Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park

Location: Tallahassee, Florida

Webpage: Florida State Park

Description: Within the last few weeks of the Civil War in 1865, the Confederates had to defend Tallahassee against Union troops from a flotilla that landed at Apalachee Bay.  The Federal plan was to capture Fort Ward at the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers (a part of San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park), but ran aground at Port Leon and could not make the fort.  About 900 troops, including the 2nd and 99th U.S. Colored Infantry, continued over land towards Tallahassee.  The smaller Confederate force of 600 soldiers, including 14 year old cadets from West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University) marched to meet them south of the city.  The site at Natural Bridge made a natural bottleneck where the St. Marks river goes underground for a few hundred feet, thus the name.  The battle was essentially an exchange of cannon fire, but the Confederates did repel three attacks on March 6, 1865.  After 10 hours the Union troops withdrew without capturing Tallahassee, the only southern capital east of the Mississippi not to be taken during the Civil War.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) Currently the park is very small consisting of a monument and some of the Confederate breastworks.  Most of the site of the battle had been in private hands until last year when it was purchased by the State.  They now have plans to expand the park to include the actual battlefield.

Monument

2) Since the battle was on March 6, the first weekend in March is the time for a reenactment of the battle.  More than 250 reenactors portray the soldiers and camp out for the weekend.  I understand the reenactment is quite noisy with the cannons firing most of the day, however, that was all scheduled for Sunday.  Saturday was devoted to setup and preparation.  If we had knows about the event we could have easily changed our plans to visit Sunday, but we still enjoyed seeing all the people in period dress cooking over open fires with multiple dutch ovens of a variety of sizes and shapes.

Tents Cannon

3) In its current state, the park takes less than an hour to visit on a normal day.  We spent a couple of hours amongst the reenactors before leaving.  We did see this interesting tree house off in the woods.

TreeHouse

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