We don’t often think about Florida Civil War sites when we think of the history of the war. We picture soldiers in blue and grey trudging through the thick forests of the Appalachian Mountains or off the coast of South Carolina.
The truth is that this state saw plenty of action. Florida Civil War sites span from Key West to Jacksonville. In some battlefields the fighting was short lived but had a major impact on the war. Each site has its own story to tell and are worth visiting.
My family loves to grab a picnic basket and explore when we travel. Seeing the Florida parks and historic sites is the rule, not the exception. My family found sunscreen, a hat and bottled water to be helpful. Visiting Florida is fun any time of year but visitors should plan for hot weather.
Here are highlights from a few of the Florida Civil War sites. After reading this list, you’ll want to tour them yourself.
Olustee is the largest battlefield of the Florida Civil War sites. You can find the park off I-10 on U.S. 90. It’s only about 15 miles from Lake City. If you are coming from the Jacksonville area, the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park is a little over an hour away. To help you learn about the Confederate victory here, there are trails, a picnic area, visitor center and interpretive exhibits.
Another one of the Florida Civil War Sites is just up the road from Olustee. It’s in Jacksonville at Camp Milton. Visitors who are traveling on U.S. 90 may be able to visit both sites. Pick up a picnic lunch en route and plan to enjoy the day. Camp Milton was the largest Confederate camp in Florida. As such, it played a major role in the struggle for control of the state.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Forts in this area served in wars that dated from 1797 through the Civil War. There are three Florida Civil War sites to visit along the seashore.
The forts are:
Fort Pickens ‘” This is one of a handful of forts that did not fall to Confederate forces. Hours are from 8:00 a.m. to Sunset. Tours are self guided.
Fort Barrancas – This Florida Civil War site was important in protecting the Pensacola Bay. It is open from May ‘” October. Tours are daily at 2:00 pm.
Advanced Redoubt – The visitor center is open year round but the hours vary by season. It is about one half mile from Fort Barrancas. Weekly tours are given on Saturdays at 11:00 am. Visitors will need to check the national park website linked below for dates of operation.
Because of the Gulf Oil Spill tourists who want to visit these Florida Civil War sites should check with the National Parks Service website for updates.
Fort Jefferson is part of the Dry Tortugas National Park and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. This is one of the more interesting of Florida Civil War sites. Incomplete construction did not deter the Union from using it as a prison. The most notorious prisoners brought here included Dr. Samuel Mudd and other Lincoln assignation conspirators. The 7 day pass is $5 per person and National Parks Passes are honored.
Civil War Traveler
Battle of Olustee.org
Florida State Parks
National Park Service