At this site, on May 23rd, 1864, Captain John Jackson Dickison, with men from the 2nd Florida Cavalry and a battery from the Milton Light Artillery, disabled and captured the Federal gunboat, Columbine. At the time, Union forces controlled the land east of the St. Johns River. The elusive Dickison had made several raids across the river, capturing two outposts. Hoping to trap the Confederates on the east side, Union ground troops moved toward Welaka, and the Columbine was sent upriver. Dickison however, had already crossed the river and set the ambush here at Horse Landing, where the channel and current would bring the boat to within 60 yards of shore.
The Columbine, under the command of Acting Ensign Frank Sanborn, was described as 117 feet in length and "a thing of beauty". The Columbine returned fire, but was soon disabled and surrendered. All but three of her crew and the army troops aboard were killed or captured. The Federal dead are reportedly buried on this rivershore. There were no Confederate casualties. After removing all the supplies and armament possible, the Columbine was burned and sunk, to avoid recapture.
It is the only known incident in history where a cavalry unit sank an enemy gunboat. Dickison was known in the Southern press as the Swamp Fox (and as the Knight of the White Camellia, by the ladies).
The Federals referred to him as "Dixie", and land west of the St. Johns was "Dixie's Land".
An interesting footnote: A lifeboat taken from the Columbine was later given by Dickison to John S. Breckenridge, Confederate Secretary of War, to aid in his escape to Cuba at the end of the war.