Sunday, September 28, 2008

Remembering the Casualties of the Battle of Marianna

This weekend marks the 144th anniversary of the Battle of Marianna.
Union troops attacked Marianna on September 27, 1864, and remained in the city until early on the morning of the 28th.
For many years the anniversary was memorialized each year across Florida as "Marianna Day." It was a time when citizens across the state paused to remember the sacrifices made that day by the defenders of Marianna, many of them just every day civilians that took up arms to defend their homes, families and communities.
"Marianna Day" is no longer recognized in Florida. The day of remembrance has passed into history. Observances still take place in Jackson County, but it is a tragedy of modern times that we so easily forget the sacrifices of those who came before us.
It reminds me of the words of a friend and former business associate of mine. We were walking the National Cemetery in Fort Smith, Arkansas, a few years ago because he had asked to see the grave of General William Darby, the father of the U.S. Army Rangers as we know them today. My friend had been an Army Ranger and visiting the grave of this World War II hero had a great impact on him.
He told me that day that "Americans have very short memories." His words come back to me often when I visit the graves of America's heroes, whether they be the veterans of recent wars or those that served and died long ago. We let their memory fade away much too soon.
The following are the lists of the casualties, Confederate and Union, of the Battle of Marianna:
Confederate Dead:
Henry O. Bassett - Marianna Home Guard (officer home on leave)
James H. Brett - Marianna Home Guard
John C. Carter - Marianna Home Guard
M.N. Dickson - Marianna Home Guard
Arthur Lewis (Sr.) - Marianna Home Guard
Woodbury Nickels - Marianna Home Guard
Solomon Sullivan - Marianna Home Guard
Francis Allen - Greenwood Club Cavalry
M.A. Butler - Greenwood Club Cavalry
Littleton Myrick - Co. B, 15th Confederate Cavalry
Confederate Wounded:
A.F. Bount - Marianna Home Guard
Thomas Baltzell - Marianna Home Guard
John Chason - Marianna Home Guard
John Davis, Sr., - Marianna Home Guard
Peyton Gwin - Marianna Home Guard
Thaddeus W. Hentz - Marianna Home Guard
R.C.B. Lawrence - Marianna Home Guard
Adam McNealy - Marianna Home Guard
Samuel Bosworth - Campbellton Cavalry
William Mathews - Campbellton Cavalry
Isaac King - Company B, 15th Confederate Cavalry
John J. Dickson - Greenwood Club Cavalry
C.N. Sheats - Chisolm's Company, Alabama State Militia
W.N.W. Shiver - Company C, 1st Florida Reserves
William McPherson - Company G, 5th Florida Cavalry
Oliver Sellers - George Robinson's Home Guard
Confederate Prisoners of War:
Jesse J. Norwood - Marianna Home Guard
C.J. Staley - Marianna Home Guard
Allen H. Bush - Marianna Home Guard
William B. Wynn - Marianna Home Guard (Died in Prison)
J.B. Justiss - Marianna Home Guard
Samuel Gammon - Marianna Home Guard (Died in Prison)
James O'Neal - Marianna Home Guard (Died in Prison)
Ellis Davis - Marianna Home Guard
Albert G. Bush - Marianna Home Guard
J.B. Whitehurst - Marianna Home Guard
Charles Tucker - Marianna Home Guard
W.E. Anderson - Marianna Home Guard
Alex Merritt - Marianna Home Guard
J.W. Hartsfield - Marianna Home Guard (Died in Prison)
John Blaney - Marianna Home Guard (Died in Prison)
Miles Everett - Marianna Home Guard
J.T. Myrick, Jr. - Marianna Home Guard
Nicholas A. Long - Marianna Home Guard
Felix H.G. Long - Marianna Home Guard
F.R. Pittman - Marianna Home Guard
J. Austin - Marianna Home Guard (Died in Prison)
Israel McBright - Marianna Home Guard
Samuel Harrison - Marianna Home Guard
W.A. Abercrombie - Campbellton Cavalry (Died in Prison)
T.B. Haywood - Campbellton Cavalry
William Daniel - Campbellton Cavalry (Died in Prison)
Mark Elmore - Campbellton Cavalry
Cullin Curl - Campbellton Cavalry
W.H. Kimball - Greenwood Club Cavalry
T.D. Newsome - Greenwood Club Cavalry
Hansel Grice - Greenwood Club Cavalry
B.J. Fordham - Chisolm's Company, Alabama State Militia
W.L. Hatton - Chisolm's Company, Alabama State Militia (Died in Prison)
H.R. Pittman - Chisolm's Company, Alabama State Militia
Peter Abercrombie - Company C, 1st Florida Reserves (Died in Prison)
John Alley - Company C, 1st Florida Reserves (Died in Prison)
John Anderson - Company C, 1st Florida Reserves
Miles Sims - Company C, 1st Florida Reserves (Died in Prison)
J.M. Brown - Company C, 1st Florida Reserves
J.R. Williams - Company C, 1st Florida Reserves (Died in Prison)
Mathney Kiel - Company C, 1st Florida Reserves
A.B. Montgomery - Provisional Army of the Confederate States (Colonel)
J.B. Roulhac - Company B, 15th Confederate Cavalry
Lawson Daniels - Company B, 15th Confederate Cavalry (Died in Prison)
Union Dead:
Nicholas Francis - Company E, 82nd U.S. Colored Infantry
Mahlon M. Young - Company H, 7th Vermont Infantry
Silas Campbell - Company E, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Thomas A. Davis - Company J, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Ellis Ayer - Company I, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Ansel Brackett - Company F, 2nd Maine Cavalry
David C. Whitney - Company F, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Union Wounded:
Alexander Asboth - U.S. Volunteers (Brigadier General)
Nathan Cutler - 2nd Maine Cavalry
Eben Hutchinson - 2nd Maine Cavalry
Elisa E. Clark - Company L, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Orrin Evans - Company L, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Charles Clough, Jr. - Company L, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Luthor Pollard - Company G, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Joshua R. Adams - Company M, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Sanford Pendleton - Company E, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Samuel Stoddard, Jr. - Company F, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Unknown - Company D, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Unknown - 2nd Maine Cavalry
Unknown - 2nd Maine Cavalry
Isaac Anderson - Company C, 86th U.S. Colored Infantry
Solomon Johnson - Company C, 86th U.S. Colored Infantry
James Breckenridge - Company C, 86th U.S. Colored Infantry
Unknown - 82nd U.S. Colored Infantry
Unknown - 82nd U.S. Colored Infantry
Lyman W. Rowley - Company B, 1st Florida U.S. Cavalry
Union Prisoners of War:
Henry O'Neal - Company D, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Chester Whitney - Company I, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Moses Sims - Company M, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Henry Brown - Company E, 2nd Maine Cavalry
Daniel Ellis - Company H, 2nd Maine Cavalry (Died in Prison)
Abiel N. Linscott - Company E, 2nd Maine Cavalry
George W. Williams - Company I, 2nd Maine Cavalry
G. Shuman - Company G, 2nd Maine Cavalry

Friday, September 19, 2008

Skirmish at Campbellton was important preliminary to the Battle of Marianna

Campbellton – The Battle of Marianna is a well known part of local history, but fewer people know about a smaller but also important skirmish that took place the previous day near Campbellton.

The fight developed as 700 Union soldiers from the 2nd Maine Cavalry, 1st Florida U.S. Cavalry and 82nd and 86th U.S. Colored Infantries splashed their way across Holmes Creek and began moving northeast up the old road leading from the “Marianna Ford” to Campbellton. This road followed roughly the route of today’s Tri-County Road to the Galilee community before eventually leading along the approximate route of Highway 273 to Campbellton.
As the Federal troops crossed into Jackson County on the morning of September 26, 1864, word spread like lightning throughout the area. The community had a local “home guard” or volunteer military unit and its commander, Captain A.R. Godwin, soon summoned his men to arms.
Godwin’s company was known as the “Campbellton Cavalry” and its volunteer members were under standing orders from Governor John Milton to resist any attack until reinforcements could arrive from the nearest Confederate headquarters, in this case Marianna. Following their orders to the letter, Godwin and his men sent a courier to Marianna with news that an enemy force was in the county and then rode out to oppose the oncoming Federals.
The Union troops, commanded by Brigadier General Alexander Asboth, moved slowly that morning, pausing to strike at homes and farms along the road. They confiscated provisions and livestock, freed slaves and did as much damage as possible to the local economy as they advanced.
As the day progressed, the Federals began to encounter resistance from Captain Godwin and his men. Exactly where the fighting started is not clear. Asboth said only that “rebel troops” were constantly hovering around the head of his column, engaging in “frequent skirmishes” with his men.
The Campbellton men, numbering less than 50, engaged in a standard cavalry practice of the time by approaching the Union troops on horseback, firing on them and then retreating back out of range. The routine was repeated time after time as Asboth’s column continued to move up the road to Campbellton.
There is no indication that any of Godwin’s men were killed or wounded in the fighting, but at least two were taken prisoner. Union records note that William Clayton and Charles Tipton were captured by Asboth’s men on September 26, 1864. Clayton identified himself as a member of Godwin’s company and Tipton reported that he was a Confederate soldier home on leave from the 11th Florida Infantry. He had turned out with his neighbors to oppose the raid.
Despite the resistance of Godwin and his men (against odds of more than 12 to 1), the Union troops finally reached Campbellton late in the afternoon. His soldiers exhausted from a day of riding and fighting, General Asboth set up camp in the town and halted his advance on Marianna until the next morning. The Campbellton Cavalry hovered in the distance, watching and waiting, until they were reinforced during the evening by Colonel Alexander Montgomery and two companies of Southern troops from Marianna.
The Union troops would move on the next morning and by noon would fight the Campbellton men again, this time at the Battle of Marianna.
Note: This article appeared in this week's issue of the Jackson County Times. You can visit the paper online at

Friday, September 5, 2008

Remembering Northwest Florida's "Great Tide"

By Dale Cox

Port St. Joe – Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gustav have had all eyes on the Gulf of Mexico lately. This always brings my mind back to the legend of Northwest Florida’s “Great Tide.”

That was the name given by novelist Rubylea Hall to a legendary hurricane tidal surge that supposedly wiped the city of St. Joseph, Florida, from the map. St. Joseph stood on the present site of Port St. Joe and during the 1830s was the largest city in Florida. Little remains today other than tombstones and a museum to remind visitors that the city ever existed.
Hall’s story of a “city so wicked that God wiped it from the earth” is a Gone with the Wind like tale of life on the plantations of Jackson County and our area’s close connections to the lost city. In the novel, as in real life, St. Joseph prospered only to be devastated by a deadly yellow fever epidemic. The survivors in Hall’s story were at last driven away by a hurricane driven surge that rose from the Gulf and swept St. Joseph into history.
The Great Tide mirrored real history in many ways, with some artistic license. Jackson County did indeed have many strong connections to St. Joseph. Robert Beveridge, the founder of Marianna, moved to St. Joseph less than ten years after he and his workers carved Marianna from the wilderness. He died at St. Joseph during the great yellow fever outbreak and is buried in an unmarked grave in the old cemetery there.
Connected to St. Joseph by direct road, Marianna naturally developed many business and social ties to the coastal boomtown. Residents of Jackson County built “summer homes” in St. Joseph to escape the brutal heat and humidity of the interior. Many original promoters of Webbville also became involved in the new city on the coast, establishing businesses there. St. Joseph’s newspaper, for example, was published by a former Webbville entrepreneur.
By the time that St. Joseph hosted the Florida Constitutional Convention in 1838, the city had grown to become the largest in Florida and its promoters envisioned the day when it would become a major coastal city to rival New Orleans.
It was not to be. A massive yellow fever outbreak hit the city, sending residents fleeing into the interior. Newspapers across the South reported the death toll from St. Joseph. How many people actually died from fever may never be known, but the list was large and the sickness showed no respect for wealth or position. It inflicted a death blow from which St. Joseph never recovered.

During the early 1840s a hurricane did hit the city, but the legends of a “Great Tide” that wiped St. Joseph from the earth grew significantly in the telling. By the time of the Civil War, however, St. Joseph had disappeared as the forest reclaimed the streets, cemetery and ruins of the city.
By the mid-1840s, many Jackson County families that had relocated to St. Joseph returned to their former homes in and around Marianna.
A visit to Port St. Joe today provides a fascinating glimpse back in time. Visitors can explore the history of the lost city at the Constitutional Convention State Museum located on the site of old St. Joseph. Exhibits there include artifacts from St. Joseph and a replica of Florida’s first railroad locomotive. The old St. Joseph Cemetery also survives as a somber reminder of the fever outbreak that doomed what once was Florida’s largest city.

If you would like to learn more about historic St. Joseph and what remains of "Florida's Lost City," please visit