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The Fighting in Florida, March 7, 1864


The Fighting in Florida, March 7, 1864


This is an article from 1864 that appeared in The Charleston Mercury, a southern, pro-secessionist, and Democratic newspaper.It is entitled “The Fighting in Florida” referring to the battles between the Union and Confederacy that took place in Florida during the latter stages of the Civil War.  This article gives details of different battles and skirmishes in Florida, such as the Battle of Olustee.  The only mention of the 35th USCT in this article, though they played an important role in the battle, was when they were referred to as “fugitives from the Carolina.”  The point of this article is to show how overlooked, and when discussed, looked down upon, the African American troops were to Southern newspapers.


The Charleston Mercury


"The Fighting in Florida," The Charleston Mercury, March 7, 1864, accessed November 4, 2014, Accessible Archives.




Danielle Brinton



Original Format



THE FIGHTING IN FLORIDA. The Savannah papers of Saturday furnish us with some additional and very interesting accounts of the progress and details of the fighting in Florida. The Republicanaccount says: THE RECENT SKIRMISH - THE ENEMY DRIVEN BACK. An order was given from our headquarters, about 12 miles east of Baldwin, early Tuesday morning, by Colonel Zachary, in command, to Colonel Robert Anderson to take two regiments of infantry (the 11th S. C. V. and the 27th Georgia), one of cavalry (the 5th Georgia), and the Chatham Artillery, to advance, on reconnoissance, and drive in the enemyline of pickets, which were a mile and a half from ours. The object of the movement was to ascertain the strength and position of the enemy. About 10 oskirmishing began, the enemy falling back. As our cavalry reached Cedar Creek, they were fired upon by an ambushed party of Yankees with two pieces of artillery. The bridge across this creek being broken in, our troops were exposed to their fire while it was being repaired. The Chatham Artillery replied vigorously, driving the enemy from their position. The skirmishing continued until 3 p.m., when the Yankees retired upon Jacksonville. Our pickets are now three miles from that place. During the battle our troops drove the enemy some four miles back. They abandoned their dead and wounded, who fell into the hands of the Confederates. About thirty Federal prisoners arrived at Lake City on Wednesday night last, and have been sent to Tallahassee. We lost seven men killed and twenty-two wounded. The loss of the enemy was not ascertained by our informant, who was wounded at the ambuscade. Among our wounded was Capt. Redmond, of General Talliaferrostaff, who was shot through the bowels. Captain Stevens was shot through the back and killed, while giving orders to his company. The troops on our side engaged were the 5th Georgia Cavalry, as follows: Screven Troops, Lieutenant Sheppard; Effingham Hussars, Captain Strobhar; Georgia Hussars, Captain Wiltberger; Liberty Guards, Captain Hughes; besides two regiments of infantry, Colonels Anderson and Gaunt; and the Chatham Artillery, Captain Wheaton. The Yankees, who were commanded by Colonel Guy Henry, were, one regiment of mounted infantry, one of cavalry, and two pieces of artillery. In their retreat the Yankees left at Camp Finnegan a quantity of clothing, wagons, and provisions. At Barbourthey had built a large stockade work, and around Baldwin they felled trees and twisted telegraph wires about them, to impede the advance of our troops. Yankee stragglers are scattered through East Florida, for a hundred miles from their regiments, and are coming into our camps to give themselves up, all professing to be tired of the war. Persons living on the line of road through which the Yankees passed on their way to Lake City, state that out of two full regiments of blacks who passed up, but about 150 of the number returned on their retreat. But few of our wounded in the battle of Ocean Pond have died. The greater portion of them have been furloughed and sent home. Some of the wounded Yankees, whites and blacks, are still in the hospital at Lake City. The Boston Yankee Major, who was in command of a negro regiment, and was severely wounded, is still in Lake City, and has been placed in the same hospital with his back associates. Generals Beauregard, Gardner, Finnegan, Colquitt and Talliaferro were at Camp Finnegan on Wednesday last. Gen. Patten Anderson was also expected there. FURTHER FROM THE BATTLE OF OCEAN POND - THE ENEMY'S HASTY RETREAT - FLAG OF TRUCE BETWEEN GENERALS FINNEGAN AND SEYMOUR. The battle of Ocean Pond, or Olustee , seems from all accounts to have been one of the hardest fought struggles of the war. The correspondent of the Lake City Columbian gives the following additional particulars of the battle: It has now been ascertained from prisoners and deserters in our possession, that my estimate of the number of the enemy forces in the field was entirely too small. Instead of having seven thousand, as I stated in my last communication, they had in the field under the immediate command of Brigadier General T. Seymour, between ten and eleven thousand men. Their white forces represented the States of New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Connecticut; the negro troops, or at least a large portion of them, are fugitives from the Carolinas and Georgia, whilst a few are free negroes from the Northern cities. We did not have in the field exceeding five thousand men, although they behaved so gallantly, and emptied the contents of their guns into the enemyranks so rapidly, and with such disastrous effect, that some of them felt and believed that General Beauregard, with his entire army, was confronting them. When the enemy encountered our army, his lines were massed, but he attempted to deploy them with the expectation of flanking us. This movement, however, was anticipated by the gallant young Harrison, commanding the Second Brigade, the left wing of our army. In endeavoring to protect himself against this movement, he completely flanked the enemy, so promptly was his order executed, and it was observed that at that point were to be found more of the enemydead and wounded than upon any other portion of the field. The firing of our infantry whether viewed in point of accuracy or rapidity, has, in my opinion, never been excelled anywhere. The number of their killed and wounded, and the signs upon the field, all attest this. As a general thing, our artillery was too much elevated to do much damage to the enemyfront, but it was just high enough to play sad havoc with the cowardly officers and men of their army who are always found some distance in the rear of the main body. The enemyretreat from the field was precipitate and hasty. So demoralized was he by the severe punishment he received, that early the next morning his main body was at Baldwin, a distance of about twenty-six miles from the field of battle. An engine, the 'Governor Broome,'which they captured at Fernandina some time since, with a large train, was taxed to its utmost in conveying off the wounded of the enemy. Nearly all of his cavalry was dismounted, and those slightly wounded were placed upon their horses, whilst their wagons, caissons, and every available means were used for the same purpose. At Baldwin we found, as I have been informed by the able and efficient ordnance officer of the Division, Captain Thomas E. Buckman, upwards of one hundred and thirty thousand rounds of cartridges, whilst a considerable quantity of Commissary and Quartermasterstores were destroyed, and left by them on the line of their retreat. The number of small arms captured up to this time is a fraction over sixteen hundred. Instead of one, we captured two stands of colors. On the 24th inst. a flag of truce was received about one mile below Baldwin, with a communication from Brig. Gen. Seymour to the commanding General of the Confederate forces in East Florida. The communication was sent from Jacksonville, whither the enemyforces are now rendezvousing, and was a proposition that we would parole the large number of their sick and wounded in our possession; and furthermore, that the grave of the Yankee Col. C. W. Frieble, who was killed at the battle of Ocean Pond, if his body could be identified, would be marked in order that his remains could be procured at some future day. General Finnegan promptly transmitted, through flag of truce, the following response: Brig. Gen. T. Seymour, Commanding U. S. Forces, Jacksonville: GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of 23d inst., proposing that the wounded prisoners left by you on the field of battle at Ocean Pond on the 20th inst., be paroled and sent within your lines, and requesting that if the body of Col. C. W. Frieble, left on the ground, can be identified, that his grave may be marked so that at some future day his family may be able to remove his remains. I reply I have to state that the wounded prisoners have been sent forward, and properly taken care of, and will be kept to await the future action of my Government with reference to a general exchange of prisoners; I regret to say the body of Colonel Frieble has not been identified. Very respectfully, Your obedient servant, JOSEPH FINNEGAN, Brigadier General Commanding. In addition to the killing of the officer mentioned above, intelligence, deemed altogether reliable, has been received at headquarters, to the effect that Colonel J. W. Barton, of the 48th New York, commanding a brigade, was severely wounded in the recent battle, and died in Jacksonville yesterday. The enemy is now fortifying himself at Cedar Creek, six miles this side of Jacksonville. I neglected in the proper place to speak of the damage done by the enemy in their retreat. At St. Marys they destroyed the plantation of Moses R. Barber. There also they constructed a stockade and abbatis for their defence; but their retreat was so very hasty, they had no time to fight behind them. At Sanderson they tore up about six hundred yards of the Central Railroad, which was, however, repaired in a very short time. I think they destroyed two or three small houses only at that point. At Baldwin the two Depots, the Baldwin Hotel, and two or three other buildings were set fire to and destroyed. At this place they constructed stockades and breastworks, behind which, however, as at St. Marys, they did not have time to stop and fight.


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The Charleston Mercury, The Fighting in Florida, March 7, 1864, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 17, 2024,