Thursday, September 23, 2010

September 23, 1864 - New Account of the Skirmish at Eucheeanna

Northwest Florida in 1864
As General Alexander Asboth and his command of 700 Federal troops pushed deeper into Northwest Florida on their way to Marianna, they reached the town of Eucheeanna in Walton County at dawn on September 23, 1864.

Then the county seat of Walton County (Defuniak Springs had not yet been established), Eucheeanna was a small community made up of a courthouse, jail, several stores and a scattering of houses and plantations. It was also the setting for a conscription (draft) camp then occupied by detachments from Company I, 15th Confederate Cavalry, and Captain Robert Chisolm's Cavalry Company of the Alabama State Militia (then based at Marianna).

Few details have survived of the skirmish that took place at Eucheeanna on the morning of the 23rd when Asboth's troops attacked the village. A new eyewitness account, recently discovered in the November 1864 edition of The Northern Journal and Maine Military Record, adds much to what is known of the encounter:

After marching 100 miles through a barren region, they came to the town of Euchelia, county-seat of Holmes county. At this place there was stationed a detachment of Chisam’s famous rebel cavalry. A charge was ordered. Lieut-Col. Spurling led the charge with the 2d Maine cavalry yelling like demons, frightening the inhabitants and taking the camp by surprise on the morning of the 23d. A lieutenant and some 25 men were taken prisoners, with arms and equipments, camp equipage, horses, mules, and stores.

The rest of the Confederates at Eucheeanna were able to mount their horses and get away, fleeing north on the road to Geneva, Alabama. One member of the Second Maine Cavalry wrote that the Southern troopers were able to escape because their horses were fresh, while those of the Northern unit were jaded from having been ridden all night without grain or forage.

The fighting over, the Union troops spread out through the community, taking what they wanted and doing as much damage as possible to the local farms and plantations. One member of the Second Maine described it as something of a picnic:

...we got our horses some corn and dug some sweet potatoes and shot some pigs, cows, ducks, geese, hens and anything that we wanted and as many sweet potatoes as we wanted and that was some considerable many. I tell you we got all we wanted to eat while we stayed there and when we went away we took all we wanted with us and had a good time. Stayed their 2 days. 

For the local citizens, however, it was no picnic. Many families were left without a piece of bacon or kernel of corn to feed themselves through the coming winter. More on that in the next post.

You can learn more about the Marianna raid at www.battleofmarianna.com.
 

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