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city, seat (1853) of Alachua county, north-central Florida, U.S., about 70 miles (115 km) southwest of Jacksonville. The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto marched through the area in 1539, and settlement eventually developed around a trading post known as Hog Town (established 1830). In 1853 the city was laid out as the county seat and named for General Edmund Pendleton Gaines, a commander during the War of 1812. Gainesville was the site of some minor battles (1864) of the American Civil War and was temporarily occupied by Union forces. After the war, citrus and cotton growing and phosphate mining became important in the area, but these activities had ceased by the end of World War I.