On this day in 1864, during the Civil War, the Battle of Olustee was fought in Baker County, Florida. Olustee was one of the few Civil War battles fought in the State of Florida and was the climax of a Union invasion of the state with the intention of severing Confederate supply lines. Florida had one of the smallest populations in the Confederacy so it was difficult for it to contribute to the war effort by provided large numbers of troops. However, what they could contribute was food and supplies. They were among the chief producers of food, mainly beef, for the Confederacy. The invasion that resulted in the Battle of Olustee was launched in an effort to severe these lines of food and supply. It began on February 7 and was commanded by General Truman Seymour.
The Union troops under Seymour quickly set about dismantling Confederate rail lines, as well as freeing slaves, many of which would end up serving in the Union’s African-American regiments. A Confederate force under the command of General Joseph Finnegan set out against the Union raiders and caught up with the Union men near the Olustee railroad station. The Confederates proceeded entrench themselves rapidly near Olustee and wait for the Union troops to attack. The fighting started on February 20, and throughout the day, the Union troops attacked repeatedly. Each time they were savagely repulsed by devastating Confederate volleys. Late in the day, the Confederates counter-attacked the weakened Union men and broke the Northern line, sending them fleeing toward Jacksonville, the nearest Union stronghold. Out of 10,500 men engaged, nearly 3,000 were killed, wounded, or captured. The battle ended any thought of Union influence in Florida and sealed Confederate control of the state, and its supply lines, for the rest of the war.