Confederate Memorial Day Observed in Tampa
The Augusta Jane Evans Wilson Chapter 2640 and the Judah P. Benjamin Camp #2210 observed Confederate Memorial Day this year with a “Cavalcade”. On Saturday, April 26, 2014, under mild southern skies, the observance commenced with opening ceremonies at the Downtown Confederate Monument “Memoria in Aeterna’. Then, nearly two dozen vehicles, led by members’ decorated parade cars including the “Bonnie Blue Corvette” the “Gray Ghost”, processed with headlights on, to Tampa’s historic Oaklawn Cemetery. 75 Confederate Veterans’ names were read alternately by Past Pres. Suzanne Futch and JPB SCV Camp Cmdr. David McCallister, and “tattoo” (Taps) was played. A wreath was placed by the Thomas K. Spencer Chapter 947 Children of the Confederacy on the grave of the Chapter’s namesake. The procession continued to Tampa’s Woodlawn Cemetery where an additional 116 Veterans were honored.
The Cavalcade next processed to Branch Family Cemetery in Temple Terrace, where the City’s Confederate Memorial Day Proclamation was read as well as the history of Confederate Memorial Day.
The last leg took participants to Confederate Memorial Park where the Chapter placed another wreath and dedicated its Memorial Marker to Judah P. Benjamin. The Marker was initiated by the Chapter 10 years ago as an integral piece of Confederate Memorial Park, along with several other Memorial Markers to significant Confederate individuals or groups. Funds were accumulated over a period of years, and was supplemented by the family of Mrs. Dorothy Lillian Walters, mother of J.P. Benjamin Camp SCV members Capt. Phil and Fred Walters as a tribute to Mrs. Walters. Mrs. Walters, though born in the North, became an adopted daughter of the South, and was an Associate member of our Chapter.
The UDC dedication ceremony was preceded with the strains of “Green Hills of Tyrol” and “When the Battle Is Over” played on bagpipes by Chapter member, Erla Richardson. The UDC Marker dedication ritual was performed by Pres. Brenna Rutland, and a poem was offered by Memorial Committee Chairman, Lunelle Siegel.
Members of the Walters family were in attendance for the dedication, and Mrs. Walter’s son Capt. Phil Walters, 9th Brigade Cmdr. of the Florida Division SCV performed the unveiling of the plaque.
Confederate Memorial Park is located on US Highway 92 under the junction of Interstate Highway 4 and 75 on the eastern edge of Tampa, and is a project of the Florida Division Sons of Confederate Veterans through its “Flags Across Florida Project” www.tampaflag.info. The chapter congratulates to Florida Division Cmdr. Jim Davis who set finishing the project as a priority.
The Cavalcade was a combined effort of the Chapter, the JP Benjamin Camp #2210, SCV, and the Confederate Cantinieres Chapter 2405, UDC, Tampa.
The three youngest Veterans to be honored were: Paul Boutan LaLane, Thomas K. Spencer, and Darwin Branch Givens. Darwin Branch Givens, as a 6 year old boy, ran through Tampa in 1864, alerting Tampa of an imminent invasion with the cry “The (Yankee) Devils are Coming” in advance of the ’64 invasion. LaLane, 13 at the time, fired cannons on Ft. Sumter, South Carolina on April 12th and 13th. His older brother was a Citadel Cadet and was a member of the Palmetto Guards. Spencer, 15, of Tampa, enlisted as a drummer boy, served for about a year, was discovered as being too young and was discharged. Anxious to contribute he volunteered on a blockade runner, but was captured and languished in a POW camp for 7 months before being released. He then served as a messenger in Florida, and was the last Confederate to surrender.
The oldest veteran, Joseph P. Robles, Sr., Pvt. Commissary Dept., namesake of Robles Park, Robles Elementary, etc., who single handedly captured a Federal raiding party bent on destroying the salt works, critical to food supply was honored as well.
6 Tampa Mayors were in included in the Roll Call of Honor: J. Alfonso Delaunay, Pvt. 7th FL, Inf., Co, K (3rd Mayor) James McKay, Sr. (6th), who served as Commissary Agent and blockade runner; John B. Jackson (9th), Pvt. 7th FL Inf., Co. K; Josiah Ferris, Pvt. Capt. Dykes Light Art’y (11th) John T. Lesley, Capt. Maj., 4th FL Inf. Co. K ; (Sunny South Guards) (12th); John P. Wall, Pvt. 9th FL Inf., Co. A (16th).
Other notables include: Henry Laurens Mitchell, Capt., 4th FL Inf., Co. K (“Sunny South Guards”) who would become 16th Governor of Florida; Rev. Leroy Lesley, Capt. Munnerlyn’s Btt’n, Co. C (Cow Cavalry), who established the first church in Tampa. Gustav Adolphus Hanson, Capt., & QM, Forrest’s Cav., Hillsborough County Probate Judge; James Gettis, and Hillsborough Co. Judge, Capt., 7th FL inf. Co. B. Givens would become Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court.
Several of the Veterans honored were members of Hillsborough Lodge #25 F&AM. The Veteran’s locations of origin hail from as far away as Pennsylvania, Ireland, Germany and Spain, showing the diversity of the men who pledged their life and fate to defend their family against the armed invasion of their States. Ranks range from privates and seamen to Color Sergeants up the ranks to Ships Captains, Surgeons and Colonels.
After the War, these Veterans would be integral threads in the fabric of the growth and prosperity of Hillsborough County. Spencer would become Sherriff, the first to appoint a Black deputy, Levin Armwood; James McKay, Jr. would be the 34th mayor of Tampa, and would continue his father’s shipping business that exists today.
5 unknown Veterans as well as unknown slaves associated with the various Tampa households, whose names are known only to God, will be honored as well. The veterans represent all areas of service: navy, artillery, infantry, cavalry and Civil Service and material aide (include blockade running).
It was a wonderful day of honoring these Confederate Veterans.
After the Spanish American War and the spirit of re-unification intensified, an in 1898, President William McKinley expressed the tone of the nation saying "Every soldier’s grave made during our unfortunate civil war [sic] is a tribute to American valor… And the time has now come… when in the spirit of fraternity we should share in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers… and if it needed further justification it is found in the gallant loyalty to the Union and the flag so conspicuously shown in the year just passed by the sons and grandsons of those heroic dead.” And in 1910, by act of the US Congress (P.L. 38, 59th Congress, Chap. 631-34 Stat. 56) equal status was awarded to Veterans of the CSA and Veterans of the USA.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy® (UDC) is the nation’s oldest patriotic organization, dating to 1896, whose original purpose was the care of the aging Confederate Veterans after the War Between the States. Today the organization has five objectives: Memorial, Patriotic, Benevolent, Historical and Educational.
The Cavalcade Ceremony was a joint event of the Judah P. Benjamin Camp #2210, Sons of Confederate Veterans (www.tampascv.com) and the Confederate Cantinieres Chapter 2405, United Daughters of the Confederacy®.
The Augusta Jane Evans Wilson Chapter 2640 was chartered in April 2004 in Temple Terrace. For more information contact Memorial Committee Chairman Lunelle Siegel at 813-727-3920 or visit the Chapter’s Web site at www.augustajanesudc.org.
Judah P. Benjamin, a close confidant of President Jefferson Davis , served in Davis’s Cabinet successively as Attorney General, Secretary of War and Secretary of State. He became known as the “Brains of the Confederacy”.
Born on August 6, 1811 in St. Thomas, West Indies, Benjamin was of Jewish decent. He spent his childhood in Charleston, South Carolina and at the age of 15 went to College at Yale where he excelled in debate. After college he practiced commercial and maritime law in New Orleans, Louisiana, writing at 23 a reference book that became a standard for state law.
In 1832 he passed the Bar and his reputation and fortune grew. He purchased a Louisiana plantation and did studies on sugar refining and the chemistry of sugar.
Elected to the State Legislature in 1842 as a Whig, Benjamin was sent to the U.S. Senate in 1852. He changed his political party to Democrat and advocated for secession for Louisiana when Lincoln was elected President.
When Richmond, Virginia fell to Union troops, he left the Confederate Capital with President Davis’s party, but before the capture of Davis, Benjamin made his way to Gamble Mansion in Hillsborough County Florida and escaped capture in an open boat to the West Indies and from there to England.
Benjamin spent the remainder of his life in Europe. He was made an Attorney for the Queen’s Counsel and as his practice increased rapidly. He restricted his work to the House of Lords and the Privy Council, but was considered to be one of the greatest minds in international law. Precedents Benjamin argued in the 1870’s are still being used today.
In May 1880 he was injured in a streetcar accident in Paris where his wife and child lived. He continued to work but had to retire 2 years later. On May 6, 1884 Benjamin died in Paris and is buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery there.
In loving memory of:
Dorothy Lillian Walters (daughter of the North, heart with the South)
Augusta Jane Evans Wilson Chapter 2640, UDC