The Battle of Olustee (or Ocean Pond) was one of the smaller battles of the Civil War and is largely ignored in the history books. Yet, if the Union had won the battle, it would be remembered for several stragetic advantages it would have given the North, which could have shortened the war.
But because it was a Confederate victory, relatively few know about the battle, except those who reenact the battle or attend as spectators each year, or who stumble across the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park in the Osceola National Forest.
The Battle of Olustee WWW site is visited by over 80,000 "visitors" a year. Obviously, most visit in the weeks preceeding and following the annual reenactment. However, many of the site's visitors are not interested in reenacting, but in adding to their family history. A number of these people graciously supplied me with the letters, diaries, newspaper articles and photographs that helped make the Battle of Olustee site one of the Top 95 Civil War sites on the WWW.
Anything you are willing to contribute would be welcome. I do not receive any funding from the State of Florida or the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park Citizens Support Organization (CSO), of which I am a Life Member. However, the CSO does pay the costs of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) where the site is hosted. Most of the work is done when I have free time. I do it as a labor of love and because I am a Civil War living historian and reenactor who is also a so-called "computer expert."
I prefer to receive digitized (computer files) copies of text or photographs, as this means less work for me. If you send me copies of letters or photos on paper, it may be awhile before I get around to adding them to the site. If you send me the originals, then you are crazy. However, if you send me something that needs to be returned to you, I will try and work on it as soon as possible, and will return it to you by FedEx.
Whatever you send me, please provide details as to who should receive credit for it, so I can add it to the text or to the photographss. Some people send me material to use that they do not want others to have the use of unless those people contact them first. I appreciate the fact the owners do not want me allowing others to use the material. And I do get requests for such occasionally. I also get requests from readers to place them in contact with these who supplied the materials. So, unless you ask me not to, I add a "mailto" command to the material so others can contact you directly with questions about the material. Files posted to this site have linked many others (including distant relatives) together in their search for Civil War or family history.
We can always read about the battles, generals, numbers of casualties etc., but when you can read the letters, diaries, histories and even see the photographs of the people who fought and died at Olustee - then this is what puts flesh on the bones of history.
For example, reading the letters that Edmund Jones (of the 64th Georgia) and Susan Jones, his wife, sent to each other over a period of a year helps you understand that these were people with hopes, dreams, and a love for one another and their children. So when you finally read the letter from his commanding officer telling Mrs. Jones of her husband's death, you want to cry out, "No, he can't die. He's the hero of the story."
Tragically, there were over 622,000 "heroes of the story" who died in this war. And untold millions of others who were deeply affected by their deaths.
Thomas R. Fasulo
Battle of Olustee Webmaster