No matter how much of a history buff you’d say you are, the past comes alive with a trip centered on the Civil War’s pivotal Battle of Marianna while exploring other spots to shop, sip, and savor our surrounding culture in Jackson County, Florida.

The Battle of Marianna Walking Tour

While the Battle of Marianna happened over 200 years ago, it left an irrefutable mark on Jackson County’s history. The three-mile, round-trip walking tour is an essential experience to step back in time to discover the legacy of bravery this battle created that resonates through the ages. The walking tour allows you to follow in the footsteps of the soldiers that shaped Marianna’s history from that point onwards.

Battle of Marianna confederate statue
The Battle of Marianna statue is located at Confederate Park and can be found on the Battle of Marianna walking tour.

Pick up a brochure for the Battle of Marianna walking tour at the Jackson County Visitor Center. The tour starts next to the fountain park in front of the Visitor Center. Once you start the tour, time becomes relative and it’s the morning of September 27, 1864, which some call “Florida’s Alamo,” as the streets of Marianna hosted one of the most crucial small battles of the Civil War.

As the last significant Confederate command post in the panhandle, this battle was the deepest raid the Union made into the state. Brigadier General Alexander Asboth led 700 Union soldiers into Marianna, outnumbering the Confederacy. Sparse Confederate cavalry were on Ely Corner, and ultimately repelled the first Union attack along West Lafayette Steet. The walking tour starts at Ely Corner. Just around the bend, you’ll see the Ely-Criglar House from the 1840s that witnessed this attack.

 The second attack forced the Confederacy to withdraw, creating a frantic chase through the streets. Union soldiers passed through an unmanned barricade, becoming ambushed by Home Guards. Heavy casualties on both sides ensued, including Brigadier General Asboth being shot. On the Battle of Marianna walking tour, you’ll see where these wagon barricades were placed in the street and where the Confederate Home Guards subsequently made their charge. The Holden House across the street is another time-protected structure that could tell you all about the drama if its walls could talk.

Pause your exploring to realize the significance of all that you’re seeing at the Battle of Marianna Monument. Since the 1920s, this monument tastefully honors those that fought in the Battle of Marianna, permanently displaying their valor as a marker for unwavering patriotism.

You’ll pass the Courthouse Square where hand-to-hand combat broke out between the adversaries—a site that served as the point of Colonel Montgomery’s capture, who led the Confederacy’s defense. As of 2023, a statue honoring Armstrong Purdee, the 8-year-old that saw the Battle on horseback, and the African American Soldiers who fought, was installed on the Square.

Cross over Jackson Street to the Chipola River Bridge, where the Confederates tore up the bridge’s flooring to try to take the Union off guard, causing catalytic shifts of power and tension to rise.

St Lukes church featured on the Battle of Marianna
The burning of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is one of the first stops on the tour. Take a look at the cemetery that is home to several of those lost during the battle, and to Governor Milton who was the governor during this time.

Visit St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Yard, otherwise known as the finale to the heavy fighting. Some, including Home Guards, became trapped in the cemetery as the church was set on fire by the Union, leaving four defenders to fight to their death. More than 25% of males in Marianna had been either killed, wounded, or captured in battle at this point. While the original church burned to the ground, the structure now standing is architecturally similar to what you would’ve seen at the time. Remarkably, a Bible is now on display in the Church that was saved from the flames (as well as a subsequent blaze from the 1940s).

Where to Shop

No matter what the theme of your getaway is, a little retail therapy – perhaps with some treasures from days gone by – is always welcome. For unique antiques and gifts that no one has but everybody wants, Bespoken is worth a look. Even its building has historic charm!

Bespoken offers an array of fun gifts and antiques.

A Wild Hair will make you feel like you’re in your stylish sister’s historic home, going through her closet doing some shopping and maybe even getting your hair done. They have all the latest trends in their women’s boutique at approachable price points, and the stylists are some of the most welcoming in the business if you’re in need of a trim or color.

For one-of-a-kind finds from yesteryear, Jefferson Street Antiques has upscale items that would make a perfect memento from your history-centric trip. Clothing, vinyl albums, Christmas items, and other knick-knacks are vying to be your next hidden gem.

A New Chapter Books and More is the area’s only locally owned bookstore with cozy vibes and that nostalgically earthy smell of fresh-printed pages. Story times, guys’ nights, and other frequent events make the store feel more like a community for however long you’re in town.

Where to Have a Bite

You can find delicious food any time of day in Jackson County, which means you can easily coordinate a meal around your walking tour or other historical experience. For an American style buffet featuring fried chicken, homestyle veggies, and an ice cream machine, Jim’s Buffet will keep your plates full ‘til your hearts are content.

pizza at bistro palms is a great stop while touring the battle of marianna
Grab some delicious pizza from Bistro Palms during your tour!

Bistro Palms is the casual Italian dining spot around town (think scratch-made pizzas, sandwiches, and elevated appetizers like crab cakes and tuna dip), complete with a fully stocked bar and live music – making it the perfect place to ponder all the boots-on-the-ground historical significance you’ve taken in so far.

Gazebo and Salt Block keep in step with the historical theme of your trip in their downtown buildings from long ago. For a mouth-watering breakfast, lunch, or somewhere between the two, you’ll find sandwiches and salads with cleverly paired ingredients, like The Flying Floss sandwich (shrimp salad with garlic mayo, melted Swiss, and tomato on croissant) at Gazebo.

steak at salt block
Be sure to book a reservation if you want to enjoy some delicious steak or seafood at Salt Block.

For an upscale dinner, Salt Block serves delightfully modern classics sourced from local ingredients, just a stones’ throw away from Gazebo on Market Street. From their grilled smoked pork chops to truffle fries and salted sweet cream creme brulee, there’s something for every palate. Reservations are always recommended but are required on Fridays and Saturdays as owner and chef Nick Rickman is the 2018 World Chef Champion and this restaurant is sought after!

Behind Salt Block is Southern Craft Creamery Market, where you’ll find ice cream with the simplest ingredient lists but most complex flavors. From their classic Milk Chocolate to more quirky flavors like Earl Grey or Plum and Rum, you’ll gladly keep with the trip’s historical theme as you savor this classically made frozen confection. Don’t miss their farm-to-table market right next door filled with delectable items made in the area to keep you fueled for your stay.

ice cream at southern craft creamery
Enjoy some delicious farm fresh ice cream from Southern Craft Creamery.

History-Steeped Fun with Modern Twists

While you may already be thinking that there are so many things but not enough time to do them all while you’re in Jackson County, there are still more opportunities to discover our area’s history and culture. Grab a brochure from the Jackson County Visitor Center and set off on a self-guided, driving Historic Homes Tour. Fun fact: you may recognize some of the homes you pass from your Battle of Marianna walking tour!

Few things stand the test of time like going to see a movie. Marianna Cinemas is the place to be in town for movies, with 4 different theaters and a range of show times to pop in to.

While history is at the forefront of your mind by now, have you heard of the modern concept of a “pocket park?” Lafayette Landing is one of these quaint escapes right in our downtown (that’s also been featured on the national TV show Today’s Homeowner). It’s a great spot for a picnic and to simply enjoy a pretty day.

If it’s time to beat the heat, Madison Street Park has a splash pad and covered pavilion to cool off while taking in the fresh air. The park also hosts farmers markets and various events through the year, including Food Truck Fridays a couple times each month.

A Trip to Jackson County: History in the Making

While history may be in the past, Jackson County honors the complexities of yesterday while welcoming brighter tomorrows. Immerse yourself in our rich historical roots while absorbing the forged lessons of courage and resilience into modern times and beyond during your visit here. Plan your trip to Jackson County by clicking here today.