Editor's Note: The Mayor of Jacksonville has directed the removal of the modern, unbiased interpretive panels from Camp Milton Historic Preserve. As a result we have removed all photographs of this location from our page.

Camp Milton Historic Preserve in the western edge of Jacksonville, Florida, preserves the remains of one of the most important Civil War sites in Florida. Interpretive panels told the story of the archaeology of the site, the construction of the fortifications there, the first combat in Florida by black Union soldiers, and more, but the mayor of Jacksonville has ordered their immediate removal.

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 nearly three miles along the west side of the creek. Named for Governor John Milton, the works were occupied by 7,500 Confederate soldiers and armed with an array of light artillery. Camp Milton was the strongest field fortification built by either side in Florida during the Civil War.

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

An outstanding engineer, Beauregard positioned his army on the primary rail line leading into Jacksonville so he could block any advances by the Union army. The fortifications he built were described with wonder by a Union officer:

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.

Another great battle, however, did not develop. The Confederates soon reduced the strength of their army to return men who had hurried to Florida back to their regular positions in Georgia and South Carolina. Only a small force remained in the fortifications by July 1, 1864, when the Federals finally advanced on the Camp Milton line.

The Union troops did what they could to destroy Beauregard's fortifications by burning the log stockades and leveling some of the earthworks. Time and residential development continued the process until all that remained of the three-mile line was a section just a few hundred feet long. That area was set to become a sludge field for the City of Jacksonville when preservationists intervened and Camp Milton Historic Preserve was created.

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