Dedicated to George Reed

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on." Julia Ward Howe


George Reed was my great-great grandfather (1816-1864). He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1858. They settled in what is now Great Neck, New York. He worked as a farmer until his enlistment in the Federal Army on September 1, 1863. He was killed at the Battle of Olustee on February 20, 1864.

Gettysburg Address

".... that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ...." Abraham Lincoln


"... they were not swept away while rushing with terror and confusion to the rear, but were killed and wounded while standing up in solid and unbroken line, bravely and gallantly fighting the enemy."


I have compiled considerable information on George Reed, the Federal Army and the Battle of Olustee. Moving forward I will be posting various stories documenting these topics. If you would care to share any information please do so. Thank you for your interest.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory"

I advanced onto the eerily quiet battlefield as a spectral fog accented the towering pine trees. The trees stood at attention as did the soldiers on February 20, 1864. The hallowed ground beneath my feet was carpeted with palmetto bushes and fallen pine cones. The quiet was periodically interrupted by the sounds of a woodpecker and crickets. All of this in stark contrast to the battle that had been waged in this forest. Once into the forest the view in all directions was very similar. The glimmer of the suns rays through the pines provided a natural compass for direction. I paused longer in the area where the "47th New York Regiment" had been positioned. Somewhere in this vicinity my great-great grandfather was killed by a gunshot fired by a Confederate soldier.

A lone butterfly was perched upon a palmetto at the side of the the path. As I moved forward, the butterfly rose and gently circled as if to welcome me. Throughout my journey I was accompanied by this beautiful black and white butterfly. Making my way through the now abandoned and silent Confederate battle line, a brightly colored yellow butterfly joined in a display of aerial acrobatics. How gentle, how peaceful was this journey through one of the bloodiest battlefields of the Civil War.

In an area seemingly no larger than a football field, North fought South, Blue fought Gray and brother fought brother. For a period of three hours the battle raged. One witness commented that the fighting was so close, "you could read the inscriptions on the enemies belt buckle!" The sounds that day of rifle fire, cannonade and screams, would have been deafening. The fact that nearly 3,000 men were killed or wounded in this small area, in such a brief period of time, is incomprehensible.

The Battle of Olustee is not mentioned along with Gettysburg, Antietam, Chancellorsville or, the more famous battles of the Civil War. However, for the wounded, the survivors, those who evaded harm, February 20, 1864, would be forever etched in their memory.

As the words of the Confederate battle song go, "..... old times there are not forgotten ....."


Runner's Anonymous said...

Nice pictures and well written! Its amazing how perceptions change with the times. Three thousand people lost their lives at Olustee in one day and if it wasn't for you and my great-great-great grandfather I'd never have heard of it but 4000 people die in Iraq over an 8 year period and the news can't stop talking about it. Amazing.

If you're planning more Civil War Battlefield excursions don't forget that i live an hour from Gettysburg and both Chickamauga and Harpers Ferry/Antietam have marathons that take you through the battlefield!


Donna N. said...

I have a lot to say here, so here I go.
First of all your writing ability is incredible. Jim, seriously you are missing your calling by not writing a book. I was mesmorized by every word. You made me feel as though I was there. These men who gave their lives were all heroes. Our way of life is owed to them. God Bless them all as well as those who came after them.

Now with all due respect to my previous comment leaver Jim, I don't really think it's fair to compare the "coverage" of American soldiers killed in Iraq to these men. I feel you do a dishonor to our soldiers of today. Do you think we should not report on these casualties? Or do you think we should mention this battlefield casualties on the evening news? Again, no disrespect on my part, I'm just very confused and slightly taken aback by your comments.

Runner's Anonymous said...

Since the question has been raised let me further explain my original post. My comment was not directed toward the military past or present. In fact Donna I can think of no better words to state how I feel about our servicemen and women than the ones you just used. "These men who gave their lives were all heroes. Our way of life is owed to them. God Bless them all as well as those who came after them." My point was we as a society are much more attuned to loss of life than we were in days past and I think our fallen servicemen, like those at Olustee, have suffered for it. This is the only explanation I can see for why 3000 men died at Olustee and it doesn't even get a footnote in any of my history books yet a similar number died at Pearl Harbor and that date is pre-printed on my calendar every year. My point is that I think we owed these men something more than an unmarked grave and to vanish from the history books. The good news is that while we still breathe we have a chance to change this for future generations and I'm proud of my uncle for his efforts in making the lives of these men, including my great-great-great grandfather, known.

Thank you Donna for your question. I think this answer more clearly explains my position than my former one.

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