|Civil War Map of Railroad from Barber's to Jacksonville|
Library of Congress
The forming Confederate army, meanwhile, was astride the same railroad on the east side of Olustee Creek. Its commanding officer, General Joseph Finegan, was focused on the construction of field fortifications behind which he hoped his men could fight to advantage against what was still a much larger Union force. The movement of Southern reinforcements to Finegan continued day and night.
|Site of the Suwannee River Bridge|
As his army remained stationary along the railroad, General Truman Seymour developed plans for a rapid push inland. His objective would be the Suwannee River Bridge at the now-vanished town of Columbus.
|Old Columbus Cemetery|
|Fort at the Suwannee River Bridge|
The Confederates were well aware of this and had built two strong forts at the bridge, one on each side of the tracks on the east side of the river. The cannon in these earthworks could sweep not only the land approach to the bridge, but also the river itself in the event a Union gunboat came upstream. Learn more about the Forts at the Suwannee River Bridge by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/suwanneefort.
General Quincy A. Gillmore, the overall commander of the Union invasion, had no idea that Seymour was developing this plan and would not learn of it in time to stop it. Seymour would carry it on on his own, and meet with disaster at the Battle of Olustee in just five days.
I will continue to post on the 148th Anniversary of the Olustee Campaign over coming days so be sure to check back often. You can read more about the Battle of Olustee anytime at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/olustee.