Olustee February 20, 1864
Description: In February 1864, the commander of the Department of
the South, Maj. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore, launched an expedition into
Florida to secure Union enclaves, sever Rebel supply routes, and
recruit black soldiers. Brig. Gen. Truman Seymour moved deep into
the state, occupying, destroying, and  liberating,  meeting little
resistance on February 20, he approached Brig. Gen. Joseph
Finegan’s 5,000 Confederates entrenched near Olustee.  One
infantry brigade pushed out to meet Seymour’s advance units.  The
Union forces attacked but were repulsed. The battle raged, and as
Finegan committed the last of his reserves, the Union line broke and
began to retreat. Finegan did not exploit the retreat, allowing most of
the fleeing Union forces to reach Jacksonville.
Initial Report of Brig. General Joseph Finegan,
commanding Confederate Forces, Lake City, Florida
Forwarded to Confederate President Jefferson Davis
by Florida Governor John Milton
________________________________________
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., February 21, 1864.
(Received 22d.)
To the PRESIDENT:
Have just received the following dispatch from General Finegan,
dated yesterday:
I met the enemy in full force to-day, under General Seymour, and
defeated him with great loss. I captured 5 pieces of artillery; hold
possession of the battlefield and the killed and wounded of the
enemy. My cavalry are in pursuit. I don't know precisely the number
of prisoners, as they are being brought in constantly. My whole loss
will not, I think, exceed 250 killed and wounded. Among them I
mourn the loss of many brave officers and men.
I understand General Finegan also captured many small-arms.
JNO. MILTON,
Initial Report of Brig. General Joseph Finegan,
commanding Confederate Forces,
on the engagement at Olustee
________________________________________
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EAST FLORIDA,
Sanderson, February 23, 1864.
GENERAL: I had the honor to report by telegraph that the enemy
had abandoned his position at Barber's place, on the Little Saint
Mary's River. I pressed forward my cavalry force last night in the
direction of Baldwin. I have received no report from them yet, but
think that the enemy has abandoned Baldwin and retired to
Jacksonville. The enemy destroyed the railroad at this place for
about three-quarters of a mile, burning a portion of the iron. This
delays my movements one day. I occupy Barber's place this
morning with my infantry, and my cavalry are in the vicinity of
Baldwin. From all that I can learn the enemy suffered severely in
the late engagement and are greatly demoralized. The reports of
brigade and regimental commanders are not yet in. I will forward
my report as soon as those are received. I have several hundred of
the enemy's wounded, white and black. I am unable to state the
exact number at present, as the ambulances were still engaged in
removing them from the field when I left Ocean Pond yesterday
morning.
Great credit is due Brigadier-General Colquitt, Colonel Harrison,
and the officers and men of their several commands for their
distinguished bravery in the late engagement against superior
numbers. I will take pleasure in bringing the names of the officers
more particularly to the notice of the commanding general in my
detailed report.
Colonel Anderson, with the Fifth Georgia Cavalry, has not yet
arrived. If I had had a sufficient cavalry force I could have captured
a very large number of the enemy, as their rout was complete. I
respectfully request that a full supply of ammunition for this
command be forwarded as soon as possible. The ordnance office
has urged it forward for several days, but it has not yet arrived. Not
a single man of my command was captured by the enemy, so far
as I can learn.
I have forwarded 150 prisoners (not wounded) to Major-General
Gilmer, with a request that he would dispose of them as the
commanding general may direct. Among them are 3 negroes. What
shall I do with the large number of the enemy's wounded in my
hands? Many of these are negroes. I have one major, of the First
North Carolina (negro) Regiment, and some other officers. A
complete list will be forwarded as soon as it can be prepared.
The returns will show that I will have more wounded than I at first
supposed . The list will probably reach between 600 and 700, 300
or 400 of whom will be fit for duty in a few weeks, being but slight
flesh wounds. I think that we encountered nearly the entire force of
the enemy in this district.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOSEPH FINEGAN,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Poem; By Benjamin R. Gormley.