Olustee Station was situated on the Florida, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad in densely forested flatland. Confederate General Joseph Finegan selected it as his battlefield, his flanks protected to the north by Ocean Pond and the south by swamp. His opponent, Union General Truman Seymour, anticipated that only local militias would attempt to bar his triumphal progress to the Florida State Capital, Tallahassee. When his advance guard encountered Confederate pickets, he fed reinforcements forward in dribs and drabs, unaware that he faced an army of 5,000, roughly equal to his own. By the time he realized the gravity of the situation, the Union forces were beginning to buckle, forced to retreat. A total rout was only averted by valiant rearguard actions, first by New York Brigades, then by the coloured regiment, the 54th Massachusetts. Seymour’s army withdrew all the way to their embarkation point at Jacksonville. Finegan would later be criticized for not chasing them down.
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