The Battle of Marianna, Florida
Ely-Criglar Home
The Ely estate marked the western
edge of the City of Marianna in 1864.

The house was struck by hundreds
of bullets during the battle.
Holden House
The home of Brig. Gen. W.E.
Anderson of the Florida Militia, the
home stood in 1864.
The Eve of Battle:  Marianna in 1864
The Nickels Inn
It no longer stands today, but the
home of William Nickels was the
largest in town at the time of the
Dr. W.S. WIlson's Office
Dr. Wilson was one of several
physicians who served the people
of Marianna. His office still stands.
Marianna was a small but important city in
September of 1864 when it was targeted by
Union General Alexander Asboth.

The home of both Governor John Milton and
General J.J. Finley, the community wielded
political and economic power out of all
proportion to its size. With a population of
only around 500 at the beginning of the war,
Marianna had seen virtually all of its able
bodied men march off at one point or another
to serve the Confederacy. Even families
regarded as staunchly Unionist in their
sympathies sent many sons to fight for the

Many of these men had volunteered amidst
the excitement and optimism of 1861, but
three years of hard, brutal conflict had
brought the reality of war home. A 50-bed
military hospital in Marianna served those
who came home disabled or debilitated by
sickness. Others died on far away fields and
never saw their homes again.

The general consensus of surviving diaries
and letters is that by 1864 most people,
whether pro-Confederate or pro-Union, were
simply "tired of this war." The Confederacy
was slowly being strangled to death by the
blockade of its coastline and Union armies
sliced deeper and deeper into its heart. What
began as a trickle of men disappearing from
their units and either taking to the swamps or
slipping through the lines to join the enemy
by the fall of 1864 had become a flood. Many
sons of prominent Northwest Florida families
found new roles in the 1st and 2nd Florida
Cavalry Regiments of U.S. Volunteers.

To combat the growing desertion problem
and to keep the vital supplies of beef, pork
and corn flowing from the plantations of the
area to the Confederate armies, the Southern
army established a post at Marianna. In
addition to quartermaster storehouses and
pens for government livestock, it included
stables, offices, the hospital mentioned
above and a large "conscript camp" where
men "conscripted" or drafted into the military
underwent training.

By September of 1864, the command of the
military post at Marianna was in the hands of
Colonel Alexander B. Montgomery, a highly
regarded officer from the regular Confederate
army. A native of Georgia, Montgomery had
served as an artillery officer in the U.S. Army
before the war but had resigned his post
when his home state seceded from the
Union. He had risen rapidly through the
ranks of the Confederate army due to bravery
in combat at the Battles of Secessionville
(SC) and Second Manassas (VA). Wounded
in the latter engagement while leading the
3rd Georgia Infantry, he was promoted to
colonel and assigned to the command of the
post at Marianna.

His command there consisted of three
companies of the 5th Florida Cavalry, the
artillery batteries along the Apalachicola
River and the vast area of wilderness and
farms between the Choctawhatchee and
Apalachicola Rivers.

Alabama had sent down Captain Robert
Chisolm's company of State Militia Cavalry to
assist in the defense of region and Colonel
Montgomery also could call on mounted
units of volunteers from Vernon, Greenwood
and Campbellton. The Greenwood unit was
made up primarily of school boys from the
town's academy who were drilled regularly by
their teacher (and also captain), Henry J.

These forces were augmented in May of
1864 by the formation of the 1st Florida
Reserves. Company C of that regiment was
based in Marianna. Actually a full battalion,
the unit was commanded by Captain W.W.

A raid into neighboring Washington County
from St. Andrew Bay that summer prompted
Governor Milton to order all of the state's
remaining men and boys to form militia units.
New companies formed in Walton, Holmes,
Jackson, Calhoun and Santa Rosa Counties.

Union spies warmed General Asboth of
these activities in early September of 1864
and also reported that Union prisoners of
war were being held at Marianna and that
efforts had begun to fortify the city. The
prisoners may have been the conscripts
taken by force and brought to the city for
military training, as the presence of no other
prisoners can be verified. The claim that
Marianna was being fortified appears to have
been correct.

The news prompted General Asboth to
consider a raid against the city, plans for
which would become obvious over coming
The City of Marianna, Florida
This 19th Century photograph shows
Marianna much as it appeared on
September 27, 1864.
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Last Update: September 17, 2014