Friday, September 26, 2008
The Raid on Marianna - September 27, 1864, 7:30 a.m.
As Montgomery and his horsemen withdrew ahead of the oncoming Federal column, Asboth pushed south on the Marianna road and came straight through its intersection with the Fort Road.
There was now no doubt as to his intent. Montgomery immediately sent a courier back to Marianna to alert the town and call out the home guard there. Orders were sent for his staff to call in the outlying home guard units from east Jackson, Washington and Calhoun Counties as well. These companies included Captain George Robinson's home guard from the Blue Spring and Cowpen Pond area of Jackson County, Captain Luke Lott's unit from Calhoun County and Captain W.B. Jones' company from Vernon and Holmes Valley in Washington County.
Another rider was sent to order the Greenwood Club Cavalry to Marianna. Warning was also shouted to the various families and homes living along the Marianna road.
Asboth's first stop after passing through the vital intersection was at the plantation of John R. Waddell. The body of water pictured above is Waddell's Mill Pond, the only remaining feature of the plantation other than its fields. When they heard the news that Union troops were coming, Waddell's dozens of stunned slaves lined the fence in front of the main house.
Among these was an 8 year old named Armstrong Purdee. So amazed by the sight of the long Union column coming down the road that did not even notice the presence of African American soldiers, Purdee would become a remarkable eyewitness to the events about to unfold.
He later detailed vivid memories of the day he was liberated from slavery. As the Union column halted in the road in front of the house, he recalled, a Union white soldier said to him, "Boy, does you want to go?" He responded that he did and the soldier reached down and pulled him up onto the back of the horse. Many of the other Waddell slaves also found their freedom that way and joined the long column of overjoyed African Americans following along in the wake of the soldiers.
Our series on Asboth's raid on Marianna will continue. Until our next post, you can read more by visiting http://www.battleofmarianna.net/.