Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Crossing at Cerrogordo, 148 years ago today

Choctawhatchee River at Cerrogordo
Rain was falling as the Federal troops advancing on Marianna began their slow, arduous crossing of the Choctawhatchee River on September 25, 1864, 148 years ago today.

The rain had actually been falling on the soldiers for over seven days. A tropical storm reported by ships in the lower Gulf of Mexico a couple of weeks earlier had moved ashore and then stalled out over the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama. The result was rain that continued for day after day after day.

The Union troops spent the entire day crossing the river.
The rains turned the primitive roads of the Florida Panhandle into muddy quagmires and brought the streams and rivers along the route of the raid out of their banks. This caused the Federal column to move slower than normal, but also proved to be an advantage to General Asboth as he drew ever closer to his target by keeping Confederate troops in their camps and under what shelter they could find.

The Holmes County Home Guard, for example, had formed during the summer under Captain Sam Grantham. Citizen soldiers who were expected to drop their daily pursuits and pick up their weapons during times of trouble, the men of Grantham's company were in their houses staying dry when Asboth reached their county seat of Cerrogordo on September 24th and do not seem to have been aware of his day-long crossing of the Choctawhatchee on the 25th, 148 years ago today.

Site of Cerrogordo in Holmes County
General Asboth reported that he crossed over the river from Cerrogordo in a small boat. His men came across on the ferry flat, while the more than 700 horses of the Union column swam the river. Remarkably, not a man was lost, even though the river was muddy and running high.

The crossing was completed by nightfall. No attempt was made by the Federals to resume their advance on the 25th. They bedded down for the night in the rain on the east bank of the Choctawhatchee directly across from Cerrogordo. They would continue their movement through Holmes County and into Jackson County the next day. The Battle of Marianna was now just two days away.

To learn more about the Raid on Marianna, please consider my book: The Battle of Marianna, Florida: Expanded Edition. It is also available as an instant download for Amazon Kindle and on iBooks.

You can read more about the raid at www.battleofmarianna.com. To read the other posts in this series, just visit the home page of this blog at http://civilwarflorida.blogspot.com.

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