Report of Lieutenant Federick E. Grossman
Seventh United States Infantry,
on the reburial of Union troops at Olustee, Florida
In May of 1866, Lieutenant Federick E. Grossman of the 7th U.S. Infantry was ordered to the Olustee battle ground site to determine the condition and whereabouts of the. Union graves. He reported the following to his superiors on May 25th, 1866:
The bodies of the Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Olustee, February 20, 1864, were buried by the Confederates in such a careless manner that the remains were disinterred by the hogs within a few weeks after the battle, in consequence of which the bones and skulls were scattered broadcast over the battlefield.
Under instructions from Col. J.T. Sprague; 7th Infantry, I proceeded to collect those remains, to accomplish which I deployed a detachment of Company B. 7th Infantry, on the battlefield. The men carried an empty bag each, into which they gathered all the. human bones found over the ground as they advanced.
In many instances where portions of bones protruded, we removed the earth and disinterred all the bones that had not been disturbed by the hogs. In this manner and by carefully searching over an area of about two square miles,. I collected two wagon loads and a half of bones. I then had a large grave dug eighteen feet by twelve feet, in which all the bones collected were deposited. I counted one hundred and twenty-five human skulls among the remains. Considering that the Confederate dead were principally buried on the south side of the railway, and that they were more carefully interred (their graves are now even in perfect condition), it is fair to presume that all the remains collected are those of Union soldiers.
Around the above ground I erected a fence twenty-seven feet long and eighteen feet wide, around which a ditch has been dug. I caused to be erected, by direction of Col. J.T. Sprague, a wooden monument twelve feet high with the following inscription:
South side - "To the memory of the officers and soldiers of the United
States army who fell in the Battle of Olustee, eb. 20, 1864."
The monument is painted white, the letters, one inch long, have been cut a fourth of an inch deep into the wood and then painted black. The fence has been whitewashed. Of course, it is impossible to identify any of the remains, as they consist only of bones bleached by the sun of two summers. This grave is shaded by eight large pine trees which were the only ones in the immediate vicinity of the inclosure.
West side - "Our Country."
North side - "May the living profit by the example of the dead."
East side - "Unity and peace."
One visitor to this site, Richard White (firstname.lastname@example.org), was interested enough in this report (i.e., wondering if it were factual) to do some investigating. He discovered that Lt. Frederick E. Grossman was wounded at Gettysburg where the 7th U.S. Infantry took 50% casualties. Later, he was commander of Co. B, 7th US Infantry at Fort Richmond in mid-1865. However, companies A, E and F of the 7th US Infantry are known to have been in the Tallahassee and Quincy Florida areas from 1866 to 1868 - based on grave markers of identified personnel. Such personal investigation was necessary as the Official Records end in 1865 and do not cover the Reconstruction era.
Richard is particularly interested in hearing from someone with any knowledge of Confederate burials at the Olustee battle site. You can reach him at his e-mail address listed above.
[Editor's Note: I've had to modify more than one item on this site thanks to dedicated individuals (like Richard White) who like to get down and dirty to determine the truthfulness of material. I extend my thanks to all of them.]
Other Reports from Olustee
Battle of Olustee home page