|Civil War drawing of Barber's Plantation|
Despite his direct orders not to attempt an advance on Lake City, he was preparing to do just that. Taking advantage of Major General Quincy A. Gillmore's temporary absence at Hilton Head Island, Seymour announced a plan for a rapid advance as soon as the trains were operating, something which he expected to happen on the 19th.
Seymour seems to have been concerned that the Confederates would try to remove the rails from the Altantic - Gulf Central Railroad to prevent the use of the tracks by the Federals. In fact, General Finegan commanding the Confederate forces astride the railroad at Olustee had no such plans at all.
|Gen. Joseph Finegan, CSA|
The plan outlined by Seymour in his letter to Gillmore 150 years ago today was rather grandiose. Not only did he propose an advance by his command to the Suwannee River, he called for a joint Army-Navy operation to draw attention from his own advance:
|Cannon at Olustee|
Such a movement was all but impossible to organize in the two days time before Seymour expected to advance, even if the U.S. Navy - which was independent of the army - agreed to cooperate. As the general undoubtedly knew, it would take a full 24 hours just for his letter to reach General Gillmore and another 24 hours for Gillmore's reply to return. By that time, he would be moving for Lake City and, he hoped, glory.
The Battle of Olustee was now just three days away.
I will continue to post on the Olustee Campaign over coming days so be sure to check back often. You always can read more at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/olustee.