Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Raid on Marianna - September 23, 1864

This is Colonel John L. McKinnon, a prominent individual in Florida history and resident of Walton County at the time of Asboth's raid.

McKinnon was at his "Old Home" plantation when the Union raiders struck Eucheeanna on the morning of September 23, 1864.

At some point during their advance into Walton County, the Federals had learned of the presence of two small detachments of Confederate cavalry at Eucheeanna. Probably not numbering more than 25-30 men in all, the detachments were from Amos' Company, 15th Confederate Cavalry and Captain Robert Chisolm's company of Alabama Militia Cavalry. They were there enforcing the conscription or military draft.

The Southern troops were clearly not expecting an attack and may have been laying low due to the heavy rains that had been falling across the area for days. Whatever the reason, they had no idea that Asboth had camped just three miles away at Lake Defuniak on the night of the 22nd. Moving out before daybreak, the Federals arrived outside of Eucheeanna on the morning of the 23rd and at sunrise Asboth send the 2nd Maine Cavalry storming into the village.

The charge was led by Lieutenant Colonel Andrew B. Spurling of the 2nd Maine and took the Confederates by complete surprise. There was a brief exchange of fire, but no casualties were reported. The Federals did succeed in capturing nine prisoners of war along with William Cawthon (Sr.), Allen Hart and Col. W.H. Terrence of Alabama. The former two individuals were contracting for the delivery of beef to the Confederate armies. Terrence had served in the Alabama militia during the Creek War of 1836 and was now a civilian. His purpose for being in Eucheeanna at the time is not known.

The prisoners of war taken included Lt. F.M. Gordon and three other men from Company I, 15th Confederate Cavalry, three men from Chisolm's company, one man from Company C, 1st Florida Reserves (possibly home on leave), and two local home guards.

The rest of the Confederates managed to escape and fled north on the Geneva (Alabama) road. Asboth sent a detachment under Col. Spurling to try to recapture them and then dispersed foraging parties throughout the neighborhood.

Heavy damage was inflicted on the homes and farms in the Euchee Valley throughout the day of the 23rd. Provisions and fodder were either confiscated or destroyed, livestock rounded up, wagons taken, slaves liberated and - in some cases - forcefully removed from local plantations and weapons and other items of military value seized. Among the homes hit by the raiders was that of Col. John L. McKinnon (seen above).

An elder statesmen, McKinnon had served as a delegate to Florida's Constitutional Convention in 1838 and had long been a fixture in Walton County. A number of his sons were serving in the Confederate army, but because of his age he was at home when the raiders arrived. According to family legend, a Union soldier tried to take a sword from the home that the colonel had carried years before. He forcefully confronted the unlucky Federal and, by pure strength of character and force of speech, sent him away without the sword.

Our series on Asboth's Raid on Marianna will continue. Until the next post, you can read more by visiting http://www.battleofmarianna.net/. Also please consider my book, The Battle of Marianna, Florida. Click here for ordering information. Also remember that the Children of the American Revolution will be hosting two guided tours of the Marianna Battlefield this Saturday, September 27th, at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The tours begin at the historic Russ House (Jackson County Chamber of Commerce) on West Lafayette Street and the cost to participate is only $5 (12 and under free). 100% of the proceeds benefit the C.A.R. in their effort to stimulate interest in history among Jackson County's school students.

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