Letter from Cpl. Henry Shackelford
February 20, 1864

Henry Shackelford was a member of the Nineteenth Georgia Infantry who served at Olustee. He had originally been a corporal in Company A, but at the time, of the battle he was serving as a musician in the regimental band. After the battle he wrote a letter home to his mother, which was published in the March 2, 1864 edition of the Atlanta Intelligencer. Shackelford survived the war, surrendering in North Carolina in 1865.

My Dear Mother:

We have just been in another big fight. Our brigade is camped on the R.R., about 12 miles from Lake City. Yesterday we received orders to prepare to move at a moments warning and accordingly we obeyed. It was not long before we moved off, but did not go more than a quarter of a mile before we were halted and formed into a line of battle.

We rested there about two hours when a scout came in and reported the enemy advancing and were within four miles, tearing up the railroad track as they came. "Fall in" was the word and we moved on down the railroad, which was as straight as an arrow, though keeping in the edge of the woods until we got within about one mile of the Yankee advance skirmishers. We filed off to the right in the woods and formed a line, shucked off knapsacks and all heavy baggage, and threw out skirmishers about two hundred yards in advance.

They 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. Our adjutant (Lt. Johnston) was killed on the field.

The "Band" was detailed to bear the wounded from the field and we did a good deal of it too. I had the fun of taking several shots at the blue coats. Our regiment supplied themselves with an outfit of oil cloth blankets, knapsacks, haversacks, and a number of gold and silver watches. I have donned a new Yankee suit. I saw John Walton this morning, he went through safe. Well, I have tired your patience and will close. Write soon, direct to Lake City, Fla., care of regiment and brigade. Love to all.

Other Letters from Olustee
Battle of Olustee home page