|Jacksonville during the Civil War|
When the main Union force had occupied Jacksonville, a series of picket posts were established around the perimeter of the city. The purpose of these outposts was to sound the alarm should Confederate troops appear in the area. One of the most significant picket posts was at a place called the "Brick Church."
Click here to view Jacksonville Skirmish, March 24, 1862 in a larger map.
Perhaps the best account of what can best be called the Skirmish at Jacksonville of March 24, 1862, appeared in Savannah newspapers a few days later and was reprinted in numerous other Southern publications, including the New Orleans Times-Picayune of April 10, 1862:
|Jacksonville shortly after the war.|
The Family Friend, a newspaper in Monticello, gave a similar account, noting that four Federal soldiers were killed and three taken prisoner. Two other Union pickets had been captured a day or two before the skirmish and the paper noted that, "all five are now at Tallahassee."
The Lieutenant Strange mentioned as being severely wounded in the fight was Thomas E. Strange, the 1st lieutenant of Company K, Third Florida Infantry. At the time of the skirmish he was on temporary duty as regimental adjutant. He was taken back to Lake City for medical treatment, but died there two days later on March 26, 1862. A noted veteran of the Mexican War, he was mourned by his wife, Mary E. Strange.
|Col. W.S. Dilworth|
Colonel W.S. Dilworth, in fact, explained in his report of the affair why he did not make an attack in force on the Federal troops occupying Jacksonville:
...After making a thorough reconnaissance of the city, I became convinced that I could not attack the city without heavy loss and could be driven out by the enemy's gunboats. I then determined to commence a system of annoyances, by attacking their pickets, foraging parties, &c. I made a successful attack on the picket near the city of Jacksonville, killing 4 and taking three prisoners. - Col. W.S. Dilworth, 3rd Florida Infantry, CSA, April 15, 1862.
The strategy devised by Colonel Dilworth had a definite impact on the Union occupying force. The small hit and run raids and scouts, the most significant of which was the one of the 24th, led the Federal commander, Brigadier General H.G. Wright, to believe that he was facing imminent attack.
Fear, more than anything else, soon would lead to the issuance of orders to General Wright to evacuate Jacksonville. And the skirmish that took place 150 years ago today played a key part in that rattling of nerves.
I will post more on the Union occupation of Jacksonville over coming days, so be sure to check back often. You can learn more about preserved historic sites around the city by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/jacksonville.