Union Army Correspondence –Celestino

Celestino Leonardi;
Letters by the Union Army about him and his family:


Celestino was about 18 at this time –he joined the Confederate army at 16 years old. His mother mentioned is Rosa Noda. The people of St. Augustine suffered greatly due to the Union Blockade. Archeological reports from that time report that many people reverted to a subsistence diet similar to that of the “Spanish Settlers” three hundred years before to avoid starvation. By the way, Rosa lived until 1900. She was pretty tough.

–Doug Halsema

(Celestino’s great grandson)

Headquarters U.S. Forces, Saint Augustine, Fla., August 13, 1863. . .

“On last Thursday, there appeared at the outer pickets, with a flag of truce, a young man –Mr. C. Leonardi — his sister, and cousin. He desired the protection of our flag, as a sergeant and some men were in search of him for the purpose of conscription, agreeably to the late proclamation of Jefferson Davis. He had been in the rebel service at the opening of the war, but had obtained his discharge, on the ground of being a minor. It was for the reason of his being in the service that his mother, sister, and cousin were placed outside of our lines, so I am informed. As far as the young man was concerned, it seemed to me perfectly proper to admit him, as it has been the custom of the Government at all times to grant protection under similar circumstances. The condition of the family where they were obliged to locate themselves has been represented to me by some of the oldest citizens, in whose statements Colonel Hawley told me I could rely, as being most miserable. As a matter of fact, they state themselves that they were almost destitute, being unable to obtain very few of the necessaries of life. The mother is quite an elderly lady and an invalid. Our surgeon, who visited her, reports that the case is one requiring immediate care and attention. This lady is the mother-in-law of lieutenant Tardy, U.S. Engineer Corps. They were admitted.


Two other parties have applied for admission, but their reasons riot being considered sufficient, they were refused. In reference to these cases, I beg leave to state, in the absence of instructions, that I shall exercise the utmost diligence and permit none to enter save for reasons of the most imperative nature.

The bishop of Savannah and Florida, accompanied by his priest, have been admitted for four days. It has been the custom of my predecessors to admit them for a like period. Leonardi is confined in the provost guard house. What disposition shall be made of him? Being very short of noncommissioned officers, I respectfully request that Sergt. William E. DArcy, Company F, at present doing duty with the Billinghurst Battery, be relieved and returned to his regiment.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant.

DUDLEY W. STRICKLAND, Major Forty-eighth New York Volunteers”