The Battle of Marianna
St. Luke's Episcopal Church
was a focal point of fighting
and was burned during the
Union and Confederate
cavalry battled along the main
street of Marianna.
The Battle of Marianna, Florida
The Battle of Marianna, Florida
Witness to the Battle
A number of historic homes
that stood at the time of the
Battle of Marianna can still be
Civil War Doctor's Office
Dr. W. S. Wilson treated those
wounded during the battle.
His office still stands on the
city's Courthouse Square.
On September 27, 1864, Union troops led by
Brigadier General Alexander Asboth struck
the small Northwest Florida city of Marianna.
The result was a bloody event remembered
today as the Battle of Marianna.
The culmination of the deepest penetration of
Confederate Florida by Federal soldiers
during the entire War Between the States, the
Battle of Marianna was deadly and fierce and
has been labeled by some as "Florida's
Alamo." Commanded by Colonel Alexander
Montgomery of the regular Confederate army,
an outnumbered force of Southern militia,
reserves, volunteers, wounded soldiers
home on leave and a few regulars tried to
defend against Asboth's attack. One veteran
participant described it as the "most severe
fight of the war" for its size.
The battle developed when Southern Union
sympathizers brought word to General
Asboth that Federal prisoners were being
held at Marianna and plans were underway
to fortify the town. Leaving Fort Barrancas at
Pensacola on September 18, 1864, he led
700 mounted men through six modern
Florida counties, skirmishing with Southern
cavalry at Eucheeanna and Campbellton
along the way.
He reached Marianna on the morning of
September 27, 1864, fighting Confederate
cavalry three miles north of town and then
launching a bold attack up the main street of
the city while a flanking party moved to come
in behind Montgomery and his defenders.
The fighting moved up Lafayette Street from
the edge of town as Asboth drove back the
commander and his mounted forces, only to
charge right into an ambush prepared by the
men of the Marianna Home Guard and local
volunteers who joined in when the news of
the Federal approach reached the city.
Asboth was severely wounded as were
"nearly every officer and man" at the head of
his column. His principal regiment, the 2nd
Maine Cavalry, suffered its greatest losses of
the war that day. Unfortunately for Marianna's
defenders, it was not enough.
A portion of Asboth's cavalry continued to
pursue Montgomery's horsemen, who fought
their way through the flanking party that had
taken up positions in the streets around
Courthouse Square. Although Montgomery
was unhorsed and captured, most of the
mounted men reached the Chipola River
where they tore up the planking from the
wooden bridge and drove back Union
attempts to seize the span.
The main body of the Union force, however
turned on the Marianna Home Guard with a
fury. The Confederates firing from along the
Southern edge of the street were driven down
a steep hill and virtually all either killed,
wounded or captured.
Among those killed along the little creek at
the bottom of the slope was Captain Henry O.
Bassett, home on leave from the 6th Florida
Infantry. His body was severely mutilated.
The local men fighting from the north side of
Lafayette Street fell back to St. Luke's
Episcopal Church, where they used the wood
fence surrounding the churchyard as a make-
shift breastwork. It took a bayonet charge by
two companies from the 82nd and 86th U.S.
Colored Infantries to drive them back.
The Battle of Marianna then degenerated into
a brutal fight in the cemetery behind the
church. The battling forces fired at each other
from just yards away. Even after the main
body of the Home Guard surrendered, Union
troops fired a volley into their ranks. Seeing
this, Confederates firing from the windows of
the church and two nearby homes refused to
surrender and continued to fight.
The church and both homes were burned to
the ground. Four men and boys died in the
By the time the battle was over, both sides
had been severely bloodied. More than 25%
of the male population of Marianna had been
either killed, wounded or captured.
To learn more please follow the link below or
use the Site Index at the upper right of this
page. For a full account of the battle, please
consider The Battle of Marianna, Florida, a
critically acclaimed book by writer and
historian Dale Cox.
|Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All Rights Reserved
Last Update: July 22, 2012
|Battle of Marianna Monument
The beautiful oblisk in downtown Marianna
pays tribute to the local home guards and
volunteers who defended the city.
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