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Camp Milton

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Camp Milton Historic Preserve, located on the western edge of Jacksonville, preserves what remains of one of the most important Civil War sites in Florida.

In 1864, following the Battle of Olustee, the Confederate army pushed forward to McGirt's Creek and laid siege to the defeated Union army. General P.G.T. Beauregard arrived on the scene and planned a system of earthen fortifications that stretched for nearly three miles along the west side of the creek.

Named for Governor John Milton, the works were occupied by 7,500 Confederates and were armed with 430 pieces of light artillery.

Camp Milton was without doubt the strongest field fortification built in Florida during the Civil War.

The name Camp Milton first appears in Confederate reports on March 7, 1862, when General Beauregard indicated he was at "Camp Milton, near McGirt's Creek, Fla." in a dispatch to Richmond. He reached that point on March 2nd, just a few days after the major Confederate victory at Olustee, but was disappointed to find that the retreating Union army had not been pursued aggressively and had been given time to reorganize.

Beauregard, an outstanding engineer, decided to position his army across the primary rail line leading west from the city of Jacksonville where he could block any further advances by the enemy. The fortifications he designed were described with wonder by a Union officer sometime later:

The breastworks were made of huge logs firmly fastened and covered with earth. The log part was 6 wide at the bottom and 3 at the top. They were proof against field artillery.

The stockades were composed of timber from 12 to 16 inches thick, with loop-holes 2 feet apart. Their base was protected by earth thrown up from a ditch which ran along the whole line of works. There was a salient or re-entering angle at about every 150 yards. Two batteries in the rear completely commanded the railroad, and in addition to being very strong were most elaborately finished, having a sharpness of outline almost equal to masonry.

After another great battle did not develop, the Confederates soon reduced the strength of their forces at Camp Milton to return men who had been hurried to Florida back to their previous positions in Georgia and South Carolina. By June 1, 1864, the fortifications were held only by a token force of Southern cavalry that fell back quickly when Union forces finally moved to capture the line.

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