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A Small but Spartan Band

The Florida Brigade in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia

Zack C. Waters, James C. Edmonds, Robert K. Krick

Publication Year: 2013

A unit that saw significant action in many of the engagements of the Civil War’s eastern theater.
Until this work, no comprehensive study of the Florida units that served in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) had been attempted, and problems attend the few studies of particular Florida units that have appeared. Based on more than two decades of research, Waters and Edmonds have produced a study that covers all units from Florida in the ANV, and does so in an objective and reliable fashion.
Drawn from what was then a turbulent and thinly settled frontier region, the Florida troops serving in the Confederacy were never numerous, but they had the good or bad luck of finding themselves at crucial points in several significant battles such as Gettysburg where their conduct continues to be a source of contention. Additionally, the study of these units and their service permits an examination of important topics affecting the Civil War soldier: lack of supplies, the status of folks at home, dissension over civilian control of soldiers and units from the various Confederate states, and widespread and understandable problems of morale. Despite the appalling conditions of combat, these soldiers were capable of the highest courage in combat. This work is an important contribution to the record of Lee’s troops, ever a subject of intense interest.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Robert K. Krick

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pp. xi-xiv

Soldiers who were recruited from states at the outer fringes of the short-lived Confederacy suffered disconnection from their homefolk to an extent far more wrenching than that faced by their counterparts from central regions of the South. Virginians and South Carolinians in the Confederate armies faced plenty of daunting ordeals— ...

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pp. 1-3

In a recent volume Dr. Irvin D. S. Winsboro posed the question “What do Florida and national audiences actually know about the state’s involvement in that conflict [the Civil War] and how accurate is that knowledge?”1 The answer to the first query, unfortunately, seems to be “Almost nothing.” ...

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1. “Our Gallant Little Florida Brigade”: Organization of the Second Florida Infantry Regiment

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pp. 4-11

A soft, stuttering breeze began to rise in the early afternoon, rippling the long grass and ripening grain in the fields bordering the Emmitsburg Road. Three elderly men, sweat-soaked in the July heat, shivered a little but pressed on toward the base of Cemetery Ridge, stopping occasionally to point with their canes or simply to gaze with dimmed eyes into the horrors of the past. ...

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2. “Lavish of Blood”: The Battles of Seven Pines and Seven Days

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pp. 12-28

After a month of monotony near Richmond, the Second Florida received orders to report to the Southern forces at Yorktown. The Floridians arrived at their new post on September 17, 1861, joining Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder’s small Army of the Peninsula. ...

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3. “Five Times Our Colors Fell”: Second Bull Run and Antietam

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pp. 29-40

The Union’s manpower advantage virtually guaranteed that the Army of Northern Virginia would have no time to rest on its laurels. Three armies still confronted Lee’s forces. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, totaling more than 100,000 men; Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s small 10,000-man unit, ...

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4. “A Courage as Intrepid as That of Any Other”: Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville

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pp. 41-56

After recrossing the Potomac, Gen. Lee divided his army. Stonewall Jackson’s Second Corps encamped at Winchester, Virginia, only twenty-nine miles south of Sharpsburg, while James Longstreet’s First Corps rested at Culpepper. The Confederate commander apparently had little apprehension that George B. McClellan would mount a vigorous pursuit or an aggressive offensive campaign in the near future. ...

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5. “The Green and Pleasant Valley of Pennsylvania”: The Route to Gettysburg

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pp. 57-64

Almost before the smoke cleared at Chancellorsville, Gen. Robert E. Lee set in motion plans for the invasion of Pennsylvania. He had apparently contemplated such a move for several months. In February he had directed Jedediah Hotchkiss, a Northern-born engineer and Stonewall Jackson’s cartographer, to prepare a map of the Shenandoah Valley, ...

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6. “Any Man Is Lucky That Comes Out Yet Alive”: The Battle of Gettysburg

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pp. 65-79

The morning of July 1, 1863, dawned hot and humid atop South Mountain. By first light, the Army of Northern Virginia was already on the march, with R. H. Anderson’s troops taking the road from Chambersburg to Gettysburg. E. A. Perry’s brigade, commanded by Col. David Lang while the general recuperated from a bout with typhoid fever, served as the army’s rear guard. ...

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7. “Unwept and Unhonored”: The Retreat from Pennsylvania

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pp. 80-86

The tiny remnant of the Florida brigade, numbering slightly fewer than 300 men, re-formed at its pre-charge position in the depression behind the artillery. No descriptive material is known to exist for Col. Lang’s command during the late afternoon on July 3. It must, however, have been a pathetic sight. ...

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8. “Vain Dreams of Glory”: The Newspaper War to the End of 1863

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pp. 87-96

A surly mood seemed to permeate Robert E. Lee’s command as it limped along on the retreat from Pennsylvania and Maryland. The Army of Northern Virginia was unaccustomed to losing battles. “Every soldier in our army felt that some great blunder had been made at Gettysburg,” a Floridian reported, “and they were sore over it.”1 ...

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9. “Bloodiest and Weirdest of Encounters”: The Battle of the Wilderness

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pp. 97-111

The winter of 1863–64 had been a period of hardship, deprivation, and revival for Gen. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Severed rail connections to the Deep South, fertile agricultural areas under Federal control, and most farmers either in the army or hiding from conscription agents contributed to the scarcity of food and supplies. ...

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10. “One Vast Golgotha”: Spotsylvania, North Anna, and the Arrival of Finegan

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pp. 112-125

The fires, ignited during the Wilderness battle, continued to flare throughout the night of May 6–7. Any movement or noise between the lines brought a hail of bullets from the nervous skirmishers crouching in the darkness near the breastworks, but soldiers, both blue and gray, put aside their fear and animosity to search the field for the wounded. ...

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11. “Each One a Hero”: Sacrifice at Cold Harbor

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pp. 126-138

The new troops from Florida received their baptism of fire in Virginia almost immediately. Lee’s army entrenched along the south bank of Totopotomoy Creek (between Atlee’s Station and Pole Green Church), and Ulysses Grant spent much of May 29 probing the Confederate lines for a weakness.1 ...

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12. “We Are Going to See the Elephant Show His Works”: The Siege of Petersburg

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pp. 139-168

On June 8, 1864, the War Department in Richmond issued Special Orders No. 133 consolidating the three remaining Florida battalions into two new regiments. Maj. Gen. J. Patton Anderson, while briefly serving as commander of the Military District of Florida, had recommended merging the battalions into regiments in March, ...

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13. “There Are Some True Men Left”: To Appomattox

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pp. 169-183

The conditions of the troops further deteriorated during the final months of the war and desertions continued unabated. Food supplies shriveled until they were almost nonexistent. “I get so hungry,” a South Carolina soldier wrote to his family, “that it makes me sick. I stand it much better than I thought I could, ...

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14. Thereafter

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pp. 184-194

Only a week and a half after Appomattox, a former Florida soldier gained notoriety for his involvement in one of the most infamous crimes in American history. Federal authorities arrested Lewis Thornton Powell, a former member of Co. I of the Second Florida, for his participation in the plot to assassinate Pres. Abraham Lincoln and members of his Cabinet.1 ...

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pp. 195-200

This book had its genesis almost thirty years ago when Mary Beth Williamson, my aunt, undertook the daunting task of exploring the dark thicket of the Waters’s genealogy. Knowing my interest in the Civil War era, she assigned the task of researching that aspect of family history to me. ...


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pp. 201-232


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pp. 233-246


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pp. 247-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780817387112
E-ISBN-10: 0817387110
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817316792
Print-ISBN-10: 0817316795

Page Count: 270
Illustrations: 21 illustrations
Publication Year: 2013