February 20, 1864
Florida Brigade HQs
This report summarizes my recollection of the recent engagement at the 158th Battle of Olustee. The weather was ideal for battle with clear skies, 70-82 degree days and 38-45 degree nights. It must be recognized that this re-enactment occurred on the actual date, on the actual field, at the actual time, of the actual battle (February 20, 1864 at 2 PM).
The Confederate Army was commanded by General Thomas Jessee and divided into four battalions: 1) Florida Battalion 2) Georgia Volunteer Battalion 3) 3rd Battalion (Florida Brigade and PACS) and 4) 6th Florida/Liberty Rifles.
The Florida Brigade mustered in 51 effectives and consisted of the 2nd FL, Co. E commanded by Captain Wayne Alonzo, 27th NC commanded by Captain Cole Levens, 8th Florida, Co. B commanded by Captain John Porterfield and 2nd FL Co. B commanded by Captain John McLean.
On Friday, reveille was sounded at 7:00 AM by Sgt. Ron Doyka. At 8:30 AM, the Florida Brigade marched to the Monument field and provided the honor guard for Colors. Dinner this day consisted of pulled pork, slaw and baked beans provided by Pvt. Mitch Alexander and chicken stew by Pvt. Jackey and Pat Crews. The grub was indeed excellent. That evening after sunset, the Brigade returned to the monument field through the forest with the assistance of scout Pvt. Larry French. Using a lantern and a keen awareness of the area, Pvt. French delivered the Brigade to their destination without incident. Their purpose was to provide night musket fire for spectators. Three rounds were fired, spectators demonstrated their appreciation with applause, and the Brigade returned to camp.
On Saturday morning, reveille sounded at 6:30 AM. At 7:45 AM, a condensed Morning Parade of the 3rd Battalion was conducted by Major Dwight Dorr. The 3rd Battalion then joined the other battalions in a march to the Monument Field where joint Colors were conducted. Immediately following Colors, company drills and battalion drills were conducted in preparation of the looming battles.
Saturday’s battle raged from 1:30 - 2:45 PM. Both armies held the center of the field at various times, firing by battalion and moving back and forth. As the Federals were about to push the Confederate army off the field, the Florida Brigade was ordered to attack the enemy's right flank. Using a small forest of trees as cover, the Florida Brigade moved by the double quick and ended up behind enemy lines firing into the backs of the entire Federal army. The Federals were fortunate, indeed, as the allowed time for battle had expired and the fight was over, resulting in a resounding Federal victory.
Upon their return to camp, the hungry soldiers were treated to Picadillo, prepared by Pvt. “Pretty Feet” Perez and cookies prepared by Ms. Paula Foss. Word of chili and jalapeño corn bread prepared by Ms. Maria Porterfield snuck into camp and several soldiers partook in both meals. Not a soldier slept on an empty stomach.
On Sunday morning, reveille sounded at 6:30 AM. At 7:45 AM, a condensed Morning Parade of the 3rd Battalion was conducted by Major Dwight Dorr. The 3rd Battalion then joined the other battalions in a march to the Monument Filed where joint Colors were conducted. Immediately after Colors at 9:00 AM, the Florida Brigade attended the Federal Monument Ceremony to show respect for our history. The Federal commanders were visibly appreciative.
Sunday’s battle began at 1:30 PM. Movements were very similar to Saturday’s battle with much fire by battalion and by company, with back and forth movement. On this day however, the battle ended with the Confederate army pushing the entire Federal army off the field.
Recognition must be given to the Guards who patrolled the Confederate camp from 10 PM to 1 PM on Friday and Saturday night.
From the 8th FL, Co. B: Sgt. Mario Martinez, Cpl. Josh Bell, Cpl. Brian Good and Pvt. Franz Brantz; From 2nd FL, Co. E.: Pvt. Steven Arnaud, Pvt. Nick Galletto, Pvt. Eric Weinshenck, Pvt. Devigniex, and Pvt. Logan Davis. These soldiers deserve our gratitude for their service.
The 158th Olustee was a resounding success, both on and off the field. The large attendance of spectators shows the history and the hobby is alive and well in Florida. This concludes my report.
Colonel Clay Kearney