Soldiers from the 2nd Maine Cavalry charged a small Confederate cavalry camp in Walton County on this date in 1864. The Confederates were scattered and the Federals inflicted heavy devastation on the community of Eucheeanna (then spelled Euchee Anna) and the surrounding area.
The encounter was part of Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth’s raid on Marianna and took place as the rains from a tropical storm fell across the Florida Panhandle.
Asboth had departed Pensacola Bay on September 18, 1864, at the head of column of 700 mounted men. The Union soldiers came from the 2nd Maine Cavalry, 1st Florida (U.S) Cavalry, 82nd USCT and the 86th USCT. The only other unit known to have been represented was the 7th Vermont Infantry. Capt. M.M. Young from that regiment was available for duty at Pensacola and volunteered to serve on the general’s staff. For more on the beginning of the raid, please see Raid on Marianna began 153 years ago today.
The raid had moved east from Pensacola Bay on the old Federal or “Jackson” Road, a section of which can still be seen at the Naval Live Oaks Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore between Fort Walton Beach and Gulf Breeze. Today’s Fort Walton Beach was then Camp Walton, an abandoned Confederate camp. The Federals rested there and then rode inland on the Ridge Road which took them around Choctawhatchee Bay and through today’s Eglin Air Force Base to Four Mile Bayou at Freeport in Walton County.
The column was resupplied at Freeport by the quartermaster steamer Lizzie Davis and then headed north into the interior on September 21, 1864.
The raiders struck at cattle farms along the Shoal River before camping at Lake DeFuniak on the night of September 22nd. The city of DeFuniak Springs did not yet exist and neither did the railroad the made the city a reality. Learning that a detachment of Confederate soldiers was at Eucheeanna, Asboth determined to attack at sunrise on the next morning.
Eucheeanna – or Euchee Anna Courthouse as it was often called in those days – was a small settlement that served as the county seat of Walton County. Surrounding it were the rich lands of the Euchee Valley where settlers from Scotland had put down roots in the 1820s. The historic cemetery next to the Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church contains many of their graves.
The small Confederate force at Eucheeanna included detachments from Capt. W.B. Amos’ Company I, 15th Confederate Cavalry, and Capt. Robert Chisolm’s “Woodville Scouts” from the Alabama State Militia. Chisolm’s unit had been assigned to the headquarters at Marianna by order of the governor of Alabama. Amos’ company was detached from the Confederate post at Pollard, Alabama.
Asboth reported that the soldiers were “enforcing the conscription.” This meant that that they were drafting men of military age for service in the Confederate army.
The Federals moved the three miles from Lake DeFuniak to the outskirts of Eucheeanna during the predawn darkness of September 23, 1864:
…[They] came upon a rebel camp of cavalry at Euchesana, this, the Second Maine Cavalry charged upon, breaking up and dispersing it, capturing about twenty-five prisoners and all of the rebels except a party of eleven of them, who succeeded in escaping, taking the road to Geneva, Ala. (1)
General Asboth’s report of the episode was prepared the same evening and listed the capture of 9 prisoners of war, 6 political prisoners, 46 horses, 8 miles, 26 stand of arms and a supply of bar lead for making bullets. The prisoners included Col. W.H. Terrance from the militia; 2nd Lt. Francis M. Gordon from the 15th Confederate Cavalry; William Cawthon, Sr., an “influential rebel leader,” and beef contractor Allen Hart. (2)
The other prisoners included six men from the 15th Confederate Cavalry and Chisolm’s company, and one man each from the 1st Florida Reserves, the Walton County Home Guards and Capt. Crosby’s Cavalry unit from Alabama.
The political prisoners mentioned by Asboth were released after spending a night in Eucheeanna’s small log jail. In addition to Terrence, Cawthon and Hart, these included Giles Bowers and Col. George Walker. Members of the McKinnon, Neil and McClendon families were also temporarily confined.
Alexander McCullum was disabled and unable to serve in the Confederate military. He scratched out a living by teaching school and farming on public lands. His physical condition and Unionist sympathies did not protect him from temporary confinement:
…He was arrested by Genl. Ashboth Brigade, and put into the jail at Eucheeana, where he remained all night, and brought before the General next morning, and then and there examined and tried, and fully released, without any punishment whatever. (3)
The brief skirmish at Eucheeanna, so far as is known, did not result in any injuries.
I will post tomorrow about the destruction that was inflicted in Walton County following the encounter. To learn more about the raid on Marianna before then, watch the mini-documentary below or visit www.battleofmarianna.us.
(1) Letter from Barrancas dated October 8, 1864, published in the Bangor, Maine, Whig and Courier.
(2) Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth, Report of September 23, 1864.
(3) Deposition of Alexander McCullum, May 5, 1866, Southern Claims Commission Application.