Union Brigadier General Alexander Asboth ordered Union Second Lieutenant Joseph Sanders, who had started the war as a Captain in the Confederate Army, to lead the 1st Florida Cavalry on a raid to raise recruits, confiscate supplies and burn the Dale County Courthouse. The Courthouse was located over the border in Newton, Alabama, which was common in the area at the time. Dale County had very little importance during the Civil War except as a place for Confederate deserters to gather. As the Union Cavalry moved toward the town, they were detected by local citizens. The town’s people notified the local Home Guard led by Confederate Captain Joseph Breare who had been with the 15th Alabama at Gettysburg. The Guard numbering ten men, ambushed and routed the 1st on the Newton town square.
The Home Guard had no reported casualties, while Sanders’ reported three dead and five wounded. Although the engagement at Newton pretty much went unnoticed, it gave hope to the locals.