April 18, 2003

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  A Confederate flag adorns a memorial marker placed in remembrance of Isaac Papino, an African American soldier who served in the Confederate army.
By MATT MAY, Staff

Confederate Memorial Day will honor soldiers who sided against the Union

Senior Writer


Peter Guinta
Peter Guinta
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Most Civil War histories usually ignore the more than 70,000 African-Americans who served with Confederate armies.

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."

Black soldiers' 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.

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  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 Confederate army.
By MATT MAY, Staff

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.

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  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.
Special to The Record

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 brother.

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 it."