Thursday, May 14, 2009
Confederate Battery at Torreya State Park
Torreya State Park (located in the northwest corner of Liberty County between Bristol and Chattahoochee) is well known for its rugged scenic beauty. The Florida Torreya, one of the rarest trees in the world, grows in the park, and visitors have enjoyed tours of the antebellum Gregory House for decades.
Often overlooked, however, is the park's role during the Civil War.
The commanding bluffs that now draw visitors in search of challenging hikes and scenic views once attracted Confederate engineers for very different reasons. They were tasked with building fortifications to protect the Apalachicola River from an attack by Union warships. The river served as a gateway to a vast area of Northwest Florida, Southwest Georgia and Southeast Alabama. Its tributaries, the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, were navigable as far north as Columbus and Albany.
To protect against possible attack, the Confederates build earthwork batteries at Alum Bluff, Ricco's Bluff and the River Narrows, all downstream from Torreya. Another battery was placed up the Chattahoochee at Fort Gaines, Georgia. Troops were also stationed at Fort Gadsden and other locations along the river to provide early warning of a Union attack.
The final battery constructed on the river, and perhaps the most powerful, was the once placed by Confederate engineers at Rock Bluff, now encompassed by Torreya State Park.
Designed for six heavy cannon, the battery consisted of three pairs of two gun emplacements. Positioned below the northern crest of the bluff, which provided protection against a bombardment from down stream, the guns commanded a significant stretch of the Apalachicola from short range.
Today, the cannon are gone but the powerful Confederate earthworks remain. They are located along the nature trail just down the slope from the Gregory House. To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/torreyabattery.