Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27, 1864 - The Battle of Marianna, Florida

The Northwest Florida raid reached its climactic moment at high noon on September 27, 1864.

The Battle of Marianna developed when the Federals launched a two-pronged attack on the Jackson County city, striking the Confederate defenders there from both the front and flank in a standard tactic of the time. The Southern cavalry tried to fight mounted, but were driven through the streets of Marianna to the Chipola River where they made a stand long enough to allow for the removal of the planks from the wooden bridge. At the same time, the Marianna Home Guard and a number of other local volunteers were cornered on the grounds of St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

The fight there was extremely fierce, with hundreds of men battling in an enclosed yard that encompassed little more than an acre. By the time the smoke cleared, 10 of the Confederates were dead or dying, as were 8 of the Federals. More than 30 other men had been wounded.

The town was thoroughly ransacked that night. Union soldiers took away or destroyed food, clothing, fodder, livestock and valuables. Two homes, St. Luke's church and the town blacksmith shop were burned to the ground in the closing moments of the battle and some of the Union accounts seem to indicate that other structures, possibly barns, were fired as well.

The devastation inflicted on the town and the fierce resistance of the outnumbered Confederate soldiers there were memorialized in Florida for many years at annual "Marianna Day" observances. These took place in cities from Pensacola to Miami and Key West. I'll look closer at that in the next post. You can learn more about the battle at www.battleofmarianna.com.

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