Sunday, September 28, 2014

Battle of Marianna 150th was a massive success!

Union troops fire on approaching Confederates
The 150th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Marianna, Florida, was a huge success.

Thousands of visitors from around Florida, the nation and the world came to see the reenactment, participate in living history demonstrations and take part in guided tours, memorial services, musical performances, a debate between the commanding officers, a wild west show and more.

The Battle of Marianna was fought on September 27, 1864, in the streets of the Jackson County city. U.S. troops from the 2nd Maine Cavalry, 1st Florida Cavalry (US), 82nd U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) and 86th USCT defeated a Confederate force of men and boys from the 5th Florida Cavalry, 1st Florida Infantry Reserves (Mounted), Chisolm's Cavalry (Alabama State Militia), Greenwood Club Cavalry, Campbellton Cavalry, Marianna Home Guards, Jackson County Home Guards, Calhoun County Home Guards and unaffiliated volunteers. Several women also took part in the fighting on the Confederate side.

Please click here to learn more about the history of the Battle of Marianna.

Here are some of the photos from this year's spectacular event:

Battle of Marianna Historical Conference

Chipola Chorus performs after the reenactment on Saturday.

Union flanking party fires on approaching Confederates

Troops fire salute to the audience

Home Guards make a last stand on the Courthouse Square.

Tour group heads into the historic Ely-Criglar house.

Me (Dale Cox) speaking at Union memorial service

Sgt. Major Rosier, 2nd USCT, explains roll of African American troops in the battle. 
Massive crowd meets "ghosts" during "Spirits of St. Luke's"

Gregg Harding from the University of West Florida speaks at the historical conference.

Paige Creel spellbinds school students.

Exhibitors show off historic artifacts to students.

Overflow crowd at St. Luke's Episcopal Church 
Tour group poses in front o f the Ely-Criglar home

Posing for a selfie with a young visitor from Ukraine.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Battle of Marianna events set for today (Saturday, Sept. 27)

Sgt. Major Rosier of the 2nd USCT explains the bayonet
charge carried out by African American soldiers during the
Battle of Marianna, Florida.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Marianna, Florida.

The battle took place in the streets of the Northwest Florida city on September 27, 1864, and was remarkably fierce and bloody for an action of its size.  You can learn more about it at www.battleofmarianna.com.

A number of commemorative events are planned today for the 150th anniversary.  Here is the full schedule:

Saturday, Sept. 27

8:30 a.m.
Weapons Inspection for Reenactors
The weapons inspection for the reenactment will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Courthouse Square.

9:00 a.m.
Union Memorial Service
A memorial service for Union soldiers will take place at 9 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery. It will be free to attend and the public is invited!

Overflow crowd fills St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Marianna
on Friday night for "Spirits of St. Luke's"
10:00 a.m.
Confederate Memorial Service
A memorial service for Confederate soldiers will take place at 10 a.m. at the Battle of Marianna monument in Confederate park downtown. It will be free to attend and the public is invited!

11:00 a.m.
Tolling of the Bells
The church bells of Marianna will sound 18 times for each man of both sides killed in the Battle of Marianna.

11:05 a.m.
Reenactment
The "Fight at Courthouse Square" phase of the Battle of Marianna will be reenacted on Courthouse Square in downtown Marianna. It is free to attend. Viewing areas are on Madison and Jackson Streets on the east and south sides of Courthouse Square.

11:30 a.m.
Music, living history demonstrations and more at Madison Street Park on Madison Street in downtown Marianna. The events are free to attend

Visitors on a guided battlefield tour pose in front of
Marianna's historic Ely-Criglar Mansion. The home was
struck by hundreds of bullets during the Battle of Marianna.
12:00 noon
Tour of Homes
A number of Marianna's antebellum and historic homes will be open for tours. Information is available at the historic Russ House & Visitor Center on West Lafayette Street in Marianna, one of the structures on the tour.  The tours are free and open to the public.

12:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Guided Battlefield Tours
Guided walking tours of key areas of the Marianna Battlefield will leave from the historic Russ House & Visitor Center on West Lafayette Street in Marianna. The tours are free and the public is encouraged to join!

2:00 p.m.
Civil War Surgery Demonstration
Catch an authentic Civil War surgery demonstration at the historic Davis-West House in Marianna (intersection of Madison & Putnam Streets). It was the home of Dr. Theophilus West a surgeon on the Army of Northern Virginia.  Free to attend and the public is welcome!

3:30 p.m.
Battle of Marianna Documentary
The new Battle of Marianna documentary will be premiered at MacKinnon Hall, St. Luke's Episcopal Churh on West Lafayette Street in Marianna.  Free and the public is welcome!


Sunday

All Day - Florida Caverns State Park will be observing National Public Lands Day with events and exhibits.

To learn more about the Battle of Marianna, please visit www.battleofmarianna.com.

For information on hotels, restaurants and more in Marianna, please visit www.visitjacksoncountyfla.com.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Battle of Marianna 150 Events for 9/26-9/28

Battle of Marianna Monument
Major events are underway for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Marianna, Florida.

The small but bloody battle was fought on September 27, 1864. It culminated the deepest penetration of Florida by Union troops during the War Between the States (or Civil War) and was the bloodiest day of the war for the 2nd Maine Cavalry.  Please click here to learn more.

Marianna Main Street and the Jackson County Tourist Development Council are heading this week's commemoration of the battle's 150th anniversary with events including guided walking tours, living history exhibits, a reenactment, tour of homes and more!  Here is this the schedule of key events from today through Sunday.  All times are CENTRAL time:


St. Luke's Episcopal Church
Friday, Sept. 26

9:00 a.m.
Demonstrations for the Schools
School students will learn more about life during the Civil War era.

2:30 p.m.
Guided tour of the Marianna Battlefield
Historian Dale Cox, author of The Battle of Marianna, Florida will lead a free guided walking tour of key areas of the Marianna Battlefield. It begins from the historic Russ House & Visitor Center on West Lafayette Street.

4:00 p.m.
Historical Conference
Historians, writers and others from across Florida will speak on a variety of topics related to the Civil War in Florida. The conference is free to attend and the public is welcome!  It will take place in the MacKinnon Hall at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on West Lafayette Street in Marianna.

6:00 p.m.
Memorial Service
The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) will host a memorial service for the dead of the Battle of Marianna at Riverside Cemetery in Marianna. It is free to attend and the pubic is welcome.

7:00 p.m.
"Spirits of St. Luke's"
The public will be able to meet many of those buried in St. Luke's Episcopal Church cemetery in this unique event.  It will begin with a performance of Civil War music by the Chipola College Chorus. The event is free to attend and will take place at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on West Lafayette Street.


St Luke's Cemetery
Scene of heavy fighting.
Saturday, Sept. 27

8:30 a.m.
Weapons Inspection for Reenactors
The weapons inspection for the reenactment will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Courthouse Square.

9:00 a.m.
Union Memorial Service
A memorial service for Union soldiers will take place at 9 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery. It will be free to attend and the public is invited!

10:00 a.m.
Confederate Memorial Service
A memorial service for Confederate soldiers will take place at 10 a.m. at the Battle of Marianna monument in Confederate park downtown. It will be free to attend and the public is invited!

11:00 a.m.
Tolling of the Bells
The church bells of Marianna will sound 18 times for each man of both sides killed in the Battle of Marianna.

11:05 a.m.
Reenactment
The "Fight at Courthouse Square" phase of the Battle of Marianna will be reenacted on Courthouse Square in downtown Marianna. It is free to attend. Viewing areas are on Madison and Jackson Streets on the east and south sides of Courthouse Square.

11:30 a.m.
Music, living history demonstrations and more at Madison Street Park on Madison Street in downtown Marianna. The events are free to attend

12:00 noon
Tour of Homes
A number of Marianna's antebellum and historic homes will be open for tours. Information is available at the historic Russ House & Visitor Center on West Lafayette Street in Marianna, one of the structures on the tour.  The tours are free and open to the public.

12:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Guided Battlefield Tours
Guided walking tours of key areas of the Marianna Battlefield will leave from the historic Russ House & Visitor Center on West Lafayette Street in Marianna. The tours are free and the public is encouraged to join!

2:00 p.m.
Civil War Surgery Demonstration
Catch an authentic Civil War surgery demonstration at the historic Davis-West House in Marianna (intersection of Madison & Putnam Streets). It was the home of Dr. Theophilus West a surgeon on the Army of Northern Virginia.  Free to attend and the public is welcome!

3:30 p.m.
Battle of Marianna Documentary
The new Battle of Marianna documentary will be premiered at MacKinnon Hall, St. Luke's Episcopal Churh on West Lafayette Street in Marianna.  Free and the public is welcome!


Sunday

All Day - Florida Caverns State Park will be observing National Public Lands Day with events and exhibits.

To learn more about the Battle of Marianna, please visit www.battleofmarianna.com.

For information on hotels, restaurants and more in Marianna, please visit www.visitjacksoncountyfla.com.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

150th Anniversary of the Skirmish at Eucheeanna, Florida (9/23)

Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church
Walton County, Florida
Federal troops had been on the move for five days when they arrived outside Eucheeanna, Florida, during the darkness just before dawn on the morning of September 23, 1864.

The community was then the county seat of Walton County. Located three miles southeast of the modern county seat of Defuniak Springs, it was a small village located in the rich lands of the Euchee Valley. Most of Walton County's population was centered there, as were its best farms and few plantations.

The Union raid had been underway since the 18th when Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth led 700 mounted troops east from Pensacola Bay on the old Federal Road. Torrential rains from a stalled tropical system had drenched the soldiers for five days and continued to fall on the morning of the 23rd as they arrived outside Eucheeanna.

Lake Defuniak
Probably from a few prisoners - Confederate soldiers on leave - captured the previous day without the firing of a shot, Asboth had learned that two small detachments of Confederate cavalry were at Eucheeanna, "enforcing the conscription" (i.e. enforcing the draft). The general decided to strike before these troopers learned of his presence and moved his men through the night from near Lake Defuniak to the environs of Eucheeanna.

The 2nd Maine Cavalry was moved into position under Lt. Col. Andrew Spurling and as the first signs of daylight tried to show through the rain and clouds General Asboth gave the order to strike.

Lt. Col. Andrew Spurling
2nd Maine Cavalry
The troopers in blue surged forward in a line of battle, sweeping through Eucheeanna and catching the Confederates by surprise. The two detachments of Southern horsemen numbered around 15 soldiers each and were from Captain W.B. Amos' Company I, 15th Confederate Cavalry, and Captain Robert Chisolm's Woodville Scouts of the Alabama State Militia. Neither captain was present and each of the small detachments was lead by a lieutenant.

The Confederates were hunkered down trying to stay dry when Spurling stormed the community. They got off only a scattering of shots to which the Maine Cavalry responded ineffectively. No one was was killed or wounded on either side although 9 of the Confederates were taken as prisoners of war. The rest managed to get to their horses and get away in the chaos.

The highest ranking Confederate taken prisoner at Eucheeanna was 2nd Lt. Francis M. Gordon of the 15th Confederate Cavalry. The other prisoners of war included 5 soldiers from Gordon's detachment and 3 from Chisolm's company.

Florida's oldest Confederate monument once stood on
the grounds of the Eucheeanna Courthouse. It can be seen
today in Defuniak Springs.
Also taken in the camp were 6 political prisoners including William Cawthon, Sr., Allen Hart and W.H. Terrence. Cawthon was the scion of a large family and one of Florida's leading cattle ranchers. Hart was a beef contractor. Terrence had served in the Alabama militia back during the Creek War of 1836 and was buying provisions for his state.

The political prisoners were released before Asboth left Eucheeanna, but the military captives were sent down to Four Mile Landing at Freeport to be placed aboard the quartermaster steamer Lizzie Davis. With them went 16 African American recruits liberated from slavery.

Brig. Gen. Asboth
Horses and cattle were driven from local farms, corn was loaded into wagons and carried away, fodder was taken or destroyed and as much damage as possible was done. Typical was the experience of Mrs. Abigail McDonald, who could do nothing but watch as the Federal troops made off with her horse, mule, steer, 3 sheep, 20 hogs, 20 turkeys, 24 chickens, 75 bushels of potatoes, 100 bushels of corn and 500 pounds of fodder. It was all that she owned.

The 150th anniversary commemoration of the 1864 raid is now underway. The next event will be a debate between the two commanders - Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth (US) and Col. A.B. Montgomery (CS) - at the Jackson County Public Library in Marianna tonight (9/23) at 6:30 p.m. Central.

To learn more about Asboth's raid and the Battle of Marianna, please consider my book:

(Book) The Battle of Marianna, Florida 

(Kindle E-book) The Battle of Marianna, Florida
 (Just $4.95!)


You can also learn more online and see the schedule of events for this week's commemoration at www.battleofmarianna.com.

To learn more about accommodations and restaurants in Marianna, please visit www.visitjacksoncountyfla.com.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Civil War commanders return from the grave tomorrow night in Marianna, FL

Col. A.B. Montgomery (CSA)
(Left of photo)
Brigadier General Alexander Asboth (US) and Colonel A.B. Montgomery (CS) are set to return from the grave tomorrow night to join in the week-long commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Marianna.

Fought on September 27, 1864, in the streets of the Northwest Florida city, the battle was brief, fierce and bloody. It was the deadliest day of the war for the 2nd Maine Cavalry and 20% of Marianna's entire male population was either killed, wounded, captured or went away voluntarily with the Federal troops following the battle.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth (USA)
Actions attributed to the two commanders have generated intense and often heated criticism over the years so tomorrow night they will return from the beyond to defend their tactics and lives.

The two are scheduled to take part in a moderated debate tomorrow night (9/23) at the Jackson County Public Library on North Green Street in Marianna. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with light refreshments and music. The main event will start at 7 pm. (Note:  All times are Central).  It will be free to attend.

To learn more about the Battle of Marianna and events planned for this week's 150th anniversary commemoration, please visit www.battleofmarianna.com.

For information on hotels, restaurants and points of interest in Marianna, please visit www.visitjacksoncountyfla.com.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Freeport kicks off 150th commemoration of 1864 Marianna Raid

The new historical marker has been unveiled in Freeport.
The Walton County city of Freeport today held the first event commemorating the 1864 Northwest Florida raid that ended at the Battle of Marianna, Florida.

An impressive crowd gathered at Marse Landing at Four Mile Creek to unveil a new interpretive marker. It details the community's role as the forward base from which Union troops moved out on their march to Marianna. Set on a beautiful pavilion and overlook, the marker includes 19th century photographs that help visitors see the historic site as it likely looked during the War Between the States (or Civil War).

The new marker examines Freeport and the 1864 raid.
The ceremony was particularly meaningful as today marked the 150th anniversary of the date that Brigadier General Asboth advanced from the landing. His troops had circled the northern rim of Choctawhatchee Bay before arriving at Four Mile Creek where they met the quartermaster steamer Lizzie Davis. Provisions, ammunition, forage and other supplies were landed and the long line of soldiers turned north into the heart of Walton County. Two days later they attacked the county seat of Eucheeanna in a preliminary action to the Battle of Marianna, which took place on September 27, 1864.

Members of the Walton Guards (7th Vermont).
The soldiers that departed Four Mile Creek were members of the 2nd Maine Cavalry, the 1st Florida Cavalry (U.S.), the 82nd U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) and the 86th USCT. Two companies of the Florida battalion returned to the landing briefly on September 23, 1864, bringing down prisoners, recruits and unserviceable horses. The remained only a short time before turning back to rejoin the main unit at Eucheeanna (three miles southeast of present-day Defuniak Springs).

Danny Katro stands by the marker he helped make a reality.
The marker at Four Mile Creek was inspired by Freeport resident Danny Katro, who approached community leaders with the idea of commemorating the 150th anniversary of the occupation of the port on Choctawhatchee Bay. Research followed, other citizens chipped in and the beautiful new interpretive panel became a reality.

The event was the first of a series of scheduled activities that will commemorate the 1864 raid and its culminating battle at Marianna. To learn more about the raid and to check out the schedule of events for this week, please visit www.battleofmarianna.com

Here are some additional photos from today's unveiling.

The marker stands on the site of the forward base for the 1864 raid.


The mayor and I join together to unveil the new marker.




I speak to the audience about the 1864 raid.

The Walton Guards portrayed the 7th Vermont for the event.
Mayor Russ Barley speaks at today's event.

Audience members wait for the beginning of the ceremony.

 


Battle of Marianna 150th article from today's Tallahassee Democrat

A reenactor stands duty ahead of the Battle of Marianna 150th
Thanks to Marianna native Mark Hinson for his outstanding article on the Battle of Marianna 150th in today's Tallahassee Democrat.

Two of Hinson's ancestors fought in the 1864 battle and one of them, Rev. R.C.B. Lawrence, was wounded during the action and spared life in a Northern prisoner of war camp only through the intervention of a kind-hearted Union sergeant who was moved by the tears of the minister's young daughter.

Here's the article:

http://www.tallahassee.com/story/entertainment/2014/09/19/blast-past-battle-marianna-turns/15881041/

To learn more about the Battle of Marianna and to see the full schedule of events for the week's events, please visit www.battleofmarianna.com.

You can read more articles about this year's commemoration and on Florida's Civil War history by returning to our home page at http://civilwarflorida.blogspot.com.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Union movements in South Walton, 150 years ago

Brig. Gen. Asboth (second from left)
on horseback with his dog York.
The 700-man Union strike force of Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth found itself in the vast pine lands along the northern edge of Choctawhatchee Bay 150 years ago tonight (9/20).

The Federals left Camp Walton (today's Fort Walton Beach) on the morning of September 20, 1864, following the historic "Ridge" or Old Federal Road. Their immediate objective was Four Mile Creek Landing at Freeport in Walton County. The landing was a small but important port facility and Asboth planned to take on additional supplies there from the quartermaster steamer Lizzie Davis before turning inland to begin his march on Marianna.

Rocky Bayou at Valparaiso, Florida
From Fort Walton Beach, the route of the march was up around the western end of Choctawhatchee Bay past the vicinity of today's Valparaiso, Niceville and Eglin Air Force Base. The old road the soldiers were following had been built by the U.S. Army during the 1820s using a pathway first used by American Indians and later followed by Spanish and British soldiers, explorers and traders.

Known in different areas as the Jackson, Ridge or Bellamy Road, the Old Federal Road was the first U.S.-built pathway to connect Pensacola in West Florida with St. Augustine in East Florida. It was not an easy road to follow. Early accounts note that stumps were not pulled from the pathway, but were simply sawed off close enough to the ground to allow wagons and oxcarts to pass over. In places where the road was blocked by trees too large to cut, the soldiers that built it through West Florida simply went around them.

Historical photo of longleaf pines and wiregrass
Library of Congress
It was a dismal ride for the 700 men from the 2nd Maine Cavalry, 1st Florida U.S. Cavalry, 82nd U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) and 86th USCT. Heavy rains from a tropical system that had stalled out over Northwest Florida continued to fall on the soldiers, soaking them to the bone as they rode forward through the vast longleaf pine forests.

It is difficult today to conceive the appearance of these Northwest Florida woods before they were leveled during the sawmill boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The trees had been growing for hundreds of years when explorers and settlers first arrived from overseas in the 1500s. It is believed by forestry experts that the virgin longleaf pine forests once covered 70-80 million acres in the United States. The trees can live 300-400 years and reach towering heights.

Rare stand of wild longleaf today
The most valued of the pines for both lumber and naval stores, the trees had already been harvested for nearly 300 years when the timber and turpentine barons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries leveled the towering forests. From their onetime extent of up to 80 million acres, the virgin longleaf forests were reduced to a mere 1,000 acres by the 1930s. The slash and loblolly pines that replaced them bear little resemblance to the primeval forests through which Asboth and his men road on September 20-21, 1864.

The soldiers were dumb-struck by the size and height of the trees. Individual soldiers from the 2nd Maine Cavalry wrote in letters and their diaries about the pines, describing the haunting yet beautiful moan of the wind as it blew through the treetops. They accurately predicted that the trees would generate unbelievable wealth in future years and many of them returned to exploit the opportunity after the war.

Site of port at Four Mile Creek Landing in Freeport, Florida
As the soldiers rode forward through the rain and wind, the steamer Lizzie Davis made her way up the bay from today's Fort Walton Beach to LaGrange Bayou near Freeport. The vessel likely did not come up to the landing until the 22nd as doing so would have invited risk of Confederate capture, but by nightfall on the 20th she was waiting offshore for Asboth and his men to reappear. On board she carried ammunition, provisions and other supplies.

Choctawhatchee Bay with the towers of the
Beaches of South Walton visible in the distance.
The Lizzie Davis was a former blockade runner from New Orleans that had been captured by the U.S. Navy in the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the river steamers with which modern generations are most familiar, she was a long, sleek vessel with both masts and steam engines. Such vessels were designed for speed and stealth and their shallow drafts allowed them to slip into inlets and rivers all along the Southern coast. The shallow draft now benefited the U.S. Army as it allowed the vessel to transport troops and supplies into the shallow bays of Northwest Florida.

The desolate dunes and uninhabited beaches she passed on her way from Camp Walton to Freeport are recognized today as Destin and the fabulous Beaches of South Walton, a vacation paradise.

To learn more about the Raid on Marianna and events for this year's 150th anniversary commemoration, please visit www.battleofmarianna.com.

Also please consider my book, which includes a detailed accounting of each day and activity of the raid as well as a thorough account of the fight for Marianna:

(Book) The Battle of Marianna, Florida 

(Kindle E-book) The Battle of Marianna, Florida
 (Just $4.95!)