On This date in USACE and Wilmington District History
February 20, 1864: Battle of Olustee
On this day in 1864, at the Battle of Olustee,the largest conflict fought in Florida during the Civil War, a Confederate force under General Joseph Finegan decisively defeats an army commanded by General Truman Seymour. The victory kept the Confederates in control of Florida’s interior for the rest of the war. Olustee was the climax to a Union invasion of Florida a few weeks before. General Quincy Gilmore, commander of the Union’s Department of the South, dispatched Seymour to Jacksonville on February 7. Seymour’s troops secured the town and began to send cavalry raiders inland to Lake City and Gainesville. Just behind the troops came John Hay, private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln. On February 21st, wounded Union soldiersn were sent toward Jacksonville in horse-drawn wagons and on rail cars. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment that include Army engineers was temporarily attached to Col Hawley’s Brigade and moved out about 9 .M. Companies A and E were attached to the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. These units formed a line of battle and covered the retreat from Barbers. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment arrived at Baldwin about 1600 hours where Companies A and E rejoined it. The regiment then continued on to McGirt’s Creek where it halted for the night. They had marched 22 miles that day.