Home / State of Florida / New Civil War Monument Triggers Debate in Lake City

New Civil War Monument Triggers Debate in Lake City

H.K. Edgerton with his Confederate flag
H.K. Edgerton stands with his Confederate flag.

What started as a friendly gathering quickly turned into a protest when members and supporters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans demanded that a new monument to honor Union veterans not be built in the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposed the location of the monument and held a workshop Monday night to hear feedback. Names were drawn from people who signed up to speak on the matter.

One of those people, Jim Davis, spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said members didn’t take issue with the idea of a monument being built, but rather with the location being so close to an already existing monument.

“That’s a historical and cultural resource and it should remain the way it is,” Davis said. “There’s another 600-plus acres that has been loaned to this state … I welcome them to put it there.”

Contrary to Davis, Lloyd Monroe, president of the Olustee Monument Commission and representative of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, said he did a thorough investigation of the park and found no Union representation.

“We inspected the State Battlefield Park and we did not find a monument within the park that honors the sacrifice of those soldiers, in fact, they’re not mentioned,” Monroe said.

But some think the Union has no place being represented in southern states at all.

H.K. Edgerton, president of Southern Heritage 411, carried a giant Confederate flag with him into the workshop. When he spoke, he riled up the Confederate supporters with strong words about what he believes the new monument should represent.

“There is no place in the south land of America to memorialize Yankee soldiers,” Edgerton said. “This is an army that came here raping, robbing, stealing, killing and murdering our people. The kinds of things that happened here under the sanction of Abraham Lincoln were for these men to commit total warfare against innocent men, women and children who could not defend themselves.”

The workshop was never meant to cause so much resistance, and Union representatives said they didn’t intend to misrepresent the hallowed grounds.

Mike Farrell, former department commander of the Sons of Union Veterans, said there’s equal representation for battlegrounds all around the country — north and south –and that there need to be in Olustee as well.

“On every Civil War battlefield in the country — north or south of the Mason-Dixon Line — there are Confederate and Union monuments,” Farrell said. “Whether they be in proximity, close or far away, it’s really not relevant. Our country is one united country.”

But the real debate seemed to be in the level of representation itself.

Davis went on to explain the current monument mentions Union soldiers and the fight they took part in. In his mind, that’s enough.

“If you go read the monument and read what it says, it talks about both sides,” Davis said. “If you go back and look at the pictures of the dedication of that monument, there is a huge American flag with Confederate and Union soldiers all around it.”

Monroe disagreed.

The next step in the process will likely be finalizing a location so the state can instruct the park as to what measures need to be taken to build the monument.

For now, both sides stand strong.

About Trevor Sikkema

Trevor is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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  1. David McCallister

    Anyone who has been to Olustee Battlefield park can read the inscription on the 1912 monument which says:

    ” The Battle of Olustee was fought on this ground February 20, 1864. Between 5,000 Confederate troops commanded by General Joseph Finnegan and 6,000 Federal troops under General Truman Seymour. The Federals were defeated with a loss of 2,000 men. The Confederate loss was less than 1,000. ”

    A state park website http://www.vivaflorida.org/Explore/Gardens-and-Parks/Olustee-Battlefield-Historic-State-Park , also adds the following: “In 1991 a large granite cross monument was erected at the battlefield cemetery in honor of the Union dead at Olustee.”

    See a picture at http://www.flpublicarchaeology.org/civilwar/monuments/olustee-battlefield/unity-and-peace-monument/federal-cross.jpg.php. Its inscription is: ” To the memory of the officers and soldiers of the United States Army who fell in the Battle of Olustee February 20, 1864. This memorial replaces the original wooden one erected on this site May 1866.”

    • David, you need to stop confusing the Yankee emotions which actual facts! It doesn’t go along with all the falsehoods they’ve been preaching for 150 years to keep people from learning the real reason they invaded Florida…

  2. It saddens me to see Mr. Edgerton holding the battle flag of the rebellion. Mr. Edgerton is probably not aware that, during the battle of Olustee, when an officer was asked what was going on on his front, the officer replied, “Killing niggers.” Mr. Edgerton has the right to his beliefs, but perhaps if he knew this, he may not feel the need to hold that flag, against which so many of his fore fathers were slaughtered in the fight to secure the freedom for African-Americans that he now enjoys.

    • Jimmy L. Shirley Jr.


      Like the yankee soldiers had anything against that?

    • At the battle of Olustee the USCT were slaughtered because their good rifles were taken from them and given to the white calv. The USCT then were forced to hold the line with inferior weapons while the white troops retreated.

  3. Andy Hall (was AndyinTexas)

    Davis has previously that ““the 1912 monument is dedicated to the memory of the men who fought for the Union and the Confederacy.” This is the actual dedication:

    To the men who fought and
    Triumphed here in defense
    of their homes and firesides.
    This monument is erected
    by the United Daughters
    of the Confederacy aided
    by the State of Florida.
    In commemoration of their
    devotion to the cause of
    Liberty and State Sovereignty

  4. The existing Monument is fair and equal. Leave it alone.

  5. Please review the Official transcripts of the “War of Rebellion” that relate to the 54th Mass Reg (Colored) that were left to slaughter by the FEDERAL officers who fled their commands (and soldiers) attempting to flee the debacle upon the battlefield. The soldiers of the 54th held their ground & did their duty while their “honorable white Yankee leaders” never ordered them to fall back. The statement below about killing NI****S very well may have come from a Union officer who may not have held their troops (US soldiers who received 2/3 pay of their white counterparts) well being in high regard. Wonder if the proposed monument was to honor the “courageous actions” of these fine Yankee Officers?
    Additionally, there is a Union Monument in the cemetery that the Sons of Union Veterans appear to have amnesia about. Maybe because since that tall, highly visible landmark is predominately in the shape of a Christian cross (a form most likely chosen by those who fought there to represent THEIR values), the modern day revisionists fail to recognize it’s existence as it may offend some non Christian or atheist. Who knows?

    • Actually, the phrase in question was “Shooting niggers, sir” and is from the reminiscensces of William Penniman, 4th Georgia Cavalry, Southern Historical Collection @ Univ of North Carolina. After the battle was well over, Penniman heard firing in his front that sounded like skirmish fire. He writes that he asked a young officer standing in the road nearby, “What is the meaning of all this firing I hear going on”. The officer replied “‘Shooting niggers, sir. I have tried to make the boys desist but I can’t control them’. I made some answer in effect that it seemed horrible to kill the wounded devils, and he again answered, ‘That’s so Sir, but one young fellow over yonder told me the niggers killed his brother after being wounded, at Fort Pillow, and he was twenty three years old, that he had already killed nineteen and needed only four more to make the matter even, so I told him to go ahead and finis the job'”.

      • Thanks for the elaboration. I couldn’t remember the entire quite offhand. The context you’ve provided is fascinating. It demonstrates the intrinsic racism that I was, perhaps in-artfully on my part, trying to get at. Having read what you’ve written, I have two questions. I wonder if it was true that the defenders of Fort Pillow killed his wounded brother. It seems odd that they would have the opportunity to do so, considering that the Union garrison at For Pillow were massacred and (quite obviously) lost the battle. I also wonder how the shooter in question would know. I doubt the memoir elaborates on these questions but if they do and you don’t mind taking the time I would be extremely interested to know the answers.

        • Not sure I can answer those questions, just wanted to point out that post-battle atrocities by Confederate soldiers against wounded USCT’s at Olustee are documented. It was also noted that when many of the black Union dead were finally buried or removed from the field, almost all of their corpses had suffered head shots in addition to the various body wounds; a strong indicator that some of those head shots probably occurred after the battle when they were wounded and still alive.

          • Its such a travesty. Thank you for clarifying what I was trying to say :). I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not read William Penniman’s Memoir and thus was unable to articulate my point with the proper context.

            As for my questions, I have little doubt that ascertaining the answers would be next to impossible, but I must admit that what you said made me painfully curious so I just had to ask. :P

    • You can find the source in John Keegan’s “A Military History of the American Civil War.” The section in which he discusses the event is in his chapter dedicated to Confederate policy directed towards black infantry. I never praised Federal command in my comment.

  6. The “Damn Yankees” should be taken to Olustee & shot! Some try to call me one because I was born & raised in a Yanksville type of place called Michigan. But I’m here to tell you now I have no yankee blood flowing within these veins! Southern & Canadian are my bloodlines. Great-gramps (that’s correct one “great”) Al Carey was a POW of the damn yankees for over 2 long years @ a very evil place called Camp Douglas. Look it up. The yankees had the resources but deliberately starved & physically tortured their prisoners of war. Camp Douglas became forever known as Eighty Acres of Hell due to over 12,000 prisoners confined & less than half that many freed at the end of the War of Northern Aggression…

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