John Jackson Dickison
John Jackson Dickison was born on
March 27, 1816, in Monroe County, Virginia. His father, a planter, wished his
son to become a soldier. Dickison, however, grew up sickly, and when he reached
age sixteen his father sent him to relatives in South Carolina to convalesce. In
South Carolina he became a prosperous cotton merchant, resident in Georgetown.
Active in the South Carolina militia, he served as state adjutant and inspector
general of cavalry. About 1856 he removed to Marion County, Florida, near Ocala,
and became a successful planter.
At the start of the war "Major" Dickison (to give his militia rank) was elected first lieutenant of the Marion Light Artillery. The company pulled garrison duty in Florida until its reorganization in 1862. In July, 1862, Dickison was authorized to raise a company of cavalry and raised what was later Company H, 2nd Florida Cavalry in August, 1862, in Marion County. Dickison soon won a reputation through his daring raids as the "Swamp Fox" and as the "Forrest of Florida." Operating mainly on the St. John's River, Dickison led numerous raids behind Union lines. He and his command captured the gunboat Columbine in 1864. During 1864 and 1865 he led his cavalry and local militia in repelling Union raids into central Florida, winning (among others) engagements at Palatka, No. 4, and Gainesville. It was said of Dickison that "no officer [was] more universally beloved by the officers and men under him."' A captain throughout most of the war, the department commander asked for Dickison's promotion to colonel, to be in charge of the whole of south Florida. The promotion to colonel was made in Richmond on April 5, 1865, but never reached Dickison; he was paroled as a captain on May 20, 1865, at Waldo, Florida.
After the war Dickison was perhaps Florida's most honored symbol of the "Lost Cause." A Democrat, he served two terms in the state legislature, representing Gadsen County from 1865 to 1866 and Lake County in 1889. From 1876 to 1880 he was Florida's state adjutant general. Less honorably, Dickison was active in the raids of the Ku Klux Klan. When the Florida Division of the UCV was formed in 1891, Dickison was named its major general and commander. He also found time to write the Florida volume of Confederate Military History. Dickison died on August 23,1902, in Ocala. He is buried in West Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.
Dickison is called brigadier general in SHSR Although sometimes exercising a general's command, Dickison was never more than a colonel during the war, and that only briefly. His only general's rank was in the UCV. One source states that in 1863 the governor of Florida commissioned Dickison a general of state militia, but that Dickison declined the honor.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.