Monday, April 5, 2010

Battle of Station Four - Cedar Key, Florida


One of the most interesting of the sharp military encounters that took place along Florida's coastline during the War Between the States was the battle that took place at Station Four near Cedar Key on February 13, 1865.

The Battle of Station Four took place at the end of a Union raid into Levy County that penetrated as far as Clay Landing on the Suwannee River and the community of Levyville. Headed by Major Edmund C. Weeks of the 1st Florida U.S. Cavalry, the Federal column composed of 186 men from the 2nd Florida U.S. Cavalry and 200 men from the 2nd U.S. Colored Troops had seized 100 head of cattle, several wagons, 13 horses and five prisoners of war. The Union troops also liberated around 50 slaves.

As the raiders began to withdraw from Levyville, however, they were attacked by a small detachment of Confederate cavalrymen, the advance guard of a force of 146 men being hurried forward by Captain J.J. Dickison. The famed "Swamp Fox" of Florida, Dickison had been ordered to pursue the Federals and despite the fact that his men and horses were exhausted from a just concluded operation in eastern Florida, he did so with enthusiasm.

The Battle of Station Four opened at 7 a.m. on February 13, 1865. The Federal column had made its way back to Station Four, a railroad stop just across Number Four Channel from the cluster of islands that made up the Cedar Keys. There they camped for the night, apparently unaware that they were being pursued by Dickison's command. At 7 a.m., however, Union pickets spotted the Confederates approaching and opened fire. The Confederates responded with the fire of 120 rifles (26 men were positioned behind the lines to hold the horses) and a 12-pounder field gun.

The battle lasted for roughly four hours, with both sides taking casualties and both sides over-estimating the size of their opponent. The Confederates finally ran short of ammunition and fell back slightly, a move that also gave the Federals a chance to fall back across the trestle into Cedar Key. As a result, both sides claimed victory.

The site of the battle is now marsh and woods along the shores of Number Four Channel near the modern Highway 24 bridge which links Cedar Key to the mainland. To learn more about the battle, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/stationfour.

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