Thursday, February 19, 2009

Olustee Battlefield - Part Four


The main action of the Battle of Olustee was fought in open pine woods with neither side benefitting from breastworks or fortifications of any kind. This was remarkable by the time, late in the War Between the States, when the battle took place.

Vicksburg had already given the nation a brutal preview of the trench and siege warfare that would characterize later conflicts. Even at Gettysburg and Chickamauga, where Union and Confederate armies engaged in sweeping large scale movements, one side or the other had relied on field fortifications to defend their position.

At Olustee, however, more than 10,000 men stood in the open pine woods and blazed away at each other. According to some sources, the Union loss at Olustee was the largest, percentage-wise, of any Federal army during the war. The nature of the fighting undoubtedly contributed to its horrible toll.

The photograph above was taken along the walking trails that follow the battlelines at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park. Developed as a joint project of the state park and the staff of Osceola National Forest, which maintains part of the battlefield, the trails wind through the open pine woods and follow the lines taken during the height of the battle by the two armies.

Tomorrow will mark the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Olustee and our series on the battlefield will continue. Until then, you can read more by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/olustee.

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