At Olustee Battlefield, more than 10,000 Confederate and Union soldiers met and fought amid the longleaf pines in the largest battle on Florida soil. Like Gettysburg, Olustee has its own ghosts. Visit the museum and follow the interpretive trail through the pines, where no matter the time of day, there’s always a haunting feel.
Fees: Free, with fees charged during reenactment weekends
Open: 8 AM to sunset daily
In the dim light of morning, a fine fog rolls through the pines at Florida’s largest battlefield, 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. 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.
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 1,000, their victory on the battlefield rallied the Confederates to continue the fight.
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.
Explore the park
- Olustee Battlefield Trail- The hike through Olustee Battlefield is short, but its historical significance is great. More than 2,000 men died in this forest on February 20, 1864, when Confederate and Union forces met and fought the bloodiest battle on Florida soil.