A tale of Yankees raiding Rebels
Recently I was looking at some old bound volumes of The Brewton Standard and found several articles that bear repeating. I thought I would rerun a couple of them in this space. This first one was run in 1980, so there must be many of you who haven't read this or won't remember it.
This was written by Andrew J. McCreary and came from the files of the Escambia County Historical Society.
Major General Frederick Steel, U.S. Army, Commanding U.S. Forces operating from Pensacola Bay, Fla., started making plans early in 1865, to invade west Florida and south Alabama as early as possible. The Confederate Army had a small force at Milton along with the home guard. There was a sizable force at Camp Pollard, Ala., and cavalry units of considerable size in the area of Gonzales, seven to eight miles north of Pensacola at this time.
The Confederate Army had firm control of the west side of the Escambia River from the Alabama state line to Camp Gonzales. The Yankees had control of Fort Barrancas, Santa Rosa Island, Pensacola, Pensacola Bay and Escambia Bay. There were no Yankee troops in Santa Rosa County until Lt. Col. Andrew B. Spurling land his cavalry units from the steamer Matamoras on Feb. 22. He embarked 50 mounted and 250 unmounted cavalrymen on Blackwater Bay.
This action was taken to see what forces and how many Confederate soldiers were stationed in the Milton area and to pick a landing place to be used later on for the raid into south Alabama. The raid was made by the Second Marine Cavalry and they landed six miles below Milton at Pierce's Mill at 10 p.m. and moved north at once to surprise the Confederate camp, just north of Milton.
The attack was made at daylight the next morning without even alerting the guard that was on duty. One Rebel was killed and 20 captured along with 20 horses and five mules, 50 stands of arms with full accouterment along with all their camp equipment and food stuff being destroyed. It was not known how many Confederate soldiers escaped into the swamp, but it must have been at least 20 according to the number of rifles that were in the camp.
Lt. Col. Andrew B. Spurling, Second Marine Cavalry, U.S. Army, acting on orders issued by Gen. Steele moved his cavalry units from Fort Barrancas, Fla., to Creigler's Mill on the east side of Blackwater Bay, just north of the mouth of the Yellow River on March 19, 20 and 21 on the steamer Matamoras. At 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 21, the last of Col. Spurling's troops and horses were unloaded.
This raid was to be known as "The Special Cavalry Expedition" and was composed of the Second Illinois Cavalry, 420 enlisted men and 14 officers; the Second Maine Cavalry, 212 enlisted men and 10 officers; the first Florida Cavalry, 177 enlisted me and five officers, a total of 847 cavalrymen all on good horses and all well trained soldiers.
I will continue with this next week.