Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Raid on Marianna - September 25, 1864 (Part Two)
On September 25, 1864, a lone rider thundered down the dirt main street of the city of Marianna. He was Arthur Lewis, a teenager that often served as a courier for the military post there.
Lewis had been sent to Walton County to call in the detachment from Captain Chisolm's company that had been in Eucheeanna. Instead, he stumbled into Asboth's column.
Hiding in the brush and losing his horse in the process, the young courier made his way back across the Choctawhatchee River, secured a horse and headed for Marianna as fast as he could. One eyewitness remembered that his clothes were in tatters from the brush and brambles he encountered during the journy.
Lewis informed Colonel A.B. Montgomery of the presence of the Union troops in Walton County. Although the young courier later criticized the colonel for not immediately reacting to the news, but Montgomery had reasons.
Raids into Walton County were fairly common and the area west of the Choctawhatchee was not part of his jurisdiction. The main road from Eucheeanna to Marianna passed through Vernon, Holmes Valley and Orange Hill. Vernon had an active home guard company under Captain W.B. Jones and one of Montgomery's few cavalry units, Company E, 5th Florida Cavalry under Captain William Jeter, was stationed at Orange Hill. Any advance via the most likely route of approach would encounter these forces and provide critical warning to the city.
When Asboth did not cross the Choctawhatchee into Washington County via the most likely approach, Montgomery likely concluded that the raid was simply another excursion into Walton County. He did take the precautionary measure of bringing the main body of Chisolm's company into Marianna from its camp at Blue Spring, but otherwise waited and watched.
Our series on Asboth's raid on Marianna will continue. Until the next post, you can read more by visiting www.battleofmarianna.net.