Monday, December 9, 2013

Participant in hanging of John Brown is buried in St. Augustine, Florida

Gen. Martin Davis Hardin
It is a little known fact that Abraham Lincoln met his future bride, Mary Todd, at the family home of a man now buried in Florida. The same man was present at the hanging of John Brown.

As a young man, the future President was friends with the Hardin family. John J. Hardin was a major general in the Illinois Militia and ran a law office and newspaper in Jacksonville, Illinois. Part of a noted Kentucky family, he became friends with a young Abraham Lincoln and was credited with stopping a duel between the future President and Illinois State Auditor James Shields.

Among those present at the Hardin home when Lincoln met the future Mary Todd Lincoln was Martin Davis Hardin, the young son of John J. Hardin.  

After his father was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War, the young Martin Davis Hardin became a friend and protege of Abraham Lincoln. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the Class of 1859 alongside future Confederate general Joseph "Fighting Joe" Wheeler.

In 1860, Hardin was present as an aide to Colonel Robert E. Lee when insurrectionist and murderer John Brown was hanged for leading the attack on the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry.

Grave of General Hardin
St. Augustine National Cemetery
Siding with the Union in the War Between the States, Martin Davis Hardin was appointed a brigadier general in the Union army effective July 2, 1864. He lost an arm in the Mine Run Campaign, but survived the war and served in the army until December 1870.

While practicing law in Chicago he purchased a winter home in St. Augustine, as did many other prominent Northerners of the time. By the time he died in St. Augustine in 1923, Hardin was one of the last surviving generals of the War Between the States. He spent the final years of his life in the "Generals House" at 20 Valencia Street in St. Augustine.

General Hardin, a participant in the hanging of John Brown and close friend of Abraham Lincoln, was buried at St. Augustine National Cemetery where he rests to this day.  The cross marking his grave is just to one side of the Dade Pyramids, where the soldiers who fell with Major Francis Dade during the Second Seminole War are interred.

To learn more about St. Augustine National Cemetery, please visit  http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/staugustinenc.html

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Petition opposes Union Monument at Olustee


Olustee Battlefield
A new petition drive has been launched in opposition to plans for erecting a Union monument at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park.

The petition opposes the monument because it specifically honors only one side in battle, a dramatic Confederate victory that created a fiery scandal for the Lincoln Administration.  The primary monument on the battlefield, erected many years ago, honors the soldiers of both sides.

Current Monument at Olustee
There is no real Confederate monument at Olustee, yet the proposal to place a new Union monument there seeks to build one specifically honoring only the side that lost.  The monument would not specifically honor Union dead as there already is a monument at Olustee for that purpose.

Personally, I oppose the monument at the park because Olustee Battlefield is one of the most pristine battlefields in the nation.  Monuments serve their purpose, but it is rare to be able to visit the scene of a battle that is preserved in a state so close to its appearance at the time of the 1864 engagement.  I favor keeping the landscape open, but would welcome a much nicer museum at the park if anyone really wants to start a project to do something productive.

Existing Monument to Union Dead
I also have to ask whether the state would be so willing for a monument honoring only the Confederate side to be placed on the battlefield or at any of Florida's other state parks in this day and age?  If not, then we should not erect monuments honoring the other side either, but only memorials to the men of both armies.  And there already is one of those at Olustee.

If you would like to sign the petition, please do so by following this link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/state-of-florida-parks-department-stop-the-special-monument-at-olustee#share

To learn more about the Battle of Olustee and Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, please visit http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/olustee.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CSS Florida artifacts on display in Virginia

CSS Florida at Brest, France
Courtesy Naval Historical Center
Rare artifacts from the famed Confederate warship CSS Florida can be seen as part of an exhibit at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk, Virginia.

An official museum of the United States Navy, the museum focuses on the 237 year naval history of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. The artifacts from the Florida are there because she went down at Hampton Roads after being captured by the U.S. Navy in 1864.

A sampling of the exhibit can be seen here:  http://hamptonroadsnavalmuseum.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-few-items-from-css-florida.html.

A screw-propelled steam cruiser of roughly 700 tons, the Florida was built in Great Britain under the name Oreto. The Confederacy purchased her under a secret agreement and the Oreto steamed away from England in March 1862 disguised as a merchant ship. Once she reached the Bahamas, the vessel was refurbished as a warship and in August was commissioned the CSS Florida.

CSS Florida running the blockade into Mobile Bay
Courtesy Naval Historical Center
Commanded by Lt. John N. Maffitt, she headed for Cuba and then ran the Union blockade into Mobile, Alabama, on September 4, 1862 to complete her outfitting.  With Maffitt still in command, she ran back out through the blockade on January 16, 1863.

Over the next eight months, the cruiser captured 22 prizes and outran every attempt by the Union Navy to catch her. The Florida wound up in Brest, France, where she remained until February 1864 when she again put to sea, this time under the command of Lt. Charles Morris. She took another 11 prizes before putting into the port of Bahia in Brazil.

There, in flagrant violation of Brazilian neutrality, the USS Wachusett attacked the Florida and towed her to sea. Brazil protested this illegal act in one of its harbors and U.S. courts agreed, ordering that the ship be returned to that country.

Before the court order could be carried out, however, the Florida was sent to the bottom in an "accidental" sinking that many historians think was carried out at either the suggestion or order of U.S. Admiral David Dixon Porter.

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is open each day but Monday, although hours vary. To learn more, please visit http://www.history.navy.mil/museums/hrnm/index.html.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Florida Ghost Stories for Halloween 2013

The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge
Marianna, Florida
Here are some of my favorite Florida ghost and monster stories for your Halloween reading fun!

Whether you believe in such or not, stories about the supernatural and unknown are important parts of our history and culture.  Most of these have been documented for many, many years.  Some - the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge - for example, have been reported for well over 100 years!

Enjoy and if you know of some other good stories I should look into, leave a comment and I will see what I can learn!

Be sure to read stories from other Southern states at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ghosts.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Historic Powder Magazine sees new life in Chattahoochee, FL

A stunning project to restore and revitalize a historic gunpowder magazine is nearing  completion in Chattahoochee, Florida.

Completed in 1834, the magazine was part of the historic Apalachicola Arsenal which stood on the grounds of what is now the Florida State Hospital.  The magazine held hundreds of barrels of gunpowder during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) and the War Between the States (1861-1865).

The project to restore it for use as a museum and conference center began in 1996 and took 25 years to complete!  Much of the work was done by state inmates and volunteers, with only necessary parts being contracted out.  The result is stunning!

The complex now includes conference rooms of various sizes, a gift shop area, a reception area, a full kitchen, storage rooms and - of course - the historic gunpowder magazine itself which will serve as a museum. Exhibits will interpret the history of the Apalachicola Arsenal and Florida State Hospital.  Officials at the state hospital hope it will be open for public use sometime this winter.

You can read more about the history of the Apalachicola Arsenal at http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/arsenal1.  The photos below were taken last week!


Sign noting 1834 completion date of the Magazine

Exterior view of the restored Powder Magazine.

The bricks were made locally using clay from Mosquito Creek swamp.

The central vault of the magazine has been rebuilt. A tree once grew
through the roof here where the arch had collapsed.

The reception area of the new conference center.

A preserved wall of the magazine, the new gift shop is at left.

Inside the restored magazine.  Exhibits will be installed soon.

The magazine had a wooden floor to keep moisture from seeping
into the barrels of gunpowder once stored there.

The brickwork of the magazine is beautiful and artistic.

Looking from the magazine out through the original inner
and outer walls.

Hundreds of barrels of gunpowder were stored here
during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) and the
War Between the States (1861-1865).

The magazine was a small part of a large arsenal complex. Several
other buildings also survive, including the Guard Room and Officer's Quarters.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Photos from Marianna Day 2013

The 149th anniversary of the Battle of Marianna was commemorated with Marianna Day events on Saturday, September 28th, in Marianna, Florida.

This year's events included memorial services, guided tours and an open house at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, scene of heavy fighting during the battle. To learn more about the battle itself, please visit www.battleofmarianna.com.

Here are some photos from this year's events:

St. Luke's Episcopal Church, scene of heavy fighting.

Visitors examine the Bible of St. Luke's, which was saved during the battle.


International officers from Fort Rucker, AL, prepare for lecture on the Battle of Marianna.

Visitors from around the world tour St. Luke's Episcopal Church

Civil Air Patrol posts the flags on the Battle of Marianna Monument

Members of the William Henry Milton Chapter, UDC, prepare for the memorial service.
Memorial Service underway in Downtown Marianna, FL

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Battle of Marianna Commemoration this weekend

St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Marianna, Florida
This weekend marks the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Marianna, Florida.

Union troops attacked the Northwest Florida city on September 27, 1864. The result was one of the most intense small battles of the War Between the States, an action that some have called "Florida's Alamo."

This Saturday, September 28th, events will be held in Marianna to commemorate Marianna Day, as the anniversary of the battle has long been known in Florida. Here are the planned events for Saturday:


  • 9 a.m. - The William Henry Milton Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, will host its annual Memorial Service at Confederate Park in Downtown Marianna (intersection of Lafayette and Caledonia Streets, look for the monument!).
  • 10 a.m.-12 noon - The Blue Springs Society, Children of the American Revolution, will host an open house at St. Luke's Episcopal Church with help from the youth of the church. St. Luke's was the scene of severe fighting during the battle and tombstones on the grounds bear bullet scars. The church was burned in the battle, but was similar in appearance to today's sanctuary.
All times are Central and the public is encouraged to come and participate!

To learn more about the battle, please consider my book The Battle of Marianna, Florida. You can order it on the right side of this page or from Amazon.com or your favorite online bookseller. Also please visit my website on the the battle at www.battleofmarianna.com.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Marker for Gov. Milton's "Sylvania" is restored and back up!

Marker for Sylvania Plantation, home of Gov. John Milton
The state historical marker for Sylvania Plantation, home of Florida's Confederate governor, has been restored and once again marks the plantation site near Marianna.

John Milton was unique among many Southern governors of the War Between the States era because he was elected prior to Florida secession from the Union, but did not take office until the fall of 1861. Consequently, he was the legal governor of Florida from both points of view - Southern and Northern.

He lived on Sylvania Plantation, a massive farm located in the rich agricultural district just east of Marianna in Jackson County. At their height, Sylvania and the governor's second farm near Parramore on the Chattahoochee River included nearly 10,000 acres. He grew cotton for profit as well as subsistence crops to feed his family, employees and the enslaved Africans who worked on the farms.

Gov. John Milton of Florida
It was at Sylvania that Governor Milton died from a gunshot wound on April 1, 1865. Writers have long claimed that he died from suicide, but family tradition holds that the fatal incident was an accident. According to the story handed down by the governor's son, Major William H. Milton, the governor had come home from Tallahassee and was depressed over the collapsing fate of the Confederacy. Because his father enjoyed bird hunting, the major suggested that they go out in the fields and shoot. The governor agreed and went to his bedroom to retrieve his shotgun but the family suddenly heard the sound of a shattering blast.

Major Milton's story, as preserved by his descendants, was that the gun had been loaded at the time of the nearby Battle of Marianna, but that everyone had forgotten this. When the governor set the stock on the floor, the bump caused the hammer to press against the percussion cap which went off causing the shotgun to fire. The blast struck the governor and killed him.

Such accidents were not uncommon with percussion cap weapons and the family story has a ring of truth to it.

Sylvania Marker at Blue Springs park entrance
The house at Sylvania was not a classic Southern mansion, but instead was a large Creole-type cottage with wide verandas, floor to ceiling windows and a wide central hallway. It burned during the Reconstruction era, apparently due to a lightning strike, and no trace of it remains to be seen today.

The historical marker was severely damaged by an unknown person or persons on the night Barack Obama was elected President. County officials took custody of it and, with assistance from state historic preservation officials, had it restored.

Once again beautiful and new in appearance, it stands just inside the roadside fence of Blue Springs Recreation Area on Blue Springs Road near Marianna. It can be read from outside the fence, even when the park is closed.

Blue Springs was part of Sylvania Plantation and a favorite fishing spot of the governor.  Learn more at http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/jacksonbluespring.html.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Confederate carvings found near Marianna

Confederate carvings near Marianna, Florida
Carvings evidently left by Confederate soldiers nearly 150 years ago have been found in a recreation area just outside of Marianna, Florida.

The area where the inscriptions were found is part of a 19th and early 20th century limestone quarry in a new addition to Blue Springs Recreation Area just outside of Marianna. The location of the carvings is not yet open to the public, but plans are underway for future public use.

Blue Springs near Marianna, Florida
Blue Springs, now officially labeled Jackson Blue Spring, is one of Jackson County's key landmarks. A beautiful first magnitude spring (the only one in the Chipola River basin), it has been noted in the accounts and journals of explorers and travelers as far back as the 1670s. Spanish missioners, soldiers and explorers once camped there and it is Stop #1 on Jackson County's new Spanish Heritage Trail, a driving tour of 11 Spanish colonial sites in the county.

By the time of the War Between the States, Blue Springs was on the Sylvania plantation of Florida's Confederate governor, John Milton. Because it offered a remarkable supply of fresh water, it was selected in 1862 to become the site of Camp Governor Milton, a Confederate military camp that was used from 1862-1865.

Carving dated July 7, 1864
Records relating to Camp Governor Milton - not to be confused with Camp Milton in the outskirts of Jacksonville - are fragmentary, but enough have been found to show that businessmen in Marianna were selling lumber, bedding, forage, corn and other supplies to the military companies posted there.

By 1864, the date of the carvings, the camp was the home post of Companies A and E, 5th Florida Cavalry Battalion, and Captain Robert Chisolm's Woodville Scouts, a mounted militia unit from Alabama that later became Company I, 5th Florida Cavalry Battalion. These units came in and out of the camp on a rotation, spending two weeks there and then two weeks out watching the coastline or responding to deserter raids.

Shangri La Spring
The carving was found on a high limestone bluff that overlooks Shangri La Spring, a second spring just a few hundred yards downstream from Blue Springs. Most of the carving cannot be read, but it includes names and a date - July 7, 1864.

It was found on the wall of a small limestone quarry, where blocks of limestone were cut during the 19th and early 20th centuries for use in chimneys, piers for houses and even complete buildings. The original St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Marianna, for example, was built of limestone but it crumbled so quickly that it was never used and had to be replaced with a wooden structure that was burned during the Battle of Marianna on September 27, 1864.

I'll keep you up to date on any additional discoveries in the vicinity.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Letter Home from the Captain of the CSS Florida

Actual Photo of CSS Florida
150 years ago today (August 11, 1863), the Milwaukee Sentinel published a letter from Commander John N. Maffitt, captain of the famed raider CSS Florida, to his children.

The Florida had been the focus of massive news coverage in the North over the previous few weeks. Her exploits were achieving legendary status and even in the Union states the movements of the ship drew great attention and readers clamored for updates and information.

The following letter from Commander Maffitt was dated from Brazil on May 12, 1863, and was reprinted by the Sentinel from the Fayetteville (NC) Observer:

Commander John N. Maffitt
I am very well, and very, very busy. Last night I saw a gentleman who ten days ago dined on board the Alabama with Eugene; he was then very well, and in high spirits, having just received letters from you all at home, by an English bark.

I feel happy to tell you that the Florida has been doing a fine business; up to May 11 she had destroyed $2,700,000 of Yankee commerce, and eluded thirteen Federal men-of-war sent to destroy her and the Alabama.

The Florida and Alabama destroyed ten of the enemy's largest vessels on April 22, within sixty miles of each other, but up to May 18 have not met. Regards to Mr. Hale, and ask him please to mention (as it may quiet much anxiety) that up to this date all are well on both vessels.
I cannot write what my plans are - the duty is very terrible upon one's mental and physical ability; but I am doing all in my power for the benefit of the Confederacy. - Dare not write more. I embrace you all, my dear children. May God bless you, and ere long unite us in peace and prosperity.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fort San Carlos in Old Town Fernandina (Forts of Florida #7)

Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park, site of Fort San Carlos
A little known earthwork fort built by the Spanish played at least a passing role in the War Between the States.  Fort San Carlos, which stood on the Plaza de la Constitucion on Old Fernandina, is #7 in our ongoing series on the Forts of Florida

(Please visit http://civilwarflorida.blogspot.com and use the search function to read previous posts in the series).

The Spanish first fortified what is now Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park in around 1800. The city of Fernandina had not yet been established, but the site on the banks of the Amelia River looked across the mouth of the St. Mary's River to Georgia and the United States. Florida was then a colony of Spain.

Another view of the site of Fort San Carlos
Fernandina itself was founded as a Spanish city in 1811, but the next year was captured by a group of revolutionaries known as the Florida Patriots. They forced the surrender of the town's weak fort and raised their flag over Amelia Island. It flew for only one day, however,  before U.S. troops arrived and took possession of Fernandina. The "revolution" had secret but official U.S. backing.

The revolution was ill-conceived and U.S. forces withdrew quickly, turning Fernandina back over to the Spanish. When Spain returned, work began on a new, much stronger fort - Fort San Carlos. Built in a semi-circular design and armed with heavy guns, the fort was completed in 1816. One year later, however, it was captured by the American-backed Scottish adventurer, Gregor MacGregor.

Plan of Fort San Carlos
A soldier of fortune who had fought throughout South America, MacGregor proclaimed what he called the "Republic of Floridas" and raised his "Green Cross of Florida" flag over Fort San Carlos. When expected reinforcements and supplies from backers in the U.S. failed to arrive, however, he sailed away leaving behind around 100 men to hold the fort.

Spain tried to retake Fort San Carlos with a land and sea attack in September 1817, but failed. A short time later, however, the "privateer" (and well-known pirate) Luis Aury arrived with 300 men. A truce was worked out between Aury and MacIntosh's men and he was named commander in chief of Fernandina.  Because he sailed under a letter of marque from the Republic of Mexico, Aury declared that Amelia Island (and Florida itself) was now part of Mexico.

Earthworks of Fort San Carlos can be seen on the bluff.
The United States by now had decided to try again so with the authorization of President James Monroe, U.S. forces appeared off Fernandina in December 1817.  Realizing he could not hold them off, Aury surrendered.  Although the U.S. officially held Amelia Island in trust for Spain, it never returned the island and in 1821 - with the rest of Florida - it became part of the United States.

Fort San Carlos continued to defend the port of Fernandina until 1847 when construction began on nearby Fort Clinch, a massive Third System work. Confederate troops occupied the plaza and the old Spanish earthworks in 1861, building new earthwork batteries nearby.  The old fort was abandoned by 1862, however, when U.S. forces seized Fernandina and Amelia Island.

In a remarkable sketch, a newspaper artist showed the old semi-circular earthwork of Fort San Carlos on the bluff at what by then had become "Old Town" in a sketch of U.S. forces moving up the Amelia River to take possession of what is now Fernandina Beach.  The entire town had moved in 1853 to take advantage of the building of the Florida Railroad which ended one mile south of the old town.

To learn more about Fort San Carlos, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fernandinaplaza.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fort McClellan, Union redoubt at Pensacola (Forts of Florida #6)

Lee Square, site of Fort McClellan
Lee Square is a beautiful oasis of peace surrounded by the busy traffic of Pensacola's famed Palafox Street. It is also the site of Fort McClellan, a little known fort of the War Between the States (or Civil War).

Fort McClellan was the "point" of the A-shaped fortifications that Union troops built around Pensacola in the fall of 1862 after they took possession of the historic old city without firing a shot. Confederate forces evacuated Pensacola Bay after it became clear they could achieve nothing significant from their presence there.

To defend the city itself against surprise raids by Confederate cavalry, Union engineers designed and supervised the construction of a line of fortifications that consisted of breastworks, abatis, artillery positions and a redoubt (Fort McClellan) to surround Pensacola. The works took the shape of a gigantic "A" with its base being Pensacola Bay and the tip of the "A" being atop the hill overlooking the city where Lee Square exists today.

Lee Square in Pensacola, Florida
The protect this point, from which Confederate guns could have fired down into the city, the Federals built Fort McClellan. It was described in a report to Brig. Gen. Lewis G. Arnold on September 13, 1862:

The redoubt is built on the site of the old Spanish fort San Miguel, an eminence which commands the town and vicinity; is a half bastion, with flanks and wings running back to meet the abatis on each side; is furnished with two 30-pounder Parrott rifles, one 10-pounder Parrott rifle, two 12-pounder field howitzers, and two roomy magazines; is closed at the gorge and flanked by its on fire as well as that from positions occupied within the lines. - Capt. Henry W. Closson, US (September 13, 1862).

Colonial era cannon at Lee Square
The fort and attached defensive lines were designed by Major Zealous Tower, Engineer Corps, and Captain Henry Clossen, chief of artillery on General Arnold's staff.

Fort McClellan was never seriously challenged by Confederate forces and remained an important part of the land defenses of Pensacola until the end of the war. It subsequently eroded away and eventually was replaced by today's Lee Square.  No trace of the fortifications remain today.

Lee Square, ironically, is named for Gen. Robert E. Lee while the fort that once stood on its site was named for his onetime opponent, Gen. George B. McClellan.  Located on Palafox Street up the hill just north of downtown Pensacola, the park is home to Pensacola's Confederate monument.

Dedicated on June 17, 1891, the 50-foot high monument pays tribute to "Our Confederate Dead." It was originally planned for Tallahassee, but the location was moved to Pensacola after most of the donated funds for its erection were made by residents of that city.

Uniquely, the statue atop the monument is believed to be the best representation ever made of a Confederate soldier.

Learn more about historic Pensacola by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pensacola1.

Friday, July 12, 2013

1st, 3rd & 4th Florida Infantries in Action at Jackson, Mississippi (July 12, 1863)

Colors of the 4th Florida Infantry
During their return at Marianna, Florida on Sept. 27, 1864.
150 years ago today, the 1st & 3rd Florida Infantry (Consolidated) and the 4th Florida Infantry played a key role in a fierce fight on the lines at Jackson, Mississippi.

Part of Brig. Gen. Marcellus A. Stovall's Brigade of Breckenridge's Division, the Florida units were part of General Joseph E. Johnston's "Army of Relief" that had formed at Jackson as part of a plan to break the Union siege of Vicksburg. Johnston had advanced as far as the Big Black River between Jackson and Vicksburg when news came that the Mississippi River city had fallen to the Union army of Major General Ulysses S. Grant.

Having received this news, Johnston fell back to the fortifications of Jackson. Grant ordered Major General William Tecumseh Sherman to pursue him. Sherman closed in around Jackson on July 11, 1863. Then, on July 12 (150 years ago today), Union forces had a disastrous run in with a section of the Confederate lines:

Brig. Gen. Jacob G. Lauman (US)
General Lauman, in taking position to-day, got his line uncovered by skirmishers too close to the enemy's lines, and suffered considerably; loss not yet ascertained. Colonel Gresham is reported killed...The ground to the right is so wooded that General Ord has been unable to ascertain Lauman's loss. - Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, USA (July 12, 1863).

The fighting took place on Sherman's right, (the Confederate left) where the Corps of Major General E.O.C. Ord was positioned on the Union side and Breckenridge's Division - including the Florida units - on the Confederate side. The site of the battle was in section of Jackson stretching from what was then the Great Central Railroad and the Pearl River on the southwest side of the city.

As Sherman was moving into position around the fortifications of Jackson, which he deemed "too good to be assaulted," he ordered his forces to form lines about 1,500 yards from the Confederate lines and to push skirmishers up to within 500 yards. The corps commanders were instructed to have their men begin digging trenches and preparing earthworks for battery positions.  It was as this operation was underway that Brig. Gen. Jacob G. Lauman moved in too close:

Lt. Col. Edward Badger, 4th Florida
Florida Memory Collection: Florida State Archives
All the troops took up their positions with comparative ease and little loss, save the division commanded by General Lauman, of Ord's corps, which, by the obscure character of the ground, its trees and bushes, advanced too near the enemy's parapet, without proper skirmishers deployed, and received the cross-fire of his artillery and infantry, causing considerable loss of life. The exact extend of this lass has not been reported, but will not fall much short of 400. General Ord has relieved Geneeral Lauman of command of the division, and I deem it so important to support corps commanders in their authority that I must sustain General Ord for the time being. - Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, USA (July 14, 1863).


Subsequent reports placed the losses in the First Brigade of Lauman's Fourth Division, the unit most heavily engaged in the fight, at 61 killed, 241 wounded and 129 missing in action for a total loss of 441. Adjacent units also experienced losses.

The best account of the fight was written by General Ord:

War-time map of the scene of the July 12th fight.
...The point of attack was not selected by any reconnaissance or previous examination. The attack itself was unsupported and unknown by other division commanders. The ground to be passed was defended (I was satisfied at the time) by several thousand of the enemy, and was open to an artillery front and flank fire for 600 yards in front of their works. Of the 880 men in Pugh's brigade, the loss by this attack was 465 in killed, wounded and missing, besides nearly all the men and horses of a section of artillery, which the Fifty-third Indiana Infantry brought off by hand, and three stand of colors; after which he had to retreat in haste, leaving all his dead and most of the wounded under the enemy's guns. - Maj. Gen. E.O.C. Ord, USA (July 27, 1863).

War-time sketch of the Siege of Jacskon
It was the bloodiest day of the Siege of Jackson. The Confederate line that Lauman had stumbled into was held by the 1st and 3rd Florida (Consolidated), the 4th Florida and the 47th Georgia. General Johnston specifically mentioned the regiments in a congratulatory dispatch to Major General Breckridge on the day of the fight:

Some of these men fought at Jackson.
I have learned with high satisfaction the success of your troops this morning; it increases my confidence in your gallant division. I beg you to say so to it for me. Do me the kindness, also, to express to the First and Third Florida, Forty-seventh Georgia, and Fourth Florida Regiments the pride and pleasure with which I have accepted the splendid trophies they have presented me. Assure them that I equally appreciate the soldierly courage and kindly feelings to myself which have gained me these noble compliments. - Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, CSA (July 12, 1863).

Two days later, the bodies of the Union dead still lay on the battlefield and Confederate litter bearers were fired on by Federal soldiers each time they tried to go out and bury the dead or help the wounded.

The stench of the decomposing bodies in front of the position of the Florida troops became so bad that General Breckinridge reported that his men were becoming ill. He appealed to General Johnston to send out a flag of truce to General Sherman asking that burial parties not be fired on. Johnston did so and Sherman agreed to a brief truce so that his own men could be buried, after two days beneath the hot Mississippi sun on the battlefield at Jackson, Mississippi.