When Florida seceded from the Union (or really didn't, but said it did - depending on what you prefer to believe), just prior to the beginning of the Civil War, it was still a frontier. The Seminole Indian wars had just ended and transportation was limited. A recently built railroad with only two lines cut thorough the State. One of these lines ran from Jacksonville to Tallahassee.
In 1864, the Union Army seeking to cut off this vital rail line, landed troops at Jacksonville and marched inland. By mid-February, they had advanced as far west as Lake City, then they withdrew to Baldwin. However, another advance was ordered resulting in the battle of Ocean Pond or Olustee on 20 February 1864. The Union troops were soundly defeated by the Confederate soldiers. This was the largest battle fought in Florida during the Civil War.
The Florida Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy originated a movement to mark the battlefield before the turn of the century. Through their efforts, on 23 October 1912 the governor of the State of Florida accepted the deed to the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park. Thus, Olustee became Florida's first state park.
Today the Florida Park Service (FPS) maintains and manages the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park for the State of Florida.
In 1990, a group of interested citizens recognized the need for a support group for the park. The Olustee Battlefield Citizens Support Organization (CSO) was founded to work in cooperation with state officials to enhance the Park.
The Olustee Battlefield continues to need citizen support, and you can help!
The Olustee Battlefield Citizens Support Organization is a non-profit Florida corporation composed of volunteer members. While the CSO works in cooperation with the park officials, it is an independent organization. Membership is open to individuals and organizations. Membership fees and donations are tax deductible. Members receive a quarterly newsletter detailing the activities of the CSO and have full voting rights in the election of the CSO Board of Directors. Interested members are encouraged to stand for election on the Board and/or participate in all activities of the CSO.
In 2000, the Florida State Park system was selected as the Best Park System in the United States.
In early 2001, the Olustee Battlefield CSO was selected as the Best Park CSO in Florida by the Friend of Florida State Parks. Also in 2001, our CSO was selected as the Best Volunteer Group by the Friends of Florida State Parks. And we have won other awards. We must be doing something right!
State funds and personnel are limited. The CSO works with the FPS to provide resources beyond those that are available through the state budget. Resources targeted by the CSO may vary each year but can be summed up in three words: money, time, and commitment. Financially, the CSO may purchase equipment, and fund specific projects. Purchases are the "icing on the cake" that would otherwise never be available for the park.
But the work of the CSO goes beyond donating monies. Volunteers work to secure grants and donations, plan and staff special events and programs, conduct historical research, and keep the public aware of the park and its needs.
Commitment to the park insures that Olustee will be preserved for future generations. The CSO cares deeply about the Park. By serving as a "watch dog" organization, the CSO protects while improving Olustee.
The CSO is a membership organization. When you join the CSO, you are helping to ensure preservation of the site through better facilities and interpretation. Your membership makes you a partner in shaping the future of this historic site.
This is your chance to make a difference. Complete the membership application today to show your support of the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park.
You have just walked into the woods a few miles east of Olustee Station. There is a rustling of leaves and the snapping of twigs. Suddenly in front of you can be seen a large number of Southern troops forming for a charge. From the other end of the field a line of blue stretches to meet the Confederates. The roar of a cannon echoes among the trees. Union troops start to fall as their line waivers. The bloody battle begins in earnest.
Officers shout orders to their men as the chaos of battle unfolds before your eyes. Battle flags advance and retreat like the waves on a beach. In the path of their retreat are hundreds of dead and dying men - and for a few moments you are there on the Olustee Battlefield in 1864.
Each year since 1977, on a weekend in February, the largest annual Civil War reenactment in the southeast brings life to this historic battle. Reenactment units from all over the United States converge on Olustee Battlefield. More than two thousand reenactors with all the weapons of war used over 130 years ago, clash on the original battlefield. They follow the events and movements of the troops, recreating this historic engagement.
We need your help!
Together we can make the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park better!
Please join today.
Battle of Olustee home page