be in harmony with my theme
to place a tributary offering on the altar of friendship
for one, who to know was to admire and honor. The
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 37
beautiful and heroic poem, To the Flag of the Flor-
ida Battery," by Colonel William T. Stockton, was
truly a grand inspiration, and vividly reveals the pure
chivalrous nature of the warrior poet.
Identified as I must ever be with this historical
flag, the soul-stirring poem of this gifted officer will
always be a bright memorial of him who, as a friend,
I honored in life and truly mourned in death.
As the touching tribute to his memory, which ap-
peared a few days after his entrance into the "rest
that endureth forever," is in harmony with my own
heart's refrain, I will give it voice among these sa-
cred reminiscences, assured that every Floridain,
especially his brave companions in arms, will be glad
to learn that his name has been re-embalmed in this
little volume, and a fresh garland placed upon his
A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF COLONEL WM. T.
"All that live must die,
Passing through nature to eternity."
Colonel William T. Stockton is no more. The portals
of the tomb have closed upon one whose native noble-
ness, whose manly generosity, whose chivalric nature,
whose great and cultivated intellect, had made him
not only the idol of his home-circle, but had endeared
him to all who knew him.
Colonel Stockton was born near Philadelphia, on
the 8th of October, 1812, and departed this life at
Quincy, March 4, 1869. Spared amid the storm of
38 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
battle at the cannon's mouth in the daring charge,
his manly form has bowed at last to the stern decree
of Death, and his mortal remains rest now in that
consecrated spot, the village cemetery, that it was
once his pride and study to beautify and adorn.
In July, 1834, he graduated at the United States
Military Academy, and subsequently did service on the
Northern frontier in Georgia and in the Florida war,
gaining for himself distinction as a soldier and an
officer. Soon after the resignation of his office in the
army, he removed to Florida and engaged in civil
pursuits; but, so conspicuous was his military talent
that again and again, and without solicitation, he was
called by election by his fellow-citizens and by appoint-
ment from the Governor, to fill important positions in
the State Militia, the duties of all of which he dis-
charged with honor to himself and benefit to the
At the commencement of the late war, feeling that
duty to his country and his loved ones called him
to the field, he promptly offered his services, and
was appointed captain in the regular army of the
Confederate States. In a short time he was made
major, then lieutenant-colonel of cavalry, and while
holding this position was taken prisoner. But for his
early and unfortunate capture, and imprisonment un-
til the close of the war, he would, no doubt, have arisen
to high rank in the service.
9 By education a soldier, by instinct a hero, he be-
longed to that race of noble men whose names
adorn the historic page and whose characters added
luster and gave tone to the social life of the South
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 39
in its brightest and palmiest days. The soul of
honor, he abhorred all that was mean or little, and,
with unflinching moral heroism, pursued throughout
his whole life the plain path of duty.
Possessing intellectual powers of the highest order,
his comprehensive mind had grasped a varied knowl-
edge, and its rich treasures were ever dispensed with-
out ostentation or pedantry.
For the past two years, like the blighted land for
whose independence he drew his sword and fought
and suffered, disease had touched him with her wast-
ing finger and shattered the physical man; but the
fires of his genius still shown forth with undimmed
brilliancy, and burned with as steady a blaze as when,
in days of yore, they attracted to him his gifted friend,
the gallant Ward, and a host of worthies, whose names
are engraved upon the hearts of their countrymen.
Colonel Stockton possessed, in an eminent degree,
the suaviter in modo, fortiter in re, and the writer
of this will ever remember with grateful pleasure the
delightful conversations he has enjoyed with him.
'Tis true the frame was shattered and the strength
almost gone, but the head, the heart, the soul were
there, unimpaired, strong and vigorous, and left their
enduring impress upon all that he said.
This little tribute is laid upon his grave by one
who respected his character, admired his talents, and
loved him for the many shining qualities which adorned
that character and illumed those talents; and while
he does not desire to intrude upon the sanctity of
domestic grief, it is his earnest prayer that a loving
God will throw around the stricken ones the everlast-
40 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
ing arms of his mercy and love, and pour upon their
bleeding hearts the heavenly balm of Gilead.
QUINCY, FLA., March 13, 1869.
Though it has been more than a score of years
since the foregoing tender tribute was written, and
nearly a quarter of a century since the close of our
Civil War, the old comrades of Colonel Stockton de-
light to recall his courtly bearing to private and officer
alike, his strict, impartial discipline tempered with
kindness, in camp or bivouac, his splendid dash and
courage in the charge. He was a typical Southern
soldier, the incarnate spirit of the Confederacy. His
handsome face and form, his lofty bearing, now tower-
ing in the forefront of battle, now falling back be-
fore overwhelming numbers, contesting every inch of
the ground, until finally overcome, but not conquered,
victorious even in defeat, "hurling defiance in the face
of the foe, breaking his sword and throwing away
hilt and blade and scabbard as a token of an uncon-
querable spirit-such a picture marked Colonel Will-
iam T. Stockton, the very personification of knightly
The family of Colonel Stockton still surviving him
are his widow, Mrs. Julia Telfair Stockton; his chil-
dren, Thomas Y. Stockton, general manager of the
l Florida daily and weekly Times-Union; J. N. C.
Stockton, banker; Telfair Stockton, real estate agent,
and Mrs. Mary Stockton Young, widow of the late
Bishop Young, of the Episcopal diocese of Florida,
COLONEL WILLIAM T. STOCKTON,
C. S. A.
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 41
all of Jacksonville, and Mrs. William Luton, of Bed-
ford county, Virginia.
If a woman may pay a woman's tribute to one of
the noblest and bravest of her sex-a typical woman
of the South, while it was rocked in the stormiest rev-
olution of this or any other century-to one ennobled
by nature to be the mother of the children of such a
soldier as I have just portrayed, I could find no loftier
example than the simple name of. Mrs. Julia Telfair
On the death of her husband, like the mother of the
Gracchi, she drew her little ones about her, exclaim-
ing: "These are my jewels!" They were all she
had left; yet, with a woman's tenderness, and more
than a man's courage, she bravely faced the world
alone to rear, educate and fit them for useful and hon-
orable lives. How she has succeeded, let this imper-
fect sketch attest.
In introducing this brief sketch, in this connection,
it is hardly an invasion of a private circle, since, it
seems to me, this mention, imperfect as it is, rounds
off and completes the record of the gallant soldier
A history of Florida's brave defenders during the
time to which this biography refers, would be incom-
plete without something of Florida's women-the
wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of the gallant
few who, for four bitter years, bore the unequal struggle.
The heroism of Florida's daughters was no less
admirable, no less conspicuous at home, than was
the heroism of her sons in the field; and I have in-
troduced this special reference to illustrate a type, of
42 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
which this State and the South furnished many ex-
amples. Is it not one-and are there not thousands-
after which the daughters of America may pattern?
The following beautiful tribute to "The Women
of the South," is the peroration of an address deliv-
ered by Colonel E. C. Merrill, of the Times-Union,
Jacksonville, Fla., at Jackson, Tenn., July 14, 1885:
And what shall I say of her daughters? 0, jew-
eled womanhood of the Southland 1 Thousands have
done virtuously, but ye have excelled them all! When
came the dreary days of death, disaster and defeat,
when upon their bowed heads darkest fell the night,
they sat not down to weep beside the waters of the
social and political Babylon which flowed all around
about, but, stripping the jewels from their fingers, laid
them upon the insatiate altars of sacrifice, and with
hands all unused to toil, plied the shuttle as if such
labor had been the one duty and pleasure of a life-
time. What shall I say of our women? Ah, in the
presence of heroism like theirs, the pulse beat ten-
derly and slow, and lips, though touched with hal.
lowed fire, grow still and motionless and dumb!
Through All that long and pitiless night, cold, silent
and dark, if tears were shed they were shed in secret,
where no eye could see, and for the husband's, the
father's and the brother's sake, they wove smiles and
sunshine alone into the warp and woof of daily toil.
O, typical woman of our Southland, scarred and deso-
late, yet sad, tender and sweet as angel's dream of
heaven and home! Time--'time the tomb-builder,'
may level with ruthless hand the monuments reared
to human glory; the pen of history may drop listless
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 43
from the grasp of him who shall essay to tell the
story in the far summers that we shall not see; the
echo of the deathless song may linger and be lost
among the distant hills of eternity, yet thy single
virtuous name, 0, woman of the South, shall gleam
a beacon star in heaven's firmament forever."
To JOHN JACKSON DICKISON, CAPTAIN LEO DRAGOONS, COMPANY H,
SECOND FLORIDA CAVALRY.
Joyous, yet calm, in deeds of moral worth,
On thy brow is stamped the seal of birth;
Heaven-born principles, to mark thy manly course,
Nor e'er in petty meanness have recourse-
Jesting with none, where firmness calls thy aid
Against the foes who ruthlessly our land invade-
Coursing thy spirit like one who higher duties call,
Keen is thy vision, as in deeds of valor you appall.
Sincerity and truth their impress deeply seal,
O'er which thy soul's pure thoughts are seen to steal-
Nor in the calmer moments of thy mind,
Diverting others, will you fail to shine
In all those traits of gallantry so rare,
Commanding high respect, combined with thy career;
Keen in thy nature, so sensitive, refined
In justice, worth and truth of soul and mind;
Sincerity, without abruptness, in thy mien;
O'er thee may hope's bright emblems ever beam,
Nor dark despair of hopeless visions e'er be seen.
BELLE M. LOPER (nee Hopkins),
Company H, Second Florida Cavalry, was com-
posed of citizens from the counties of Marion, Alachua,
St. John's, Putnam, Bradford, Duval, Columbia, Clay,
Volusia, Sumter, Hillsborough, Nassau and Madison.
It was organized in August, 1862, at Flotard Pond,
in Marion county; mustered into the Confederate
service by Major R. B. Thomas, Adjutant and
Inspector-General on General Finegan's staff.
The following officers were elected:
J. J. DicRIsoN, Captain.
WM. H. MCCARDELL, First Lieutenant.
D. S. BRANTLY, Second Lieutenant
W. J. MCEADDY, Third Lieutenant.
H. C. DOZIER, First Sergeant.
WM. Cox, Second Sergeant.
I: I. WARD, Third Sergeant.
C. O. BARNARD, Fourth Sergeant.
A. E. WATERMAN, Fifth Sergeant.
J. H. SIMONTON, First Corporal.
B. F. MYERS, Second Corporal.
T. G. PIoOTTr, Third Corporal.
W. N. RORaTS, Fourth Corporal.
ROLL OF PRIVATES MUSTERED IN. AUGUST, 1862:
J. B. Bell, E. Baughm, H. E. Braddock,
J. P. Banknight, F. Blackwelder, J. Carleton,
Seth B. Brown, D. Blackwelder, W. D. Cain,
B. W. Brown, S. Berry, W. W. Caruthers,
John Broome, L G. Blount, A. L. Caruthers,
DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
F. M. Clifton,
L. M. Driher,
G. L. Denton,
B. A. Hull,
W. R. Harris,
E. D. Hodges,
W. G. Joseph,
S. L. Low,
R. W. Millar,
D. S. Munroe,
J. P. Rivers,
C. H. Rogier,
S. P. Sligh,
E. W. Smith,
W. D. Watson,
J. A. J. W. Wood.
Members added to muster roll of Company H,
from 1862 to 1863, and subsequent changes in rank
WM. H. MCCARDELL, First Lieutenant.
W. J. McEADDY, Second Lieutenant.
HENRY DOZIER, Third Lieutenant.
WM. Cox, First Sergeant
J. J. WARD, Second Sergeant.
CHARLIE B. DICKISON, Third Sergeant
S. S. WEEKS, Fourth Sergeant.
J. S. POER. Fifth Sergeant.
DR. J. A. WILLIAMS, Surgeon.
D. G. Ambler,
J. W. Andrew,
H. E. Braddock,
O. B. Bates,
J. H. Baisden,
L. C. Curry,
W. H. Donelson,
DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
H. B. Hinson,
R. B. Hicks,
J. L. Hewett,
F. A. Johnson,
J. W. Johns,
A. J. Johns,
On the 2
W. D. Mickee,
Wm. B. Miranda,
B. F. Oliveros,
A. J. Sparkman,
J. W. Sparkman,
W. B. Stevens,
Thomas, J. E.
J. W. Thomas,
W. B. Turner,
T. B. Tillis,
J. T. Weeks,
J. A. Weeks,
C. L. Wright,
4th of August, 1862, Company H moved
from Flotard Pond to Gainesville, where they re-
mained a week, procuring arms, ammunition, etc.
From thence they were ordered to Jacksonville.
On arrival, encamped near the old Brick church; re-
mained there three weeks performing picket and
other duties. From thence were ordered to Yellow
Bluff; remained there about one week, and were then
ordered to Camp Finegan, where they remained a
short time. The enemy commencing demonstrations
upon the waters of the St. John's, this command was
ordered to Palatka, about seventy miles from Jackson-
While on the march, and soon after their arrival at
Palatka, they captured a large number of negroes who
were endeavoring to escape to the enemy, and by this
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 47
timely capture discovered a plot which had been set on
foot to drain that entire country of that class; also
captured a large number of deserters.
About two weeks after their arrival at Palatka, a
small scouting party was sent in the direction of St.
Augustine, where they captured Lieutenant Cate, of
the Seventeenth New Hampshire Volunteers, two
non-commissioned officers and two privates.
Information being received by Captain Dickison that
two companies of the Seventh New Hampshire Vol-
unteers, commanded by Colonel Putnam, were in the
habit of visiting the Fairbanks place, one and a half
miles from St. Augustine, in order to capture this
party, he left Lieutenant McCardell, with a detach-
ment to perform picket duty on the west side of the
San Sebastian river, having crossed the river at its
head with the main body, and proceeded near the
point at which it was thought the enemy would make
The enemy did not come out in usual force, nor at
the usual time; but six companies, about three hundred
and fifty strong, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Abbott, of the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers,
crossed the San Sebastian river about four miles below
the point at which our forces had crossed, intending to
capture our wagon train, which was at the encampment
near Moultrie creek, and cut off the escape of our forces.
Lieutenant McCardell, with his detachment, held them
in check until the train was drawn off in safety, while
Captain Dickison dashed up and captured the rear
guard, consisting of one commissioned officer and
48 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
The enemy held possession of the encampment
for several hours, during which time our troops con-
tinued to fire into them. They then made a back-
ward march in the direction of St. Augustine, without
hurting one of the forty-three Confederates who had
so gallantly repulsed them. Our command returned
to Palatka the next night.
A few days after, we were ordered to Jacksonville,
where we engaged in several skirmishes.
Shortly after, we were ordered back to Palatka,
and, on our arrival, engaged the transport Mary Ben-
ton, with five hundred negro troops of General Mont-
gomery's command, under Lieutenant-Colonel Billings.
This officer was wounded, and about twenty-five
negroes killed and wounded.
The next day Jacksonville was evacuated.
For several months after, Company H guarded all
the country from St. Augustine to Smyrna. This duty
being too heavy, the command w9as re-enforced by
Company C, Captain W. E. Chambers.
Captain Dickison was then ordered to Fort Meade
to act in concert with Colonel Brevard, as the enemy
was in considerable force in the neighborhood of
Fort Myers. Just before reaching Fort Myers, orders
reached us from headquarters to return, in anticipa-
tion of the battle of Olustee.
We marched about five hundred and seventy-five
miles, day and night with little rest, but were too late,
by twelve hours, to participate in the battle. While
on the march to Olustee, we captured about forty of
the straggling enemy.
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 49
Colonel Scott, having choice to select a company
from the regiment for outpost duty, conferred this
honor on Captain Dickison's command.
Company H furnished one hundred and forty-five
men for duty. After performing this duty for a few
days. it was reported to the general commanding that
the enemy had passed up the river toward Palatka.
Company H was immediately ordered to prepare for a
march, and was sent with all haste to that point. On
their arrival, Captain Dickison was informed that the
enemy had made a landing with a force of five
Lieutenant-Colonel Harris, of the Fourth Georgia
Cavalry Regiment, being in command of this depart-
ment, Captain Dickison reported the news to this offi-
cer and asked for re-enforcements.
The colonel moved his command, which consisted
of not more than one hundred and twenty-five effective
men, to Sweetwater Branch, about twelve miles distant
from Palatka. Scouts were then sent to ascertain the
position of the enemy, and reported that they occupied
the town. The following day Captain Dickison, with
his company, together with a detachment of the Fourth
Georgia Cavalry, was ordered to the front to drive
in the enemy's pickets, also to ascertain their strength
and position. In performing this duty, they captured
three pickets with their horses.
Simple as is the recital of the capture of the Fed-
eral pickets, the event was marked by a daring that
gave luster to the heroic deed. That gallant young
officer, Dr. R. B. Burroughs, who held the distin-
guished position of surgeon of the Fourth Georgia
50 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
Cavalry Regiment, with the gallantry and chivalry
that characterized him, ever at his post of duty, the
post of danger, was present during this engagement. It
was a time to try the bravest spirit; the firing was
hot and incessant, and the situation truly perilous.
The wonderful exhibition of fearlessness and cour-
age as the whistling messengers of death came thick
and fast, while our dauntless leader confronted the
foe, appealed to the noblest sentiments of the heart
of this gallant Georgian, and thrilled him with an ad-
miration almost painful in its intensity. Such heroism
seemed to him phenomenal.
This scholarly, genial gentleman and eminent phy-
sician is now a citizen of Florida, resident in Jackson-
ville, and has nobly won the reputation of being one
of the finest surgeons in the State.
These reminiscences will revive memories of the brill-
iant achievements of his brave companions in arms,
who, under the splendid generalship of their distin.
guished leader, General Alfred Colquitt, rendered. such
valuable service on the battle-field of Olustee. Florid-
ians will ever remember, with gratitude, these val-
iant soldiers who so promptly rallied to our assistance,
and by their dauntless heroism contributed greatly to
the brilliant victory gained at that memorable battle.
The enemy were strongly fortified, and remained
at Palatka nearly six weeks. During their occupa-
tion of the town, Company H frequently skirmished
On one occasion, Captain Dickison, ivith a detach-
ment of sixteen men, was attacked by a battalion of
the enemy, and after a hot skirmish, which lasted
DICKISON AND HIS MN N. 51
about forty minutes, holding his position without giving
an inch, the enemy were re-enfoiced and our boys fell
back in good order without any loss. The enemy's
loss was five killed, eight wounded. A few days
after we were again ordered to the front, and drove
in the pickets. We took our position on the hill over-
looking the city, having a full view of their works.
Next day Company H was placed on outpost duty.
Captain Dickison sent Lieutenant McEaddy, with
a party, to ascertain the true position of the enemy's
pickets. Having made the report, a secret night ex-
pedition was planned, to be commanded by Lieutenant
McEaddy, with ten men. This expedition proved most
successful. The same night the entire picket, con-
sisting of eight men, well mounted, were captured.
An order was now issued by Colonel Tabb, who
was now in command of the department, for Captain
Dickison with his company, and one from the Fourth
Georgia Cavalry, to move to the front to ascertain if
the enemy had changed their position, and, if advis-
able, to drive in their pickets.
This was done, and the enemy soon opened fire
on our advance. The firing soon became general, the
enemy sent forward two regiments, one white, one
colored. We held them in check for about four hours,
when Captain Dickison received orders to fall back
to the Branch, which he declined to do, as such
movement was not advisable with so large a force in
The enemy still held their former position; night
coming on, they withdrew their troops. Their loss
was eleven killed, twenty-two captured. We retired
DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
in good order, without the loss of a man, though the
enemy outnumbered us eight to one.
A very remarkable feature of the gallant Dicki-
son's mode of fighting was in the admirable manage-
ment of his men, thus defeating the enemy in every
engagement with no loss on our side.
The following congratulatory order was sent:
"April 22, 1864.
" Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding:
CAPAIN: Colonel Tabb desires me to inform
you that he has been relieved from duty in this de-
partment. You will hereafter report to Lieutenant-
Colonel Martin, Sixth Florida Battalion, at this place.
He also desires to express to you the highest appre-
ciation in which you and your command are held.
The faithfulness, promptness and superior judgment
which you have at all times manifested, give assur-
ance of your possession of those soldierly qualities
which inspire confidence, and command respect and
admiration everywhere. Your communication, in re-
gard to Mrs. Thomas, has been forwarded 'approved.'
Colonel Tabb has written to the commanding officer,
at Palatka, on the same subject, but the enemy left
before he could send in a flag of truce.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"Acting Assistant Adjutant-General,"
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 53
"HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT, FLORIDA.
"CAMP MILTON, May 2, 1864.
Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding:
"CAPTAIN: This paper-making application to the
general in command, that he demand the release of
Mrs. Thomas and her daughter, who are held prison-
ers at Jacksonville, has been delayed ten days in
reaching headquarters and now respectfully returned.
"The general regrets that he has no means of
enforcing a demand upon the Federal authorities for
the release of these parties. If you will capture an
equal number of Yankee citizens, they will be held as
hostages for Mrs. Thomas and daughter. The laws
of war give the right to capture and hold any person
who gives information. The general regrets his
inability to bring the enemy to terms in this matter.
But a simple demand for the release of these parties,
without the ability to compel it, would be idle.
"By order of Major-General Anderson.
"WM. G. BARTH,
HEADQUARTERS, CAMP MILTON.
"APRIL 30, 1864.
" Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding:
"CAPTAIN: The enemy, about a regiment strong,
are reported as being at Fort Butler, in Volusia county,
on the evening of the 28th.
"The major-general commanding desires that you
54 DICKISON AND HIS MEN..
be on your guard, and ready to act as any emergency
I am, Captain, very respectfully, your obedient
servant, WM. G. BARTH,
'* HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT, FLORIDA.
"CAMP MILTON, May 3, 1864.
Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding Camp Call:
CAPTAIN: .Your dispatches of the 3oth ultimo rela-
tive to enemy being at Fort Butler, Volusia county,
was received last evening, and the major-general
commanding directs me to say that your dispositions,
as detailed therein, are fully approved.
I am, Captain, very respectfully, your obedient
servant, WM. G. BARTH,
"CAMP MILTON, May II, 1864.
Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding:
CAPTAIN: Another company is ordered to re-
port to you. Major-General Anderson approves your
suggestions, and directs that you strike the enemy
whenever you have an opportunity of doing so to ad-
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. G. BARTH,
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 55
CAMP MILTON, May 17, 1864.
" Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding:
CAPTAIN: Captain J. W. Pearson's company is
ordered to leave Orange Springs. This change will
render it necessary for you to watch the approaches
to Marion and Sumter counties.
I am, Captain, very respectfully, your obedient
servant, WM. G. BARTH;
"* HEADQUARTERS, NEAR PALATKA.
May 19, 1864.
"Captain Dickison having learned that the enemy
was encamped at Welaka, to correctly ascertain their
position and strength made a reconnoiter, accompanied
by two of his men. He took a position in the river
swamp opposite Welaka, remaining there all day
watching the enemy, who did not appear to be very
cautious, having no apprehension of an attack.
The next day, at sundown, the captain made one
of his secret movements, taking with him the gallant
Captain Grey, with about twenty-five-of his men and
a detachment of thirty-five of his own company, under
the brave Lieutenant McEaddy.
They had about nine miles to march before reach-
ing the St. John's river. Under cover of night, they
crossed the river in three small row-boats. Then a
march of seven miles to reach the enemy's encamp-
ment. At daybreak they arrived at Welaka on the
banks of the St. John's.
50 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
"Captain Dickison threw out two detachments on
the flank of the enemy, moved in on the center with
a detachment, capturing the pickets and completely
surprising the enemy. He then sent in a demand to
the officer commanding for an unconditional surrender,
which was complied with. It was then sunrise, and
the enemy had prepared a bountiful breakfast, which,
if not eaten by them with their usual relish, was cer-
tainly very acceptable to us and heartily enjoyed.
"A large mail that had been made up to send off
the next day fell into our hands. Some letters afforded
us much diversion; one in particular, written by their
orderly-sergeant to his friends north, boasting of their
prowess, and of a plan that was all arranged to sur-
prise and capture Captain Dickison the next night,
and of their confident hope of having Dixie' their
Captain Dickison, being advised that a large
cavalry force was not far off, lost no time in making
a return to his boats, and recrossed the river with his
capture of sixty-two men (one captain and one lieu-
tenant) without firing a gun.
"After crossing the river with his prisoners, and
feeling assured that all was safe, he ordered a halt, and we
enjoyed a much needed rest in the land of Dixie, as the
west side of the river was called by the 'boys in blue.'
"A few hours refreshing rest, and Captain Dicki-
son formed his men into line. He addressed them in
a few earnest, stirring words: 'My brave boys, I
want twenty-five of you to step to the front who will
go with me on an expedition about fifteen miles up
the river to Fort Butler.'
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 57
"This intrepid officer had learned that there was
a small command of the enemy at that point.
"The entire command volunteered to go, but hav-
ing transportation for only the number called for, he
could take no more. With this heroic little band,
and his gallant Lieutenant McEaddy, they were soon
on board their little crafts. On they pressed, cross-
ing little Lake George, and landed safely, securing
their boats and leaving a guard of three men.
After marching a short distance, he ordered a halt.
The setting sun admonished him of the rapid flight of
time, and, in anticipation of his capture, he wrote an
order demanding a surrender of the Federal com-
mand. While thus engaged, a Yankee cavalryman
was seen riding from a farm-house near by, and was
within fifty yards of our men before he was seen by
our picket. Every man was ready to fire upon him,
but the captain ordered them not to fire. As he
dashed back, our little command divided; one detach-
ment of twelve men, under the captain's son, Ser-
geant Charlie Dickison, followed in the direction to-
ward the house, while the other detachment, under
Captain Dickison, pursued the horseman down the
road, but he succeeded in making his escape.
The night was very dark, and, as the detach-
ments were separated, Captain Dickison considered
it prudent to advance on the enemy as rapidly as pos-
sible. With one of his men to pilot him, the camp,
two miles distant, was soon in sight, the enemy hav-
ing a bright camp-fire.
"We moved cautiously within two hundred yards.
Captain Dickison ordered a halt, and sent Lieutenant
58 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
McEaddy forward with the order demanding a sur-
"Just before he reached the encampment, six cav-
alrymen rode up, which created some confusion, and
the approach of our lieutenant was not noticed until
he was upon them and called for the officer in com-
mand, to whom he delivered the order.
The captain held parley with him a few minutes
in regard to our forces, receiving in reply, Do you
wish to fight, or will you surrender?' The officer's
response to this defiance was, 'As you have the ad-
vantage, I surrender.' Lieutenant McEaddy then
called to Captain Dickison that all was right, and
he immediately advanced.
His first movement was to take charge of the
arms, etc., safely storing them in a good boat at the
landing, and giving them in charge of two men, with
orders to push off without delay, as the possibility of
a revolt was apprehended when the Federals should
see that they had surrendered a garrison of twenty-
six infantry and six cavalry, in all thirty-two men, to
a detachment of only ten Confederates, without firing
By this capture, we recovered twelve of our slaves
and two small farm-wagons.
"Captain Dickison succeeded in securing boats
for the transportation of his prisoners, etc., and ar-
rived at his headquarters the next morning at ten
The detachment under Sergeant Dickison
marched fifteen miles down the river swamp, to
avoid the Federal cavalry, and reached headquarters
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 59
the next evening, shouts of welcome greeting them on
their safe return from their perilous and tiresome
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT.
LAKE CITY, May 24, 1864.
" Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding:
CAPTAIN : I have the honor to acknowledge the
receipt of your communication of the 2 st instant relat-
ing to the capture of the enemy's detachments at We-
laka and Fort Butler. You will turn over the property
captured to the chiefs of the proper staff departments,
and are authorized to draw from them such of the
property as may be needed for the equipment of your
command. I inclose an 'order,' issued by the major-
general commanding to the troops, announcing the
success of your late expedition.
"WM. G. BARTH,
"HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT.
[General Orders No. 25.]
LAKE CITY, May 24, 1864.
The major-general commanding has great pleas-
ure in announcing to the troops under his command,
the result of a gallant expedition against the ene-
my's detached posts, undertaken on the 19th instant
by Captain J. J. Dickison, Second Florida Cavalry.
60 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
Crossing the St. John's river in small boats, Cap-
tain Dickison surprised and captured the enemy's de-
tachments at Welaka and Fort Butler, taking eighty-
eight infantry and six cavalry prisoners, with the arms
and equipment. Captain Dickison and his brave
men then returned safely to their camp, bringing in the
whole of their capture, after an absence of forty-four
hours, during which time they traveled eighty-five miles,
and effected the results detailed, without the loss of a
"Such an exploit attests more emphatically the sol-
dierly qualities of the gallant men and skillful leader,
who achieved it, than any commendations it would be
possible to give them.
"The major-general commanding feels, however,
that his thanks are due to them, and, while thus pub-
licly rendering the tribute so justly due, indulges the
confident hope that every officer and soldier in his
district will emulate the patriotic endurance and dar-
ing displayed by Captain Dickison and his command.
By order Major-General Anderson.
"WM. G. BARTH,
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT, FLORIDA.
LAKE CITY, May 24, 1864.
Captain j. J. Dickison, Commanding :
CAPTAIN: Your dispatches of the 21st instant were
received this morning. The major-general command-
ing, while appreciating the difficulties you mention, re-
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 6r
grets his inability to picket Green Cove Spring and
Bayard, with any other forces than those of your
command. He, therefore, directs that you picket
Major Hamilton, quartermaster of Gainesville,
has been instructed to send forage for the above post
to Bayard. You will inform him for what number of
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"WM. G. BARTH,
"He fought, but not for love of strife; he struck but to defend;
He stood for liberty and truth, and dauntlessly led on."
On the 21is of May, 1864, Lieutenant Mortimer
Bates, with one section of artillery, one twelve-pound
howitzer and one Napoleon gun, with twenty-five men
from Captain Dunham's battery, reported to Captain
Dickison at his headquarters near Palatka.
On the following day, while Captain Dickison and
Lieutenant Bates were riding out, inspecting and look-
ing for the most favorable point on the river to en-
gage the enemy's gunboats, should they make theii ap-
pearance, a courier was seen coming in great haste from
our pickets on the river below Palatka. As he dashed
up, under great excitement, he said: "Captain, the river
is full of gunboats coming up."
Our headquarters being some three miles from the
river, Captain Dickison ordered Lieutenant Bates to
proceed with all possible speed to the camp, bring up
his battery, and report to him on the hill overlooking
Palatka and the river, also sending orders to Captain
Grey, who was second in command, to report with all
the cavalry at the same place.
In a very short time, the full command reported.
By this time the two gunboats and four transports
were seen coming up near Palatka. Captain Dickison
dismounted his cavalry, marched into Palatka, taking
advantage of the well-arranged entrenchments made
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 63
by the enemy a short time previous, during their oc-
cupation of the town. They were scarcely concealed
in the breastworks, when the transports moved to the
east side of the river and commenced landing troops.
Two regiments landed, moved out in the field and
formed their regiments, then marched off in full view
of our brave boys. Very soon one of the gunboats,
loaded with troops, passed by, going up the river.
Not being near enough to engage her with small
arms, every man was ordered to lie quiet until she
passed. This boat proved to be the Columbine.
Captain Dickison ordered fifty men to follow him
up the hill, where they had left their horses, leaving
Captain Grey in command within the breastworks
with orders to report any movement of the enemy,
while he would try and intercept the gunboat at
Brown's Landing, about three miles distant.
He pressed on with fifty cavalry, and the artillery,
with all possible haste, was too late by five minutes
to engage the boat. Captain Dickison dashed ahead
and reached the landing just as the boat passed. He
concealed himself behind a large cypress tree, the
boat passing within fifty feet of him, thus giving a
full view of her and the command on board as she
continued on her way up the river.
The captain, returning to Palatka, met a courier,
sent by Captain Grey, with information that the gun-
boat Ottawa, the largest boat on the river during the
war carrying twelve guns, two of them 2oo-pound
rifle guns, and one of the transports, that had landed
troops on the east side of the river, were then on
their way up the river. Captain Dickison at once
64 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
ordered his command to follow, and pressed on with
haste to meet the boats at Brown's Landing.
It was now sundown, and he ordered a halt about
three hundred yards from the landing. Addressing
Lieutenant Bates, he said: Lieutenant Bates, can you
unlimber your guns and with your men take them to
the landing?" who replied: "We can." "Then move
with all caution, that you may not be discovered by
the enemy." The captain dismounted his men and
ordered them in the swamp to protect the artillery.
At dusk they reached the wharf at the landing, Cap-
tain Dickison and the gallant young Lieutenant Bates
arranged and put in position the two guns. The boats
were anchored not more than two hundred yards from
the landing. Just as we were ready to fire, the ene-
my lighted up their boats, making them a fine target
for our little battery. Our guns being well arranged,
one for the gunboat, the other for the transport, the
order was given to fire.
This most untimely and unwelcome surprise created
great confusion on board. The admirable manage-
ment of our guns gave us the advantage of twenty-
eight rounds before the enemy opened fire.
The transport, as soon as she hoisted anchor, be-
ing badly crippled, left without firing a gun.
By this time the Ottawa was ready for action, and
at each round poured into us a heavy broadside.
The night was very dark, and the enemy could
only see us by the flash of our guns.
Appreciating the great danger to our command,
Captain Dickison ordered Lieutenant Bates to move
his guns and carry them off, which was done, in the
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 65
best order and with admirable coolness, by this brave
and determined little band, who were justly proud, of
their brilliant achievement, and who certainly displayed
a heroism that would have done honor to a veteran corps.
Such deeds are wreathed around with glory,
And will live in song and story."
The injury to the Ottawa was such, she did not
move off for thirty hours. The report of her loss
was several killed and wounded. Not a man was hurt
on our side.
The following day, May 23d, Captain Dickison
ordered Lieutenant Bates to be in readiness to move
with his battery at the shortest notice; also made up
a detachment .of sixteen sharpshooters from his cav-
alry force, four men from each of the four companies,
with one non-commissioned officer.
Leaving the gallant Captain Grey in command of
the forces at headquarters, with instructions to report
to him any movement of the enemy during his ab-
sence up the river, Captain Dickison proceeded on
his march and halted at the landing known as "Horse
Landing," six miles distant from the place of his en-
gagement the night previous, with the Ottawa and
Our guns were put in position on the wharf at
this landing, the limbers and horses sent to the rear
for safety, and our sharpshooters placed each man
behind a cypress tree a short distance below Captain
Dickison, on his left.
The gunboat, Columbine, having passed up the
river the night before, Captain Dickison determined to
66 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
await her return. Taking his position by the side of
the wharf, in cheering words he encouraged his men
with inspiring hope of a victory that would soon be
realized. From his point of observation, the approach
of the boat could be seen a half mile off. At three
o'clock in the evening he reported her in sight, bid-
ding his men be cool and not fire without orders.
The boat moved slowly on, and, though bearing
dread missiles of destruction, was truly "a thing of
beauty." It was soon seen that she would pass near
the landing; and, as a caution that no mistake should
be made in the engagement, she was allowed to come
within sixty yards before a gun was fired. The order
was then given to fire.
This most unwelcome surprise created the wildest
confusion. By the time she was opposite our guns,
we were ready to fire again. In this round the boat
-was disabled and floated down the river, about two
hundred yards from our battery and one hundred
yards from our sharpshooters.
She struck a sand bar; then a hot fight ensued.
She carried two fine 32-rifle guns' and one hundred
and forty-eight men, with small arms. The fight lasted
forty-five minutes, when she hoisted her flag of surrender.
Only sixty-six of the one hundred and forty-eight
men were found alive when Lieutenant Bates went
aboard to receive the surrender, and one-third of these
were badly wounded. Several of them died that night.
The officers were all killed or wounded, excepting
their commanding officer. We were informed by this
officer that his first lieutenant, who was killed, was
one of the best officers in their navy.
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 67
He requested Captain Dickison to permit the re-
mains of this officer to be brought to his headquar-
ters for interment, and that his winding sheet should
be one of the captured U. S. flags, which request was
Captain Dickison reports: "Never did a com-
mand fight with more gallantry than the artillery and
sharpshooters, every man displaying remarkable cool-
ness and bravery."
In this daring affair we did not lose a man. One
was slightly stunned by the explosion of a shell from
After removing the prisoners and the dead, the
arms, etc., at sundown, Captain Dickison ordered the
boat burned, as it was impossible to save her from
the enemy, several gunboats being in the river below.
The Columbine was almost entirely new and consid-
ered a very fast and superior boat.
In consideration of his valuable services, Captain
Dickison presented one of the captured swords to the
gallant Lieutenant Bates.
We record, for the gratification of all interested,
what disposition was made of the two regiments of
Federal troops that had landed on the east side of
the St. John's river. The orders from Major-General
Foster, captured on the Columbine, explained what
they were directed to do. The gunboats were ordered
to guard well each landing, to keep a lookout for
our sharpshooters, and use all means to prevent
Dickison from recrossing the river. The two regi-
ments were to scour the country on the east side of
the river for Dickison's command as Dickison had,
68 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
only a few days previous, crossed to the east side of
the St. John's and captured two posts, returning all
It would seem, from this plan, that the great trouble
to the enemy was to locate Dickison, at any time, only
when engaged in fighting.
HEADQUARTERS CAMP CALL.
"May 23, 1864.
Captain W. G. Barth, Assistant Adjutant-General,
Camp Milton :
"CAPTAIN: After a hot engagement of about forty-
five minutes, I have succeeded in capturing the gun-
boat Columbine, carrying two fine 32-pound rifle guns
and one hundred and forty-eight men. We have sixty-
six prisoners, the rest killed and drowned. Among the
prisoners are eight commissioned officers. We have
sixt -five stand of arms and three stand of colors. No
loss on our side. I was compelled to burn the boat to
prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy, as the
gunboat Ottawa was anchored only a few miles below.
I am, Captain, yours respectfully,
"J. J. DICKISON,
"* HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT, FLORIDA.
"LAKE CITY, May 24, 1864.
Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding:
CAPTAIN: Your dispatches of the 23d instant
received, and the major-general commanding tenders
DICKISON AND HIS MEN. 69
you his sincere thanks for the handsome captures you
have made. Continue in your good work, and the
navigation of the St. John's river, by the enemy, must
soon be abandoned.
You must use every effort to secure the two guns
mentioned in your last dispatch. The major-general
directs that all captured property be turned in to the
proper staff officers, the horses to the chief quar-
termaster, the arms and ammunition to the chief of
ordinance. If there are any soldiers in your com-
mand dismounted, special application must be made
to these headquarters, when the major-general com-
manding will furnish them horses, until they can re-
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General."
The following order, captured with the Columbine,
will be read with interest by all who participated in
U. S. STEAMSHIP PAWNEE, OFF JACKSONVILLE, FLA.
"May 22, 1864.
To Acting Ensign F. W. Sanborn, U. S. Steamer
Columbine, off McGirth's creek:
SIR: Information has been received that four hun-
dred rebels have crossed the river and have captured the
posts at Welaka and Fort Butler. General Gordon
is going up the river with troops, and has asked for
assistance. You will proceed at once to the Ottawa
70 DICKISON AND HIS MEN.
and report to Lieutenant Bruce, commanding, who
will also proceed up the river, for the purpose of co-
operating with General Gordon in recapturing our
men and capturing the enemy. As you will proba-
bly be fired into from the banks of the river, you will
take every precaution possible, that your men are not
picked off by the rebel riflemen. Protect your pilot-
house, by all means, and also your men in every way
possible. Should you go above the point where the
Ottawa anchored, I have to request that extreme care
be exercised that your vessel does not get aground,
as it would be difficult to render you any assistance.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"*GEO. B. BALCH."
On the 23d of May, 1864, Acting Ensign F. W.
Sanborn surrendered the Columbine to Captain J. J.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT, FLORIDA.
LAKE CITY, May 26, 1864.
Captain J. J. Dickison, Commanding:
CAPTAIN: Your official report of the capture of the
Columbine, on the St. John's river, on the evening of
the 23d instant, is held in high esteem. The major-
general commanding, in appreciation of your gallant
conduct, directs that you will retain, for yourself, the
best one of the captured swords, reserving the next
best for Lieutenant Bates, of the artillery.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General."