Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reminders of War at Torreya State Park - Liberty County, Florida

Civil War Earthworks at Torreya State Park
Torreya State Park, located on the Apalachicola River in Liberty County, is best known for its stunning natural scenery and extremely rare trees and plants, but for those interested in Florida's Civil War history, it also holds a hidden treasure.

Located along the trail that leads down the slope from the beautifully restored antebellum Gregory House in the park can be found the earthwork remains of a Confederate fortification. Built to defend the river against invasion attempts by the Union Navy, the battery was one of a series of such fortifications along the river. It is, however, by far the best preserved.

150 years ago the Apalachicola River was a vital avenue of transportation. Paddlewheel steamboats churned up and down the river from Apalachicola, carrying cargo and people as far upriver as the cities of Columbus and Albany,Georgia, located far up its tributaries, the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.  Apalachicola at the beginning of the Civil War was one of the most important port cities on the Gulf Coast and the river itself provided access to some of the most successful plantations and farms in the South.

Gun Emplacement at Torreya State Park
When Apalachicola was evacuated by the Confederates in 1862, army engineers began to design a series of fortifications to stop Union warships from coming up the river to devastate inland cities and farming districts.

The battery at Torreya State Park once mounted an array of heavy guns and featured artillery emplacements, rifle pits and heavily reinforced magazines. Despite (and possibly because of) the reclamation of the site by the forest in the years after the Civil War, the earthworks remain in remarkable condition today and provide a rare opportunity to step back in time to the days when Florida desperately tried to defend itself from Northern invasion.

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