UF has Confederate statue removed from St. Augustine before dawn

A statue of Confederate Gen. William Loring that has stood on University of Florida property in downtown St. Augustine since 1920 was removed early Monday morning.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A statue of Confederate Gen. William Loring that has stood on University of Florida property in downtown St. Augustine since 1920 was removed early Monday morning.

Crews began removing the statue about 4 a.m. and hauled it away by 6:30 a.m.

“As the manager of the property on which the monument to Gen. William Loring stands, the University of Florida has received correspondence from the descendants of Gen. Loring indicating their desire for the relocation of the monument and Gen. Loring’s remains, which are interred beneath,” UF spokesman Steve Orlando said in a statement. “The university will honor the family’s wishes. The monument is being moved to property that belongs to a private landowner. Gen. Loring’s remains will be re-interred in a cemetery in St. Augustine and will be treated with respect and dignity. The relocations will be carried out by the appropriate archaeological and historical experts and a licensed funeral home director. "

Orlando says the university president made a statement in June about the removal of the Confederate memorials and monuments from all Florida property, but residents of St. Augustine who had fought for months to keep a Confederate memorial on the opposite corner Plaza de la Constitucion from being moved, were taken by surprise when they statue was removed before dawn Monday. A few were out with Confederate flags in the morning when News4Jax arrived.

The St. Augustine City Commission voted to move a larger Confederate monument -- a 30-foot stone pillar -- from the plaza and move it to Trout Creek Fish Camp on State Road 13 on the western side of St. Johns County. Despite a lawsuit by 38 descendants of fallen Confederate soldiers whose names are inscribed on the memorial, work on moving that monument began 10 days ago and the city said in a statement it has “secured and lifted the obelisk.”

A crane is scheduled to arrive Tuesday and lift the 10-ton monument on the ground, where the base will be securely wrapped so it can be safely lifted an moved, along with a 16-inch marble slab base that was uncovered. The city said it will still take several days before the memorial is removed from the plaza.

The memorial has been moved to Trout Creek Fish Camp.

Protests of the removal of the Confederal monuments continued Monday.

“It was northern aggression that wanted to change the constitution, not the heroic south,” said Doug Russo, who identified himself as a pastor. “I would say to you people, you are nothing but a bunch of whining crybabies that have done nothing but believe a false narrative.”

Other residents walking through the plaza said monuments erected to commemorate anyone who has done awful things should be removed.

“I hope everybody can get through this and understand why it is being taken down,” Robert Fenn said.

Loring was a North Carolina native but grew up in St. Augustine. According to Wikipedia, he joined the Florida Militia as a teenager and fought in the early skirmishes of the Second Seminole War. He became a lawyer and served in the Florida Legislature before joining the United States Army. When the Civil War erupted, he resigned to join the Confederate army, rising to the rank of general. After the Civil War, he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in Florida, then lived in New York until his death.

Loring’s monument will also be relocated to Trout River Fish Camp, where a site is being prepared for both confederate memorials.

About the Authors:

Zachery “Zach” Lashway anchors KPRC 2+ Now. He began at KPRC 2 as a reporter in October 2021.