Hard Labor Creek
The Battle of Vernon was
fought at this old crossing on
Hard Labor Creek.
Moss Hill Cemetery
A number of men who fought
at the Battle of Vernon are
buried here at Moss Hill
The Battle of Vernon - Washington County, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Vernon, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Vernon, Florida
The Battle of Vernon, Florida
The 1864 Battle of Vernon took place on
Hard Labor Creek in Washington County. It
took place on the day after the
Battle of Marianna.
On September 28, 1864, the men of Captain
W.B. Jones' Company, Florida Home Guard,
collided with the large Union force of
Brigadier General Alexander Asboth on the
banks of Hard Labor Creek in Washington
County. The resulting skirmish has been
remembered locally as the Battle of Vernon,

The encounter took place during the deepest
penetration of Florida by Union troops during
the entire Civil War. General Asboth and his
men had left Pensacola on September 18,
1864. Leaving a wide swath of destruction in
their wake, they skirmished with Southern
troops near Campbellton in Jackson County
on September 26th and then attacked the city
of Marianna the next day.

Following the bloody
Battle of Marianna, the
Union troops turned southwest on the
Vernon road shortly after midnight on the
morning of September 28, 1864. After
stopping for their midday meal at Orange Hill,
they came down into Holmes Valley and
soon approached the crossing of Hard Labor

Meanwhile, Captain W.B. Jones of the
Vernon Home Guard learned that Marianna
had been attacked. The 30-50 men of his
company were either too young or too old to
serve in the regular army or had been
released from service due to wounds and
other disabilities. Mounting their horses at
Vernon, they headed out for Marianna to help
their neighbors in Jackson County.

Neither force knew it, but they were
approaching each other via the same road.

On the afternoon of September 28, 1864, the
two forces collided unexpectedly at Hard
Labor Creek near today's Washington
Church. Believing they were being pursued
by Confederate cavalry, the hundreds of
Union soldiers were in no mood to be
delayed. A company or more of soldiers from
the 1st Florida U.S. Infantry was in the lead
as the Federals came down the hill to the
creek. They ordered Captain Jones and his
men to disperse and go home.

According to legend, however, one of Jones'
men (Stephen Pierce) began to taunt the
Union soldiers.
This is impossible to prove, but what is
known is that the Union troops opened fire
on the men of the Vernon Home Guard. The
Confederates were outnumbered more than
14 to 1, but fought back as best they could.
Captain Jones ordered his men to retreat as
the Union soldiers charged, but he and many
of the members of his company were taken
prisoner. A few others managed to escape
and later reported that they were pursued by
Union soldiers all the way back to Vernon.

Total losses in the Battle of Vernon included
one man killed and one wounded in addition
to the prisoners. The fatally wounded man
was Stephen Pierce, formerly a soldier in the
4th Florida Infantry. Legend holds that he
was executed for taunting the Union soldiers,
but eyewitness accounts indicate he was
actually shot during the brief battle He was
buried nearby and his grave can be seen
today adjacent to Washington Church.
Grave of Stephen Pierce
A former soldier from the 4th
Florida Infantry, Stephen
Pierce was shot and killed at
the Battle of Vernon.
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