Florida’s largest Civil War battle happened in this dense forest of longleaf pine on February 20, 1864.
It is a patch of hallowed ground preserved as a memorial by the 1899 Florida legislature and opened as Florida’s first state historic site in 1912.
Walk these woods when the park opens, and you’ll feel the fog and a chill. Like Gettysburg, Olustee has its own ghosts.
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Address: 5815 Battlefield Trail Rd, Sanderson FL 32087
Fees: Free except during reenactment weekends
Restroom: at the visitor center
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset daily. Museum and restrooms open 9 AM to 5 PM.
Leashed dogs welcome, but not in buildings or during reenactments.
From Jacksonville, follow Interstate 10 west to Sanderson exit 324, then US 90 east for 5.5 miles to the Battlefield. From Interstate 75 in Lake City, drive 18.6 miles east on US 90 to the park.
About the Park
Surrounded by the Osceola National Forest, which was established many decades after this park was founded, Olustee Battlefield is a place for reflection.
Similar in nature to the memorials found at Gettysburg, a stone tower erected in 1936 is accompanied by memorial stones for Confederate leaders of the battle.
The small museum contains an array of artifacts found by archaeologists on the site, and shows a movie about the battle.
Picnic grounds sit near the fire tower, which is part of Osceola National Forest. A historic cemetery is along the rail line.
During the annual encampment, tents swarm through the forest beneath the tower and near the museum.
On February 20, 1864, more than 10,000 met in combat in these pine woods in what would be Florida’s longest and bloodiest battle of the Civil War.
It was sparked by Union general Truman A. Seymour, whose success at capturing Baldwin tempted him to send his troops west without orders from his superiors.
His Union forces were met here by the largest Confederate buildup ever to defend Florida. Four hours later, more than 3,000 lie dead and dying in these pine woods.
Despite injuries and losses of nearly a thousand men, their victory on the battlefield rallied the Confederates to continue the fight.
Walking you between interpretive stops within the pine forest where the battle took place, the Olustee Battlefield Trail unfolds the drama of what occurred.
Juxtaposed with the beauty of a longleaf pine forest untouched since the Civil War – a counterpoint to the surrounding pine plantations – it’s a gentle 1.1-mile walk.
The Olustee trailhead adjoining the front gate provides access to a portion of the statewide Florida Trail.
It includes a short loop through the longleaf pines known as the Nice Wander Trail.
Battle of Olustee
An annual reenactment held in February re-creates the battle and encampments. With nearly 10,000 participants, it’s one of the South’s largest reenactments.
It’s an excellent educational experience, especially for those unschooled in Florida’s Civil War history.
See our photos of Olustee Battlefield during the re-enactment
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
An interpretive walk with extensive details on timbering history, the Trampled Track Trail leads to a waterfront view on Ocean Pond.
The short, easily accessed Mount Carrie Wayside in Osceola National Forest showcases an old growth longleaf pine forest with a population of red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Starting at the westbound Sanderson rest area along I-10, the Fanny Bay Trail leads you through pine flatwoods into a cypress swamp with ancient cypresses