5815 Battlefield Trail Road
Olustee, FL 32087
At the Battle of Olustee on February 20, 1864, Confederate soldiers turned back a Union thrust through Florida in the state’s largest Civil War battle. Union Brigadier General Truman Seymour, with a force of approximately 5,000 soldiers, including a large number of U.S. Colored Troops, moved west from Jacksonville in mid-February with the aim of disrupting supplies from Florida to the Confederate armies and returning Florida to the Union in time for the 1864 Presidential election. Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Finegan, with reinforcements sent from Georgia by General Pierre G. T. Beauregard, met the invading force with an approximately equal number of troops east of Olustee. The ensuing bloody engagement was a clear Confederate victory, with Union soldiers retreating back to Jacksonville. (See the “Battle of Olustee” sidebar for more information.)
In 1899, the Florida Legislature authorized the erection of a monument at Olustee in recognition of the 1864 Confederate victory. In 1909, three acres of the battlefield were donated to the State of Florida, making it the oldest unit in the current Florida State Parks system. In 1912, with state funding assistance, a large monument was constructed at the site. The dedication ceremony drew over 4,000 participants, including many Civil War veterans. Smaller monuments were later erected near the main monument by the United Daughters of the Confederacy for Confederate Brigadier Generals Joseph Finegan, probably in the 1930s, and Alfred H. Colquitt in 1936. In 1991, a large granite cross monument was erected at the battlefield cemetery in honor of the Union dead of Olustee. The Olustee Battlefield Memorial was administered by the United Daughters of the Confederacy until 1949 when the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials, the forerunner of today’s Florida Park Service, assumed responsibility for it. The Florida Park Service manages an additional 688 adjacent acres of the battlefield owned by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park.
The park’s visitor center contains exhibits with Civil War artifacts and interpretive panels that tell the story of the Battle of Olustee. A mile-long hiking trail through the battlefield contains interpretive signs that describe the events of the battle. The annual Battle of Olustee Reenactment, the largest Civil War reenactment in the state, is held during the second weekend in February at the park. A Civil War Expo also takes place here annually in September.