Monday, September 23, 2013

First Fighting of Marianna Raid was 149 Year Ago Today

Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church in Eucheeanna
It was 149 years ago today on September 23, 1864, that the first fighting of the Marianna Raid took place.

Having left Pensacola Bay on September 18, 1864, Union troops led by Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth reached the outskirts of the small community of Eucheeanna in Walton County during the pre-dawn darkness of September 23rd.

Aware that two detachments of Confederate cavalry were camped in the village, which was then the county seat of Walton County, Gen. Asboth ordered the 2nd Maine Cavalry to form a line of battle and charge. Led by Lt. Col. Andrew Spurling, the Maine cavalry hit Eucheeanna at daybreak, taking the Confederates there completely by surprise.


Church and Cemetery in Eucheeanna
The brief skirmish at Eucheeanna, in which no one was reported wounded on either side, was the first clash of Asboth's Raid on Marianna, an expedition that would culminate on September 27, 1864, at the Battle of Marianna.

Eucheeanna, Florida
The Confederates at Eucheeanna consisted of two detachments of cavalry. One, from the Fifteenth Confederate Cavalry, had come over from the large Confederate post in Pollard, Alabama.  The other, from Captain Robert Chisolm's Woodville Scouts of the Alabama State Militia, had been sent from Marianna. Both detachments were "enforcing the conscription." In 1864 terminology, "enforcing the conscription" meant the same thing as drafting soldiers would mean today.

The detachments escaped via the Geneva Road, although several prisoners were taken by the attacking Federals. Among those captured was Lt. Francis Gordon of the Fifteenth Confederate Cavalry. Several civilians also were captured during the attack, among them William Cawthon, Allen Hart and Col. William Torrance. Cawthon and Hart were cattle ranchers with large herds in the Walton County area. Torrance was a former officer from the Alabama State Militia who had been sent down to purchase beef for his state's troops.

Historic Marker at Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church
The Union troops also captured 46 horses, 8 mules, 26 stand of arms and a quantity of bar lead bearing the stamp of a factory in Baltimore, Maryland. They also helped themselves to all the corn, hogs, chickens, smoked meat and anything else of value they could find in the homes of the little community. Many families were left without a scrap of food and no way of getting any when the soldiers left Eucheeanna the next morning.

One of the Union soldiers also raped a woman and her teenage daughter after finding them at home alone in a remote area just outside the village.

The county seat of Walton County has since been moved to DeFuniak Springs, but the little community still exists and can be found about three miles southeast of DeFuniak Springs. The historic Euchee Valley Presyterian Church and Cemetery predate the War Between the States.

I will post more about the Marianna Raid and the Battle of Marianna over coming days, so be sure to check back often.  Until then you can read more at www.battleofmarianna.com.

If you haven't read it, be sure to check out my book - The Battle of Marianna, Florida.  It is available through Amazon.com or your favorite online book seller as well as at the Walton County Heritage Museum in Defuniak Springs, the Washington County Historical Museum in Chipley and Chipola River Book & Tea in Downtown Marianna. If you prefer, you can order it by clicking the book cover on the right side of this page.


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