Marker lets people stand at Civil War battle site
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The plaque at Cedar Creek shows where a skirmish killed eight.
Lenox Avenue crosses the Cedar Creek Bridge.Now a bronze plaque also marks the spot where eight men were killed and 16 wounded in the bloodiest one-day skirmish in Duval County during the Civil War.Kirby-Smith Camp No. 1209 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans recently installed the plaque to commemorate the fight between Union and Confederate troops.”When you read the sign about the battle of two armies for control of Florida, it may be chilling to realize you’re standing right where it occurred,” said Calvin Hart, adjutant of the non-profit group dedicated to preserving Southern heritage.Hart said there aren’t enough historical markers commemorating Civil War activities in Jacksonville. The Kirby-Smith Camp hopes to erect others, he said.Hart said the plaque will serve as an on-the-spot history lesson that brings the past to life and increases awareness of “what we owe to those who came before us.”The Mandarin resident worked on the project with Larry Skinner, the chapter’s historian and a resident of Hampton.After receiving city permission to plant the plaque, the group raised $2,400 through donations and the selling of T-shirts bearing the 1860 Florida seal, the territorial eagle and the marker.The skirmish, which took place March 1, 1864, was pretty much a draw, Hart said. It broke out 10 days after the Confederate victory at Olustee when Union forces left their camp 2 to 3 miles west of Cedar Creek to test Confederate defenses, Hart said.Two hours later, the outnumbered Union forces had fallen back to Cedar Creek to take advantage of its natural barrier, he said. 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. Confederate infantry then came up, and the fighting continued east along the road until Union troops reached the safety of their entrenchments at 3 Mile Run, now McCoys Creek. Within two months, both sides began to transfer the bulk of their forces to other theaters, Hart said.One Union soldier was killed at Cedar Creek, four were wounded and five captured. Seven Confederates were killed and 12 wounded.Among the Confederate casualties was Capt. Winston Stephens of the 2nd Florida Cavalry. Hart said Stephens, who died near present-day Lenox and Lane avenues, was singled out because he was motivating the troops from atop his horse. Two weeks after his death, his wife gave birth to their third child, a son she named Winston.