HISTORY OF third Florida

Wakulla Guards

The Third Florida Infantry was organized in July 1861 and mustered into the Confederate service August 10,1861 on Amelia Island. A group of Wakulla County men enlisted in New Port, Florida and were known as "The Wakulla Guards".  This was the beginning of  Company "D". These men were brothers, fathers, uncles and kinship of all kind who lived and died for what they believed.  That is why we must at all cost be dedicated to the preservation of the memory and heritage of the True South and our Confederate ancestors.

In May of 1862 the entire Regiment was brought together for the first time in camp at Midway, Gadsden county, preparatory to taking up its march for the Western Army, then in northern Mississippi.  Wakulla Guards stayed in camp with most of the others for about three weeks.  During this time a silk banner with the motto "We Yield but in Death" was presented to the Regiment by one of the ladies of Jefferson county.


Shortly after the middle of the month of May the Regiment broke camp, marched to the Chattahoochee River and went by steamers to Columbus, then by rail to Montgomery.  After a short detention they were sent to Mobile, where the orders to proceed to Bragg's army in Mississippi were countermanded and the Regiment put on duty to guard and patrol the city, where they remained for several months.

Early in August of 1862 the Regiment was ordered to Chattanooga and went into camp at the foot of Lookout Mountain, near the Tennessee River.  After remaining there for a short time the 3rd crossed the Tennessee and was assigned to the brigade of Gen. John C. Brown of Tennessee, Gen. Patton Anderson's division.  The regiments composing Brown's Brigade were the 1st and 3rd Florida and 41st Mississippi.  The Army of Tennessee encamped for a few days in Sequatchee Valley; it then took up its line of march across the Cumberland Mountains into middle Tennessee and northward toward the Kentucky line, crossing the Cumberland River above Nashville and entering Kentucky in Monroe county.  They proceeded directly to Green River, near which a brigade of 4000 Federal troops was captured.  After a few day's delay, anticipating the approach of Buell's Army of Tennessee, on September 20th they moved toward Louisville, Kentucky.  For two weeks they were camped at different points, part of the time a few miles from Bardstown.  The movement of the Federal forces caused General Bragg to shift his position and on October 8th the two armies confronted each other at Perryville, where the 3rd Regiment lost heavily.  Capt. D.B. Bird, who commanded the Regiment during most of the time after it left Chattanooga, fell mortally wounded late on the afternoon of the 8th. 

From Perryville the army fell back until it reached Chattanooga again in December, where the decimated ranks of the 1st and 3rd Regiments were consolidated, the 3rd forming the right wing of the consolidated regiment, and thus it continued through all its subsequent history.  The consolidated Regiment shared in all the movements of Bragg's Army - back to the east and forward to middle Tennessee, where as a part of Breckenridge's Division it took part in the battle of Murfreesborough.  In that battle and the other engagements of that campaign 138 of its 531 men were killed, wounded or missing.  Early in the summer of 1863 the Regiment, under Breckenridge, was ordered to Mississippi and was on the Big Black when Vicksburg was surrendered.  After they were engaged in the siege at Jackson, Miss. and after the close of the Mississippi campaign the consolidated regiment returned to Northern Georgia in time to take part in the battles of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. At the Battle of Chickamauga two Wakulla county men were placed on the Roll of Honor (Medal of Honor award) - George W. Tully and Jasper N. Carraway.   The Regiment took part in all the subsequent movements with the Army in Northern Georgia, which opened early in the spring of 1864, extending from Chattanooga to Atlanta, thence onward to Middle Tennessee under Hood, and finally back through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina to Durham Station, near Greensboro, N.C. April 26,1865.

The Wakulla Guards were also at the battle of New Port and Natural Bridge, helping to keep Florida from falling into Federal hands.  So as you can see the men of the 3rd Florida had a much bigger role in the war than most ever realize.  Just a little extra history - did you know in June 1862, the St. Marks lighthouse was shelled and burned by Federal forces to prevent its use as a Confederate lookout?  But prior to the attack, the Confederate soldiers had removed the lighthouse lens to protect it from damage from the enemy.  Legend has it the lens was hidden in the surrounding salt marsh.  In 1867, the lens was reinstalled and the light shone once again.