|Choctawhatchee River at Douglas' Ferry|
Washington County, Florida
Asboth's Raid on Marianna the previous September had devastated the farms of Jackson, Washington, Holmes and Walton Counties. As hungry women and children emerged from the cold, lean winter, heavy rains saturated the ground and halted almost all planting and ground preparation in the region.
Making matters worse was the terror inflicted on civilians in the region by merciless deserter gangs. From secret hideouts in the swamps of the Choctawhatchee, Chipola and Chattahoochee/Apalachicola Rivers, these bands emerged with growing frequency during the final months of the war to prey on helpless communities and isolated farms.
|Historic Douglas' Ferry Road|
Although defeated at the Battle of Fairview in September 1864, Ward and his men were undeterred and continued their guerrilla campaign against the people of Northwest Florida and Southeast Alabama. Their war was one of murder, robbery and destruction.
The raiders were riding at full strength on March 23, 1865, when a detachment from Company A, 5th Florida Cavalry, came up with them at Douglas' Ferry in Washington County:
|Floodplain swamp at Douglas' Ferry|
A son of Lt. Col. W.D. Barnes of the 1st Florida Reserves, Joseph Barnes had served in both the 2nd and 5th Florida Cavalries during the war. He was a veteran of the Battle of Olustee and several other actions and was the ranking officer in his company following the promotion of Captain William H Milton to the battalion major.
|Picnic pavilion at Douglas' Ferry|
...On the second charge they discovered the body of Lieut. Frank M. Stovall, who is supposed to have been killed after he surrendered. His person was robbed of his pistol, sword and coat buttons. (Augusta Chronicle, April 15, 1865).
According to his Confederate Service Record, Stovall had enlisted as a private in Company A, 5th Florida Cavalry, at Camp Governor Milton on January 25, 1864. Not to be confused with the better known Camp Milton near Jacksonville, this camp was at Jackson Blue Springs near Marianna. He had been promoted from the ranks during the winter of 1864-1865 to fill a lieutenant's vacancy.
|Unknown Confederates at Riverside Cemetery in Marianna|
Lt. Stovall may be buried here.
The boldness of the second charge by Barnes and his outnumbered cavalrymen stunned Ward's men and they broke for the woods, disappearing into the thickets of the floodplain swamp. Their casualties in the fight are not known.
The Skirmish at Douglas' Ferry is believed to have been the final action of the war on the Florida section of the Choctawhatchee River. It took place two days before the Action at Canoe Creek (or Bluff Springs) north of Pensacola.
The site of Douglas' Ferry is now a park and boat landing maintained by Washington County. It is located on Douglas' Ferry Road near Hinson Crossroads northwest of Vernon.