Hundreds of spectators turned out to view a Civil War-era battle reenactment at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park on Saturday afternoon.
The 46th annual Battle of Olustee three-day living history weekend drew people from Florida and out of state to commemorate the 158th anniversary of the Civil War battle that took place on Feb. 20, 1864. The actual battle reenactment took place Sunday afternoon.
George and Christina Curtis had one of the tent displays that included a cartology table featuring various maps. The couple from Wellborn started coming to the reenactment three years ago after their daughter participated in the event.
A year after the Curtis’s became involved, Christina’s dad found that the family actually had a connection to the Battle of Olustee.
“My dad was going through some paperwork and found an article,” she said. “I think it was the St. Petersburg Times or the Tampa Tribune, and he brought me that paper and said this paper shows we actually have Civil War family members and it named each of their names in that article.”
Christina said she started crying after finding out that the father and two sons in the article took part in the actual Battle of Olustee and then fought in the Battle of Natural Bridge to defend Tallahassee on March 6, 1865.
“People always ask us why we do this,” she said. “Because it’s fun and we get to share history, but now we get to honor our family members.”
Besides the Saturday Civil War battle-era reenactment and the Sunday Battle of Olustee reenactment, the event featured authentic Confederate and Union camps and presentations on both days that included a medical tent demonstration, period-era music, a ladies tea, service of people of color in the Civil War commemoration, a Sunday-morning period-era church service, and talks by an actor portraying Fredrick Douglass (who also made a recent presentation at the Cedar Key Historical Society in January).
Battle of Olustee facts (provided by the Florida State Parks):
- More than 10,000 cavalry, infantry and artillery troops from the Union and Confederate armies fought in the battle (5,500 Union and 5,200 Confederate troops)
- Gen. Truman Seymour led the Union forces.
- Gen. Joseph Finegan led the Confederate forces.
- The battle lasted 2 ½ hours and resulted in a Confederate victory when the Union forces retreated.
- There were a total of 2,807 casualties (1,861 Union and 946 Confederate).
- Three U.S. Colored Troop regiments were involved in the battle.
- The Civil War ended 14 months after the battle.
- The battle site becomes the first Florida state park in 1909.