Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Florida Civil War Battlefields facing Possible Closure

Olustee Battlefield
With the 150th anniversary observation of the Civil War now underway and tourists flocking to Civil War sites across the nation, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is considering locking the gates to the only two state-owned Civil War battlefields.

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park and Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park are among 53 parks and historic sites DEP is considering closing to save $6.5 million from the agency's $1.5 BILLION budget. The cut would represent the closing of one-third of Florida's state parks and historic sites while barely impacting DEP's massive budget.

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park (just east of Lake City) preserves the scene of the February 20, 1864 engagement that was the largest Civil War battle in Florida. The Battle of Olustee was a massive Confederate victory that preserved the supply lines providing beef and other food for Southern armies and stopped a Union plan to restore the allegiance of at least part of the state in time for its electoral votes to be counted in the 1864 Presidential Election. Olustee was the bloodiest battle of the war for the Union army in terms of the number of men involved (around 10,000). To read more about this highly significant park, please visit

Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park (south of Tallahassee) preserves earthworks and other features from the last significant Confederate victory of the Civil War. The Battle of Natural Bridge was fought on March 6, 1865, and preserved Tallahassee's status as the only unconquered Southern capital east of the Mississippi River. The battle also prevented the destruction of much of the infrastructure and public and private property across a large area of North Florida and South Georgia. The cadets from West Florida Seminary (today's Florida State University) fought in the battle and to this day the FSU ROTC is one of only three in the nation authorized by the Pentagon to carry battle streamers.  To learn more, please visit

Natural Bridge Battlefield
Both battlefields are also landmarks of black history. At Olustee, the famed 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a famed African American regiment, took part in heavy fighting and played a key role in the escape of the Union army from the battlefield. At Natural Bridge, virtually all of the Union soldiers engaged were from the 2nd and 99th U.S. Colored Troops. More than 150 men from the two African American regiments were killed, wounded or captured in the battle.

I encourage you to contact Governor Rick Scott of Florida to voice your opposition to these proposed closings. You can obtain his address or write him through an online form by clicking here.

No comments: