Notes Concerning the Author
John Jackson Dickison (March 28, 1816 – August 20, 1902) was born in Monroe County, Virginia, which is now part of West Virginia. He was raised in South Carolina and resided in Georgetown where he became a successful cotton merchant. J.J Dickison later joined the South Carolina Militia. He thereby received military training and was commissioned an officer in the cavalry. In 1857 Dickison moved to Ocala, Florida, and purchased a plantation.
J.J. Dickison was initially commissioned at the rank of lieutenant and served at Fort Clinch as a member of the Marion Light Artillery. He was promoted to captain, on July 2, 1862, and ordered to recruit and command a new cavalry group. The result was the formation of Company H, Second Florida Cavalry. He and his men were the victors at the Battle of Horse Landing, during which they captured the gunboat USS Columbine. Furthermore, under Dickison’s leadership Florida’s Confederate forces won the Battle of Gainesville and repeated skirmishes with Union forces.
Captain Dickison was captured near Waldo and imprisoned. In May 1865 he was promoted, unbeknownst to him, to colonel and paroled by the Federals on May 20, 1865. Subsequently, Dickison assisted Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge’s escape to Cuba.
After the cessation of hostilities Dickison was elected six times as Commander of the Florida Division of United Confederate Veterans. He also served as the Florida Adjutant General and authored the Florida portion of the Confederate Military History. After the war J.J. Dickison and his wife resided at Bugg Spring, which is within the community boundaries of Okahumpka. Colonel Dickison was buried in Jacksonville.
The Confederate Military History of Florida opens with accounts of Florida’s secession. J.J. Dickison presents the state’s justifications for secession. These discords, which are documented by the author, include Floridians’ dissatisfaction with the election of Abraham Lincoln, who was viewed as “a sectional” candidate, Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops to prosecute an “unconstitutional war” of “coercion” upon the seceded states and leaders’ desires to maintain the Constitutional “institution of domestic slavery” for economic reasons. In ensuing pages descriptions follow of early events encompassing Florida’s union with what became the Confederate States of America and preparations for war.
Within subsequent chapters the organization of regiments is discussed, as are Federal troop movements. Dickison also provides compelling accounts of warfare within Florida. His specific combat reports relate to the actions at Santa Rosa Island, Fort McRee, Pensacola, Olustee, Palatka, Gainesville, Milton, Braddock Farm, Cedar Keys, Natural Bridge, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and along the St. John’s River.
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