Historical Paper, Written by Mrs. Gary and Read Before the U. D. C.
at Pensacola by Mrs. Brumby
Madam President and Ladies of the Florida Division, U. D. C.:
I have chosen for the subject of my paper an account of the raid on the plantation, in Marion county, belonging to the estate of Colonel J. Foster Marshall, of South Carolina, a hero of the Mexican war and of the Southern Confederacy, who was killed in one of the battles around Richmond, in 1862.
The raiders were all negroes, except the commander, a white officer.
They landed at or near Fort Gates, on the St. Johns river, on the night of the 9th, or early dawn of the 10th of March, 1865, and were piloted through the scrub by a barge hand of Captain Gray, who knew the country.
Arriving at the plantation they set fire to the buildings and put Mr. Joe Caldwell, the manager of the place, in the burning sugar house, but he escaped through a scuttle, to die on the outside.
There were about 200 hogsheads of sugar on the place, all of which were destroyed by the raiders, except 20, which they endeavored to carry with them, and impressed mules and wagons for that purpose.
They also carried off twenty-four negroes from the place. They started to retrace their steps to St. Augustine, whence they had come.
The news having spread like wildfire they were met by a squad, mostly old men and boys, hastily gathered from the vicinity of Ocala, commanded by General Bulllock, who was at home on wounded furlough, who put them to flight and re-captured Mr. Frank Holley, who had been captured by them.
The raidrs afterwards made a stand and General Bullock's party gave up the pursuit, but not until Mr. John L. Matthewa had been severely wounded and two brave men on our side had been killed. They were Mr. Morrison, a one-armed Confederate soldier, who had belonged to the Marion artillery, and Mr. Henry Huggins, who was almost totally blind, but who at the breaking out of the war, in his ardor to help the South, had joined Captain Owens' company afterwards Captain Chambers'. But when they went to Fernandina to be mustered into the Confederate States army, he was rejected on account of his defective eyesight, the result of a severe illness when he was twelve years old. From the time he was fifteen he was unable to read a line, but so great was his thirst for knowledge, that he would coax his little sister, ten years younger, to read for him, and though at first she had often to spell the words for him to pronounce, she kept up the habit of reading to him, which she afterward shared with his devoted wife, and a most beautiful affection grew up between them.
He married February, 1860, a lovely cousin, the daughter of the late Colonel Charles Huggins of North Santee, S. C., from which state his father and family removed to Florida in 1854.
The family were wealthy rice planters from before the Revolutionary war, in which his ancestors bore a conspicuous part, serving with the patriot Marion.
Of all the family who bore the name only the fond sister now survives. She has never ceased to mourn the tragic death of her gentle, unselfish,brave and loyal brother.
Having paid the tribute to one who, notwithstanding the disability which exempted him from military duty, yet became a martyr to his desire to serve his country. I shall now resume my narrative of the raiders.
Captain J. J. Dickson, the vigilant protector of Florida homes, at his headquarters at Waldo, receiving information of their raid, and that they had retreated in the direction of the St. Johns river, hastily followed with the view of overtaking or intercepting them.
Pursued by this heroic and intrepid officer, with a detachment of his brave men, they re-crossed the river, where they had previously landed, leaving wagons, mules and provisions, and had nearly made their escape, but were overtaken in the very suburbs of St. Augustine, where Captain Dickison re-captured the Marshall negroes and marched them back to the old plantation home, having it in his power to restore with them much stolen property to the owners.
Mrs. Fannie R. Gary, historian
Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers