The —FAKE HISTORY Sad!— of the Florida Capitol’s Confederate Monument
The Confederate Monument on the grounds of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee misspells and misplaces Gettysburg, Pennsylvania — and that may be its least egregious error.
It’s full of fake Confederate history — the most common kind in Florida.
This monument was erected in 1881 to “perpetuate in the memory of succeeding generations the heroic patriotism of the men of Leon County who perished in the Civil War of 1861–1865.”
More on how a monument like this exists in a minute.
The monument commermorates three “Florida battles,” the first of which, isn’t really even a thing. And the other two are far from patriotic.
The “battle of Pensacola” may be referring to one of three things.
- A raid of Santa Rosa Island in 1861…
- Another time in 1861 when Confederates “cowere[ed] on the sidelines while great guns [blew] their defenses to smithereens,” or
- That one time in 1862 when Confederates ran away and burned the city to the ground.
Not exactly heroic “battles.”
The “battle of Natural Bridge” is also listed (and it has its own monument).
This “battle” happened around now Woodville, Florida, which is right next to Tallahassee. This is important because U.S. General H.W. Halleck said taking Tallahassee, Florida was “in opposition to sound strategy.”
In response, U.S. Major General Quincy A Gillmore, in charge of Florida, agreed and told General Halleck he had “no intention to occupy that part of the state.”
Anyway, “the Confederate archives,” unlike the history on wikipedia and elsewhere, “make it clear that on [the Confederate] side hardly anyone did any fighting at all, which explains the near nonexistence of Confederate casualties.” And despite revisionist history that gives “victory” credit to cadet boys from West Florida Seminary, now called Florida State University, it says ““our artillery,” not underage cadets decided the outcome.””
Confederates had “overwhelming force” and won, but instead of chasing down the Union troops, “no serious attempt [was] made to pursue” because as one field officer put it, they were “too busy shooting n*****s, sir.”
Of the more than 1,000 black soldiers, only three were taken prisoner. It’s presumed that, unlike the white soliders taken prisoner, the rest of the wounded black met the fate described by the officer above.
This is the legacy of the “Victory at Olustee” reenacted every year.
To bring this home…
Four weeks and five days after the Natural Bridge “victory” against mostly “U.S. Colored Troops” passing through with no intention of capturing Tallahassee, the Confederates surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia.
Then on “April Fool’s Day 1865, John Milton, the Governor of Florida, not having bothered to resign his office, shot himself through the head.”
Apparently, though, it wasn’t just the loss, he became paranoid that “Confederate “deserters” were plotting to kidnap him and sell him to the Yankees.” These were the “thousands of homeless, landless, defeated white men [roaming Florida],” after “Florida’s rich white men had gotten Florida’s poor white men into a fight they were bound to lose, and now they had lost it. Bloodied, dispirited, despairing, and angry, they were coming home.”
This is the real history of the battles listed on the Florida Capitol’s Confederate monument.
Something to study. Nothing to celebrate. However, the Civil War history most Floridians were taught to study was wrong and racist.
The “history” of those monuments is the revisionist history of Caroline Mays Brevard. She wrote “a History of Florida” published in 1904. This book was required by law to be read by black and white students in public school.
She was the granddaughter of Governor Richard Call, even though Call was one of Florida’s “most trenchant critic[s] of succession.”
In her revised, racist history, of which she “never knew,” she “created a fantasy Florida where rich, powerful whites, most especially her own forebears, incarnate virtue and progress.”
She lectured, inspired, and advocated for most of the Confederate monuments we now see spattered around the Sunshine State, using “Florida’s public funds to finance and the state government to enforce her fabricated vision of Florida’s past.”
And to add insult, she was added to a list of “Great Floridians” in 2012.
Now you know the real history behind the Confederate monument at the Florida Capitol, so you can decide whether it should come down, and if it’s okay if we use public money and government to do it.
This is post is over, but you need to read this last part.
I didn’t learn any of this in school, this is almost over-the-top cribbed from T.D. Allman’s Finding Florida. I’m not an historian. I just read books about Florida. Allman did all the work and deserves all the credit. If it was legal, I would have just copy and pasted the entire Chapter 14. Buy his book.
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