Sunday, September 23, 2012

Asboth hits Eucheeanna, 148 years ago today

Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church in Eucheeanna
The Federal raiders had already been moving for five days when they hit the Walton County seat of Eucheeanna at sunrise on the morning of September 23, 1864, 148 years ago today.

The Second Maine Cavalry formed a line of battle outside the village and came down so fast the two detachments of Confederate cavalry camped there were not able to wage much of a defense at all. The Southern horsemen scattered, leaving behind their camp, supplies and even many of their weapons.

Asboth reported that he captured 9 prisoners of war and 6 political prisoners at Eucheeanna, which was located about 3 miles southeast of today's Defuniak Springs. Also taken were 46 horses, 8 mules, 26 stand of arms and bar lead bearing the mark of "Merchants' Shot-Works" in Baltimore, Maryland.

Euchee Valley as seen from a nearby hilltop
The real damage done that day, however, was not to the Confederate military but to the civilians of the Euchee Valley of Walton County.

The men of the community were rounded up and confined in the little two-story log jail while foraging parties spread out through Eucheeanna to began a day and night of destruction unlike anything seen in Florida since the Second Seminole War.

One of the men thrown into the jail that night was Alexander McCullum, a Unionist. He later filed a claim for his losses with the Southern Claims Commission, an agency established by the U.S. government after the war to consider the claims of Southern Unionists:

Grave of Giles Bowers of Eucheeanna
Asboth used his home as a headquarters.
...He was arrested by Genl. Ashboth Brigade, and put into the jail at Eucheeanna, where he remained all night, and brought before the General the next morning, and then and there examined and tried, and fully released, without any punishment whatever.

McCullum lost his horse, bridle and saddle to the Federal troops.

A foraging party hit the home of Mrs. McLean, where they looted her farm. Everything of value was taken and even her chickens were shot down in the yard. Her sick brother, who was home on medical leave from the Confederate army, managed to elude capture by lifting up the floorboards of the house and hiding in a hole beneath that had been dug to secure clay for the little house's "stick and daub" chimney.

Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church & Cemetery
At the plantation of Colonel John L. McKinnon, one of the few real plantations in the Euchee Valley, the soldiers ordered the slaves to hitch up all of the wagons and carts on the place. These were loaded with the meat from the smokehouse and corn from the corncrib. The slaves who did not want to go with the Federals were forcibly removed, although three escaped by hiding in a nearby swamp. One of these, Harriett Crow, was the wife of the Euchee (Yuchi) Indian chief Jim Crow. After the soldiers left, she came out of the swamp and set off on foot with one of the McKinnon daughters to learn the fate of a family member who was staying with friends nearby. Along the way they found a side of bacon in the road. It had fallen from one of the "confiscated" wagons. They were trying to get it back home when the missing brother appeared and lent a hand. The side of bacon along with kernals of corn sifted from the sand provided food for the family and slaves alike throughout the long winter of 1864-1865.

Euchee Valley as it appears today
At the home of Abigail McDonald, the raiders made off with a horse, a mule, 100 bushels of corn, a steer, 20 head of hogs, 75 bushels of potatoes, 500 barrels of fodder, 20 turkeys, 24 chickens and 3 sheep. In a claim filed with the Southern Claims Commission, she valued her losses at $799.80:

...[T]he mile was taken by Col. of Gen. Asboth's command, who said it was in compliance with an order of General Asboth, that their horses were worn out and they needed fresh ones, on the same day the poultry was killed, and the potatoes, corn and fodder also were taken.

Sexual assaults were a dark and often unmentioned part of such raids. The only recorded incident of sexual assault during the Marianna Raid took place that evening near Eucheeanna. A sergeant from one of the USCT detachments entered an isolated farm house where he allegedly raped both a woman and her teenage daughter. He was pointed out to Federal officers, but the local people were never informed of any action being taken against him.

To read about the Federal raid in Walton County in full detail, please consider my book The Battle of Marianna, Florida: Expanded Edition. It is also available as an instant download for Amazon Kindle and at iBooks.

To learn more about the Marianna Raid online, please visit


Savez said...

Just finished your book on Marianna. Very good read. To me actions like these define the Civil War more than the great battles.

Dale Cox said...

I agree. These were the ones that impacted the everyday people in their homes where they lived and also characterized the experiences of many of the Union soldiers far from home. Thank you for the nice words on the book!