Friday, March 13, 2009
International Military Delegations Tours Marianna Battlefield
Improved recognition of the national and even international significance of a local Civil War event is drawing growing numbers of tourists to Jackson County. They are coming to see the site of the Battle of Marianna, but are also visiting local hotels, restaurants and business.
For example, a group of more than 60 military officers from around the world recently visited Marianna to learn about the tactics of the 1864 battle and see sites associated with the fighting. It was the second time Fort Rucker has arranged for a large group to visit the battlefield within the past year and countries ranging from Canada and Mexico to Germany and even the Philippines were represented.
U.S. officials indicate that part of their goal in hosting officers from around the world is to provide them examples for the futures of their own country by illustrating how the United States has developed into a great nation from a time of great division and conflict during the War Between the States.
The military contingent was just one of many groups, large and small, that have been making their way to Jackson County to learn about the battle.
The group aheard from Commander Robert Daffin of the Theophilus West Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and had an opportunity to visit with men and women portraying citizens of the era. The tour was coordinated by SCV member Ashley Pollette.
In just the last six months I’ve visited with an amazing variety of people wanting to learn more about the Battle of Marianna. There have been visitors from as far away as Texas, Kansas and Maine in addition to the military groups. There is so much about this battle that has been traditionally overlooked, from the fact that a Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded for an incident during the fighting to the role of women and even children in the battle.
The Battle of Marianna involved both white and black troops and that more than 600 Jackson Countians held in slavery gained their freedom as a result of the engagement. For most of the local participants, though, it was about defending their homes and families.
Although it was small in size, the battle was of enormous significance. Jackson and three nearby counties sustained more economic damage as a result of the raid on Marianna than any other area of Florida, South Georgia or South Alabama. The expedition to Marianna, in fact, covered more ground than Sherman’s March to the Sea.
To learn more, please visit http://www.battleofmarianna.net/. Also please consider my 2007 book, The Battle of Marianna, Florida. It is available in Downtown Marianna at Chipola River Book and Tea or online at http://www.amazon.com/.