Asboth in Uniform
Seen here wearing the
uniform of a Union brigadier
general, Asboth accelerated
his movements on the 26th of
September, advancing into
Jackson County and fighting
the Campbellton Cavalry.
Into Jackson County: The Skirmish at Campbellton, Florida
The Battle of Marianna, Florida
The Federals raided the farm
of John R. Waddell on the
morning of September 27th.
The Campbellton Road
This is the old Campbellton
Road as it appears today. The
photo was taken in the area of
the W.D. Barnes plantation.
Having crossed the Choctawhatchee River at
Cerrogordo on September 25, 1864, Asboth
resumed his push for Marianna before dawn
the next morning.
Driving hard through eastern Holmes County
in what his soldiers described as a "forced
march," the general splashed across
Holmes Creek and into Jackson County by
early afternoon. Despite the rapid pace of
their movements, the soldiers inflicted heavy
damage to farms in and around the Galilee
community as they passed. At the Nelson
Watford farm, for example, they even dug the
large molasses barrel from the ground and
poured out its contents.
Although stunned by the sudden appearance
of the raiders, the men of Captain A.R.
Godwin's Campbellton Cavalry did their best
to delay the Union advance and protect their
Rallying somewhere near Campbellton and
joined by a few wounded or sick regular
soldiers who were home on leave, Godwin's
men advanced to meet Asboth's oncoming
column. Skirmishing started not long after
the Federals entered Jackson County and
continued throughout the afternoon as they
pushed toward Campbellton.
Following his standing orders from Governor
Milton to oppose any raid and send back
word of the danger to headquarters in
Marianna, Captain Godwin dispatched a rider
to alert Colonel Montgomery and then began
to engage the Federal vanguard in a series
of hit and run encounters. Fighting in the
partisan style of their ancestors, Godwin's
men mounted up on their best horses and
engaged Asboth's troops with shotguns and
hunting rifles. Hovering around the head of
the advancing column, they would let the
Federals come within range before firing off a
few shots and then falling back as the Union
cavalry began to deploy.
It was a dangerous business. At least two of
the Confederates were captured on the
afternoon of the 26th, but Godwin and his
men did succeed in somewhat slowing
Asboth's advance. It took the Federals most
of the afternoon to cover the distance from
Holmes Creek to Campbellton.
The arrival of Godwin's courier stunned
Montgomery and his officers. They had
received a sketchy report that Federal troops
were active in Walton County from an excited
courier the previous day, but did not know
that they were advancing into Jackson County
until the afternoon of the 26th.
Mounting up Captain Chisolm's company
and the mounted infantrymen of Poe's
battalion of the 1st Florida Reserves, the
colonel rode out for Campbellton hoping to
scout and if possible drive back the Federal
raiders. He reached the outskirts of the town
late in the day and was told by Godwin's men
that the Federals were making camp for the
night. Keeping a safe distance, the Southern
troops did the same.
As Asboth pushed south on the Campbellton
Road the next morning, it quickly became
apparent that his target was Marianna. A
courier was sent back to alert the town and
citizens later recalled that they started by the
unexpected news. Many women and children
evacuated the town, although others stayed
behind in hopes of protecting their homes.
The Marianna Home Guard assembled at
the courthouse, joined there by some of the
conscripts from the training camp, walking
wounded and sick from the Marianna Post
Hospital and anyone else close enough to
make it to town in time.
Colonel Montgomery, meanwhile, fell back
ahead of the advancing Federals, looking for
a position where he could hope to make a
stand. The raiders advanced south past the
plantations of John R. Waddell, Joseph
Russ, W.D. Barnes and Thomas M. White,
inflicting damage and liberating hundreds of
slaves as they moved through the rich farm
lands of Jackson County.
At the Waddell Plantation, one of the Union
soldiers let 8-year-old Armstrong Purdee
climb up on the back of his horse. Later to
become one of Jackson County's first African
American attorneys, Purdee rode through the
Battle of Marianna and later penned a
remarkable account of his adventures.
As couriers rode out to call in other units in
the area and telegrams crackled through the
wires to Tallahassee calling for reinforce-
ments, Montgomery and his men took up
positions on the east side of Hopkins Branch
about three miles northwest of Marianna.
The swampy creek offered the best position
they could find for halting the Union advance.
The stage was set for the battle to begin.
|Copyright 2009 by Dale Cox
All Rights Reserved
|Campbellton Baptist Church
The oldest Baptist Church in Florida, this
structure was standing at the time of the
fighting in the Campbellton vicinity.
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