Florida Soldier’s Confederate Memorial From Hemming Park

At the state reunion of United Confederate Veterans (UCV) in Ocala, Charles C. Hemming announced his plan to erect a memorial in honor of Florida’s Confederate soldiers. Charles, a Texas bank executive, was raised in Jacksonville and, at 17, joined the Jacksonville Light Infantry as a private on January 10, 1861. After fighting in many land battles, he was captured by Union forces at the Battle of Missionary Ridge. He was sent to an Illinois prison in December 1863 but later escaped to Canada and became a confederate spy. As a secret Confederate emissary, he made his way to Canada, the West Indies, Florida and Virginia, during which time he was captured on three different occasions but escaped. He rejoined his regiment in North Carolina where he was promoted for meritorious service. Members of the local Robert. E. Lee Camp of the UCV invited Charles to a reception in Jacksonville hoping to have him place the Florida Soldier’s monument in the city. After viewing several possible locations, Hemming preferred the center of St. James Park in Jacksonville. Although it involved removing a popular fountain, the City’s Board of Public Works gave its approval. The unveiling ceremony took place on June 16, 1898. Later, in 1899, the City Council changed the name of St. James Park to Hemming Park. The monument rose sixty-two feet from the square foundation. A column extended from the base topped by a bronze figure of a Confederate soldier in winter uniform. He stood at ease, with hands clasping the barrel of his rifle that rested on the ground. On his cap were the initials “JLI”, representing the Jacksonville Light Infantry. On three sides of the base were busts of Confederate General Kirby-Smith, Generals Robert. E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson with their drum corps, and General J.J. Dickinson, commander of the UCV’s Florida Division. On the remaining side of the square, there was a plaque containing a tribute, most likely written by Charles Hemming, “TO THE SOLDIERS OF FLORIDA”

After much controversy, the Jacksonville Mayor removed the statute in the middle of the night. On June 10, 2022 after 122 years in the center of the park, work crews removed the entire statue and stored it until 2023 when it was returned to the Hemming family. The monument was donated to the Kirby-Smith Camp 1209, who recently cleaned the Soldier statue. Plans are underway to have the monument re-erected soon to honor the Florida Confederate Veterans at Kirby-Smith Confederate Park.

Whereas the original location of the Florida Soldiers monument was downtown and few viewed, it will be located within viewing of thousands who travel on the interstate highway.

Be part of the Confederate Memorial Crew and support this effort.

Kirby Smith Camp 1209 Sons of Confederate Veterans of Jacksonville, Florida is now the owner of the Florida Soldiers Monument that once stood watch so proudly over Jacksonville. Would you like to help us to re-erect the Florida Soldiers Monument on private land? Your generous monetary donations will go along way to help us save our Southern history for future generations. 

Send your checks made out to SCV and write Confederate Memorial in the memo section

Mail to:

Calvin Hart– 4884 Victoria Chase Court Jacksonville, Florida 32257