CAMP #1209


Confederate Memorial Day  Camp Mooney

Confederate Memorial Day  Camp Mooney

Confederate Memorial Day  Old City Cemetery


Jacksonville's Veteran's Day Parade 2011

Kirby-Smith Camp
assisting the Division of the United Daughters
of the Confederacy in placing
markers in the Camp
Captain Mooney Cemetery



Memorial service marks Duval Civil War battle

The Confederate ceremony held at historic cemetery

Confederate re-enactors get ready to post the colors. Calvin Hart, adjutant of the Kirby-Smith Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, holds the Confederate flag.
By SANDY STRICKLAND , Staff writer

As a breeze rustled through the oak and pine trees, the roar of cannon and rifle fire erupted from the small Westside cemetery sandwiched between two industrial parks.

Men in Confederate gray and Union blue fired three volleys for an audience that included several women in dresses with hoop skirts and full sleeves.

They were at a little-known cemetery Sunday to commemorate a little-known battle. But these members of Kirby-Smith Camp No. 1209 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Martha Reid Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy hope to change that.

In September, the Kirby-Smith Camp installed a bronze plaque at Lenox Avenue and the Cedar Creek Bridge to commemorate the bloodiest one-day Civil War skirmish in Duval County. On Sunday, observers came to Camp Mooney Cemetery on Ellis Road for a Confederate Memorial Day service. Some of the Confederate soldiers who died in the March 1864 skirmish are believed to be buried there.

With traffic from nearby Interstate 10 roaring in the background, participants entered its black wrought-iron gates and stepped back 142 years for a ceremony that included the reading of poems, calling out names of the dead and a history of the skirmish.

The plaque serves as an on-the-spot history lesson that brings the past to life and recognizes the sacrifices of the dead and wounded, said Calvin Hart, a Mandarin resident who is adjutant of the non-profit Kirby-Smith Camp.

Johnny Lammons (right) who helps maintain Camp Mooney Cemetery, helps fire the cannon during a Confederate Memorial Day service.

Hampton resident Larry Skinner, the camp's historian, said the skirmish broke out 10 days after the Confederate victory at Olustee when Union forces left Camp Mooney, 2 to 3 miles east of Cedar Creek, to test Confederate defenses.

Two hours later, the outnumbered Union forces had fallen back to Cedar Creek to take advantage of its natural barrier. The marshy ground also hampered the Confederate advance, and a short, intense fight ensued. After half an hour, Union forces continued their withdrawal.

Confederate cavalry followed until being ambushed several hundred yards east of the site. The Confederate infantry then advanced, and the fighting continued east along the road until Union troops reached their entrenchments at 3 Mile Run, now McCoys Creek. One Union soldier was killed at Cedar Creek, four wounded and five captured. Seven Confederates were killed and 12 wounded.

The ceremony even attracted some out-of-state visitors. Mike Webb of Newnan, Ga., accompanied by his three grandsons, came to read the names of four members of the 27th Georgia Regiment who were killed, including his great-grandfather.

According to area old-timers, 10 of the cemetery's 101 graves are those of Confederate soldiers, Skinner said. Three years ago, ground-penetrating radar detected unmarked graves in the area, he said. Headstones, marked anonymous, have since been erected.

Middleburg resident Faye Castile, president of the Florida Division of the UDC, said the organization ordered a number of marked headstones in the 1940s, but they were never placed. They were later found stashed in a barn and ultimately passed along to her. Most of the grave sites were never found, nor were descendants of the deceased.

"Because I did not want them left in our garage and I wanted these gentlemen to be honored, we decided to put a memorial plaque here," Castile said, referring to a granite slab in front of the cemetery's flagpole.

The 80-foot-wide-by-400-foot-long cemetery is maintained by Johnny Lammons, Brian Riddle and Skinner, Sons of Confederate Veterans members. Because there were already graves there, Lammons said, it became a community cemetery. Perhaps its biggest funeral was in 1927, when four sisters named Silcox drowned while at a picnic. More than 4,000 people attended.

The last known burial was in 1989.