Sanderson: The Confederate Ghost on the Olustee Battlefield

The Civil War is considered the bloodiest part of American history. During this war, Confederate and Union soldiers fought for their lives and freedom during several battles. The Battle of Olustee in Sanderson, Florida is considered to be the second bloodiest.

Florida in the Civil War

Fought on February 20, 1864, it was the only large scale battle that took place in Florida. Union General Truman Seymour and his troops were first in Jacksonville, attempting to cut off food supplies headed for the Confederate army. Having been successful, General Seymour ordered his troops to march towards Tallahassee to cut off more food supply routes.

Instead of facing a small cluster of Confederates, the Union army met a full scale battalion. Confederate General Alfred Colquitt had sent troops into Florida from Charleston. Thus, the two armies collided on the field of Olustee.

Ultimately, the Confederate army won the battle, but both sides lost hundreds of men that day. Even with experienced soldiers on both sides, the violence and bloodshed of the battle was quite a shock to those who survived. The Civil War would end the following year.

On February 15, 2014 a reenactment took place to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Olustee. Thousands of people come to honor the troops and that historic day at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park. While the reenactment occurs every year, the anniversary reenactment took a peculiar turn.

A few citizens began to remark that orbs started showing up in their photographs that day. Others began to remark that they felt random cold spots on the battlefield, despite the bright sun overhead. John, an imitation Union soldier, had quite the supernatural experience.

A Spirit in Sanderson?

“The reenactment was well underway, and I was instructed to migrate towards Ocean Pond. I was ambushed, and fake shot to death by a Confederate soldier on a horse. I remember falling down, relieved to be off my feet for a little while,” John recalled.

“I shut my eyes as I lay there, and I just concentrated on listening to the horses galloping all around me. Everywhere was organized chaos. But that’s when I started to pick up on sounds I shouldn’t have heard…

“I could hear whimpers, and the sound of men in pain. Normally, that’s not the kind of thing we reenact, because everyone must carefully listen for instructions and observe the historical integrity of the battle,” he nodded. “But nevertheless, I heard deep moans nearby, and then the sound of frantic rustling.

“I lifted my head just slightly, but nobody had been ‘killed’ close to me. I’m not sure what compelled me, but I called out ‘hello?’ to the air above my head. Out of nowhere a silhouette hovered over me, wearing the dark grey wool of a Confederate Major General.

“The only problem was…,” John whispered. “…That I could see through his body, straight into the sun. It was such a surreal experience, I just laid there, gaping at the man like a fish out of water.

“’John, wake up John!’ I heard moments later. I opened my eyes to a handful of Confederate and Union soldiers looking down at me—and this time I could not see through them. They told me that I was dehydrated and I likely passed out.

“I’m not sure what I saw that day in Sanderson…but I refuse to dismiss the idea that a real Confederate soldier had come to visit me on the battlefield.”