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Accessibility
Florida State Parks are in various stages of accessibility, and are working to improve access to services and facilities. Should you need assistance to enable your full participation, please contact the individual park office as soon as possible. Sometimes as many as ten days may be needed to schedule a particular accommodation.


Management & Protection
Florida State Parks are managed as natural systems. All plant and animal life is protected in state parks. Hunting, livestock grazing and timber removal are not permitted. Do not remove, deface, mutilate or molest any natural resources. For your safety, do not feed any animals. Intoxicants and firearms are prohibited.


Hours of Operation
Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.


Pets
Pets are not allowed in camping areas, on bathing beaches, in concession areas and may be restricted in other designated areas of the park. Where pets are allowed, they must be kept on a six-foot, hand-held leash and well-behaved at all times. Service dogs are welcome in all areas of the parks.


State Park Guide
To discover and experience all of the Real Florida at Florida's 145 state parks, ask a Park Ranger where you can pick up a copy of the Florida State Park Guide, or call 850/488-9872.


 
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Reservations for
Florida State
Parks are now
made through
Reserve America,

toll free, at
1-800-326-3521
NATURAL BRIDGE BATTLEFIELD STATE HISTORIC SITE

During the final weeks of the Civil War, the Battle of Natural Bridge preserved Tallahassee as the only Confederate capitol east of the Mississippi River never to fall into Union hands. Considered quite an accomplishment by historians, the five-day battle concluded when a motley militia of old men and young boys defeated seasoned Union troops.



HISTORY
Between March 1 and 3, 1865, a Union flotilla arrived in Apalachee Bay. General John Newton and Naval Commander William Gibson had a joint assault plan in mind to cripple Confederate forces. On March 3, 300 seamen surprised Confederate pickets and captured the East River Bridge, four miles north of the St. Marks lighthouse. The following day, Navy gunboats commanded by Gibson ran aground in the shallow waters of the St. Marks River. Gibson spent the next two days desperately trying to get upstream to Port Leon but was unsuccessful.

Gibson's unexpected delay provided just enough time for a Confederate messenger to travel to Tallahassee and warn the citizens of the danger to the Capitol caused by the Union landing. In an effort to defend the Capitol, every man and boy who could bear arms volunteered to join the thin ranks of the Confederate Army. The forces were made up of wounded confederate soldiers home to recuperate, men as old as 70 and cadets as young as 14 from West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University). The Confederate troops, commanded by General William Miller, were taken to Newport to prepare a defense.

On March 5, Union General Newton advanced past the East River Bridge, causing Confederate troops from the Fifth Cavalry to withdraw to the Newport Bridge on the St. Marks River. The Confederate cavalry was joined by the volunteers from Tallahassee, where they gained enough strength to force Newton to take a round-about route to Natural Bridge. Miller, who had second-guessed Newton's attempted surprise crossing, sent Confederate forces under Lt. Colonel George Scott on an overnight march to defend the crossing.

In the pre-dawn hours of the following day, a series of skirmishes lasting about 10 hours occurred along the narrow natural bridge. Confederate forces, made up of 500 to 700 men, fought off three major attacks and several minor attempts by Union forces of nearly equivalent strength. The Union troops, having decided that the bridge was impassable, began a hasty retreat.

By sundown on March 7, Union soldiers were in the protection of their own fleet. Newton, feeling that he had not been adequately supported by the Navy, took his troops back to Key West. Union losses totaled 21 killed, 89 wounded and 38 captured. Confederate losses were three killed and 22 wounded.



PICNICS

The area has since then returned to its peaceful tranquility and now offers visitors the perfect spot for a picnic.


REENACTMENTS

Natural Bridge State Historic Site serves as a monument for the famous battle that took place at the location. The Battle of Natural Bridge is re-enacted every year in March on a weekend near the anniversary of the actual battle. Visitors can view authentic Confederate and Union encampments.



Natural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Site is located six miles east of Woodville, off S.R. 363 on Natural Bridge Road.

For more information, contact

Natural Bridge State Historic Site

1022 Desoto Park Drive

Tallahassee, Florida 32301

(850) 922-6007


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