Martin County was created in 1925 with the northern portion coming from St. Lucie County and southern portion coming from Palm Beach County. It was named for John W. Martin, Governor of Florida from 1925 to 1929.
When the county was created, the western contour followed the shore of Lake Okeechobee, as did the borders of Glades, Okeechobee, and Hendry counties. Palm Beach County had historically claimed all of the surface of the lake as part of its area, to its benefit for the distribution of state and federal highway funds. The state representative of Martin County, William Ralph Scott of Stuart, initiated a bill to divide the lake among its adjacent counties, creating a more equitable distribution of state funds for road creation and maintenance. All bordering counties confirmed the justice of this change and supported its ratification, with the exception of Palm Beach County. Representatives from Palm Beach County later presented Representative William Scott with a jug of water, signifying "all the water Bill Scott left Palm Beach County." The jug is in the possession of Stuart Heritage.
John W. Martin
John W. Martin
John Wellborn Martin (June 21, 1884 – February 22, 1958) was an American politician. He was the 24th Governor of Florida, serving from 1925 to 1929. He also served as Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, from 1917 to 1923. Born in Plainfield in Marion County, Florida, Martin and his family moved to Jacksonville in 1899. Despite only about four years of formal education, he studied law and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1914. Three years later, Martin ran for Mayor of Jacksonville and easily defeated incumbent J. E. T. Bowden, becoming the city's youngest mayor at age 33. He would be easily re-elected twice in landslide victories, serving three consecutive terms in that office.
Martin declined to seek a fourth term in 1923 and instead ran for Governor of Florida in 1924. In the Democratic Party primary, he defeated four other candidates, including former Governor Sidney Johnston Catts. With the Democratic primary then being tantamount to election, Martin won the general election with nearly 83% of the vote against Republican William R. O'Neal. During his tenure, tourism, land speculation, and road development increased, despite the collapse of the land boom in the mid-1920s. The contemporaneous Constitution of Florida barred Martin from seeking a second consecutive term in 1928. He unsuccessfully ran for United States Senatorin 1928 and Governor of Florida again in 1932. Martin died on February 22, 1958, about a month after having a severe heart attack.
Martin was born in Plainfield in Marion County, Florida, one of five children born to John M. Martin and Willie Owens Martin. During his childhood, Martin worked on his father's plantation and received a country school education, but estimated that he had only about four years of formal education. Martin and his family moved to Jacksonville in 1899. He married Lottie Pepper in 1907. The couple had one child, John Wellborn Martin, Jr., but he died during infancy. Martin had studied law since his family moved to Jacksonville and passed the Florida Bar exam in 1914, before establishing a law career. Prior to seeking public office, Martin toured the state and gave a number of speeches in favor of President Woodrow Wilson's policies.
Mayor of Jacksonville and Governor of Florida
In 1917, he was elected Mayor of Jacksonville at age 33, becoming the youngest mayor in the city's history. Martin easily defeated incumbent J. E. T. Bowden by a vote of 2,890 to 2,056. He would easily be re-elected twice, winning 14 out of 15 of the city's wards in his third and final campaign for the office. During his tenure as Mayor of Jacksonville, Martin supported a progressive program of public improvements and sought reform for the fire and police departments.
Toward the end of his third term as Mayor of Jacksonville, Martin announced he would not seek re-election and instead declared his candidacy for 1924 Florida gubernatorial election. In the Democratic Party on June 3, Martin defeated former Governor Sidney Johnston Catts, Frank E. Jennings, Worth W. Trammell (brother of Senator and former Governor Park Trammell), and Charles H. Spencer. There were 55,715 votes for Martin, 43,230 votes for Catts, 37,962 votes for Jennings, 8,381 votes for Trammell, and 1,408 votes for Spencer. Because no candidate received a majority, the second choice of Jennings, Trammell, and Spencer voters were added to the totals for Martin and Catts. Martin won with 73,054 votes versus 49,297 votes for Catts. With the Democratic primary then being tantamount to election, Martin won the general election. He defeated Republican William R. O'Neal by a vote of 84,181 to 17,499, a margin of 65.58%.
Martin was inaugurated on January 6, 1925, and served until January 8, 1929. On May 30, 1925, the Florida Legislature established Martin County – named after Governor Martin while he was in office – created from about 556 sq mi (1,440 km2) of land from southern St. Lucie County and northern Palm Beach County; the city of Stuart was designated the county seat. Indian River County was established on the same day. Later in 1925, the state's newest counties were established – Gulfand Gilchrist. During his tenure, tourism and land speculation purchases increased, road and highway developments were advanced, and an industrial plant for physically disabled prisoners was created. Martin also advocated for state-funded public schools and for granting free schoolbooks to all students through sixth grade.
Despite the growth, Martin also presided over the collapse of Florida land boom of the 1920s. In a failed attempt to fight bad publicity about real estate scams, Martin and a delegation went to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, owned by T. Coleman du Pont (an investor in Addison Mizner's projects), in New York City and held a seminar called "The Truth About Florida".Two of the worst hurricanes in the history of the state – the 1926 Miami and 1928 Okeechobee hurricanes – also occurred during Martin's tenure. The former devastated the areas in the vicinity of Miami and towns along the western shores of Lake Okeechobee, such as Clewiston and Moore Haven, leaving at least 372 fatalities and up to $125 million (1926 USD) in damage. The hurricane also resulted in further discussion between Martin and officials across the state about drainage projects around Lake Okeechobee. However, disputes about financing the projects left many residents along the lake vulnerable to flooding. After wreaking havoc in coastal Palm Beach County, the 1928 hurricane caused Lake Okeechobee to breach the then-4 ft (1.2 m) mud dikes at its southeastern shores, inundating areas with as much as 20 ft (6.1 m) of water. The cities of Belle Glade, Chosen, Miami Locks (today Lake Harbor), Pahokee, and South Bay were devastated, with the loss of more than 2,500 lives. After personally assessing the damage with Florida Attorney General Fred Henry Davis, chief engineer Fred C. Elliott, and Florida Adjutant General Vivian B. Collins, Martin telegraphed all mayors of Florida cities to send aid to the victims. Discussion about drainage and dikes along Lake Okeechobee re-commenced, but the projects did not begin until after the passage of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1930, after Martin left office.
The Florida Constitution at the time barred a governor from serving two consecutive terms, with Martin being succeeded by Doyle E. Carlton in January 1929. Martin decided to run for United States Senator in 1928. However, he was defeated by incumbent Park Trammell in the Democratic primary, losing by a vote of 138,534 to 100,454. Martin made his final run for political office in 1932, seeking the governorship of Florida again. He received the most votes in a seven candidate field that
included state's attorney David Sholtzand former Governor Cary A. Hardee. However, he garnered only 24.19% of the vote, well short of a majority. Martin thus advanced to a run-off election against Sholtz, but was defeated by a wide margin of 62.8%—37.2%.
After retiring from politics, Martin built his own house in Tallahassee in 1933, which has been listed as a National Historic Place since 1986. After living at the property for about seven or eight years, Martin sold the house to local developers in 1941. He returned to Jacksonville, where he continued to practice law and became an investment broker. Martin was appointed a co-trustee of the Florida East Coast Railway, along with former Senator Scott Loftin. Upon Loftin's death in 1953, Martin became the sole trustee. On February 22, 1958, Martin died of a heart attack at East Coast Hospital in St. Augustine. He was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.
View of John W. Martin's home on Lafayette St., Tallahassee, Florida
John Marshall Martin was born on May 31, 1856, in Savannah, Georgia, his father, Colonel, was 24 and his mother, Willie, was 24. He married Willie Owens in 1883. They had five children in 14 years. He died in 1921 in Ocala, Florida, at the age of 65, and was buried in Jacksonville, Florida.
Willie Owens was born on November 24, 1862, in Marion, Florida, her father, James, was 46, and her mother, Louise, was 34. She married John Marshall Martin in 1883. They had five children in 14 years. She died on June 2, 1919, in Jacksonville, Florida, at the age of 56, and was buried there.
1. Gov. John Wellborn Martin
2. Albert Owens Martin Sr.
3. Willie Louise Martin
4. Alice Maner Martin
5. Marshall Austin Martin
Col John Marshall Martin 1832-1921
Col. John Marshall Martin was born on March 18, 1832, in South Carolina. He was educated at the Citadel military academy in Charleston. In 1855 he moved to Florida and built a home in Marion County. In 1861 Martin volunteered in and was elected captain of the Marion Light Artillery. After being wounded, he served in the new Confederate Congress and in fact was the last surviving member of that Congress. Martin declined re-election to that body and returned to the army as a colonel in the 9th Florida Regiment. He fought in three key episodes of the Civil War in Virginia: the Battle of Cold Harbor, the Wilderness Campaign, and the Seige of Petersburg.
Martin married Willie Welberon, the mother of two sons. He later married Sarah Bonham Waldo on December 8, 1864, who was mother of two daughters and a son.
John M. Martin home - Ocala, Florida
Confederate veterans gather in Ocala to remember Civil War years
NextBy David Cook / Columnist
Posted May 25, 2013 at 6:34 PM
Confederate veterans from Marion and surrounding counties gathered in Ocala for a reunion in November 1901.
Confederate veterans from Marion and surrounding counties gathered in Ocala, overwhelming the meager facilities that existed in the small town in November 1901. The number participating wasn’t given in press reports, but the Ocala camp roster totaled 235 veterans in this area.
Sitting among those who could attend was the local hero J.J. Dickison, who had led the home guards that had kept invading Yankee forces at bay throughout the Civil War. Dickison and his forces were credited with keeping the horrors of war away from the Ocala area.
Among Dickison’s many adventures was the liberation of Gainesville from Union forces, scattering the federals over North Florida as they fled for their lives, and the capture of a federal gunboat on the St. Johns River.
His last adventure of the war involved his efforts to help members of the Confederate cabinet escape from Union forces through Marion County. In this escapade, he had the assistance of his own men and Gen. Robert Bullock, who made his home in Ocala.
In the 1870s, Dickison was appointed adjutant general of state troops, serving as part of the first Democrat-controlled government after the war. In the 1880s, he was elevated to the rank of major general in charge of the state’s Second Division.
Dickison’s time nears an end
Dickison was addressed as “General Dickison” at the Ocala Confederate reunion in 1901. His activities were limited at that time because of his age and declining health. He would live only one more year, dying in Ocala. For reasons that are only speculation, his body was taken to Jacksonville for burial in Evergreen Cemetery there.
Business meetings at the 1901 reunion were held in the tiny meeting room of the building on Main Street that was then being used as a city hall. Upstairs were the offices of the Ocala Morning Banner. The building currently is being used by the Scientology organization.
The public gatherings, including wives and other family members, were held at the Ocala House Hotel on the east side of the downtown square. A special ceremony was held in the courtroom of the county courthouse with Col. John M. Martin presiding.
Martin had formed a cavalry company early in the war, and initially Dickison had served with him. But after some time in Fernandina, Dickison resigned from Martin’s company and returned to Marion County, where he and Martin had land holdings to form another company, with himself as the leader.
A son of Ocala’s founding father
Fannie R. Gary, president of the Ocala Daughters of the Confederacy, was one of the speakers. She also sang a duet with Anna Hopkins of Orange Lake. The main speaker, however, was John G. Reardon Jr., who had been too young to serve in the war but nevertheless volunteered his services to assist the Confederacy.
Reardon’s father was a key figure in forming Marion County and creating the town of Ocala as its county seat in 1846. A post office had been established at Fort King two years earlier, with the senior Reardon as the appointed postmaster.
When Marion County was organized, Reardon Sr. was named county treasurer. In that capacity in 1846, Reardon filed a patent for a tract of land that would be named Ocala.
The Reardon family built a home on the northeast corner of what is now Silver Springs Boulevard and Magnolia. After the Civil War, Reardon Jr. (said to be the first white child born in Ocala) became a prominent local attorney.
Reardon Jr. was in North Carolina when the war came to an end. At the reunion, he told about his experience. The war, he said, was like a dream and it is past now, a subject for the historians.
“We can live without it,” he said.
He got a laugh from the crowd when he declared the South was not licked or conquered, then added the South “wore itself out licking the North.” He called that one of the paradoxes of the war.
The ribbing was all good natured. The man reporting Reardon’s remarks, the editor of the Ocala Star, C.L. Bittinger, was himself a veteran of the war, only he fought with the Union army.
Remembering the service of all
After praising J.J. Dickison and his men for keeping actual fighting away from Ocala, Reardon heaped praise on the black citizens of Marion County and Florida, in general. They played a terrific part in the ordeal of war, he said.
During the war, the Negro labored, planted and harvested the crops. He protected and maintained the families he served. In the end, they deserved emancipation, Reardon said.
“They deserve our help now,” he added.
Fannie Gary told the crowd at the courthouse that her organization was gathering the stories of the veterans in an effort to keep alive the memories of the heroics and tragedies of the Civil War. The job was a big one, she said, because Florida put more soldiers in the field than it had voters in the 1860s.
Col. Martin told about the efforts of the women of Atlanta to preserve the memory of those who served the Confederacy. A monument had been raised to keep alive the memory of the dead. As a result of his report, It would not be long before a campaign was launched to raise a memorial in Ocala.
That memorial stood on the southwest corner of the downtown square for decades and currently stands in the Veterans Park at Silver Springs Boulevard and 25th Avenue.
An avid Marion County historian, David Cook is a retired editor of the Star-Banner. He may be contacted at 237-2535.
James Byeram Owens (c.1816-1889) — also known as James B. Owens — of Ocala, Marion County, Fla. Born near Winnsboro, Fairfield County, S.C., about 1816. Democrat. Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Florida, 1860; delegate to Florida secession convention, 1861; Delegate from Florida to the Confederate Provisional Congress, 1861-62. Baptist. Died August 1, 1889 (age about 73 years). Interment at Evergreen Cemetery.
Political family: Barksdale family of Virginia.
Marion County War History
One historian has referred to Florida as “the smallest tadpole in the dirty pool of secession.” In some ways, this assertion hits close to the mark in summarizing the role the state played in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. For Ocala and Marion County, the War Between the States would prove to be socially, politically and economically devastating.
The county’s population by the time the war started had reached 8,609, with nearly 1,200 of those people living in Ocala. Less than half the population of the county was white, 3,295. But of the number of men eligible to fight in the war, nearly 90 percent served in some capacity.
With so many men off fighting, the running of the plantations and farms in the county was left in the hands of women for the most part. One of the band of courageous women who made the transformation from “fragile Southern womanhood” into overseeing her land was Adella Pauline Hull Phillips of Reddick. According to an interview with her in the 1890s, she recalled the war years as the period she spent most of her time in the saddle. She was born on Dec. 1, 1844, and would have been 16 at the time the war began.
Phillips would pen as many as 100 range cattle every night, often with the help of a younger brother. She also told of swimming her horse to an island in Orange Lake to feed her hogs, which were hidden there. At times, she had to run away from an angry bull on the island and once had an alligator chase her and her horse across Orange Lake.
She was married in 1865 and moved to Fellowship with her husband, Charles Phillips. The early Marion County pioneer died at the age of 99.
Marion was one of the first Florida counties to officially call for the state’s secession from the Union. A white banner with a lone blue star and embroidered with the words “leave us alone” fluttered from a staff on the square in Ocala in November of 1860. Inside the courthouse were prominent county citizens discussing the future of the South and Marion County’s stand on secession.
Three weeks before South Carolina became the first state to vote to leave the Union, these Marion County leaders drafted an urgent appeal to the state legislature to summon a convention to act upon the question of the secession of Florida from the United States.
Because of the large number of South Carolinians who had moved to Marion during the 15 years since statehood, this was one of the first Florida counties to develop strong feelings about leaving the Union. This meeting at the courthouse anticipated the movement that would lead 11 slave states to vote to secede and form the Confederate States of America.
Citing the “sure and rapid growth in the Northern States of a political party hostile to the Southern States (the Republican Party),” the Marion County group passed resolutions on Nov. 26, 1860, stating in part: “We, the citizens of Marion County, ignoring all party names and past issues, do earnestly recommend to the General Assembly of Florida, now in session, immediately do enact a law providing for a meeting at an early date of a Convention of Delegates from the several Counties of the State, to take into consideration the expediency of dissolving our connection with the Federal Union.”
This resolution, along with other pressures being brought on the Assembly, led to a call being issued for a gathering at Tallahassee of a Secession Convention in January of 1861. After a week of debate, the final vote for secession occurred on Jan. 10, 1861. Richard Keith Call, a strong Unionist and the former territorial governor who signed the law making Marion a county in 1844, expressed an opinion at the time of the vote few of his fellow convention members agreed with: “You have opened the gates of Hell, from which shall flow the curses of the damned which shall sink you to perdition.” By 1865, after four years of hardship and fighting, most Florida secessionists would come to agree with him.
Marion’s delegates to the Convention were William E. Gahagin, a moderate Whig, and the more radical S.M.G. Gary and Dr. James B. Owens, both South Carolinians. All three voted for secession, which passed 62-7. Owens would become one of Florida’s first representatives to the Confederate Congress in Montgomery, Ala.
When the first shots of Civil War rang out on April 12, 1861, against the Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., seven states had left the Union. Ocala did not have a telegraph or a rail connection at the time, and it took two days for the news to reach Marion County by post rider from Gainesville. Most people in the county found out about the start of the Civil War when they attended church the following Sunday.
Some of the best sources on daily life in Marion County during the war come from the diaries and memoirs of two women, Julia Simmons Haisley and Maria Baker Taylor. Both women witnessed the war years and Reconstruction period in the area and wrote down their impressions for future generations to read.
Haisley came to Ocala by stagecoach in 1861. She said the area was cut off to a large extent from the main sources of information and news at the time. As a result, many people viewed the coming conflict as a sort of Indian war, which would be over quickly and would permit a return to their normal patterns of existence.
Anticipating success on the battlefield kept everyone buoyant for months, Haisley wrote. The weekly mail was now awaited with the liveliest interest, and passing couriers were besieged by those seeking news.
Hopes rose and fell with the passing of time. Repeated calls for troops gradually emptied the town and county of men, until Ocala resembled a ghost village, with the population dropping to around 200 by the end of the war in 1865. Most of the people either moved back to their former homes in the Carolinas and Georgia when the male of the household was killed or wounded in action or moved to areas less damaged by the war.
One of the first military units to be organized in the state was the Marion Rifle Guards, a company enrolled by W.L. Fletcher, the county treasurer, who became its captain. On May 2, 1861, this unit received its battle flag, made by the women of Ocala, from Jeffersonia Crutchfield. The Marion Rifle Guards became part of the Fourth Florida Infantry under Col. Edward Hopkins.
Richard Keith Call was the territorial governer of Florida in 1836.
Next to organize were the Hammock Guards under Capt. J.S. Hopkins
William A. Owens recruited and financed the first cavalry unit in the county -- the Marion Dragoons. This unit was stationed at Fernandina by the early summer of 1861, where Col. Robert E. Lee reviewed it on an inspection tour of the Southern military forces being formed. The future military leader of the Confederacy declared the Marion Dragoons to be the “finest and most superbly mounted” of any company he had seen.
When Fernandina fell to Union forces, the Marion Dragoons were ordered elsewhere, and Capt. Owens was forced to retire from active duty because of illness. The Dragoons were split into two units under Capt. Samuel F. Rou and Capt. William E. Chambers.
Also organized in 1861 was the Marion Light Artillery under Capt. John Marshall Martin. Its colors were made from a crimson silk shawl from the trousseau of the wife of Capt. J.J. Dickison. Part of the staff for this flag was made from silver from jewelry melted down by the women of Marion County.
The Marion Light Artillery became part of the command of Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith and was the first local unit to see action in the war. It was the only company from Florida that fought in the battle of Richmond, Ky., on Aug. 14, 1862. Capt. Martin was so severely wounded in this battle he was forced to resign from the army. While recovering from his wounds, Martin served a term in the Confederate Congress. He was succeeded at the head of the company by another officer from Ocala, Col. S. St. George Rogers.
Other commands left Marion in 1862, among them the Marion Hornets under Capt. Wade Eichelberger and another infantry unit raised by Capt. S.M.G. Gary and a cavalry company under Capt. J.J. Dickison.
The first of the troops left Marion County in July of 1861, moved by wagon to Gainesville and from there on the Florida Railroad to Jacksonville to be mustered into the Confederate army.
Orange Springs in northeast Marion County, one of the first health resorts in this part of Florida, became a center of cotton and citrus production during the 1840s. A large cotton gin operated in the town, at which all of the cotton in the area would be ginned and then exported to market down the Ocklawaha River.
As the controversy over states’ rights and slavery escalated during the 1850s, plantation owners around Orange Springs met often in the home of John Pearson, the mayor of the town. Men like Sen. David Levy Yulee and others of prominence met there for discussions on national affairs.
Pearson, a wealthy planter, early on became convinced war between the North and South was inevitable, and he bought arms and equipment for the 125 men he organized into the Ocklawaha Rangers. The company, with Pearson as its captain, was offered for use by the governor even before the war began.
The town of Orange Springs came to hold an important position during the war when a cotton gin owned by a man named McCarthy was converted into an arms factory and foundry. Cannon cast there were transported to Tampa to be used in defense of the port against attack by Union gunboats blockading the entire Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the South.
Destruction of a rebel salt factory on the coast of Florida by the crew of the United States Bard “Kingfisher” on Sept. 15, 1862.
When Union soldiers captured Palatka in 1862, Hubbard L. Hart moved to Orange Springs to re-establish his headquarters for the transportation of contraband. Hart had begun his riverboat line on the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers in 1860, and both of the steamers he had in operation by the start of the war moved to Silver Springs for protection when Palatka fell.
Contraband was captured off Union merchant vessels by blockade runners or imported from the Caribbean. The cargo was then dropped on the Atlantic coast by the Confederate ships. Wagons would move the arms, ammunition, salt and other items in short supply inland to the rail head at Waldo for shipment to the Confederate supply depots farther north. Cotton, the currency of the South during the war, was carried on the return trip to be exported overseas.
Soon, Union gunboats were moving up the St. Johns and a Hart line steamer carrying supplies was captured on Lake George.
To prevent the Union from moving farther up the St. Johns, another steamer called the Emma White, owned by Capt. Henry Gray, was deliberately sunk in the river channel at the southern end of Lake George. The ploy was successful and stopped the movement south by the Union gunboats.
Julia Simmons Haisley also recounted how even the most common items became nearly impossible to obtain during the war. Spinning wheels and looms returned to active service, as homespun became the fashion of the day for women throughout the South. Flour, tea, coffee, refined sugar, salt and other commodities gradually disappeared.
Florida’s balmy climate and the rich land of Marion County made conditions a little easier than they were farther north, where battles and colder weather added to the distress of civilians and soldiers. Haisley wrote that fields were still cultivated to some extent, and everything needed to comfortably sustain life was grown at home, often by slaves. Those who needed aid got monetary help from the state and county governments.
Maria Baker Taylor, whose husband, John Taylor, owned Osceola Plantation southwest of Ocala, kept her daily diary for more than 60 years. She told of the blockade by Union gunboats of the Florida coast being so effective by 1864, it became impossible to obtain paper or notebooks. She wrote her diary on whatever paper came to hand, including the back of wallpaper.
Taylor tells of the threat Marion County received from various Union military moves during 1864. Word was received from Confederate commanders in Alachua County that Union troops were moving south out of Baldwin in February of 1864. Taylor’s diary entry from Feb. 14, 1864, states:
The Hart Line tourist steamer on the Ocklawaha River, from a postcard dated 1911.
“No preaching today in any of our churches. Jack (her husband) brought word that the Yankees were at Gainesville. Heard that the Yankees were four miles from Flemington at 9 this morning -- subsequently heard they had not left Gainesville. Mr. T. had some corn and other things hidden from them. I got Fenwick (her son) to bury my wine. Put all spirits out of their way and had my silver and other valuables buried. Mr. T. put away his important papers. Some members of Major Brevard’s Battalion came up here, and he himself called on his way to meet the enemy. We were all busy endeavoring to secrete a few of our things.”
Marion forces helped drive back the Union forces at Gainesville and later at the Battle of Olustee on Feb. 20, ending the threat to the area for the time being.
Taylor also commented on the production of the plantation -- 77,000 pounds of raw sugar -- being supplied to the Confederacy. The sugar was appraised at $2.35 per pound and syrup at $15 per barrel. Inflation hit all items, Taylor wrote, saying she paid $500 for several tin baking pans and a dozen tin cups, $600 for three lengths of material to make dresses, $100 for four rows of sewing pins and $50 for a quart of castor oil.
By the summer of 1864, even the home guards unit had been sent for service elsewhere. Boys under legal age and old men were enlisting for military duty. Taylor wrote in her diary on July 30, 1864: “We are again invaded, and this morning Richard (her son) has left to go assist in repelling the enemy which again threatens us at many points in the state. God only knows what is before us -- a dark hour seems to have come, as there are scarcely any troops left in the state to defend us. Richard is only 16. His teacher accompanies him, both of them prepared to fight. I do trust I have not seen his face for the last time.”
Taylor did see her son, who would become a justice of the Florida Supreme Court, again.
The second battle of Gainesville was fought in August of 1864, with Dickison and his men driving back the Union forces once again.
Marion County’s only invasion by Union forces came as the war was nearing an end. In March of 1865, Union forces again occupied Palatka, and a company of black soldiers was shipped up the St. Johns by boat and then marched to the Ocklawaha River, crossing at Sharpe’s Ferry.
The Marshall Plantation was attacked, and syrup and sugar in great quantities were destroyed, along with the mill’s machinery. Slaves were liberated, and all of the plantation’s buildings were set on fire.
The Holly Plantation east of the river was raided after the Union forces retreated as the home guards approached. Four Marion County men were killed as the Union troops fled across the bridge, burning it behind them.
When the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865, the Ninth Florida Infantry Regiment laid down its arms. Under the command of Col. John Marshall Martin of Marion County, it contained several local companies. When it surrendered, the Ninth Florida had only 15 officers and 109 men remaining -- the rest were either dead or disabled.
The Second Florida Infantry Regiment also surrendered that day. By then it was under the command of Col. S. St. George Rogers of Marion County and had only seven officers and 59 men remaining. This unit also contained several local men.
Brig. Gen. Robert Bullock attained the highest rank of all area men who served in the Civil War. He later became a figure of controversy during the Reconstruction period because he worked with the hated Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees and Unclaimed Lands. Bullock also became a leader in public education in Marion County and was elected to the Florida Legislature in the 1880s.
Because the members of the Confederate Cabinet were wanted on charges of treason right after the war, several fled through Florida to escape to Cuba. Gen. John C. Breckenridge (former Secretary of War), Judah P. Benjamin (former Secretary of State) and George Davis (former Attorney General) all stayed in Marion County homes before continuing the journey south. Only Davis did not escape, as he was captured by Union forces at Key West.
The total number of men from Marion County killed and wounded during the Civil War is unknown, but enlistment from the area was large, in proportion to the population, and so were casualties.
The men who returned after the fighting ended faced a bleak future in a county suffering from the destruction of a way of life.