The Actual Unit History of the Real 2nd Florida Volunteer Infantry
On June 8, 1861, ten companies were raised from what is now northern and central Florida. One of these companies was the 2nd Florida Infantry of Florida Volunteers. All of these companies went to Camp Virginia outside Jacksonville. The election of officers was held on July 11 and George T. Ward was elected the Colonel. Then, on July 13, the regiment was mustered into service for one year and totaled 927 men.
On July 15, the regiment was ordered to Virginia. The traveled to Lake City by train and from there to Valdosta, Georgia, on foot. Then the Floridians traveled by train to Richmond, Virginia, and arrived on July 21. They camped just outside of the city for two months.
The 2nd Florida reported to Yorktown and was joined by the Pensacola "Rifle Rangers" on September 14, 1861. There they went into winter quarters under the command of Captain E. A. Perry. On the Yorktown Peninsula, the 2nd Florida skirmished with Union sharpshooters in the early Spring of 1862. The resulting casualties included four wounded.
Under the command of Major General D. H. Hill, the 2nd Florida marched to the westside of Williamsburg on May 3, 1862. Soon General Longstreet ordered Hill to Fort Magruder. On May 5, the Floridians started to advance across an open field under enemy fire. During the advance Colonel George T. Ward was mortally wounded. The 2nd was ordered to retreat due to a Union flanking movement.
As a unit of Garland's Brigade, the 2nd was heavily involved in fighting at Seven Pines. The Floridians took a section of artillery: Battery A, 1st New York. They captured over forty men and the Colors of the 8th New York. The 2nd suffered 198 casualties of the original 435 that went into battle. Ten of the eleven Company Commanders were casualties. After the battle the regiment was rested and reorganized. The 12th Company joined the 2nd and added 100 rifles to their number. The 2nd was then transferred to General Longstreet's Division.
The 2nd Florida took part in the Seven Days battles and suffered 23 killed and 114 wounded. They also fought at Frayser's Farm. There Colonel Perry was severely wounded. The Floridians were held in reserve at Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, and did not have a major part at Harper's Ferry.
As a part of Pryor's Brigade, under Major-General R. H. Anderson's Division, the 2nd Florida was held in reserve at Sharpsburg after arriving at dawn on September 17, 1862. At 11:00 a.m. Anderson's Division moved to support D. H. Hill's Division led by Colonel Perry, who had recovered from his earlier wounds. The 2nd Florida and the whole of Pryor's Brigade went to "Bloody Lane". However, they fell back to Hagerstown Road for unknown reasons. The regiment suffered six killed and forty-three wounded.
On November 10, 1862, General Lee issued Special Order No. 238, promoting Colonel Perry to the rank of Brigadier General, and he was assigned to a brigade composed of the 2nd, 5th, and 8th Florida Infantry Regiments. The Spring of 1863 found the Floridians taking part at the Battle of Chancellorsville. They actively fought on May 3 and 4. The 2nd suffered a total of 33 casualties.
Anderson's Division arrived at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, and camped west of the Emmitsburg Road. Perry's and Brigadier General Wilcox's Brigades attacked the Union Division of Brigadier General Andrews A. Humphrey. The regiment halted to reform at the foot of Cemetery Ridge. However, Wilcox's Alabamians were driven back. This left the 2nd unsupported on its right flank. Humphrey's reformed Division drove them back to Emmitsburg Road. The 2nd Florida suffered severely. Major W. D. Moore was wounded and captured as was Captain Ballantine.
On the third day of Gettysburg, Perry's and Wilcox's brigades advanced to support Major General George Pickett in his charge against the Union center. The Floridians and Alabamians, unaware they were alone were hit on the right flank by Brigadier General George Standard's Vermont Infantry. The 2nd Florida suffered staggering casualties. The Colors were captured with the wounded Color Bearer. The sixty-five survivors retreated to the woods across Emmitsburg Road. The 2nd lost 81 men and 69 captured on the second and third days of the campaign. Numbering 115 men, the 2nd Florida voted to reenlist in January 1864. For doing this the Floridians received a joint resolution of thanks from the Confederate Congress. The brigade was consolidated into a single regiment.
At the Battle of the Wilderness, the brigade suffered major casualties including General Perry who was wounded. On May 28, 1864, Special Order No. 133 consolidated the 2nd, 5th, and 8th Florida Regiments into Brigadier General Joseph Finegan's newly formed Florida Brigade.
The 2nd engaged in fighting at Cold Harbor. By June 1864, the regiment numbered around forty-five men. Yet, they still fought in Weldon Railroads, Ream's Station, and Hatcher's Run. In the Spring of 1865, after a long Winter in the trenches around Petersburg, the Floridians joined the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia in the run to Appomattox.
On April 9, Colonel W. R. Moore, who had returned to duty after being captured at Gettysburg, surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse with nine officers and 59 men. Through four bloody years of fighting the Florida Volunteer Infantry had a total of 869 casualties.
History written by Dustin Cavanah, a great budding reenactor.