By Dale Cox
Marianna – One of the most nationally significant events in Jackson County history took place on September 27, 1864, during the engagement remembered today as the Battle of Marianna.
A Union officer, Captain George H. Maynard of the 82nd U.S. Colored Infantry, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in part for his actions in saving the lives of local men and boys on the grounds of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
A Northerner by birth, Maynard had joined the Union army early in the war as a private in Company D of the 13th Massachusetts Infantry. He quickly displayed an unusual combination of both heroism and mercy on the battlefield that attracted the attention of his superior officers.
At the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), Maryland, on September 17, 1862, for example, Maynard personally went under fire to remove two wounded comrades from danger. He then joined each Union regiment advancing to his location of the battlefield and by the time the fight was over had charged the Confederate lines with six different units.
Finally, Norwood and his men realized that their situation was hopeless and began to lay down their weapons. To Maynard’s shock and outrage, however, his men began shooting the defenseless prisoners. “I at once dismounted and rushed into the graveyard,” he reported, “just in time to knock away a musket placed at the head of a prisoner.” According to his account, he then leveled his pistol at his own men and “threatened to blow out the brains of the first man who dared to shoot a prisoner.”