The 6th Florida Infantry Regiment' was raised by the Confederate State of Florida for service to the Provisional Army of the Confederate States of America. Organized and released from state service in mid-April 1862, the regiment would leave the state in mid-June, 1862. It was assigned from June through August 1862 to the Army of East Tennessee (Department of East Tennessee), General Edmund Kirby Smith commanding. The Army of East Tennessee was redesignated as the Confederate Army of Kentucky on August 25, 1862, when General Smith led it into eastern Kentucky during the Confederate Heartland Offensive. On November 20, 1862, the Army of Mississippi, General Braxton Bragg commanding, and the Army of Kentucky, General E. Kirby Smith commanding, became the Army of Tennessee. General Bragg assumed command, and General Smith was reassigned to the Department of East Tennessee. The 6th Florida would remain assigned to the Army of Tennessee until its surrender at Bentonville, North Carolina on April 26, 1865.
On February 2, 1862, the Confederate War Department issued a call for troops. Florida, under this newly-imposed quota, would furnish two regiments and a battalion to fight for the duration of the war. The troops would rendezvous at preselected locations and there "be clothed, supplied, and armed at the expense of the Confederate States." Furthermore, each enlistee would receive a $50 bounty for volunteering.
The ten companies that would become the 6th Florida Infantry Regiment would begin forming in February and March, 1862 as independent companies serving the State of Florida. The companies were recruited from Collier, Gadsden, Jackson, Santa Rosa, Union, Walton, and Washington counties. The companies surveyed maintained an average age of twenty-five years. The companies would be mustered individually into Confederate service for "3 years, or the war"; they would not be organized into a regiment until the election of field officers. The various units were ordered to "camp of instruction" at the Mount Vernon Arsenal at Chattahoochie in Gadsden County in late March, where they would be trained in maneuvering in large bodies and in campaigning duties.
The 6th Florida Infantry Regiment departed the Mount Vernon Arsenal at Chattahoochee, Florida on June 13, 1862. Transport was by steamboat from there to Columbus, Georgia where it arrived on June 16, 1862. From Columbus, they would take the cars to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lieutenant James Hayes of Company D wrote that, "After we left Columbus, nearly every house we passed they were out with their handkerchiefs waving and hollering, throwing bocaies[sic] and apples into the cars as we would pass by. From Atlanta to this place beat all . . . They were perfect swarms of young ladies standing on the road with their flags flying." Lieutenant Hugh Black of Company A found the journey from Columbus to Chattanooga somewhat less enjoyable; he would write to his wife that, "the car that myself and the remainder of our company was in ran off the track and very near crushing the whole concern to attoms.rriving at Chattanooga on June 18, the 6th Florida was immediately ordered to report temporarily to General Danville Leadbetter, who had planned an expedition across the Tennessee River at Shell Mound. The expedition was abandoned while the regiment was enroute, and continued to Knoxville. On July 3, the 6th Florida Infantry (Col. Jesse. J. Finley), 7th Florida Infantry (Col. Madison S. Perry), 1st Florida Cavalry (Col. William G. M. Davis), and the Marion (Florida) Artillery would become a brigade; Colonel Davis was the senior officer and given command. This brigade would be designated as the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division, commanded by Brigadier General Henry Heth.
The 6th Florida remained at or near Knoxville until August 13 to thwart an anticipated Federal advance from the mountains. During this period, it performed skirmish and picket duties at Knoxville and at Loudon, some 35 miles to the southwest. On July 25, Colonel Finley was given custody of a suspected Union spy and orders from Major General Smith that he was to keep the prisoner, "… in closest guard beyond the possibility of escape, and if a single gun be fired by the enemy to-morrow morning the guard will be instructed by you to shoot the prisoner immediately, putting him to death."