His principal regiment, the 2nd Maine Cavalry, suffered its greatest losses of the war that day. Unfortunately for Marianna's defenders, it was not enough. A portion of Asboth's cavalry continued to pursue Montgomery's horsemen, who fought their way through the flanking party that had taken up positions in the streets around Courthouse Square.
The Battle of Marianna, Florida
Although Montgomery was unhorsed and captured, most of the mounted men reached the Chipola River where they tore up the planking from the wooden bridge and drove back Union attempts to seize the span. The main body of the Union force, however turned on the Marianna Home Guard with a fury. The Confederates firing from along the Southern edge of the street were driven down a steep hill and virtually all either killed, wounded or captured.
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Among those killed along the little creek at the bottom of the slope was Captain Henry O. Bassett, home on leave from the 6th Florida Infantry. His body was severely mutilated. The local men fighting from the north side of Lafayette Street fell back to St. Luke's Episcopal Church, where they used the wood fence surrounding the churchyard as a make-shift breastwork.
It took a bayonet charge by two companies from the 82nd and 86th U. Colored Infantries to drive them back. The Battle of Marianna then degenerated into a brutal fight in the cemetery behind the church. The battling forces fired at each other from just yards away. Even after the main body of the Home Guard surrendered, Union troops fired a volley into their ranks.
Seeing this, Confederates firing from the windows of the church and two nearby homes refused to surrender and continued to fight. By the time the battle was over, both sides had been severely bloodied. Due to the fiercer-than-expected fighting and high casualties, particularly among the officers, Asboth's plan to turn south toward St. Andrews Bay was cancelled. In Marianna, Montgomery deployed the conscripts, militia and homeguard in ambush along the main road now West Lafayette street.
As his skirmishers at Hopkins' Branch withdrew along the bypass, the homeguard waited behind fences and a crude barricade of wagons and carts. Luke's Episcopal Church was a few feet away and would play a pivotal role later. Here the plans of both sides ran afoul of one another. Asboth divided his force and led the main contingent on a headlong charge down the main road. Meanwhile, he sent another portion of his force around the bypass along the route Montgomery's cavalry had taken. Seeing this and realizing his whole force could be trapped, Montgomery attempted to pull out, but it was too late.
The homeguard and militia at the barricades would not budge. Unaware of what awaited him, Asboth's wing of the attack rounded the corner straight into a scorching volley by the waiting homeguard. Asboth was wounded in the face and he lost many other senior officers in this volley. Despite being stunned, the Union cavalry rapidly overwhelmed the Confederate cavalry and pushed down the road in pursuit as the flanking force swept in from behind.
Many of the Rebel troopers were able to push their way past the Union flanking force and escape, but many homeguards, conscripts, and militia were pinned in town. Colonel Montgomery was captured while attempting to flee to the Chipola River bridge.
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His escaping cavalry took up positions on the other shore and were able to deter the Union forces from crossing the bridge. In town, the remaining defenders on the south side of the street broke and ran, but those near the church stubbornly held out as the detachment of U. Colored Troops engaged them.
A dismounted bayonet charge finally forced their surrender. However, several Confederates continued to fire from the church and nearby homes. This led to the church being set ablaze and the defenders shot down as they were smoked out. When the fighting ended, some 10 Confederates lay dead or dying, 16 were wounded, 54 were captured and 13 of these were released. Among the wounded was dentist Thaddeus Hentz, a son of famed novelist Caroline Lee Hentz ; he was shot not far from his mother's grave.
Union casualties were 8 killed or mortally wounded, 19 wounded, and 10 captured. Among the Federal wounded was General Asboth himself. His wound would never heal properly, and he would eventually die of its effects in Brett, James H. Carter, John C. Dickson, Marmaduke, Sr.
Battle of Marianna Marker (Marianna, Florida)
Nickels, Woodbury "Woody," Norwood's Company, killed outright. Lewis, Arthur, Sr. Bassett, Henry O. Sullivan, Solomon, Norwood's Company, died of bullet wounds. Butler, M.
Brogden, Z. Blount, A. Norwood's Company, severe shoulder wound. Davis, John Sr.