Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Origins of Marianna Day
A total of eighteen men and boys, ten Confederate and eight Union, died in the fighting, most of them on the grounds around St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Four were reported to have been badly burned when the church was set afire by Union troops to drive out Confederates who were firing on them from the steeple.
The Battle of Marianna had a dramatic effect on the people of Jackson County. In addition to the men killed and the more than 30 others wounded, another 44 local men and boys were carried away to Northern prisoner of war camps, brutal places from which many would not return. The city itself was severely looted and its civilian inhabitants terrorized. Not only were horses, mules, wagons and foodstuffs taken, but residents also saw Federal troops taking valuables, clothes, furniture, books and more. The raid inflicted lasting trauma on the entire community.
Over time, a movement began to remember the fate that had befallen Marianna and its people on September 27, 1864. Originally headed by local women, some of whom had helped care for the wounded or lost husbands and fathers in the battle, the commemoration began to spread across Florida. By the early 20th century, Marianna Day was somberly observed with special ceremonies and events across the state.
Dan Weinfeld, who is doing outstanding work in researching the violent Reconstruction era in Jackson County, has assembled a nice collection of historical accounts of Marianna Day from across Florida. You can read them at http://www.thejacksoncountywar.com/2010/09/celebration-of-marianna-day-in-20th.html
The practice has faded across the state now, but continues and is expanding in Marianna. This year's event, held this past weekend, featured battle reenactments and other events.
You can read more about the Battle of Marianna at www.battleofmarianna.com.