Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park was commemorated as Florida’s first historic site in 1912. The original property was first purchased by the state in 1909. Many Civil War veterans visited the site, prompting members of the legislate to build a memorial and dedicate the site as historic.
The Battle of Olustee took place on these hallowed north Florida grounds on February 20, 1864. The battle between Union forces from nearby Jacksonville and Confederate troops from Florida and Georgia was short and bloody. In just a few hours, the battle was over, Union troops were in retreat and 2,807 young men lay dead on the field.
The famous five hour battle was fought by more than 10,000 cavalry, artillery and infantry. Three U.S. colored regiments took part in the battle, including the now famous 54th Massachusetts. These all black troops were made famous by the movie “Glory”. While the Battle for Olustee was not shown in the movie, several scenes were shot at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park.
Each year on the second week of February, one of Florida’s largest Civil War reenactments takes place at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park. This amazing display of troops, weapons and living history all come together at a climax of the battle. Cannons roar, guns fire and gunpowder smoke fills the air as volunteers in period attire reenact this amazing battle. Choreographed perfectly, it almost seems as if you are really there.
In late summer the park hosts a Civil War expo with period artisans, sulters and actors selling their wares and goods at this fun filled event. Each year these dedicated craftsman, actors and artisans demonstrate life during these difficult and trying times. For more information about this year’s event, visit their website here.
Whether you come for an event or not, you’re sure to have a fun filled day exploring the parks interpretive displays, monuments and visitor center. A one mile trail travels along thorough the park that follows the original battle lines of the fight for Olustee. Interpretive signs are displayed telling the tales of men on both sides of the line.
The interpretive center is filled with exhibits and artifacts telling the story of the campaign that led up to the Battle of Olustee. A documentary film is shown in the back room of the museum about the battle.
For information on directions to the park, hours of operations and fees, visit the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park homepage here.