A Brief History of the First Florida Volunteer Infantry

by Patrick McSherry
Click here for a roster of the 1st Florida Volunteer Infantry

Click here for a roster of the 1st Florida Volunteer Infantry, Co. C
Click here for a Chronology of the travels of the 1st Florida Volunteer Infantry, Co. C

An image believed to be of members of Company H, of the 1st Florida Volunteer Infantry. Seated in the center is John A. Power.
Power was born on December 29 December 1874. He was a merchant after the war. Power married Hattie Broughton
Cummings on August 3, 1903  and the couple had ten children. Power died on April 4, 1934.


General:

The First Florida Volunteer Infantry served its term of service in the continental United States. It traveled as far as Huntsville, Alabama.

Unit History:

The First Florida Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service in Tampa, Florida between May 20 and 25, 1898 and was immediately assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division of the Major General Fitzhugh Lee’s Seventh Corps. At the time of its mustering in, the regiment consisted of 48 officers and 956 enlisted men. The Corps was being trained to take part in the invasion of Havana, Cuba, but the invasion would never occur.

 Within days, on June 11, the regiment was transferred the First Brigade, Third Division of the Fourth Army Corps commanded by Major General Coppinger. By mid-July, sanitary and health conditions in camp had deteriorated significantly, and the number of men on the sick list grew. General Coppinger recommended that the men be relocated from their present camp to a healthier location. On July  24, the First Florida Volunteer Infantry was transferred again, to the Second Brigade, Second Division of the same army corps.

 On the eve of its third transfer (to the Second Brigade, Second Division, Fourth Army Corps), in accordance with Maj. Gen. Coppinger’s recommendation, the regiment was sent to Fernandina, Florida. While the regiment was still in Fernandina, on August 12, an armistice was reached between the United States and Spain ending the fighting between the two countries. The regiment stayed at Fernandina until August 23, when it was sent to Huntsville, Alabama, arriving on August 25.

Eight of the regiment’s twelve companies – companies A, C, E, H, I, K, L, and M left Huntsville on October 10, arriving at Tallahassee, Florida the following day. These companies were granted a thirty day furlough, and were mustered out on December 3, 1898. A week later, on December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally ending the Spanish American War.

The remaining four companies – companies B, D, F, and G remained in Huntsville. On December 12 a tragedy occurred in the regiment. George Beverly, the cook of Company G, and the Henry Nelligan, Company G’s bugler had a lingering issue after a dispute over a game of cards. The two men got into a fight and Beverly stabbed Nelligan, but the wound was superficial. Nelligan pulled a pistol and told Beverly to stay away. Beverly’s brother, LeRoy, emerged from his tent with his Springfield rifle. Seeing Nelligan pointing a pistol at his brother, LeRoy Beverly fired, killing Nelligan instantly with a shot to his head. At this point, Nelligan’s brother, Harvey, came on the seen. He saw his brother’s bloody body lying beside the cook, George Beverly. Mistakenly believing the cook killed his brother, Harvey Nelligan shot George Beverly three times, killing him. Both of the initial adversaries were dead at the hands of each other’s brother. The two shooters, LeRoy Beverly and Harvey Nelligan surrendered to the guard and were jailed to await trial for murder.

On Christmas Eve, the regiment was again reassigned, this time to the Independent Brigade of the Fourth Army Corps. These four companies were mustered out at Huntsville on January 27, 1899.

During its existence, the regiment was noted for its band, led by “Professor Halowell.” One newspaper wrote that the band was “acknowledged to be one of the leaders [among bands] in military service…” and “a superb band.” Also, the regiment’s kitchen was noted to be the “cleanest and neatest kitchen” that the Washington Health Commission had inspected as of September, 1898.

When the final company was mustered out, the combined statistics showed that the regiment consisted of 48 officers and 1,135 enlisted men. During its term of service, the regiment had one officer and 27 enlisted men to disease, 19 enlisted men had deserted, and two enlisted men were murdered (George Beverly and Henry Nelligan). In addition, thirty-one men were discharged on disability.



Bibliography:

“A Superb Band,” The Weekly Tribune (Tampa, Florida).  December 15, 1898, 5.

Bacon, Eve, Orlando: A Centennial History (Chuluota, FL: The Mickler House Publishers, 1975) Pages 211-213.

“Camp Wheeler,” The Weekly Tribune (Tampa, Florida). September 15, 1898, 8.

Clerk of Joint Comittee on Printing, The Abridgement of Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899). Vol. 3, 207, 209, 212, 218.

Correspondence Relating to the War with Spain Including the Insurrection in the Philippine Islands and the China Relief Expedition April 15, 1898 to July 30, 1902. Vol. 1 (Washington DC: Center for Military History, 1993) 587.

Cosmas, Graham A., An Army for Empire : The United States Army in the Spanish American War. (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing Co., 1993).

Power, Guy  - Photo of Company H and data on John Power.

Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called into Service During the War with Spain; with Losses from All Causes. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).

“Two Soldiers Killed,” The Weekly Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama). December 16, 1898, 6.


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