Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Battle of Marianna, Florida

One of Florida's least known yet most significant Civil War engagements took place on September 27, 1864.

A mounted force of 700 Union soldiers led by Brigadier General Alexander Asboth attacked the Northwest Florida city of Marianna. It was the culmination of the deepest penetration of the state by Federal troops during the entire War Between the States and the climactic moment of a raid that covered more miles than Sherman's March to the Sea.

The town was defended by an outnumbered force of Confederate reservists, militia and volunteers. Despite the signficant odds against them, they waged a fierce battle to protect their community, homes, family and friends. When the smoke cleared, they had been defeated, but they had also inflicted on the 2nd Maine Cavalry its most severe losses of the war.

The Battle of Marianna was significant for a number of reasons. Not only did it culminate the deepest Union penetration of the state, it also marked the first time that Union black troops engaged in hand to hand combat in Northwest Florida. More than 600 enslaved African Americans were liberated from slavery during the raid and massive economic damage done to the farms and plantations of Jackson, Washington, Holmes and Walton Counties. The four counties impacted by the raid, in fact, suffered more economic damage during the war than any other counties in Florida.

The battle is memorialized in Marianna today by markers, monuments and gravestones. To learn more, please visit

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