Florida Battles: Battle of Olustee :: Battle of Gainesville

The Battle at Olustee
The Battle at Olustee
Duren, Charles M. to His Father.  Jacksonville, Florida, March 7, 1864
Duren, Charles M. to His Father. Jacksonville, Florida, March 7, 1864

This romanticized depiction of the February 20, 1864 Battle of Olustee near Lake City, Florida, was printed by Kurz and Allison of Chicago in 1894.  The battle was actually fought in the pine woods and not out in the open, as pictured here.

The 1894 lithograph also shows the 8th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment under fire during the battle.  This  regiment was one of several formed in 1863 at Camp William Penn near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the United States Bureau of Colored Troops that fought in the Civil War.

United States Army Lieutenant Charles M. Duren was a white officer in charge of Company D of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry.  Written from Jacksonville, Florida, this letter to his father in Massachusetts describes events from the Battle of Olustee that occured a few weeks before.  Although the battle constituted a Confederate victory, Union soldiers remained in stationed in Jacksonville until the end of the war.

Although one of several battles fought on Florida soil during the war, the Battle of Olustee was the largest.  Each year it is remembered through an annual reenactment at the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park in the Osceola National Forest, near the town of Olustee.