Battle of Natural Bridge

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Battle of Natural Bridge
Part of the American Civil War
Natural Bridge Monument.jpg
Natural Bridge Monument
Date March 6, 1865
Location Leon County, Florida
30°17′02″N 84°09′07″W / 30.28389°N 84.15194°W / 30.28389; -84.15194Coordinates: 30°17′02″N 84°09′07″W / 30.28389°N 84.15194°W / 30.28389; -84.15194
Result Confederate victory
Belligerents
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
John Newton Sam Jones
William Miller
Strength
2nd U.S. Colored Infantry and 99th U.S. Colored Infantry Kilcrease Artillery; Dunham’s Battery; Abell's Battery; 5th Florida Cavalry; 1st Florida Militia; Barwick’s Company Reserves; Hodges Company Reserves; Company A, Milton Light Artillery; Companies A, B, and F, Reserves and reinforcements from Georgia amounting to approx. 1,000 men
Casualties and losses
148 total
21 killed
89 wounded
38 captured
26 total
3 killed
23 wounded

The Battle of Natural Bridge was a battle during the American Civil War, fought in what is now Woodville, Florida, near Tallahassee, on March 6, 1865. A small band of Confederate troops and volunteers, mostly composed of teenagers from the nearby Florida Military and Collegiate Institute that would later become Florida State University, and the elderly, protected by breastworks, prevented Union forces (consisting of African-American soldiers of the United States Colored Troops) from crossing the Natural Bridge on the St. Marks River. This action prevented the Union from capturing the Florida capital and made Tallahassee the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi River not to be captured by Union forces during the war.

Battle[edit]

The Union's Brig. Gen. John Newton had undertaken a joint force expedition to engage and destroy Confederate troops that had attacked at Cedar Keys, Florida and Fort Myers and were allegedly encamped somewhere around St. Marks. The Union Navy had trouble getting its ships up the St. Marks River. The Army force, however, had advanced and, after finding one bridge destroyed, started before dawn on March 6 to attempt to cross the river at Natural Bridge. The troops initially pushed Rebel forces back, but not away from the bridge.

Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. William Miller, protected by breastworks, guarded all of the approaches and the bridge itself. The action at Natural Bridge lasted most of the day, but, unable to take the bridge in three separate charges, the Union troops retreated to the protection of the fleet.

Based on the involvement of the students from the Florida Military and Collegiate Institute, the Florida State University Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program is one of only four Army ROTC programs to have a battle streamer for their actions in the Civil War.[1]

Monument[edit]

Secretary of State Tom Adams showing battle flag of Natural Bridge (1961)

The site of the battle is now Natural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Site, a Florida State Park, and contains a monument with the inscription:

Annual Memorial Service and Battle Reenactment[edit]

First reenactment of the battle in 1974

A ceremony honoring the combatants on both sides of the Battle of Natural Bridge, followed by a reenactment of the battle featuring Union, Confederate, and civilian reenactors, is held at the park the first weekend of March every year. The event is free and open to the public.[2]

The site is now called Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park.[2]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The other three programs are: the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) for the Battle of New Market, The Citadel, for the defense of Charleston and other engagements, and The University of Mississippi for the defense of Vicksburg.
  2. ^ a b State of Florida official website for Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park http://www.floridastateparks.org/naturalbridge/default.cfm

External links[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the National Park Service document "[1]".