Wednesday, August 16, 2017

67 Confederates you should meet before it is too late

Woodbury "Woody" Nickels, CSA
Beaten to death and burned at the Battle of
Marianna on September 27, 1864.
I was terribly saddened this morning to see that a friend of mine, who happens to be a professor at Florida State University (FSU), had written this social media:

...let's be clear about one other thing: removing confederate monuments has nothing to do with "erasing history." And everything to do with publicly defenestrating the confederacy--its ideals and its combatants.

If you aren't familiar with the term "publicly defenestrating" - and I admit that I wasn't - it means to publicly throw someone or something out of the window. In short, my friend the professor is advocating not only that Confederate monuments be torn down, but that we throw everything about the Confederacy out the window - including the men who fought in its armies.

Was he suggesting that dead Confederates be dug up from their graves and thrown away? I hope not.

The good professor is certainly entitled to his opinion. My ancestors fought to preserve Freedom of Speech for one and all. Some gave their lives. Others were permanently disabled. They served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard. Some also served in the armed forces of the Confederacy. If you aren't familiar with the Confederate Constitution, the Bill of Rights from the U.S. Constitution was copied verbatim into it so that it guaranteed Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, the right to hold and bear arms and so on.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church is sometimes called
"Florida's Alamo" because men and boys fought to the death
and were burned alive there during the Battle of Marianna.
The issue of slavery is emotional and raw, even after all these years. We seem to forget, though, the tidal wave of blood that washed that sin from our land. Estimates vary, but between 640,000 and 1,000,000 men and boys gave their lives in the War Between the States (or Civil War). Some wore blue. Some wore grey. We don't know how many civilians died from disease, starvation and battle wounds. All were sacrificed on the altar of war. The Union prevailed. Slavery was abolished (even in the North where it had remained legal throughout the war).

Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee among them, urged their soldiers to go home, to rebuild and to become good citizens. And by and large they did. Some went on to serve heroically in other conflicts, notably the Spanish-American War in which many former Confederates again donned the blue of the United States.

The loss of so many hundreds of thousands of men and boys, however, haunted the land. Wives, daughters and mothers could not forget. They could not throw the memories of their loved ones out the window. They raised money, penny by penny and dime by dime, and they raised monuments. The first ones went up in the 1870s, less than twenty years after the end of the brutal conflict.

Union veterans return a captured flag to Confederate
veterans in Marianna during the early 20th Century.
These were not monuments to slavery or oppression. They were not memorials to a "lost cause." By and large they were raised for the simple purpose of remembering sons, fathers and brothers. They were not political. They were not symbols of defiance. They were erected with reverence not for a vanquished Confederacy, but for loved ones who never came home. Union veterans often attended the dedications. Sometimes they even returned flags that had been captured on the battlefield.

The men of that era used such opportunities to shake hands, to bury old wounds and to remember lost friends. They found ways to make peace with each other. It strikes me as incredibly sad that our present generation is so intent on destroying the foundation built by the old soldiers who had faced each other over the barrels of their rifles so long ago. If they could forgive and honor each other, why can't we?

Most Confederates were conscripted. That means they were drafted. They didn't run off to fight for slavery or states rights or anything else. They went because their state ordered them to go. Many went because their state had been invaded and Union armies were ravaging the countryside to break the will of the South to fight. That was the case at a battle that is dear to my heart.

Preserving the memory of the Battle of Marianna has provided
opportunities for today's generations to learn about the role of
African-American soldiers during the war. The 82nd and 86th
USCT (U.S. Colored Troops) fought there.
The Battle of Marianna was fought on September 27, 1864. It was a small engagement compared to many of that horrible war, but it was brutal. You can read about it here.

Other Confederate troops were involved, including units in which my ancestors served, but much of the memory of the event centers around the desperate last stand of the Marianna Home Guard. These men and boys fought desperately from in and around St. Luke's Episcopal Church after they were trapped on its grounds.

A total of 67 men and boys fought with the Marianna unit that day. Some were as young as 13.

Of that number, 7 were killed in action and 6 were badly wounded. Another 24 were taken as prisoners of war and 9 of those died in prison. At least 13 of the volunteers were over the age of 50. At least 8 were under the age of 18.

These men and boys were doctors and lawyers, merchants and farmers. Some were disabled from other wounds. Some were mere schoolboys. You can read about them below and I hope that you will, especially those of you who feel that their memory and monuments should be erased forever.

Have we really reached the point in time at which it is appropriate to toss out forever our collective memory of little boys and old men who took up arms to defend their community when it came under attack? May God forgive us if that is so.

Capt. Jesse J. Norwood's Company
Marianna Home Guards (1st Florida Militia)

Jesse. J. Norwood, Captain, age 30, state senator and attorney, captured and imprisoned, died immediately following the war of debilitation from time as a prisoner of war. He left behind a wife and three children.

A.F. Blount, Lieutenant, age 44, a physician, he was severely wounded in the shoulder.

Christian J. Staley, Lieutenant, age 53, he was captured at the Battle of Marianna and imprisoned at New Orleans, Fort Lafayette and Fort Warren. He was paroled on February 12, 1865.

B.J.Alderman, private, a merchant and former California gold miner, he helped bond the construction of the Jackson County Courthouse. He was imprisoned but paroled before the Federals left Marianna.

Isaac Anderson, private, he was captured during the fighting but paroled by the Federals before they left Marianna.

William E. Anderson, age 51, a former brigadier general in the Florida militia, he put down an insurrection in Calhoun County in 1860. He was a lawyer. Captured during the Battle of Marianna he was imprisoned at New Orleans, Fort Lafayette and Fort Warren and was not released until June 26, 1865, well after the end of the war. He later served as county judge for Jackson County.

Lawrence T. Armistead, 3rd Lieutenant of Company E, 6th Florida Infantry, had been wounded in the wrist at Chickamauga and was home on medical leave when Marianna was attacked. He escaped across the Chipola River at the end of the battle. He was a student of the ministry before the war.

Robert Armistead, age 15, private, was a school boy who was marched into battle under the leadership of his instructor. He was captured in the fighting, but was released the next afternoon in Vernon, Florida.

J. Austin, private, was captured during the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans and Ship Island. He died in prison on Ship Island and is buried there in an unmarked grave.

Frank Baltzell, age 13, private, was a student at the Marianna Academy and a "printer's devil" at the local newspaper before the battle. He was taken prisoner in the fighting and was either released or escaped at Vernon on the next afternoon. He later became the editor of the Marianna Courier before moving to Alabama where he was a journalist and a leader in the Populist Movement.

Richard Baltzell, age 15, private, was a student at the Marianna Academy. Captured during the fighting, he was released at Vernon on the next afternoon.

Thomas W. Baltzell, age 15, private, was a student at the Marianna Academy before the battle. He marched into battle behind his teacher, Charles Tucker. He was wounded in the hand and taken prisoner. He was held at prisons in New Orleans and on Ship Island, Mississippi. He was too sick to be transferred from the island to Elmira Prison in New York on November 5, 1864, and instead was held on Ship Island until May 1, 1865. He was released at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on May 5, 1865 and made his way home.

Henry O. Bassett, age 39, captain of Company E, 6th Florida Infantry, was home on leave when Marianna was attacked. The former sheriff of Jackson County, he was beaten and bayoneted to death on the banks of Stage Creek during the Battle of Mairanna. His body could be identified only by the Confederate uniform pants that he was wearing.

John Blaney, age 50, private, was captured during the Battle of Marianna and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He died at Elmira on December 15, 1864, and was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York.

James H. Brett, age 52, private, was the local constable and a veteran of the Mexican-American War. He was the original 1st lieutenant of the defunct "Jackson Guards" militia company. He received a severe wound that tore the muscle from his left forearm during the fighting and was also clubbed to the head with a rifle butt. He died of his wounds shortly after the battle.

Albert G. Bush, age 49, private, was captured at the Battle of Marianna and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He survived and turned to his farm after the war.

Hon. Allen Henry Bush, age 55, private, was the local circuit judge and had been a practicing Marianna attorney since the 1840s. He was a delegate to the ill-fated Florida Constitutional Convention on October 25, 1865, at which he voted in favor of the ending of slavery. He was reported to be "conciliatory" to the Republicans who controlled Jackson County during the Reconstruction era.

Rev. Richard Bush, age 50, was a local minister who was captured during the fighting. He was paroled by the Federals before they left Marianna.

John C. Carter, age 22, private, had served as a private in Company E, 6th Florida Infantry, until he was badly wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga and was given a medical discharge. He volunteered when Marianna was attacked and was burned to death when St. Luke's Episcopal Church was torched by Union soldiers.

John Chason, age 57, private, was a farmer in Jackson County. He was wounded in the neck during the battle and taken prisoner. He was held in prison at New Orleans and Ship Island. He died at the latter place of dysentery on December 19, 1864, and was buried in Grave #99 on Ship Island, Mississippi. His grave is now unmarked.

Ellis Davis, age 63, private, was the captain of a state militia company during the Second Seminole War and had also served as captain of the defunct "Jackson Guards" militia company. He suffered a compound fracture of his thigh during the fighting and was disabled for the rest of his life.

Marmaduke Dickson, private, was severely wounded in the Battle of Marianna and died later in the day.

Dr. Horace Ely, private, was a local physician, merchant and hotel keeper. He was the contractor who built the 1850 Jackson County Courthouse. Ely was captured in the fighting but was paroled by the Federals before they left town.

Miles Everett, private, was captured during the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He was released from prison on March 2, 1865, but was so ill that he remained ina hospital in Richmond, Virginia for six weeks. He returned home after the war.

Francis M. Farley, private, was the former captain of Company E, 6th Florida Infantry. He was captured at the Battle of Santa Rosa Island in 1861 and imprisoned. Eventually paroled, he returned to his company and served until he was badly wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Given a medical discharge, he returned home and was elected Clerk of Courts for Jackson County. He escaped across the Chipola River at the end of the battle.

Samuel B. Gammon, age 56, private, he was captured during the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans and Ship Island. He died at the latter place from typhoid on December 8, 1864, and was buried in Grave #72. His grave is unmarked.

Thomas N. Gautier, Age 32, private, was the owner of a Marianna mercantile firm and the Oak Hill leather tannery. He was captured during the fighting but managed to escape before the end of the battle.

Peyton Gwin, teenager, private, was an employee of the local newspaper. He received a severe blow to the head from a musket butt during the fighting.

Samuel (William) Harrison, private, was captured during the battle and carried away to prison. His fate is unknown.

John W. Hartsfield, private, was captured during the battle and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Fort Columbus. He died at Fort Columbus of diarrhea on February 15,1865, and is buried at Cypress Hill National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Dr. Thaddeus W. Hentz, age 30, private, was Marianna's dentist. A son of noted 19th century novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, he had served as a private in Gamble's Light Artillery but was discharged for medical reasons four days before the Battle of Marianna. One of his fingers was shot off during the fighting and he was taken prisoner. Hentz was imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. Released on March 2, 1865, he was hospitalized for roughly one week in Richmond, Virginia, due to general debility before returning home. He resumed his dental practice after the war and also helped disabled Confederate soldiers with facial reconstructions.

W.H.Hinson, private, was captured during the fighting but escaped before the end of the battle.

J.B. Justiss, private, was sometimes called Captain Justiss due to previous service in the state militia. He was captured during the battle and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He was exchanged in March of 1865 but was so weak and sick that he was hospitalized for two weeks at Howard's Grove Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, before he could return home.

W.O. Kincey, private, was captured during the fighting but escaped before the end fo the battle.

Rev. Richard C.B. Lawrence, age 42, private, was a local minister and the brother-in-law of Dr. Thaddeus Hentz. He was shot through the thigh during the fighting and took refuge in the blacksmith shop behind St. Luke's Episcopal Church. He was rescued by his family with the help of a Union sergeant and avoided imprisonment. He continued his ministry after the war.

Arthur Lewis (Sr.), age 58, private, was a former merchant. He was severely wounded during the fighting and died at his home two days later. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Marianna.

Felix H.G. Long, age 47, private, was a local planter. He was captured during the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Fort Lafayette. He suffered a stroke at the latter place and was permanently disabled. He was released on December 14, 1864.

Dr. Nicholas A. Long, 49, private, was the 1st lieutenant of a militia company during the Second Seminole War. He was a planter and physician before the war, was a delegate to the National Whig Party Convention in 1848 and served in the Florida Legislature in 1849. He was captured in the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Fort Lafayette. He was released from prison on December 14,1864, so he could care for Felix H.G. Long. He returned home.

Israel McBright, private, was captured in the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and possibly Elmira. His fate is unknown.

W.L. McKinley, private, escaped at the end of the battle.

Adam McNealy, age 47, private, was a member of the Jackson County Board of County Commissioners at the time of the battle. He had served as one of the county's delegates to Florida's Secession Convention in 1861. He was shot through the lung and struck to the head by a musket butt during the fighting. He eventually recovered and in 1869 urged the governor not to place Jackson County under further military occupation. He served on the Jackson County Board of Educatoin following reconstruction and helped to create the county's modern public school system.

Alex Merritt, age 32, private, was a local merchant and later owned the mill that gave today's Merritt's Mill Pond its name. He was captured during the battle and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He was released from prison on December 12, 1864, and later resumed his profession as a merchant and millwright.

C.R. Moore, private, escaped across the Chipola River at the end of the battle.

Edwin W. Mooring, age 32, private, was a local merchant and the owner of a legal whiskey distillery. He was captured during the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He returned home after the war and was later murdered by his brother-in-law.

Nicholas Morgan, private, escaped at the end of the battle.

Milton Mosley, private, escaped at the end of the battle and opened a store near present-day Malone during later years.

John T. Myrick, Sr., private, was a former state senator, a merchant and a trustee of the Marianna Male and Female Academy. He was a Unionist and helped lead Richard Keith Call's Unionist campaign in 1860. The Confederate government sought judgments against him during the war and he was in contact with Union naval forces at St. Andrew Bay in January 1864. He was captured during the fighting but was paroled by the Federals before they left town. His son Littleton was killed in the battle.

John T. Myrick, Jr., age 16, private, was a Marianna school boy who was known as "Jack" to his friends. He was captured during the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. His brother, Littleton, was killed. Jack was released from Elmira on March 29, 1865, and returned home forever embittered against the U.S. Government. He was accused of murdering three African-Americans during Reconstruction after one of them was accused of killing his friend, Margaret McClellan. He fled the county and lived out the rest of his life as a farmer in Missouri.

Charles Nickels, age 14, private, was captured in the fighting. He was released the next day in Vernon, Florida.

William Nickels, age 64, private, was a Marianna merchant and innkeeper who also served as a trustee of the Marianna Academy. He was captured but paroled by the Federals before they left town. His son, Woody, was killed in the battle. He was a prominent Unionist.

Woodbury "Woody" Nickels, age 16, private, was a Marianna school student who marched into battle under his teacher, Charles Tucker. He was shot through the leg when he tried to escape St. Luke's Episcopal Church after it was set afire by Union troops. He crawled to a nearby headstone where his head was crushed by a Union soldier who beat him to death with the butt of his musket. His body was partially burned as the church collapsed.

Rev. E.B. Norton, private, was a local minister. He escaped at the end of the battle.

James (Daniel) O'Neal, age 51, private, was captured during the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He was "too sick" to be paroled on February 13, 1865, and died at Elmira on March 5, 1865. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York.

Frederick R. Pittman, age 51, private, was a farmer and former Whig politician. He was captured during the battle and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He was released from prison on December 12, 1864.

Walter J. Robinson, captain of Company A, 11th Florida Infantry, was home on leave at the time of the attack on Marianna and volunteered for service with Norwood's men. He escaped across the Chipola River at the end of the battle.

H. Sweell, private, escaped at the end of the battle.

Solomon Sullivan, age 54, private, was badly wounded during the battle and died while receiving treatment at the home of Mrs. Mary Armistead.

Peter Taylor, private, escaped at the end of the battle.

Charles Tucker, private, was the school master at the Marianna Academy and led his students into the fight. He was captured but paroled by the Federals before they left town. Several of the young boys of his school were killed.

Charles Tucker, private (from Quincy, Florida), was in town on a court matter and volunteered to fight. He was captured in the battle and imprisoned at New Orleans, Ship Island and Elmira. He died at the latter prison camp on December 11, 1864, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York.

Hinton J. Watson, private, was an owner of the Marianna mercantile firm of H.J. Watson & Company. He was captured during the fighting but was paroled by the Federals before they let town. His business collapsed in 1868 due to post-war economic conditions but he went on to serve in the Florida House of Representatives.

O.M. Watson, private, escaped at the end of the battle.

John B. Whitehurst, age 40, private, was the local justice of the peace. He was captured during the fighting and imprisoned at New Orleans and Ship Island. He died at the latter place from tuberculosis on October 24, 1864, and was buried in Grave #4 in the prison cemetery. His grave is unmarked today.

William B. Wynn, private, was a local farmer. He was captured during the fighting and help prisoner at New Orleans, Ship Island and Fort Columbus. He died at the latter place on December 21, 1864, and was buried at Cypress Hill National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.


Other Confederate units present at the Battle of Marianna included Companies E & G, 5th Florida Cavalry; Company C, 1st Florida Reserves (Mounted); the Woodville Scouts (Alabama State Troops); the Greenwood Club Cavalry, and the Campbellton Cavalry. Various individual volunteers also served.

If you would like to read more, please consider my book: The Battle of Marianna, Florida: Expanded Edition. It is available in both print and Kindle formats.


      


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