Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23, 1864 - The Skirmish at Eucheeanna

Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church
The Federal troops of Asboth's column moved through the night from the vicinity of Lake Defuniak (see The Advance into Walton County) in order to attack the small Confederate camp at Eucheeanna on the morning of September 23, 1864.

Then the county seat of Walton County, Eucheeanna took its name from the Euchee Valley. Noted for its fertile soil and early Scotch settlement, the valley in turn was named for the Euchee or Yuchi Indians that once made it their home. At the time of Asboth's West Florida Raid, it was a center for farming and the main village of Eucheeanna was also the site of the county courthouse and jail, stores, homes, churches and a cemetery that was already four decades old by the time of the raid. The Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church was the oldest of that denomination in Florida.

Eucheeanna Area Today
Located along what had developed as the primary road linking Pensacola with Marianna, Eucheeanna was a logical target for the raiders. From the community, a quick movement east would lead to Douglas's Ferry on the Choctawhatchee River and from there Marianna could be reached via a good and direct road.

Asboth's primary target that morning, though, was a camp of Confederate cavalry in the village. These troops, made up of detachments from Captain W.B. Amos' Company I, 15th Confederate Cavalry and Captain Robert Chisolm's "Woodville Scouts," a militia cavalry company from Henry County, Alabama, were in Eucheeanna enforcing the "conscription" or draft. Commissary negotiations appear also to have been underway in the village between Confederate officers and the ranchers of the area.

Euchee Valley Cemetery
The Federal troops approached Eucheeanna through the falling rain during the predawn hours, completely undetected by the Southern cavalrymen. As the soldiers neared the village, Asboth spread the 2nd Maine Cavalry into a line of battle and ordered Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Spurling to take his men and charge the Confederate camp. The attack was successful, not there was any doubt as to whether the Federals could overwhelm a few dozen Southern cavalrymen, but it was not planned particularly well.

Instead of trying to surround the Confederate camp or approach stealthily, Spurling and his men went in shouting and shooting. This, of course, ended the element of surprise and, while they were able to capture a handful of the Southern soldiers, quite a few had time to get to their horses and escape. This was bad news for Asboth, who was hoping to bag the whole lot so they could not alarm the countryside ahead of his approach.

The skirmish was over in minutes. So far as is known, no one was killed, although Spurling and his men managed to capture 9 prisoners of war, 6 political prisoners, 46 horses, 8 mules, 26 stand of arms and a quantity of bar lead bearing the mark of Merchants' Shot-Works in Baltimore, Maryland (an interesting discovery, as Maryland was technically a Union state).

The following Confederates were taken as prisoners of war at Eucheeanna:
  • Lt. Francis M. Gordon (15th Confederate Cavalry)
  • John Pitts (15th Confederate Cavalry)
  • William Clayton (15th Confederate Cavalry)
  • J.C. Thomas (Chisolm's Company)
  • J.W. Brett (Chisolm's Company)
  • C.H. Parker (Chisolm's Company)
  • Daniel Neel (Gillis' Company, Walton Home Guard)
  • Daniel McDonald (1st Florida Reserves)
  • James W. Skipper (Crosby's Company)
The last three individuals seem to have been in the Confederate camp for some reason, but there is no indication that other men from their units were there.

The Federal troops spread out through the Euchee Valley area, subjecting the residents there to a day and night of terror that has not been forgotten to this day.  More on that in my next post.

To learn more about Asboth's raid, please consider my book, The Battle of Marianna, Florida (available by clicking the Books area at the upper right of this page). It is also available as an instant download for both Amazon Kindle and iBooks. You can also learn more about the raid at www.battleofmarianna.com.

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