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How three weeks in Jacksonville changed the course of the Civil War, part 2

A Bit of War History: The Recruit
Thomas Waterman Wood, 1866
Metropolitan Museum of Art
A Bit of War History: The Recruit


Union forces continue to occupy Jacksonville and the Second South Carolina Volunteers mount an expedition up the St. Johns. An unexpected order to withdraw the troops from Jacksonville confounds Higginson, but it quickly becomes clear that what his men have done there has turned the tide of public opinion on Black enlistment.


Firebrand of Liberty by Stephen Ash, 2008 (available at JPL)

Montgomery’s Raids in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina by Lt. Col. William Lee Apthorp, 34th USCT, 1864 at

The Old Sixth Regiment, its War Record, 1861-1865 by Charles K. Cadwell, 1875 at

Dickison and His Men: Reminiscences of the War in Florida by Mary Elizabeth Dickison, 1890 at

Army Life in a Black Regiment by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1870 at

"Some War Scenes Revisited" in The Atlantic (July 1878) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson at

A Yankee in a Confederate Town: The Journal of Calvin L. Robinson by Anne Robinson Clancy, ed., 2002 (available at JPL)

War-Time Letters from Seth Rogers, M.D. Surgeon of the First South Carolina Afterwards the 33rd USCT 1862-1863 at

Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida by Daniel Schafer, 2010 (available at JPL)

Rose Cottage Chronicles: Civil War Letters of the Bryant-Stephens Families of North Florida by Arch Fredric Blakey, Ann Smith Lainhart, and Winston Bryant Stephens, Jr., eds., 1998 (available at JPL)

Reminiscences of My Life in Camp by Susie King Taylor, 1902 at

The War of the Rebellion, a Compilation of Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (April 12, 1862-June 11 1863), 1885 at

"The First South Carolina Regiment" in The Liberator, 4/10/1863 at

“Interesting from Port Royal” in The New York Times, 3/22/1863 at

“The Occupation and Evacuation of Jacksonville, Fla” in The New York Times, 4/16/1863 at

Music Credits:

Image Credit:

A Bit of War History: The Recruit by Thomas Waterman Wood, 1866. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Note: this image is not specific to Jacksonville. The Recruit is the second painting in a narrative triptych by Thomas Waterman Wood depicting the stages of African American military service in the Civil War [it’s bracketed by The Contraband and The Veteran]. The series is unique for its heroic representation of Black people in a period when caricatured depictions were the norm.

Voice Actors (in order of appearance):

  • Thomas Russell, a 46-year-old farmer and Confederate state senator: Sky Lebron
  • Captain J.J. Dickison, who led the Confederate forces that ambushed the USCT in Palatka: James Strickland
  • Major General David Hunter, the Union officer who ordered the mission in Jacksonville and the eventual withdrawal: Jack Barrett
  • Colonel Thomas W. Higginson, the Union commander of the USCT in Jacksonville: Ray Hollister
  • Sergeant Charles Cadwell, a white Union soldier stationed in Jacksonville: Will Stroud
  • New York Tribune: Tauren Hagans
  • President Abraham Lincoln: Jeff Hess
  • New York Evening Post: Dana Logan
  • Daniel Sawtelle, a white Union soldier from the 8th Maine who served alongside the USCT in Jacksonville: Evan Alcock
  • The Washington Evening Star: Audrey Antee

Want to get involved?

The U.S. National Archives is looking for volunteers to help transcribe records related to the United States Colored Troops, among other topics. To learn more, head over to

Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.
Jennifer Grey serves as the Public Services Coordinator for Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Library and Learning Commons, where she also oversees the college’s archives.
Tammy Cherry is a professor of English at Florida State College at Jacksonville.