Posted by bakercounty
The Halloween season is here and, right on cue, there's a slew of media stories listing purportedly haunted places and spaces. Among them is Baker County's Olustee Civil War battlefield.
Back in 1984, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore, commander of the Union's Department of the South at Hilton Head, SC, ordered troops led by Brigadier General Truman Seymour to North Florida to secure Union enclaves, sever Confederate supply routes for been and salt, and recruit black soldiers. But while preparing for the mission, Seymour's moves had caught the eye of the Confederate command in the key port city of Charleston. General P.G.T. Beauregard acted on a hunch that Seymour was headed for Florida and dispatched reinforcements from Georgia brigades to serve under the command of Brigadier General Joseph Finnegan at Ocean Pond.
Sure enough, Seymour had his eye on not just Florida's northern region but the entire state. Without the knowledge or blessing of Gillmore, Seymour and his 5,500 troops set out westward along the Florida, Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad, likely planning to seize Tallahassee, the state's capital and the center of the Cotton Belt's slave trade. He didn't get far.
On February 20 nearly 150 years ago, Seymour, Finnegan and their Union and Confederate troops emerged from the Olustee pine trees and battled it out on the open field. The battle lasted four hours and killed 1,861 Union troops and 946 Confederates. A beaten Seymour then ordered his troops to retreat to Union-secured Jacksonville where they remained throughout the rest of the war.
Today, visitors regularly report hearing the sounds of gunfire, shouting men and galloping horses coming from the empty field, particularly while camping nearby during the annual reenactment of the historic battle each February. Some claim to have captured strange orbs in photographs and attribute them to the spirits of soldiers who lost their lives on what is now the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park.
Whether you're a whole-hearted believer or a stone-cold skeptic, there's no arguing that a purported haunting is great for business, driving tourism and selling merchandise. This is especially true during the Halloween season. Are you a Baker County business owner cashing in on the stories of local frights and sights? Tell us about your spooky specials and promotions. And while you're at it, check out this episode of TV's Local Haunts featuring our Olustee battlefield.
Posted by appsoftdev
The 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Olustee went off with a bang this weekend as over 25,000 visitors from across the country filled the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park in Baker County. For those not familiar with this historic battle, it was the largest one fought in Florida during the American Civil War.
Attendees stepped back in time as they crossed the railroad tracks at the park’s entrance and entered a fully operational Civil War camp. The armies of both the Confederate States and the United States were represented in classic grey and blue uniforms as over 2,500 re-enactors took to the field. Festivities took place throughout the day including a medical demonstration, the reenactment itself and the grand ball which is often the highlight of the event.
This year hosted even larger numbers of tourists as the 150th Anniversary was celebrated. Re-enactors from Ohio, Chicago, New York and other Northern states made the trip to Florida to participate. Patriots on both sides of the confrontation were represented as local Floridians, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans participated on behalf of the Confederacy.
Vendors were also on hand selling Civil War era clothing, pipes, food and other gifts. Throughout the camps people enjoyed classic camping with campfire cooking, rustic tents and live music filling the air.
The battle this year was especially spectacular as palm trees and dirt took to the skies in epic explosions. During the original skirmish, 1,861 Union soldiers died in battle as did 946 Confederates. Teams of eight-man crews manned the cannons in the field, creating a true spectacle for the visitors of Olustee.
All in all it was a fun, safe and historical event, commemorating the memories of those who died and the respective causes they fought for. Next year should be just as great and we expect to see even more of you out there with us.
Posted by bakercounty
THE BATTLE OF OLUSTEE-SOUTHERN HERITAGE AT 150 YEARS
It was a rear-guard battle in the last years of the Civil War, a strategic maneuver to control the lines of supply from Florida to the Confederate armies fighting to the north. The battle of Olustee was the bloodiest battle fought in Florida, and the Confederate Army was the clear winner. Today, the ground is part of the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, which is a Florida State Park in the Osceola National Forest, near the town of Olustee, the site of Florida’s largest Civil War battle, the park is located 50 miles west of Jacksonville and 15 miles east of Lake City and has the distinction of being the first park in the Florida State Park system, and the scene of a re-enactment that draws visitors each February to Baker County.
On President’s Day weekend each February, thousands of re-enactors from across the U.S. and even overseas come to the park to re-enact the Battle of Olustee. Re-enactors begin arriving as early as Thursday to set up. Friday is designated “School Day” as thousands of students arrive to spend the day watching demonstrations and listening to living historians discuss various aspects of the war as well as life in the United States during the 1860’s. The public is invited to attend on Friday (no battle re-enactment), and on Saturday and Sunday. On all three days visitors can tour the camps, view demonstrations, interact with living historians, shop at numerous tents for authentic Civil War merchandise, and attend the battles reenacted on Saturday and Sunday only.
This year, on February 14and 15, 2014, the Olustee Festival and Craft Show will be in Historic Downtown Lake City. The Olustee Battle Reenactment at Olustee Battlefield State Park in Baker County will be on February 15 and 16, 2014 and this year is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Olustee and it is expected to be the largest in the history of the event. The re-enactment, and accompanying festival in nearby Lake City, is a partnership between the Florida Park Service, its volunteer groups and other community groups, such as the Blue-Grey Army.
For someone who has never seen a Civil War (or Revolutionary War) re-enactment, it is a theatrical event like no other, with the single goal of bringing history to life, as accurately as possible, for as many people as possible. Achieving that is a massive job for all the organizations involved and is a must see if you have not had the opportunity to see this event.
For more information: The 150th anniversary re-enactment will take place February 14-16, 2014. The Festival runs concurrently. Admission to the re-enactment (Sunday, February 16, 2014): Adults $10; seniors (62+) $5; active duty military, reservists and National Guard with ID admitted free; school age children $5 and pre-school age children free.
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park: 5890 Battlefield Trail Road
Olustee, FL 32087
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park: Citizens Support Organization
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