Sunny South Guard story


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Tampa Bay’s “Sunny South Guards” Receive Their Colors

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tampa, Fl.

On a typical sweltering Florida summer day, with the humidity thick and the sweat glands working overtime, attempting to keep our baking epidermis somewhat cooler, the citizens and dignitaries gathered for this special event. As in September of 1861, we gathered again to remember the uncertainty and challenges facing our forefathers forging a new nation by bringing a small slice of Tampa Town’s early history to life. It was a lively time as the “3rd Florida Regimental Brass Band” of St. Augustine floated inspiring tunes such as “Dixie,” Bonnie Blue,” “Yellow Rose,” “Old Folks at Home” and "God Save the South" across the downtown  plaza, enticing many patriots to add to the festivities by providing vocals to the tunes.

Soon, many civic, government and business representatives were about to step to the podium to bring greetings to the soldiers and those assembled. The Scottish-American Military Association Color Guard sharply marched up the plaza & presented present day  colors followed by noted recording artist and Southern Patriot Belinda Womack belting out the National Anthem. Greetings were presented from the American Legion, Sons of Union Veterans, Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park, August Jane Evans Wilson Chapter #2640 & Confederate Cantinieres Chapter #2405 United Daughters of the Confederacy, Gen. Jubal A. Early Camp #556 Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Pasco County Commission, Pasco County Historical Society and the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village. Local radio star and event Emcee Skip Mahaffee then introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Michael Givens, Commander in Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Givens delivered a rousing tribute to the Southern Soldier and the “Sunny South Guard” who with his family made a special trip to Tampa from South Carolina to attend and participate along with his children and their guest. His words of recollecting our true history and defending the honorable and noble sacrifices of our ancestors must be presented to the public at large he emphasized, which these words often brought cheers from the audience as he continued on with the history of the “Sunny South Guards” and recalled the many soldiers by name and age who sacrificed all to defend home and family.

At the conclusion of Commander Givens speech, the names of the direct descendents of these solders in attendance were called upon for them to stand up and be recognized. Next, eleven young ladies dressed in white gowns reflecting the purity and righteousness of the actions of the eleven succeeded Southern States advanced in the order that their respective state departed the former union to their place before the soldiers. In this solemn place they each read a short poem of encouragement to those in attendance, at the conclusion of which a young lady draped in the “Stars & Bars” representing the newly formed Confederation of Southern States presented the boys in gray their colors. These colors were presented to represent the love and admiration of a thankful citizenry for a safe journey and return of these soldiers.

After the ceremony, living history was presented by the members of 7th Florida Infantry Co, K and The Sunny South Guards, Company K, 4th Florida re-enactors. An engaging display of period artillery presented by the Peace River Artillery featuring two mountain howitzers, shells, shot and accompaniments was a hit with all as was the flag display of the many period banners as presented by living historian Marko Sumney.  Col Robert. E. Lee, portrayed by Thomas Jessee attracted attention in his federal blue uniform. (Col. Lee of the U.S. Corp of Army Engineers visited the bay area while surveying coastal defenses and navigation aids prior to the war.)

The Tampa Bay Sesquicentennial Commission wishes to thank the sponsors, support crew, donors, participants, planners and all the hard working folks who came together to recreate this special moment in Tampa’s history.

The commission has created a roll of honor with information about each of the soldiers in the guard which is accessible at

*4th Regiment, Florida Infantry Service History

4th Infantry Regiment was organized in the summer of 1861 at Jacksonville, Florida.  The men were raised in the counties of Gadsden, Franklin, Madison, New River, LaFayette, Columbia, Marion, Levy, Liberty, Washington, Jackson, and Hillsborough.  For a time it served in Florida, then was assigned to General Preston’s, Stovall’s, Finley’s,and J.A. Smith’s Brigade, Army of Tennessee.

During December, 1863, it was consolidated with the 1st Florida Cavalry Regiment. The 4th was engaged at Murfreesboro and Jackson, participated in the campaigns of the army from Chickamauga to Nashville, and saw action in North Carolina.

It was organized with 983 officers and men and lost forty-two percent of the 468 engaged at Murfreesboro, forty percent of the 217 at Chickamauga, and eighty-nine percent of the 172 at Missionary Ridge. The 1st/4th totaled 198 men and 109 arms in December, 1863.

The regiment surrendered 23 men in April, 1865. The field officers were Colonels Wiles L. L. Bowen, Edward Hopkins, and James P. Hunt; Lieutenant Colonels Edward Badger and M.W. Smith; and Majors Jacob A. Lash and John T. Lesley.

*Source:  U.S. Parks Service