Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New mini-documentary on Battle of Natural Bridge is now online

Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park
My new mini-documentary on the Battle of Natural Bridge is now online and can be viewed for free at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nbindex.

This battle was fought on March 6, 1865 and preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi not taken by Union troops during the War Between the States (or Civil War). Numbers of men from Jackson County took part and others were on the way when the fight took place.

Among the highest ranked officers on the field was Lieutenant Colonel W.D. Barnes of Jackson County. He assumed command of the 1st Florida Reserves, an infantry regiment, after its colonel was dashed into a tree by his horse when a cannon shell exploded nearby.

Confederate earthworks at Natural Bridge Battlefield
Barnes lived and operated a plantation in western Jackson County on the historic site of Webbville. The community had once been the county seat - and according to the U.S. Congress still holds that distinction - but unofficially lost that status when the Florida Legislature threatened to fine any public official who did not do business from the courthouse in Marianna.

Also on the field at Natural Bridge was Major William H. Milton, a noted officer and the son of Governor John Milton. Major Milton had saved Tallahassee a few days earlier when he boldly attacked a much larger force of Union troops and sailors at East River Bridge on what is now the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Milton and his outnumbered Confederates drove the Federals all the way to the St. Marks Lighthouse on the shores of Apalachee Bay.  From there he could see the large flotilla of Union warships and transports offshore and realized that a major invasion was underway.

Natural Bridge of the St. Marks River
Milton's ability to provide quick and accurate information to Generals Samuel Jones and William Miller in Tallahassee allowed them to react to the threat in time to assemble sufficient troops at Natural Bridge to defeat the Federals as they came up.

Numerous other men from Jackson County took part in the fighting at Natural Bridge. Soldiers from the county were present in Confederate units that included the 2nd Florida Cavalry, 5th Florida Cavalry, 1st Florida Reserves, Milton Light Artillery, Kilcrease Light Artillery and Corps of Cadets from the West Florida Seminary. Other Jackson County residents took part in the battle on the Union side as members of the 2nd Florida U.S. Cavalry. One, Peter Pelt, was taken prisoner and executed as a deserter following the battle.

To see the new mini-documentary and learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nbindex.


No comments: