|Major Nathan Cutler|
The Federals, not expecting resistance from Confederate cavalry that they thought was in full retreat, came on in a column of fours... and ran head on into the Southern horsemen who were formed in line of battle across the road at Ely Corner. All debate now over, Colonel Montgomery ordered his men to fire and a volley erupted from the Confederate line.
|Russ House at Ely Corner|
Outraged by the unexpected retreat of his men, General Asboth spurred his horse forward and cried, "For Shame! For Shame!" at them. He then ordered a second battalion from the 2nd Maine to charge and led them himself.
Montgomery's men, meanwhile, were still struggling to reload their musketoons when the second Federal charge surged around the curve. Unable to resist, Montgomery and his horsemen withdrew up Lafayette Street. Eyewitnesses later noted that the Federals were hot on their heels as they retreated.
|Holden House, Barricade Vicinity|
Musket, shotgun and pistol fire erupted from both sides of the street, mowing down the head of Asboth's column. The Southern citizen-soldiers had been so well concealed behind trees, bushes, fences and buildings that the Federals never saw them until it was too late.
The first volley was stunningly effective. General Asboth went down with wounds to his jaw and arm. Some of the Confederates tried to capture him, but were held off by men from the 1st Florida Cavalry (U.S.) who fought with sabres to defend the general and get him to safety. In the 2nd Maine Cavalry, it was reported that every man and officer at the head of the column went down killed or wounded.
|Lafayette Street in Downtown Marianna|
Pushed with his horsemen up the street by the Federals, Colonel Montgomery reached the center of town to find that his worst fears had been realized - the Union flanking party had come in behind him and was now in position around courthouse square. The Confederates charged into these men and hand to hand combat broke out all around the square. The colonel was thrown from his horse and captured near the southeast corner of the square. Lieutenant M.A. Butler of the Greenwood Club Cavalry was shot down and killed as he turned north on Jefferson in an effort to escape. Eyewitnesses saw him fire back at his pursuers but miss just before they blasted him from the saddle.
|Downtown Marianna in the late 1800s|
The two forces spread out along the banks of the Chipola, continuing a sharp skirmish but not otherwise advancing.
Meanwhile, out along West Lafayette Street, the home guards and volunteers were engaged in a battle that several veteran officers and soldiers would remember as the fiercest of the war, for its size. I will write more on that in the next post.
Until then, you can learn more in my book, The Battle of Marianna, Florida, which is available by clicking the Books section at the upper right of this page. It is also available as an instant download for both Amazon Kindle and iBooks devices. You can also read more at www.battleofmarianna.com.