Sunday, August 23, 2009

Col. Spurling's Bizarre West Florida Raid - Part Four

After enjoying their meal at Captain Grace's home and rescuing their sick comrade, Lt. Col. Andrew Spurling and his detachment of "undercover Yankees" continued their ride through northwestern Jackson County on the afternoon of September 27, 1864.

The main body of Asboth's force was heavily engaged in the Battle of Marianna that afternoon and things began to take a more serious turn for Spurling and his men as well. As they approached Campbellton, they "overtook a train of three army wagons, ladon with salt" that had bypassed the rear of the Union column then attacking Marianna.

Three citizen-soldiers, all militiamen from Dale County, Alabama, were taken prisoner. Their fates appear to have been grim. None of the three ever showed up on Union prisoner of war lists nor did any of them ever return home to their families in Alabama. The only logical assumption, as unsettling as it may be, is that Spurling had them murdered. He and his men knew they would face execution if caught roaming behind Confederate lines wearing Southern uniforms and they obviously knew that taking prisoners along with them would increase the odds that their true identities would be discovered. It appears he decided not to take that chance and killed three men from Dale County who had surrendered to him without resistance.

Turning south on the old Campbellton Road leading to Marianna, the Federal detachment camped somewhere that night and then continued on the next morning, still in disguise, towards Marianna. As they approached the city, they found the "rebels thick, and on the qui vive for the Yankees." Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, the "undercover Yankees" took to the woods but four times still barely escaped capture by larger Confederate patrols then swarming the areas west of the city.

They finally did succeed in passing Marianna and hit the Vernon Road heading southwest into Washington County, following the trail of the main body that had withdrawn from Marianna early that morning. Somewhere in the area of today's Kynesville, a small community southwest of Marianna in Jackson County, they encountered two men, a Confederate soldier and a minister. Despite the fact that he was wearing a Confederate uniform, Spurling dismounted and took aim at the men with his carbine. The Southern soldier immediately surrendered, but the minister dropped to his knees and begged for mercy. Northern accounts indicate that the minister's life was spared, but are ominously silent as to the fate of the Confederate soldier. As was the case with the three Dale County militiamen captured in Campbellton, he never showed up in Union prisoner of war records.

I will continue with the story of Spurling's bizarre little raid in the next post. Until then, you can read more on the Battle of Marianna itself by visiting

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