Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Movie Shows 1914 Confederate Reunion in Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Movie Shows 1914 Confederate Reunion in Jacksonville

Article excerpt


They might have, in fact, been whistling Dixie.

Imagine thousands of bewhiskered, graying and gray-clad Civil War veterans gathered in downtown Jacksonville.

Sound improbable?

Well, you'll be able to see them again this afternoon when a restored silent film of a 1914 veterans gathering is shown at the Scottish Rite Center, across from the very park where the throng of veterans gathered and camped 92 years ago.

About 50,000 veterans from all over the South gathered in Dignan Park, renamed Confederate Park to honor the historic gathering. Though thousands of residents had offered lodging to the veterans, most in their 60s at the time, the old-timers opted to camp in tents.

The film will be shown at an event today at the Scottish Rite Center, across from Confederate Park, 965 Hubbard St. The event -- the Southern Heritage Rally: Dinner and a Movie -- is $5 per person. Dinner is set for 5:30 p.m. The movie will be shown at 7 p.m.

There will also be a display of Civil War artifacts. The film, dinner and artifact display are being presented by the Kirby-Smith Camp No. 1209 of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans.

Calvin Hart, adjutant of the Kirby-Smith Camp, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving Southern heritage, is one of the organizers of the Southern Heritage Rally. Hart recently collected many of the North Florida-area Civil War artifacts displayed at Jacksonville's Southern Heritage Museum in order to display them at today's Southern Heritage Rally. Proceeds from today's event will benefit the Southern Heritage Museum at 4304 Herschel St.

Hart said he had heard old-timers talking about the veterans reunion film for years. There were several silent movie studios in Jacksonville at the time and one of them recorded the huge event.

His interest piqued, Hart eventually obtained a damaged copy of the film through the Florida Archives in Tallahassee. He cleaned up the 30-minute film and edited it to remove badly damaged sections. He ended up with 17 minutes of black-and-white nostalgia to which he supplied a musical soundtrack.

Many of the veterans in the film look old and weary. …

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