“Solidly researched and thorough in its presentation of the region’s wartime military, social, and political history, Thunder on the River is the most impressive book published about the Civil War in Florida in recent memory.”—Civil War Books and Authors

“A fast-paced social history of the Civil War in northeastern Florida.”—John David Smith, editor of Black Soldiers in Blue

“A bulwark for the topic for years to come.”—Southern Historian

“Historians and Civil War aficionados alike will not want to miss this important addition to the literature.”—Journal of America’s Military Past


Rediscover what historians have raved about in our new paperback edition of Daniel L. Schafer’s Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida. This fast-paced narrative explores the impact of the Civil War on the St. Johns River region. Captured and recaptured multiple times by Federal forces, Jacksonville was used as a staging ground for a planned invasion of the state’s interior during its fourth occupation. This ill-fated expedition ended in the Battle of Olustee in February 1864, one of the last Confederate victories of the war.

Daniel L. Schafer, Professor of History Emeritus and University Distinguished Professor at the University of North Florida, brings to life this rarely examined corner of the national conflict, delving deeply into the complex dynamics of race and culture in the region. He demonstrates how and why fears about the black population increased, and reveals the true motives behind state and federal initiatives that drove freed blacks from the cities back to the plantations even before war’s end.

“In addition to an excellent narrative, the book contains four period maps of Jacksonville and its environs. Forty-three Civil War–era photographs and drawings of key officers, civilians and places are also included. This is a fine effort that is highly recommended,” commends Civil War News.

Preview the chapter retelling how Jacksonville became implicated in the war and read praise for Schafer’s compelling history of the Civil War in northeast Florida.

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