While the Everglades National Park is arguable the most well known National Park in Florida, there are others here that you should take the time to see and one ov those id Osceola State Park. It is the smallest and the oldest of all the Florida parks but it has an incredibly rich history. Osceola State Park is located between Lake City and Jacksonville and not only does it give you a glimpse into the flora and fauna that live here but you can learn a lot about the local history.
The Osceola State Park
The history of Osceola State Park goes back to the Civil War and the largest battle in the state of Florida having been fought near here at Olustee. On February 20, 1864 more than 10,000 Union soldiers attacked the Confederate and they were forced to defend their position, the battle lasted for five long hours. At the time the Union was trying to occupy Jacksonville and disrupt the transportation routes of the Confederates.
The Union soldiers didn’t just want to seize good they were also there to recruit African American soldiers and deprive the Confederates of food. The Union soldiers were unsuccessful that day and the Confederates defended their positions forcing the remaining Union soldiers back to Jacksonville.
Artifacts and Re-enactments
As you go through the park there are plenty of historical artifacts and knowledgeable guides who can educate on the historical significance of the park. There are trails that are named after the battle of Olustee and you can see the actual places where events took place. You can learn about the tactics that were used and the resulting aftermath. The historical information comes from letters written by soldiers who fought here along with other personal accounts. Each year on President’s Day there is a re-enactment that you can watch.
The Naming of the Park
The name Osceola has a tragic history as well, it comes from the Seminole Indians who were relocated and tried to resist. When President Andrew Jackson and Congress approved the Indian Removal Act in 1830 the government chose to ignore the previous treaties they had made with the Seminole. There was widespread abuse as local militias drove the native people across the Mississippi River by force. The Seminole Chief, Osceola refused to sign another treat and Osceola led the resistance…thus the naming of the park to Osceola State Park.