A Confederate flag adorns a memorial marker placed in remembrance of Isaac
Papino, an African American soldier who served in the Confederate army.
Confederate Memorial Day will honor
soldiers who sided against the Union
By PETER GUINTA
Most Civil War histories
usually ignore the more than 70,000 African-Americans who served with
People know little about
them, but in 1861, noted black abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, "There
are many colored men in the Confederate Army as real soldiers, having muskets on
their shoulders, bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal troops and
doing all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government."
contributions to Union armies are already well known, popularized in Hollywood
films such as "Glory" with Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.
However, suggesting that
Southern blacks fought and died for a government that condoned and supported
slavery is politically incorrect nowadays.
Nonetheless, at least
three black Confederate veterans are buried in San Lorenzo Cemetery on U.S. 1 --
three of only six documented in the state.
Col. John Masters unrolls an American flag before placing it at a grave of
Anthony T. Welters, an African American soldier who served in the
These men are Emanuel
Osborn, Anthony Welters and Isaac Papino, all from St. Augustine.
Their memories -- and the
memories of 46 white Confederate soldiers who died during that war -- will be
honored Saturday, when Nelson Wimbush of Orlando, grandson of a black soldier
who rode with Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, speaks at 10 a.m. at
the Plaza de la Constitucion.
Wimbush is coming to St.
Augustine to mark an early observance of Confederate Memorial Day by the Sons of
Confederate Veterans, Gen. William Wing Loring Camp 1316, St. Augustine.
According to Jim Davis, a
U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam and adjutant of the Loring chapter, the observance
was moved from April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph E. Johnson's surrender,
to avoid conflict with Flagler College's graduation.
"After the speech,
the names of all veterans listed on the Confederate Monument will be read
aloud," Davis said.
Confederate soldier Anthony T. Welters is pictured in this late 1800's
portrait. Welters is one of at least two African American Confederate
soldiers buried at San Lorenzo Cemetery in St. Augustine.
That memorial was raised
in 1872 by the Ladies Memorial Association of St. Augustine. The names on its
side include many long-time St. Augustine families and most will sound familiar
-- Thomas and John Ponce, Peter Masters, Jacob, Antonio and George Mickler,
Michael G. Llambias, Bartolo Pinkham, Henaro Triay, Joseph Andreu, Francis Baya
and Gaspar Carreras, among others.
Loring, a veteran of the
Seminole and Mexican wars, was raised in St. Augustine and accepted a commission
in the Army of the Confederacy in 1862. His ashes are buried under a monument in
the west Plaza, Cordova and King streets, raised in his honor in 1920 by the
Anna Dummett Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy.
"All of our veterans
ought to be honored for the sacrifices they gave," Davis said. "This
is our way of honoring the sacrifices of our Confederate veterans."
After reading the names,
participants will be invited to San Lorenzo Cemetery to place flags on the
graves of the 160 Confederates -- black and white -- buried there.
John Masters of St.
Augustine, a retired U.S. Army colonel with combat service in World War II,
Korea and Vietnam, has documented 9,000 Confederate graves in Florida. Only six
of them are black, he said, because most records of the time did not list race.
"Graves of black
Confederate veterans are scarce as hen's teeth," he said.
Most black Confederates
worked as cooks, drivers or musicians, but at least 18,000 served as combat
troops, Masters said.
"Black people don't
want to believe that, but it's true," he said. "Nobody wanted to be a
slave, but this was their home and the North was an aggressor nation."
All St. Augustine black
Confederates survived the war.
Osborn was born here in
1843, the son of freed slaves. He was 18 when he enlisted in 1861 as a musician
in Capt. John Lott Phillips' Company B, 3rd Florida Infantry Regiment, called
the St. Augustine Blues.
He served in St.
Augustine, Fernandina Beach, Tallahassee, Mobile, Ala., and Chattanooga, Tenn.,
fighting in the Battle of Perryville.
He was discharged in 1862
after his one-year enlistment ended and due to his ill health. He died in 1907.
In St. Augustine National
Cemetery is buried a Samuel L. Osborn Jr., private in Company D, 33rd U.S.
Colored Troops, who died in 1890. Masters believes this may be Emanuel's
Welters, who served in the
same company as Osborn and Papino, was also known under other names, such as
Anthony Wetters, Tony Fontane and Antonio Huertas. A former slave, he was born
in 1810 and enlisted as a fifer in 1861, when he was 51 years old.
He participated in the
battles of Perryville, Murfreesboro, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Chickamauga,
Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville.
Returning to St.
Augustine, after the war, Welters lived at 79 Bridge St. and became active in
politics and with the E. Kirby Smith Camp, United Confederate Veterans. He died
in 1902 at 92 years old.
Only a few facts are
available about Papino. He was born in 1813 and enlisted as a musician and
mechanic in 1861 at 48 years old but was discharged in November 1862.
His burial place is not
precisely known, but a stone in San Lorenzo stands near his comrades' graves in
memorial of his service.
Many blacks who fought for
the Confederacy drew pensions for their service after the war. Arkansas, the
only state which identified these individuals by race, documented 278 blacks who
received such pensions.
Masters said Confederate
Gen. E. Kirby Smith, who was born and raised in St. Augustine, had a black
orderly, Alex Darns. After the war, the general paid for his former orderly to
attend medical school.
Darns later became a
successful doctor in Jacksonville.
"St. Augustine was
occupied by the Union in 1862," Masters said. "Smith's mother was a
Confederate spy. She and someone else cut down the flag pole in front of the
arsenal (now National Guard headquarters) so they couldn't fly the Union flag on