Two companies of Alabama troops (Armstrong's and Chisolm's) were sent into the swamps to root these men out during the summer of 1863, but were driven back with a loss of 1 killed and several wounded in at least two distinct skirmishes. These fights took place somewhere in the floodplain swamps of Cowarts and Marshall Creeks just south of today's Cottonwood, Alabama. The deserters and Unionists proved too well armed for the state companies that went after them. As a result, Confederate General Howell Cobb proposed that he be allowed to hang a few of the raiders in the belief that this would send a message to the others and bring them back into the Confederate ranks.
This group initially operated independently of Union forces, but did receive arms, ammunition and other supplies from the blockade ships at St. Andrew Bay. They eventually became associated with Lt. Joseph Sanders detachment from the 1st Florida U.S. Cavalry. Sanders was a regular officer in the Union army who was sent into the area with a detachment of around 30 men to disrupt communications, capture livestock and do any other damage possible to the Southern war effort. His group was the one turned back at Newton in 1865. They took part in numerous minor raids in the area, primarily against civilian targets.
As part of the raid on Marianna, Union General Alexander Asboth detached a squad of men under Lt. Col. Andrew Spurling of the 2nd Maine Cavalry to round up Confederate cavalrymen who had escaped from an attack on the conscription camp at Eucheeanna, Florida (Walton County) on September 23, 1864. Spurling and his men wore Confederate uniforms and absolutely operated outside of the then standard rules of war. The penetrated as far north as Geneva, Alabama, where they spent a night, but then crossed back into Florida and moved east on the trail of Asboth's main force. On September 27, 1864, they captured three Alabama soldiers and a salt shipment at Campbellton, Florida. These men, I believe, were executed after they had surrendered, as were nearly one dozen other men captured by Spurling and his "undercover Yankees." Because he and his men were operating in disguise, they could not have carried prisoners along with them without risking detection, capture and - because they were disguised - execution. As a result, more than one dozen men captured by Spurling along the state line area in late September of 1864 simply disappear from the record.
There also are some vague references to a skirmish in the very southeast corner of what is now Houston County in 1864. A large group of deserters and Unionists (reported by Federal officers to number 500 men armed with shotguns) operated in that area.