Second Letter from
Captain Winston Stephens
Company B, 2nd Florida Cavalry
27 February 1864
Winston Stephens (1856) in his Seminole War uniform
Photograph courtesy of P.K. Younge Library of Florida History,
Archivist Bruce S. Chappell
On Picket Near camp Finegan
Feb 27th 1864
My darling wife
I know how anxious you are to hear from us and I write every spare time. You will see by this that we are gradually closing upon the Yanks. We moved down from Baldwin yesterday. Our main force rests on the west side of the branch from your Uncle George's old place. I don't know Gen. Finegan's program, but I think if any Yankees sleep on the west side of Cedar Creek, it will be in their last sleep...Oh how I with I could never see such a sight as I witnessed after the battle near Olustee Station, and then to think of the loved ones at home who have been left lonely in this life by the loss of a husband, son or father, or some young lady who love had been centered upon some dear one whose life is so suddenly cut off.
Those reflections are not sweet and I'll not write of them. I think the Gen. intends driving the enemy to their gun boats, and if he gets the force I learn is coming he will be able to do so. The sound drubbing we gave them before will prepare them to expect a second one when we meet. I don't suppose there has been a more decisive battle fought since the war commenced. We had about 4,500 men in the fight and had 183 killed and 729 wounded. Some of our wounded have since died, some 20 I think.
The Yanks had, from the best information, 11,700 men. We have over 600 in our hands, and we buried over 500 of their dead and they carried off nearly or quite 2,000 wounded so their loss was not less than 3,000 men or 1/4 of their command. They did not stop running until they reached Camp Finegan. If we had only pressed them after the fight, we could have captured the whole army. I hear that Gen. Colquitt wanted to follow them, but Gen. Finegan opposed. Col. Hopkins told me that Gen. Finegan ordered Gen. Colquitt to fall back during the fight but Colquitt sent him word it was no time to fall back and told him to send him more men, which he did and we have one of the best victories recorded. I want Gen. Colquitt to have all the credit due him... I am well but as near worn out as any man you ever saw and so black that I am ashamed. I left Camp Cooper on the 6th and had on a dirty shirt and I have changed but once since that time. I have clean clothes in Lake City but they had as well not be for the good they do as I am kept so constantly going I can't get them and we are not still long enough to wash one...
I hope God in his goodness will soon deliver us from this awful condition. Give love to Mother and boys and kind remembrance to all friends ... give a kiss and love to dear Rosa and accept for yourself the love and devotion of a sincere and loving husband. Direct to Camp Finegan care of Col. McCormick.
Journal entry of Octavia Stephens
First letter from Captain Stephens.
Other Letters from Olustee
Battle of Olustee home page