Friday, March 6, 2009
Anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge
Today marks the 144th anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida. Fought on March 6, 1865, along the banks of the St. Marks River south of Tallahassee, this battle preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi not conquered by Union forces during the Civil War.
One of the last significant Confederate victories of the war, the battle took place when a Union force commanded by General John Newton marched up the east bank of the St. Marks River after landing at the St. Marks Lighthouse. Prevented from crossing the river downstream at Newport, the Federals moved on the Natural Bridge hoping to seize the crossing before Confederate defenders could arrive. They failed.
For almost the entire day, the two forces battled for control of the bridge. The Confederate forces, commanded by Generals Samuel Jones and William Miller, entrenched on high ground overlooking the Natural Bridge, forcing the Federals to charge them eight times in a futile effort to break their lines. Both sides fought heroically, but in the end the Union soldiers were forced to withdraw back to the Gulf of Mexico.
The site is preserved today at the Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park. Located near Woodville, a town south of Tallahassee, the park features monuments and interpretive signs, preserved earthworks from the battle, a picnic area and beautiful views of the St. Marks River. The annual battle reenactments take place at the park this weekend, with the main events set for Sunday when there will be a memorial service at 1 p.m. (Eastern) followed immediately by the main reenactment.
For more information on the battle, visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nbindex.