When asked to name a Civil War battle, names like Gettysburg, Antietam and Chancellorsville come readily to mind. There are, of course, many lesser known battle sites but among the least known might be those in Florida. Many people don’t associate the state of Florida with the Civli War at all, but there were a few battles there. Tallahassee has the distinction of being the only Confederate state capital east of the Mississippi not captured by Union troops. The last attempt to capture Tallahassee was the Battle of Natural Bridge in March 1865. This was also the last significant Confederate victory of the war and it stopped the federal push to Tallahassee and into southern Georgia saving towns like Thomasville from destruction.
Another of the battles in Florida was the Battle of Olustee. This took place in February, 1864. The battle was also a Confederate victory, some say an outright route of the union troops. The fighting was fierce with almost 3,000 killed or wounded on both sides out of 10,500 total troops – an almost 30% casualty rate. The Georgia 27th infantry under Colonel Charles T. Zachry had been sent from Charleston, South Carolina to Florida just before Olustee and was held in reserve during the early phase of the battle. Around 4:00 P.M. the 27th was ordered to engage and contributed greatly to the route of the enemy. Seven of the men of the 27th were killed in battle and sixty-seven wounded.
Among the wounded was my third great uncle, Leroy Jeffers Creel. He is listed as “severely wounded” on February 21, 1864. I’m related to the Creels through my great grandfather William Alvan Farlow who married Rosa Ellen Creel, Leroy’s niece.
Leroy died a month later on March 20, 1864 in Tallahassee, Florida. From what I’ve found, the wounded at Olustee, both Union and Confederate, were taken to hospitals and private homes in Tallahassee to be treated. Those who died were buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Lake City, Florida where a monument was set up to 155 unknown Confederate soldiers buried there. Whether my uncle is among their number or in a marked grave, I’ve not been able to determine.
For more information on the Battle of Olustee watch the short video below: