The county seat of Florida's third oldest county, Marianna was established on hills overlooking the Chipola River in 1827. The unique name was created by combining the name of one of its founders, Anna Maria Beveridge, with the name of the wife of a business partner of the Beveridges. By 1864, the Jackson County city had emerged as the premier community in the interior of the Florida Panhandle.
|Downtown Marianna in the 19th Century|
The Confederate military recognized the significance of Marianna and the surrounding plantation district. While resources were limited, a considerable portion of the available military force in Florida was headquartered in the city. Colonel A.B. Montgomery, who had been wounded at Second Manassas while leading the 3rd Georgia Infantry, was assigned to command the military subdistrict headquartered in Marianna. His area of responsibility included the artillery batteries that defended the Apalachicola River as well as the coastal saltworks and interior farms and plantations in the eastern panhandle. The command stretched from the Apalachicola River west to the Choctawhatchee and from the Alabama line south to the Gulf of Mexico.
|Col. A.B. Montgomery (at left)|
In addition, Marianna was home to a 50-bed Confederate post hospital, military stables, a conscription camp where new recruits (i.e. draftees) were brought for training, provost marshal's office and commissary storehouses. The city was the center of military supply operations in the region and was the location to which herds of cattle and hogs were brought, along with stockpiles of grain, salt and other necessities prior to their shipment out to the Confederate armies in the field.
While barges, pole boats and small steamboats could navigate the Chipola River as far up as Marianna during high water, the primary supply line leading from Marianna to the rest of the South consisted of freight wagons that traveled the roads from the city to landings on the Chattahoochee River which formed much of the county's eastern border. From there, paddlewheeel steamboats carried the supplies north to the factories and rail connections at Columbus, Georgia.
It was just a matter of time before the city attracted the attention of Union commanders at Pensacola.
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