Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Holden House and the Battle of Marianna


This beautiful old structure on West Lafayette Street in Marianna is the Holden House. Built in 1849, it is one of the oldest structures in Marianna.
During the Battle of Marianna on September 27, 1864, Confederate troops were positioned in ambush behind a fence and shrubbery in front of the house and a portion of the battle was fought on the grounds.
After the battle, Union troops engaged in widespread vandalism and theft around the town and the Holden House was not spared. According to legend, a Union soldier was looking through the house for valuables and became frustrated with a stuck closet door. He pulled out his saber and struck it against the door, splitting it from top to bottom to gain access to the contents of the closet. The residents of the house later put the door back together. I had a chance to examine the wooden door during the late 1980s and, sure enough, there is a repaired crack running down it from top to bottom. Near the middle, the clear mark of a sword impact could be seen.
Another story that survives from the Battle of Marianna also involves the Holden House and shows that the prankster nature of some of the Union troops. According to family tradition, a group of Northern soldiers placed a cannonball in the center of the parlor floor and told the residents of the house that if they moved the projectile, it would explode. It sat in the middle of the parlor floor for more than 100 years before a local history teacher (Billy Grant) saw it and picked it up, much to the mortification of the lady then living in the house. It proved to be a 12-pound solid shot (made of solid iron with no gunpowder inside).
The pranksters who left the cannonball were probably members of Company M, 2nd Maine Cavalry. This company was at the Battle of Marianna and manned the regiment's two 12-pound howitzers.
The cannonball incident was the only recorded use of artillery at the Battle of Marianna.
If you would like to read more on the Battle of Marianna, please visit www.battleofmarianna.net.

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