- Jul 30, 2018
Confederate monument at Ocala
I'm back on the road, this time in the Sunshine State. And sunshine I have had so far aplenty!
My tour started from Orlando. Coming with warm recommendations, I first hit the Dade Battlefield. I visited the museum, got to see the movie, than walked the original road where the ambush took place. If you stand at certain points where you don't see any of the modern building or signage, you can actually imagine being in 1835.
A miniature in the visitor center, the Seminoles awaiting the opportunity to attack.
A reconstruction of the breastworks the US soldiers having survived the first attack built in order to protect themselves when the Seminoles attacked again. It was of no real use; everyone but two men were killed or mortally wounded. And of the two survivors, only one made it back to Fort Brooke.
These three monuments depict where officers fell. Closest is Major Dade at the head of the US column who was shot in the first attack wave. The second monument is the spot Captain Fraser fell. And the third farthest in the background is for Lt. Mudge.
From the Dade Battlefield I continued on north to Ocala to see its Confederate monument (see picture at the top of this post). It was originally erected next to the County Courthouse but was moved to its current spot on the Ocala-Marion County Veterans Memorial Park in 2010.
From Ocala I drove to Oak Ridge Cemetery in Micanopy. There, Madison Starke Perry, Florida's 4th governor from 1857 to 1861, is buried. Perry was for secession. After leaving the office, he helped organize the 7th Florida Infantry and was made it's colonel. The regiment served in East Tennessee while Perry was in command. Perry resigned in June 1863 and returned to his plantation. He died less than two years later.
In the cemetery is also the Confederate monument that once stood at the Alachua Country Administration Building in Gainesville, but it's hard to photograph because, oddly, the monument's back is to the cemetery, the front toward the woods and the fence in front of it almost overgrown.
Next stop was Gainesville. I began with the Haile Homestead. In 1854, Thomas Evans Haile and his family moved here from South Carolina. Some of his siblings and brothers-in-law with their families followed. Thomas's wife Ester "Serena" Chesnut Haile was the niece of General James Chesnut and diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut. The Hailes and Chesnuts owned several cotton plantations in the area of Gainesville.
Thomas served in the 5th Florida Cavalry from August 1863 to May 1865 when he was mustered out. For a time, his oldest son John served in the same unit. John was 17 when he was mustered out; he died two years later after a short illness.
A month after the fall of Richmond Jefferson Davis's baggage train had made it to Alachua county. The content was hidden at Daniel Levy Yulee's plantation, but two of the men took shelter at the Haile Homestead before heading to Jacksonville to surrender.
The guide told us about the Haile family plot in the nearby cemetery. Special about that plot is the grave of Bennett Kelley. He was an enslaved that came to Florida with his parents as a boy and worked in the house. After the war, he came back and took care of Thomas and Serena. He was considered a very good family friend, so much so that Thomas and Serena wanted him to be buried in the family plot. When Kelley died in the 1930s, burying a black with whites just wasn't done, but the wish was honored and in the corner of the Haile family plot can be found Bennett Kelley's grave.
Next I headed to the Gainesville Depot. Several Haile sons worked with the railroad after the war. The depot is the only Civil War building on the Florida Railroad still standing. On August 17, 1864 during the Battle of Gainesville the depot was occupied by Union soldiers but the Confederates eventually drove them out. Today the depot serves as cafes and ice cream parlors for a city park with playgrounds and such.
Final stop of the day was Gainesville's historic Evergreen Cemetery where General Jesse J. Finley is buried. Finley was Colonel of the 6th Florida Infantry and fought at Chickamauga before being promoted to Brigadier-General in November 1863. After the war, he served in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Tomorrow's program: Cedar Key.
EDIT: Sorry, I had trouble with uploading pics. It seemed there was a double and a pic I did not want to share.