48. Clinton Square

Historic Marker 48 is located at 281 Front Street.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, politicians in Tallahassee were undecided about whether Florida should side with the Union or the Confederacy. When it looked like Florida was leaning towards secession the Union soldiers stationed in Key West were given orders to take control of the forts and the military fortifications on the island. From that point on, Key West became the only city in the South to be occupied by the Union during the entire length of the war.

Not all Key West residents were supporters of the Union. A number of sea captains left the Keys to join the Confederate Navy. Other Key West residents had come to Key West through the Bahamas, an English territory, and chose to return there for the duration of the war. While there was never enough residents with Confederate sympathies to threaten the Union forces on the island, both sides were certainly aware of each other.

At the conclusion of the war in 1865, a Union organization called the Navy Club of Key West erected this memorial obelisk with the inscription “To the memory of the officers, sailors & soldiers of the Army, Navy & Marine Corps of the United States who lost their lives in their country’s service upon this station from 1861-1865.”

Upon returning from the war, R. Vining Harris, a Confederate doctor and the father of the builder of the Southernmost House (see Historic Marker #8), erected the metal fence around the obelisk to commemorate the soldiers of the Confederacy. It is believed that this is the only such Union and Confederate memoriam in the country.