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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

February 20, 1864

Battle of Olustee

The Battle of Olustee, FL took place; it included many Georgia soldiers. A Union force had been operating in Florida, trying to cut Confederate supply lines and recruit black soldiers. On this day they encountered some five thousand Confederates, who launched an attack that broke the Union lines, forcing them to retreat to Jacksonville.

A Georgia soldier involved in the Battle of Olustee wrote to his mother about it.

“… They [members of the 19th Georgia] were not out long before the enemy made their appearance, advancing slowly. We could see them a half mile, as the country is quite level, and no undergrowth. They soon drove in our skirmishers and firing commenced. One could plainly see the blue coats army in fine order. The order was given to up and at them, which was no quicker said than done, and then what an awful roar of cannon and musketry, men falling and groaning, officers giving commands, the balls flying as thick as sleet. Cheer after cheer went up, onward pushed the rebels firing and yelling. “The Yankees were giving back and on our pushing forward, pitched three negro regiments against us, and all acknowledged that they fought well. We walked over many a wooly head as we drove them back. The Yanks couldn’t stand before “Georgia Boys” and finally gave way and ran, our boys pursuing. We got all their artillery, 8 pieces, took about 400 prisoners and killed about the same number. How our boys did walk into the niggers, they would beg and pray but it did no good. We drove them about five miles when a halt was ordered, we built big fires and then how we did enjoy captured coffee, sugar, hams, bread and everything else. We remained about three hours in this position, and then returned to our old camps “kivered” with honor and glory. “Our regiment lost 97 killed and wounded. Co. A lost one man killed Sergt Guinn - and 8 or 10 wounded. Capt. Morrison is badly wounded in the thigh. To sum the whole thing up, we whipped the Yankees badly and they acknowledge it themselves. Our brigade did honor to themselves and their country. Proud old Georgia will never have cause to be ashamed of Colquit’s brigade… .” Source: Letter from Cpl. Henry Shackelford on Battle of Olustee Site