Skirmishes at Marianna and LaGrange


Location: Lee County
Date: November 8, 1862
Campaign: Expedition from Helena to Moro
Principal Commanders: Colonel William Vandever, Captain Marland Perkins (US); unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Detachments from Ninth Illinois Cavalry, Third and Fourth Iowa Cavalry (US); unknown (CS)
Estimated Casualties: 23 wounded (US); 50–75 (CS)
Result: Union victory

Part of a three-day expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Moro (Lee County), the skirmishes at Marianna (Lee County) and LaGrange (Lee County) primarily consisted of several guerrilla-style attacks from Confederate forces on a Union detachment moving southeast from Moro toward Marianna. The two opposing forces eventually clashed in a more conventional engagement at La Grange south of Marianna later in the day.

On the morning of November 8, 1862, a detachment of Second Brigade, Second Division, Army of the Southwest—consisting of detachments from the Third and Fourth Iowa Cavalry and Ninth Illinois Cavalry—began a march southeast from Moro toward Marianna, on orders from Union brigade commander Colonel William Vandever. Shortly after its departure, the detachment came under attack from a Confederate force of around 100 men. The Confederate advance guard fired one volley at the Union forces and escaped into the cover of the surrounding brush. The attack was brief, with no loss recorded to either force. Following the altercation, the detachment continued its march toward Marianna.

At Marianna, the Union force once again came under attack from a Confederate force near 100 strong. Two companies of the Ninth Illinois and two companies of the Fourth Iowa responded to the attack and charged the Confederate position. Their charge, combined with rounds from the Union artillery, drove the Confederates from their positions. During the skirmish, two Confederate soldiers were killed, and three were taken prisoner. The Fourth Iowa sustained three wounded. Following the skirmish, the Union force continued marching south toward La Grange.

Near Anderson’s Plantation, a fifty-man Confederate force fired upon the Union detachment from atop a hill. The Fourth Iowa charged and dispersed the Confederates. During their assault, the Fourth Iowa sustained some loss, killed five Confederates, and captured an additional five soldiers.

The Union forces arrived at La Grange at 3:30 p.m. and, while feeding their horses, came under attack from a 500-man Confederate mounted offensive. The Confederate force was able to push to within 100 yards of the Federal position before being driven back by fire from the Union howitzers. The Confederates regrouped and attempted to flank along the left side of the Union position. This attempt was repulsed by the Third Iowa and Ninth Illinois. The Confederates fell back to a field adjacent to the Federal position but were dispersed once again by the Union howitzers. Unable to engage the enemy effectively, the Confederates retreated into the surrounding woods.

The guerrilla-style warfare of attacking and withdrawing waged by the Confederate force during this instance was not uncommon for military activities of this time. Often, the Confederate force was outnumbered and outgunned and forced to rely on such tactics.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 13, pp. 349–352. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1885.

Jacob Worthan
Hot Springs, Arkansas


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