Floridian Nature

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Florida Nature: Natural Bridge Battlefield
he primary Southern monument on the Natural Bridge battlefieldNatural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Site is a Florida State Park in Leon County, Florida. It is located roughly between the city of Tallahassee and the town of St. Marks. During the American Civil War, the Battle of Natural Bridge was fought here on March 6, 1865. The site is named for a natural bridge over the St. Marks River.

Natural Bridge is the site of the second largest Civil War battle in Florida and where the St. Marks River drops into a sinkhole and flows underground for one-quarter of a mile before reemerging.

This site illustrates the crucial role the lay of the land can play in military strategy. In early March of 1865, Union General John Newton and naval Commander William Gibson mounted a two pronged advance toward Tallahassee. Newton landed his troops and headed north, but Gibson's gunboats ran aground in the St. Marks river. When word reached Tallahassee, the limited Confederate forces were quickly reinforced with volunteers. Some volunteers were recuperating veterans, while others were men as old as seventy and boys as young as fourteen.
 
When General Newton encountered stiff resistance at Newport Bridge, he opted for a surprise attack across a nearby natural bridge. This move had been anticipated by Confederate General William Miller, who entrenched his forces there. The Confederate repelled three Union attacks in twelve hours. Union losses totaled 21 killed, 89 wounded, and 38 captured. Confederate losses totaled 3 killed and 22 wounded.

Deciding the battle was lost, Newton retreated. Southern pride still warms to this victory for it left Tallahassee the only confederate capital east of the Mississippi never to be occupied by Union armies.


state marker on the Natural Bridge Battlefield site near Tallahassee Florida“The Battle of Natural Bridge is a significant part of North Florida’s heritage,” said Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park Manager Barry Burch. “By remembering the soldiers’ efforts and preserving the historic site, we enable present and future generations to learn about and appreciate the cultural resources around them.”

Many years after the war, Confederate General William Miller claimed that after winning the Battle of Natural Bridge he waited and waited for General U.S. Grant to come fight him. "I'm still waiting," he told one writer.

To the left is a picture of the state marker on the Natural Bridge Battlefield. In the background can be seen the hastily-erected breastwork thrown up by the 1st Florida Reserves at the beginning of the battle.

The 144th Anniversary Reenactment was a resounding success! We wish to extend a sincere “Thank You” to the attending public, the sponsors, the Natural Bridge Historical Society Citizens’ Support Organization, the Leon Rifles, the Sutlers, and to all the re-enactors, who gave of themselves and their time to make this event one of the best ever. Please join us on March 6th and 7th, 2010, for the 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge.

The primary Southern monument on the Natural Bridge battlefield (shown top) memorializes the Confederate defenders and dominates the battlefield today. The monument faces the center of the Confederate line, where a company of cadets (school children) from the West Florida Seminary (today's Florida State University) were placed in the trenches. They held the left center of the Confederate line in the face of repeated Federal charges. They are memorialized today on the banner of the ROTC corps at FSU.

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Natural Bridge Battlefield Florida
Natural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Site is a Florida State Park in Leon County, Florida. It is located roughly between the city of Tallahassee and the town of St. Marks. During the American Civil War, the Battle of Natural Bridge was fought here on March 6, 1865. The site is named for a natural bridge over the St. Marks River.
The Natural Bridge Battlefield should be visited by anyone with a desire to learn about Florida's history, Natural Bridge is the site of the second largest Civil War battle in Florida and where the St. Marks River drops into a sinkhole and flows underground for one-quarter of a mile before reemerging. “The Battle of Natural Bridge is a significant part of North Florida’s heritage,” said Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park Manager Barry Burch. “By remembering the soldiers’ efforts and preserving the historic site, we enable present and future generations to learn about and appreciate the cultural resources around them.”
Natural Bridge Battlefield
Date published: 10/23/2013
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