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Charles C. Hemming.

A brief Biographical Sketch of.

From the souvenir programme of the unveiling ceremonies, June 16, 1898, of the monument to the Confederate dead, erected at his cost at Jacksonville, Fla.

Charles C. Hemming, now of Gainesville, Texas, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1845. Charlie Hemming, as he was known to all his comrades, enlisted in the Jacksonville Light Infantry, 3d Florida infantry, in January, 1861. He participated in every battle fought by the Western Army, in which Florida troops were engaged, up to the time of his capture, except the battle of Chickamauga, at which time he was at home sick.

He was wounded in the battle of Perryville, Ky., and captured at Missionary Ridge. He was sent as a prisoner to Nashville, and then sent to Rock Island, Ill., arriving there early in December, 1863, which was the beginning of the coldest winter ever known in the Northwest. During the next month the thermometer was at times more than 40 degrees below zero. It was while in this prison that [130] Colonel (now General) Shafter, fearing an outbreak, offered Charlie Hemming his liberty if he would report all combinations made by the Confederates, which offer he unhesitatingly declined, and as a result was put in irons for three days.

Colonel Shafter no doubt thought that Charlie Hemming was of Northern birth, from the fact that he had an aunt living in the State of New York, to whom he frequently wrote.

On the 28th of September, 1864, he escaped from prison, dressed as a Federal soldier, having obtained different articles of the uniform from comrades in the prison. He went immediately to Canada, and by order of the Confederate Consul there, was attached to the raiders under Captain John Y. Beall, who was later captured and hung as a spy. Hemming was with him when captured, but made his escape and visited all the Federal fortifications from Niagara Falls to Chicago, in disguise, and obtained many maps and charts. While thus engaged he was three times captured, but escaped each time. Had he been held and tried, he would, of course, have been executed. He was sent from Canada in January, 1865, as a bearer of dispatches to the War Department of the Confederate Government, and after travelling through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and going to West India Islands, he secreted himself on board a ship sailing out of Havana, and landed in an open boat on the coast of Florida, and from thence made his way, partly afoot, to Richmond and delivered his dispatches. He immediately rejoined his regiment near Greensboro, N. C., and was promoted for meritorious conduct as a soldier, and remained with the command until it surrendered, having served four years and five months in the Confederate army. When he removed to Texas in 1866, he was without means and acquaintances there, and during that year worked as a laborer on the docks at Galveston. In 1870, he entered the bank of Giddings & Giddings at Bronham as cashier, which position he held until 1881, when he removed to Gainesville, and has since been connected with the Gainesville National Bank as cashier or president.

Mr. Hemming is now also president of the Texas State Bankers' Association, and regards Texas as the grandest country in the world.

It has been the ambition of Mr. Hemming since the period of his patriotic service to erect a monument to the heroic dead of the Confederacy in the city of his birth.

At the State reunion of the United Confederate Veterans, held at Ocala, February 22, 1896, he took his comrades by surprise by announcing that his plans for the erection of the monument had been [131] matured, and that as soon as practicable he would arrange to select a site on which to erect it.

This was made known to R. E. Lee Camp, Confederate Veterans, of Jacksonville, by telegraph the next day. That organization at once held a meeting and formally invited Mr. and Mrs. Hemming to visit Jacksonville as the guests of the Camp.

The invitation was accepted, and a reception in their honor was held at the Everett Hotel. Notwithstanding the limited time for preparation and notification to the public, it was attended by several hundred prominent citizens, accompanied by their wives and daughters.

Commander Boyleston and Mr. D. U. Fletcher made addresses of welcome, to which Mr. Hemming responded.

A committee from the Camp, with prominent citizens, with Mr. Hemming, viewed several sites for the location of the monument, but Mr. Hemming deferred the selection of the site until he had reached his Texas home, from whence he wrote, deciding in favor of the centre of St. James Park, where for a long time a fine fountain stood.

It should be remembered that the monument is the gift jointly of Mr. Hemming and his wife, who has been a zealous helpmate in his every worthy effort and noble plan. She was formerly Miss Lucy Key, of Brenham, Texas, where they were married in 1868.

From the incipiency of his plan, Mr. Hemming sought the counsel and co-operation of R. E. Lee Camp, requesting the appointment of a committee to adjust matters of detail, etc. The committee appointed were ex-Governor Francis P. Fleming, ex-Commander Chas. D. Towers, and Adjutant J. A. Erlow, Jr., who have in all things most happily acquitted themselves of their trust.

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