Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Raid on Marianna - September 28, 1864



The Union troops left Marianna before sunrise on the morning of September 28, 1864.

Many local residents saw this as a sign that they were "sneaking away in the dark" before Confederate reinforcements could attack. In truth, rising early and moving out before sunrise was a standard cavalry practice of the day.

General Asboth, severely wounded, was carried away on a bed placed in the back of a wagon.

With them, the Federals took away 47 men and boys as prisoners of war. The number included 26 from the Marianna Home Guard, 8 from Company C, 1st Florida Reserve's (Poe's), 5 from the Campbellton Cavalry, 4 from the Greenwood Club Cavalry, 3 from Chisolm's company (Alabama Militia), 2 men from Company B, 15th Confederate Cavalry (on detached duty at Marianna), and Colonel Montgomery himself. Of this number, 14 would die in Union prison camps over the next six months.

Several of the Union wounded were in critical condition and unable to be moved when the troops left. As a consequence they were left behind in the care of local residents and became prisoners of war. Sixteen Federals fell into Confederate hands as a result of the battle. All were members of the 2nd Maine Cavalry. Of this number, 3 had been mortally wounded and soon died from their injuries. The rest survived and most were eventually sent to Camp Sumter (Andersonville), where all but one survived.

Early on the morning of the 28th, a Confederate soldier that had remained hidden in town swam the Chipola River to let the growing Southern force on the east bank know that the Federals were gone. Captain William A. Jeter (Company E, 5th Florida Cavalry) volunteered to confirm the report and climbed across the stringers of the bridge with several of his men and went into town to look around.

He soon came back to report that the Union troops had departed during the night. The bridge was repaired and the Confederate survivors and reinforcements rode up the hill into Marianna. They found the Union dead buried in a shallow grave on courthouse square, so shallow in fact that their hands and feet were protruding from the early. The women and remaining doctors of the town were busy tending to the wounded and people were picking through the rubble of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and the two nearby homes. Four charred bodies were found in the ashes of the church.

The local people soon took up the bodies of the dead Federals from the square and moved them out to Riverside Cemetery where they were reburied in an area apart from local citizens and distinct as well from the "slave" area of the cemetery.

Our series will continue with a look at the "Battle of Vernon," an incident that took place as the Union column was returning to Choctawhatchee Bay on the afternoon of the 28th.

You can always learn more about the Battle of Marianna and Asboth's Raid by visiting http://www.battleofmarianna.net/.

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