Just before seven A.M. on February 20, 1864, Colonel Guy V. Henry’s mounted brigade, the advance guard of the Union forces commanded by Brigadier General Truman Seymour, departed Barber’s Ford, Florida, heading west on the Lake City and Jacksonville Road. Composed of the Fortieth Massachusetts Mounted Infantry with the First Massachusetts Independent Cavalry attached and Captain Samuel S. Elder’s Horse Battery with four pieces of artillery, the mounted men soon outdistanced those marching in brigade columns. The sky was clear and gold sunlight was just starting to filter down through the pines. In a report written two days later, Seymour stated that his objectives were to make contact with a Confederate force (he estimated it between 4,000 and 5,000) at or near Lake City, and then to push his mounted force on to the Suwannee River and destroy the railroad bridge crossing that stream. General Seymour’s force included, in addition to the mounted force, eight infantry regiments and two artillery batteries, a total of 5,115 men and sixteen pieces of artillery. By dawn the following day, 1,355 men, a little over twenty-six per cent of the Union force involved, would be killed or wounded, and 506 would be missing or captured. The battle that took place that day was proportionately the third bloodiest battle of the entire Civil War for the Union Army and the bloodiest of any of the Federal defeats.
Nulty, William N.
"The Seymour Decision: An Appraisal of the Olustee Campaign,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 65
, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol65/iss3/4