The Victor of Olustee

“After our line had advanced about one-quarter mile the engagement became general and the ground stubbornly contested…” wrote Brigadier General Alfred Colquitt on February 26, 1864, from Baldwin, Florida. The 40-year-old native Georgian was the ranking Confederate officer on the field of the largest engagement fought in the state of Florida during the American Civil War.

Colquitt marched to war as a captain in the 6th Georgia Infantry, rising to colonel during the Peninsula Campaign in the summer of 1862 and assumed command of the brigade after the wounding of the commander, Brigadier General Gabriel Rains at the battle of Seven Pines. He saw continuous service, serving under “Stonewall” Jackson during the Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville campaigns. The last campaign prompted questions about his leadership and he and his men were sent to North Carolina, swapping with another brigade. He saw service in 1864, in charge of the same brigade, in the defenses of Charleston, South Carolina before being sent by departmental commander, General Pierre G.T. Beauregard to assist in thwarting the Federal advance in north Florida.

Alfred Colquitt

After his part in the Confederate success at the battle of Olustee or Ocean Pond as the Confederates labeled the engagement, he and his Georgians were recalled to the Army of Northern Virginia. The brigade continued its eastern seaboard travels by being transferred once more, back to North Carolina where the command surrendered with Joseph E. Johnston at Bennett Place in April 1865.

Grave of General A. H. Colquitt (author collection)

Colquitt returned to political life after the American Civil War and was elected governor of the state of Georgia in 1876. He won reelection in 1880 and then to the United States Senate in 1883. During his second term as senator in 1892, he suffered a stroke which caused partial paralysis. Although he recovered to continue as a senator, Colquitt endured a second more serious stroke in 1894. This second attack left him mostly paralyzed and incapacitated. Within a fortnight the 69-year-old Colquitt passed away. His remains were eventually interred at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.

The quote that opened this blog post was pulled from his official report on the battle of Ocean Pond/Olustee. Today the battlefield of Olustee is preserved and can be visited. A small visitor contacts station and wayside informational markers help orient and explain the action of February 20, 1864.

Field of battle, Olustee/Ocean Pond (author collection)

Although Brigadier General Joseph Finnegan was the overall commander, Colquitt was the highest-ranking Confederate on the field of battle during the day. His official report can be read in its entirety here. To plan your visit to the battlefield and Olustee reenactment click here.

2 Responses to The Victor of Olustee

  1. It was good to see a post on Colquitt, but it was rather bloodless, almost like a Google cut and paste. For a CW website, membership might have been interested in the precise questions that arose at Chancellorsville, and more details about his role at Olustee, as well as the odd relationships between the Bourbons and the “populists”. In the post -Reconstruction period.

  2. Mr. Pryor makes a good point in that the author raises interesting issues which might be more adequately addressed.

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