Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Military Occupation of Jackson County during Reconstruction

Greg Downs, author of the groundbreaking book  After Appomattox took on the imposing effort of collecting military posting information for the South during the Reconstruction period. To supplement his book and graphically demonstrate his findings, Downs created the invaluable website.  Downs has also helpfully posted his raw data in an excel spreadsheet, which includes many locations in Florida.   

Downs begins his dataset with May 1865, but doesn't show troops stationed in Marianna until September.   This appears to be incorrect since both military and private correspondence state that Capt. John F. Little and fifty soldiers from the 161st NY Volunteers occupied Marianna in early July 1865 and remained at least through September.  Downs does report 151 soldiers in Marianna during Sept. and Oct.   (I find this number a bit strange - is there a transcription error with the regiment ordinal "161"?).  Around this time Major Nathan Cutler returned to Marianna to replace Capt. Little as commander of the post.

The most surprising data to me is Downs' claim of the appearance in November and December 1865 of United States Colored Troops in Marianna.  After troops initially left in October, reports of lawlessness, including drunkeness, arson, and violence, prompted the US military commander in Florida to send soldiers back to Jackson County.  My research indicates that soldiers from the 7US Infantry were dispatched to Marianna.  I'm skeptical that USCT troops were stationed in Marianna at this time - or if they did arrive, that they stayed long at all - because no contemporaneous reports knowns to me from late 1865 mention USCTs in Marianna. We do know from letters that Marianna whites were very apprehensive about the possibility of USCT occupation troops so the absence of any known complaints about their arrival in late 1865 seems to contradict Downs' dataset.  Neither does Bureau officer Charles Hamilton, who arrived about a month later, ever refer to USCT posted in Jackson County.

Date               # of soldiers           Regiment/Commander 
July - Aug         50                       161NY / Little 
Sept – Oct.      151    
Nov:                  38 (USCT)*         *(probably 7 US/Comba).
Dec:                   87 (USCT) *           

Jan:                   86                         7 US / Comba 
Feb:                  49                         7 US/  Comba
March               49                         7 US/ Comba
[April                  ?                         7 US/ Comba]
Dec:                    8                         7 US

Jan:                   7                           7 US
Feb:                  8                           7 US
March               7                           7 US
April                 7                             "
May                  7                              "
June                14                              "  / Benjamin

[Feb - May      ?                           7 US/Bomford & Hancock
July                 ?                            7 US/ Coolidge]
Oct:                70                           7 US
Nov:               70                           7 US                  
Dec:                67                           7 US


Jan:                67                             7 US
[Oct - Dec.     20                             8 US  

Jan. - April     20?                           8 US

Dec.                20                             2 US

Nov.                 ?                              2 US]

Italics indicate data not reported by This information comes from the Freedmen's Bureau reports and The Jackson County War book.