Osceola State Park is the oldest, but smallest of all of the National Parks in Florida. The location of this park is between Jacksonville and Lake City Florida. While this park may be little in size, its historical history is just the opposite.
To find the factual history of Osceola you must look deep in the past. On February 20, 1864 the Battle of Olustee took place. It begins with the largest Civil War battle in Florida near the town of Olustee. The battle between the Confederate and Union Army’s lasted for five hours. It is on this day that ten thousand Union forces attacked the Confederate soldiers. The Confederates were forced to defend their post near the town of Olustee when the Union forces attacked. The reason this campaign was launched into Florida by the Union was to occupy Jacksonville. The place where this battle took place latter became known as the Osceola State Park. The goal of the Union was to disrupt the transportation channels of the Confederates. The purpose of this action was not just to seize cotton, timber, and turpentine, but also secure african american recruits and deprive the Confederates of food. However, the campaign failed when the Confederates successfully defended their post. The remaining Union forces were forced back to Jacksonville. At Osceola Park you can find historical facts and artifacts to further educate yourself. One of the hiking trails named after the Battle of Olustee at Osceola Park actually takes you on a history hike. The Olustee Battlefield Trail loops you through the actual places of events that took place leading up to the battle. This information includes the tactics that were used during the battle and the aftermath. This historical information was gathered from several sources including letters from soldiers who fought in the conflict, diaries, and personal accounts. While this is great history there is another way to give you an idea of what the battle may have looked like. Every President’s Day weekend the park has a reenactment of the battle. At this reproduction you will see artillery and cavalry units and of course, bearing the brunt of the fighting, the infantry.
Now the name of the park Osceola has its own history. The 1800’s is where this park was given its name. It has to do with the resistance by the Seminole people of being relocated. This began years earlier and included the first Seminole war in 1817-1818. In 1830 at the urging of President Andrew Jackson, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. To pass this act it was necessary for Congress to disregard the treaty guarantees given to the Seminole’s. The act actually opened up the door for abuse by many militias across several states who drove the Indian’s by force across the Mississippi. At Payne’s landing another meeting took place between the Seminole’s and the Federal Government. It became known as the treaty at Payne’s landing and it was here that Osceola, the Seminole chief, refused to sign the treaty. A resistance to the removal of the Seminole people was born and Osceola led the way. Osceola was never a chief by birth, but was recognized as one for his leadership skills and became a well-known leader among the Seminoles.
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