Thursday, November 20, 2008

Florida to Save Natural Bridge Battlefield

There was a major announcement today regarding a site closely associated with the history of Jackson County.

The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida was fought on March 6, 1865 and preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi not captured by Union troops during the Civil War.

One of the last significant Confederate victories of the war, the battle was of critical importance to North Florida and involved troops from numerous counties, including Jackson.

Major William H. Milton, of Marianna, commanded the right wing of the Confederate army during the battle. Lt. Col. W.D. Barnes, also of Marianna, commanded the Southern center. Jackson County men and boys fought at Natural Bridge in the 2nd and 5th Florida Cavalries, 1st Florida Infantry Reserves and in various artillery units.

Today, Florida Governor Charlie Christ and the state cabinet voted to save nearly 55 acres of threatened land adjoining Natural Bridge Historic State Park. The land includes the scene where Major Milton and Lt. Col. Barnes and their men held the right center and right flank of the Confederate line during the battle. It is one of the first major moves by the state to preserve an important Civil War site in Florida in many, many years.

If you would like to learn more about the battle, please click here to visit my Battle of Natural Bridge website. Also please consider my book, The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida. The book is available at Chipola River Book and Tea in downtown Marianna (across from the Battle of Marianna monument) or for order online by clicking here.

Here is the official announcement released today by the Florida Forever program:

~Florida Forever acquisition preserves 54.74 acres adjacent to Natural Bridge
Historic State Park~

TALLAHASSEE— Governor Crist and Cabinet today approved the purchase of 54.74 acres of land adjacent to the Natural Bridge Historic State Park in Leon County. The acquired parcel is significant to the protection of a first magnitude spring and features a Civil War battlefield.

“This important purchase is a part of the Florida First Magnitude Springs project and one of the top projects on the Florida Forever priority list,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Deputy Secretary Bob Ballard. “This acquisition ensures that the geological, historical and cultural integrity of this property and the surrounding water resources are preserved for Floridians and visitors from all over the world to enjoy for years to come.”

This Florida Forever project focuses on land that provides increased protection for Florida’s First Magnitude Springs that discharge more than 100 cubic feet of water per second. Florida’s springs, scattered through northern and central Florida, draw from the Floridan aquifer system, which is the state’s primary source of drinking water. Springs, with clear, continuously flowing waters, are among the state’s most important natural resources and are famous attractions. This acquisition brings the Florida First Magnitude Springs project closer to completion, with 7,844 acres of the 14,081 acre project remaining.

The property contains many karst features such as sink holes, natural bridges, swallets, karst windows and submerged cave systems. By preserving the surrounding land, this project will preserve the area’s geological significance and protect Florida’s water resources from the effects of commercial, residential and agricultural runoff and other potential impacts.

The property is also the site of Florida’s second largest Civil War battle. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and cited as one of the top ten endangered Civil War sites in the United States by the Civil War Preservation Trust. In 1865, during the final week of the Civil War, the battle at natural bridge preserved Tallahassee as the only Confederate Capitol east of the Mississippi that did not surrender to Union forces. Today, important historical and cultural, resources can be found on the property dating from the Paleo-Indian period (10,000 B.C.) to the Civil War. The property will eventually be managed by DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks as part of the Natural Bridge Historic State Park.

Originally established in 1999, the 10-year, $3 billion Florida Forever program is the largest land-buying initiative in the nation, conserving environmentally sensitive land, restoring water resources and preserving important cultural and historical sites. More than two million acres throughout the state have been placed in public ownership under Florida Forever and its predecessor program, Preservation 2000 (P2000). For more information on the Florida Forever program, visit

To view maps that outline the subject parcel in this purchase, visit the following links:


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