Thursday, August 27, 2009

Col. Spurling's Bizarre West Florida Raid - Conclusion

Pushing on in the path of the main body of Asboth's troops, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Spurling and his small detachment of "undercover Yankees" followed the Vernon road and crossed into Washington County at Orange Hill.

In that vicinity they stopped at the house of an elderly woman who was living alone. Believing them to be Confederate soldiers, she gave them a horse that had somehow escaped detection by the main body as it passed. She also prayed a blessing on them as they rode on.

Not long after, they came up on the rear of the long Union column on its way back to Choctawhatchee Bay from the Battle of Marianna. Their appearance at first created alarm in the ranks as the Federal soldiers had been told Confederate cavalry was on their trail. Spurling, however, approached by "displaying a dirty pair of drawers, by way of a flag of truce." Relieved to see their lost comrades, the men of the Union column gave "three hearty cheers" to celebrate their return.

During his "jaunt through Rebeldom," Spurling had captured a total of 15 men, several wagons and a number of horses and mules. He also rescued a Union soldier who had been left behind by the main body near Campbellton due to illness.

The fate of the prisoners is one of the darkest aspects of the 1864 raid. They do not appear on Union prisoner of war lists and never returned home. The participant in the raid who wrote the account a short time later for his hometown Maine newspaper specifically mentioned that only one captured Southerner, a minister, was taken along with them. The only logical conclusion that can be reached regarding the rest is that they were executed to avoid them from alerting Confederate forces as to the identity and location of the colonel's detachment. Union members of the 2nd Maine Cavalry were silent on Spurling's activities other than to mention he had been detached, as was General Asboth in his official report of the raid.

To learn more about the main Marianna raid and the Battle of Marianna, please visit

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