The Battle of Olustee is the largest Civil War reenactment in Florida. It is the only reenactment of an actual Civil War battle fought in Florida, on the very land where the battle took place. Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park is located in North Florida to the east of Lake City. It is a park full of pine trees and historic markers. But it comes alive once a year when the Union, Confederate, village and sutlers setup camp over a large area of the park.
I joined 3 of my photographer friends on Sunday morning prior to the battle to get the opportunity to visit the camps and get some images of camp life.
There are men, women and children living as they would during the Civil War.
But as the time for the battle neared, the men (and some women) mustered at the appointed time and place for review by the officers.
At muster the soldiers are checked for safety and given the battle plan. Then they march away to take their places on the battlefield.
All the spectators made their way through the woods to the battlefield area. At this reenactment there is a large grandstand as well as space along the safety rope. We always reserve our spot in the center by coming in early and placing our mats & blankets at the best spot available right at the rope. As we waited for the battle to commence we were entertained by the Confederate band playing tunes of the day! No Ed Sheeran covers at this venue!
Then, after a few announcements and a bit of narration about the history of the reenactment and the battle itself, we saw the Confederate skirmishers come out of the woods and go toward the Union troops.
They moved across the field and were met by the Union cavalry.
Shots were fired and the battle ensured. The sides moved up & back reliving what is known of the actual battle. The cannons had been placed in the woods on each side. They blasted away and, as is tradition at this battle, pyrotechnics had been setup in marked off areas of the field where charges blasted dirt and bushes up into the air with each cannon blast, to the great surprise and enjoyment of the spectators. Because of the placement of the cannons back in the woods, this was not the place for cannon fire like some of the earlier reenactments. This was the place for battle images.
As in the actual battle, the Union troops were defeated and were forced to retreat back toward Jacksonville.
At the end of this battle the re-enactors came together to celebrate another successful reenactment and to salute those who perished!
That brought the Battle of Olustee to a close.
This is always an interesting and almost overwhelming event to photograph as there is so much to see. As with the other reenactments, the participants are full of information and love to share their knowledge of the battle and the Civil War. This is the event to attend if you are interested in the Civil War. This is my 6th year to photograph this event and we have to drive 3 hours to get there!
If you are interested in the Battle of Olustee and it’s history check out their website.
Please visit my gallery to see these and additional images from this event.
That is all for now!