Monday, June 7, 2010

The "Last Survivor" of the Battle of Marianna

On February 6, 1929, a Jackson County resident made an appeal to the Florida Legislature to name him to serve as its Door Keeper, noting in his letter that he was "the only survivor of the Battle of Marianna."

I recently had a chance to view George Ball's letter through the courtesy of his descendant Terry Sirmans. Ball served in the Battle of Marianna as a teenage member of Captain Alexander Godwin's Campbellton Cavalry Home Guard unit, but later went on to serve in Company I, 5th Florida Cavalry.

The letter is particularly fascinating because it adds substantiation to the Marianna legend that members of Godwin's unit unhorsed a Union officer during the fighting at Marianna and took his sabre from him:

The sword I now hold in my hand was shot from the body of a Lieutenant Yankee. I have got his sword and Marianna has got his shirt, because he is buried in the Marianna Cemetery.

Based on this part of Godwin's letter, it appears that the officer to whom hewas referring was Lieutenant Isaac Adams of the Second Maine Cavalry. The lieutenant was mortally wounded in the fighting at Marianna and was buried at Riverside Cemetery. A stone monument (shown above) still stands over his grave site, although his remains were removed to Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola during the late 19th century. As his is the only monument to a Union casualty of the battle at Riverside, it is fairly obvious that Adams was the officer described by George Ball.

Whether he was the actual "last survivor" of the Battle of Marianna in 1929 is impossible to say. Boys as young as 12 were involved in the fighting, but Ball held the distinction of being the last known survivor of the fight.

To learn more about the Battle of Marianna, please visit


Anonymous said...

Fascinating! G.W. Ball was my maternal grandmother's paternal great-grandfather. I have been learning about him lately and would love to know more about Mr. Sirmans' letter.

B. King

Dale said...

Hello and thank you for commenting. Terry reads the blog often so hopefully he will chime in, but if you would like to email me, I'll be glad to provide you with more information on the letter, etc. I also have quite a bit of information on George Ball. Just go to and I will receive your email.