Monday, August 10, 2009

Old Fort Park - Tallahassee, Florida

In the months following the Battle of Marianna, authorities in Tallahassee moved to better protect Florida's capital city from a similar attack by Union forces.

A chain of fortifications were constructed around the south side of the city, with redoubts or rectangular forts constructed on high points to allow soldiers and cannon to better defend against any attack on the capital. One of these can still be seen just a few blocks from the Capitol Complex at historic Old Fort Park.

Although tradition holds that the well-preserved earthworks at Old Fort Park were built as an emergency measure during the Battle of Natural Bridge (March 6, 1865), they actually date to the previous fall and winter. Under authority from Brigadier General William Miller, Confederate engineer Theodore Moreno designed a series of fortifications to protect the main approaches to the city. Using African American laborers conscripted from area plantations, Miller and Moreno constructed forts and lines of breastworks that could be occupied quickly in the event Union forces approached Tallahassee.

Fortunately for the people of the city, the defenses were never tested. The main Union expedition to capture Tallahassee was turned back at Natural Bridge and the earthworks never came under fire, although they were manned by Southern militia during the emergency.

The surviving redoubt at Old Fort Park was originally known as Fort Houstoun, because it stood on what was then the Houstoun Plantation. Artillery positioned there could command the approaches to the capitol building itself.

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