Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida set for this Weekend

Natural Bridge Battlefield
The 146th anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge will be commemorated this weekend with a reenactment and other activities at Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park near Tallahassee, Florida.

Fought on March 6, 1865, the battle was one of the last significant Confederate victories of the Civil War. It preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi not captured by Union troops, kept the small port of St. Marks open to blockade runners and prevented the economic destruction of an important area of North Florida and South Georgia by Federal forces. It came just five weeks before General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

The Battle of Natural Bridge resulted from a major amphibious assault by Union troops. Moving up the Gulf of Mexico from posts at Key West and Cedar Key, U.S. transport steamers arrived off the mouth of the St. Marks River in late February of 1865. Joined there by a large flotilla of Union warships, the steamers held position while General John Newton and his officers developed their plans.

Confederate Earthworks at Natural Bridge
During the first week of March, demolition parties were sent ashore to destroy railroad bridges east and west of Tallahassee and then the navy began the difficult task of bringing the main body of Newton's command to shore at the St. Marks Lighthouse south of Tallahassee. The amphibious night landing was hampered by shallow water and darkness, but the men finally got ashore and started inland. The warships, meanwhile, began a move up the St. Marks River to engage Confederate batteries and put ashore hundreds of sailors who were to serve as additional infantry during the expedition.

The naval side of the expedition was a complete failure, due to difficulty encountered navigating the narrow twisting river channel. Things went even worse for the land force. Despite eight courageous charges, the Union troops (composed primarily of the 2nd and 99th USCT regiments) were handed a bloody defeat at the Battle of Natural Bridge.

To learn more about this unique and often overlooked battle, please consider the expanded edition of my book, The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida (also available as a Kindle download). You can also learn more and access a  schedule of this weekends events at

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