Friday, June 18, 2010

The Brooksville Raid - Hernando County, Florida

The Brooksville Raid, an 1864 Union incursion on the Gulf Coast of Florida, was one of those small events that loom large in legend across the South.

On June 1, 1864, 240 men from the Second Florida U.S. Cavalry and Second U.S. Colored Troops boarded transports at Fort Myers, Florida for a planned raid against the town of Brooksville in Hernando County. A small but important trading center for farms and plantations in the area just north of Tampa Bay, the town was also a distribution point for items running the blockade into nearby Bayport. Usually there were a company or two of Confederate troops in the area, but when the raid hit the town was virtually undefended.

The raiders pushed inland, initially opposed by only a few pickets assigned to watch the coastline. These pulled back ahead of the Federals as they advanced, occasionally exchanging a few shots with them. Meanwhile, as couriers were sent to Tampa Bay to summon reinforcements, a few regular soldiers assembled with local volunteers on "the hill" at Brooksville (possibly a reference to today's courthouse square).

This meager force marched out to oppose the Federals, who were pretty much wreaking havoc on the area by confiscating livestock and supplies, burning barns and even houses and liberating slaves.

The Federals and Confederates skirmished for a bit, primarily at long range. The Union force seems not to have been really interested in fighting, however, and after taking time for a meal turned and marched to Bayport on the coast. Only one Union soldier was wounded in the Brooksville Raid and his wounds were slight. A few Confederates were taken prisoner.

To learn more about the Brooksville Raid, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/brooksvilleraid.

3 comments:

Michael Hardy said...

Dale – great post! I grew up attending the annual Brooksville Raid reenactment in the 1980s and 1990s. This lead me and my dad, who serves as the overall reenactor commander of the annual event, to put together a history of the battle last year. It is a small book entitled “A Heinous Sin”: The 1864 Brooksville-Bayport Raid. Through my research, I came up with a casualty list of one Union soldier wounded, one Confederate killed, one wounded, and ten captured, along with four “contraband” taken. I have come to the conclusion that the “military” reason for the raid was to disrupt the cattle supply, burn salt works, and raid the town of Bayport. However, for the men of the Second Florida Cavalry (US), who came from the area they were raiding, it was a chance to retaliate against the families that had driven them from their homes. Interestingly, while everyone refers to the event as the Brooksville Raid, the Federals bypassed the town.

Regards,
Michael
www.michaelchardy.com

Dale said...

Michael - It is great to hear from you! I have read "A Heinus Sin: The 1864 Brooksville-Bayport Raid" and strongly recommend it to anyone interested in the raid. I made my first venture down through that area this spring and visited Bayport and Brooksville and was stunned by the natural beauty of the area. Bayport especially is just spectacular. Keep me updated on details for the next reenactment and I'll make sure to help spread the word.

Dale

Dale said...

P.S. - Sorry for the typo in "heinous" in my last post.