Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26, 1861 - Amnesty for Suspects from the "Calhoun County War"

Governor Madison S. Perry
This is part of a month-long series on the Secession of Florida, which took place 150 years ago this month.

January 26, 1861

A remarkable event took place in Florida 150 years ago today when Governor Madison S. Perry, who was leading an insurrection against the Federal government, pardoned another group of men who had been arrested the previous fall for doing exactly the same thing. The following item appeared in the Tallahassee Floridian on January 26, 1861:

A proclamation has been issued by Governor Perry, in accordance with instructions proceeding from the State Convention, declaring an amnesty for offences committed against the criminal laws of the State in the counties in Calhoun and Franklin during the past year - Tallahassee Floridian, January 26, 1861.

The "offences committed" were part of an uprising that began on September 24, 1860, in Calhoun County when a band of armed men attacked members of the Durden and Musgrove families:

Photo Courtesy of Justin Hall
...Yesterday in Calhoun, styling themselves 'Regulators,' went to the house of one Jesse Durden, and we learn shot him, giving him a mortal wound. They then met and shot Willis Musgrove from his horse, who died instantly, also wounding Larkin C. Musgrove. These are the facts as we have been able to gather them, but it is believed that last night another battle was fought between the Regulators and the Durdens. All this happened near Abe's Spring Bluff, in Calhoun Co. - Marianna Patriot, September 25, 1860.

The outbreak quickly grew into a situation of all out war in Calhoun County, with the regulators threatening to drive all persons from the county who were not approved by them. Circuit Judge J.J. Finley (soon to become a Confederate officer) declared that an insurrection was underway and ordered out the state militia from Jackson, Gadsden and Liberty Counties. Led by Brigadier General William E. Anderson of Marianna, the state troops marched into Calhoun County to the home of U.S. District Judge McQueen McIntosh at West Wynnton. From a camp there, the soldiers moved through Calhoun County to round up the leaders of both sides in the "war," 

A total of 57 men were arrested by the militia. Thirty of these were released on bond while another 27 were escorted to jails in Marianna and Apalachicola pending trial. The first of the insurgents, a man named King, was acquitted by a jury in November of 1860 and the others were sent to Marianna to stand trial. 

Governor Perry's order, however, pardoned them for all offenses and as a group they entered the growing military forces of the state.

If you would like to read more about the "Calhoun County War," please see my book, The History of Jackson County, Florida: The Early Years, which includes a detailed account of the incident. 
 

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