The Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park commemorates the site of Florida’s largest Civil War battle, which took place February 20, 1864. More than 10,000 cavalry, infantry and artillery troops fought a five-hour battle in a pine forest near Olustee. Three U.S. Colored Troops took part in the battle, including the now famous 54th Massachusetts. The battle ended with 2,807 casualties and the retreat of Union troops to Jacksonville until the war’s end just 14 months later. In 1912, when many living Civil War veterans still attended reunions, the battlefield became the state’s first historic site. Olustee Battlefield has a visitor center with historical information and artifacts. A reenactment is held every February and a Civil War Expo takes place in late summer. Scenes for Civil War movies, including the 1989 movie Glory, have been filmed during the reenactments. Visitors can enjoy a meal at the picnic area or take a walk along a mile-long trail that has interpretive signs describing the events of the battle.
If you are traveling to the Olustee Battlefield during the reenactment weekend, Lake City traffic will be heavy due to the Olustee Festival. If coming from the south on I-75, it might be faster to go north to I-10 exit, then east to the U.S. 90 exit as stated above. Or if coming from further south on I-75, check road maps so you can swing east or north through Lake Butler. At Lake Butler, then turn west to state route 231, which goes north to the town of Olustee. Then go east on U.S. 90 to the battlefield park.
History Battle of Olustee (Battle of Ocean Pond)
On Saturday Feb. 20, 1864, a Union army of about 5,500 men attacked an entrenched Confederate force of about 5,000 at Olustee, just east of Lake City, and was bloodily repulsed after an afternoon of fierce combat.
The battle, though quite small by the prevailing standards of the Civil War, was the largest to take place in Florida. Casualties were heavy, especially among the Union forces, with 34 percent killed, wounded or missing when the fighting ended with a Union retreat.