A Great but Costly Victory for Dickison

Among the booty from the Welaka raid was a mail packet. Dickison found news of a plan to surprise and capture him the very next evening. Instead, 30 members of the 157th New York Infantry, camped near Fort Butler, were surprised and captured without a shot being fired by just 10 Confederates.

Like Moseby and Morgan, Dickison and his men had moments of extreme brashness, reportedly dressing as Union soldiers and attending a dance at the home of a former U.S. district judge on the Picolata Road just outside St. Augustine.

One of Dickison's most significant victories, at Nine Mile Swamp (near Palatka) on Aug. 2, 1864, became one of his darkest hours when the only Rebel casualty was his son, Sgt. Charles Dickison, just 19, who was killed on the last Federal volley, as Union troops appeared to abandon their position and retreat toward Palatka.

Union forces in the area were estimated at 3,000-4,000.

Dickison and 30 of his men were engaged in hand-to-hand combat in one area of the field with a force of 280 heavily-armed cavalry. Dickison had just ordered his men to stop firing because he heard the Union commander order his men to cease fire, what Dickison thought to be an indication of surrender.

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Confederate Captain J. J. Dickison takes the body of his son, Sgt. Charles Dickison, 19, from the battlefield at Nine Mile Swamp near Palatka on Aug. 2, 1864.
But as Dickison moved to block the escape, the Union troops resumed firing, one shot hitting Charles Dickison in the heart.

"Joe, I am killed," said Charles Dickison, as he fell from his horse into the arms of Sgt. J.C. Crews, who had dismounted in time to catch the falling Dickison. Crews shouted to Captain Dickison that his son had been hit, and he took the dying Charles onto his own saddle. He lived for a short time but never spoke another word.

After the battle, Dickison's troops reoccupied Palatka. Federal losses were 44 killed and wounded, 28 captured. Confederate losses were one dead -- 19 year-old Charles Dickison -- and one wounded.

Despite the tragic personal loss, Dickison continued to serve the Confederate cause until the end of the war -- and after.