This thesis explores the absence of a Union monument at the Olustee Battlefield one hundred and fifty-five years after the battle concluded though this field has a number of Confederate monuments. Moreover, after the Battle of Olustee in February 1864, the largest battle of the Civil War fought on Florida soil, the victorious Confederates killed wounded African American soldiers left behind after the Union retreat. This thesis examines why Olustee battlefield became a place of Confederate memory, enshrining the Lost Cause within its monuments for well over a half of a century that consciously excluded any commemoration of the Union dead. The lack of proper commemoration to the costly Union sacrifices at Olustee comes as a surprise, since some of the Union dead still rest in a mass grave on the battlefield. They remain on this field because after the war, federal soldiers reburied the Olustee dead in a mass grave and erected a temporary memorial that marked their final resting place. This neglect contradicted War department policy that mandated that the reinterred Union dead be in separate graves and marked by individual permanent headstones. When the temporary monument marking their presence disappeared, this also erased the memory of their presence and their sacrifice from the Olustee landscape. This left room for champions of the Confederate Lost Cause - Southern, Confederate Civil War memory - like the United Daughters of Confederacy (UDC) to build monuments to the Confederate cause. In fact, these women worked actively to ensure that the Union dead were not memorialized, particularly the African American casualties. The UDC managed the site until 1949, when the State of Florida assumed control of those grounds. Seventy years of direct control by the state of Florida failed to make a difference in the landscape of memory at Olustee: the Union dead have no monument to commemorate their sacrifice. This thesis explores why the markers, monuments, and policies still honor the Lost Cause memory of the battle, even as the park services in charge of the site promote a reconciliationist narrative and the resurgence of Union memory, including the sacrifice of black US soldiers. Sources used include Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, meeting minutes of the UDC, newspaper articles, official documents from the Florida Division of Parks and Recreation, documents from the National Park Service, private correspondences, and state legislature bills.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
History; Public History
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Trelstad, Steven, "Civil War Memory and the Preservation of the Olustee Battlefield" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6739.