Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Calhoun County War, Part Five

I'm continuing today with a look at the little known "Calhoun County War" of 1860. This event, on the eve of the War Between the States, was declared an insurrection and resulted in a campaign by the Florida Militia. To read the previous posts on this, just scroll down the page.

The 1st Brigade of the Florida Militia began operating from the McIntosh home at West Wynnton shortly after arriving on the scene. In a series of marches through the country side, they encountered and apprehended small parties of Regulators. Matilda Dunham, the teacher who had been evacuated from the McIntosh home with the other women and children, wrote on October 7th that she had heard from Calhoun County and that the militia had "captured a few of the insurgents, regulators, or whatever they may be, but none of their leaders."

The campaign continued, however, until finally the main body of regulars was encountered and subdued. "The troops have captured 60 or 70 of the rascals," wrote Dunham on October 10th." Judge McIntosh informed his family in a letter that the disturbance was almost over.

By October 17, 1860, the Marianna Patriot was able to report that the war was over:

Our Militia, under Gen. Anderson, have returned from Calhoun County, in good health &c., bringing with them twenty seven prisoners. And we are gratified to hear that all is peace and quietness in that distracted county.

A total of 57 men were charged with crimes against the state or federal governments. Thirty were released and ordered to appear before the next session of the circuit court. Twenty-seven were held in custody and placed in the jails at Marianna and Apalachicola.

In the time between the end of the "war" and the next session of the court, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. Judge McIntosh resigned from his post and Florida joined other Southern states in calling a secession convention. The first regulator trial was set to take place in Apalachicola in December of 1860 and drew observers not only from Florida, but from the neighboring states of Alabama and Georgia as well. The unnamed regulator was acquitted. The judge then ordered the rest of the trials moved to Marianna, evidently believing that such a move was necessary.

There is no evidence that any other trials ever took place. Many of the men who fought in both the regulator and "Durden party" wound up serving in the Confederate forces during the Civil War. Gen. Anderson continued to serve as a militia general until 1862, when the state militia was disbanded. In 1864 he joined the Marianna Home Guard as a private and was captured during the Battle of Marianna. He was carried away to a Northern prison camp for the rest of the war. Judge Finley became a brigadier general in the Confederate service. Solicitor Barnes became the lieutenant colonel of the 1st Florida Infantry Reserves.

In the tumult of the war, the Calhoun County revolt was largely forgotten and remains an obscure footnote in Florida history to this day.

1 comment:

Murf said...

Fascinating history. Thanks for sharing this Dale.