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A pathway in the park included various trees grown from seeds from trees in famous Civil War sites.
Camp Milton Historic Preserve
Closest available address
1225 Halsema Road N, Jacksonville, FL 32220
Daylight hours are best.
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
Camp Milton Historic Preserve is a 378 acre local park on the west side of Jacksonville. The park includes a small line of original earthworks constructed by Confederate troops in 1864 to help defend northeast Florida from Union forces stationed in Jacksonville. The park is unstaffed and has limited visitor facilities. There is a learning center used for school visits and for group presentations, but it was closed at the time. A historic cabin was relocated here and was also closed. The park has several trails, which were in good condition, including elevated boardwalk sections in wet areas.
Although Civil War battles in Florida are not generally well known, the state was valuable to the South because it provided significant food and raw materials. As a result, Florida was contested throughout the war. Union troops arrived in the area early in 1862, and the city of Jacksonville changed hands several times. Following a Confederate victory at the nearby Battle of Olustee in February 1864, approximately 8,000 Confederate soldiers were stationed here to counter Union forces in Jacksonville. The rebels built a line of earthworks to defend their positions. Skirmishes took place with Union forces over several months. In the summer of 1864 the Confederates abandoned the line, and Union troops seized the camp. More skirmishes took place, but no major battles. Union forces later destroyed the camp and earthworks. The camp and remaining earthworks were forgotten till 1973 when they were discovered. Florida purchased the property in 1981, and it opened as a city park in 2006.
Although the weather was cold and rainy on a visit here in January, there were no other visitors so privacy was great. The trails were all under a mile, easy and well marked. A paved path leads from the parking lot to the educational center and cabin. There was a notable line of trees on this path with connections to other Civil War sites and battlefields. For example, an acorn was collected from an live oak tree on Harriet Beecher Stowe's property and planted here; another acorn was selected from an oak near Fort Sumter. There was a maple tree cultivated from one at Shiloh and a white oak sapling whose parent tree stands at Seminary Ridge near Gettysburg. The Earthworks Trail, which is .68 miles, is the longest and most historically informative trail at the park. A number of signs provide good insights about the Confederate camp, including important events and various aspects of camp life. While the earthworks on this trail were modest by the standards of most Civil War battlefields, if you use your imagination a bit you can visualize how life might have been for the soldiers stationed here. Since the park was so quiet, it was easy to consider the historical aspects of the place without being distracted. Although Camp Milton has limited historical offerings, the overall visit here from a historical perspective was still reasonably good. If you are a hardcore Civil War type, then driving an hour north to Fort Clinch will be of greater interest, but Camp Milton was good enough to have some appeal as well. For those not interested in the Civil War, the park can be a nice place for a short walk. Civil War reenactors meet here at various times.
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