Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#59 The Greenwood Club Cavalry (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

Grave of Captain Henry Robinson
The school boys of Greenwood turned out in defense of their homes and families at the Battle of Marianna 150 years ago this month. Their company, the Greenwood Club Cavalry, is #59 on our list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Please click here to see the entire list as it is unveiled.

The withdrawal of most regular Confederate troops from Florida in the months after the Battle of Olustee left vast areas of the state with no protection. Even before Governor John Milton ordered all men and boys over the age of 15 to enlist in militia or "home guard" companies for the defense of the state, individuals in some communities responded to the need and organized companies of their own.

This was the case in northwestern Jackson County where around 30 men and boys formed the Campbellton Cavalry (see #60 the Campbellton Cavalry). At the academy or school in Greenwood, instructor Henry J. Robinson led his students in doing the same.

Great Oaks was  landmark of Greenwood in 1864.
The unit formed by Robinson and the school boys of Greenwood was dubbed the Greenwood Club Cavalry, the word "club" inserted as a probable indication that the company had been formed privately. The boys continued their studies, but Robinson also gave them military training. They were Florida's "other" cadets of the War Between the State (or Civil War).

It should be noted that the Greenwood unit is often confused or blended with another company, Captain George Robinson's Jackson County Home Guards. Both companies were from eastern Jackson County and both were headed by captains named Robinson.

View of Ely Corner where Greenwood Club Cavalry helped
drive back a Union charge during the Battle of Marianna.
Henry J. Robinson was a former member of the 5th Florida Cavalry and had a basic understanding of cavalry tactics. Taking on the mantle of captain of the Greenwood Club Cavalry, he led his students through horseback and weapons drills. By the time Union troops entered the county on September 26, 1864, the Greenwood boys had become proficient.

Robinson was not the only adult member of the unit. Dr. M.A. Butler of Greenwood served as a lieutenant and other adults of the community joined the company after July 1864 when Governor Milton ordered all male citizens of the state to join the militia.

The courageous role of the Greenwood Club Cavalry in the Battle of Marianna will be discussed in a future posting. While the fight at Marianna was the heaviest action in which the company took part, it also responded to Union raids on at least two other occasions.

An original roster of the company has not been found, but the following list was compiled from 19th century documents and later pension application files:

Greenwood Club Cavalry

Henry J. Robinson, Captain
Dr. M.A. Butler, Lieutenant
Francis "Frank" Allen (76 years old)
Henry Applewhite
William Arnold
C.C. Avery
James S. Baker
Bolling Barkley
Thomas Barnes
J.R. Bowles
William Henry Cox
James H. Dickson (left to join cadets in Tallahassee before Battle of Marianna)
John J. Dickson (59 years old)
James R. Ferguson
Charles A. Finley
Davis Gray
Hansel Grice
William H. Harvey
W.H. Kimball (Sheriff of Jackson County)
James R. McMillan
T.D. Newsome
Andrew Scott, Corporal
Robert Sorey
William D. Sorey

This list is incomplete. If you have an ancestor that served in the Greenwood Club Cavalry, please let me know by leaving a comment. We would like to assemble as many names as possible in time for the Battle of Marianna 150th anniversary on September 27, 2014.

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