Uncategorized African Americans, Battle of Natural Bridge, Battle Reenactment, Capital, Civil War, Confederates, Destination: Civil War, Florida, Florida History, Florida Public Archaeology Netowork, Florida State Parks, Google Earth, Google Maps, John G. Riley House Museum, John Gilmore Riley, Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park, Natural Bridge Historical Society, Second Regiment United States Colored Troops, Tallahassee, Tourism, Travel, Union, United States Colored Troops, Woodville No Comments
During the final weeks of the Civil War, the Battle of Natural Bridge prevented Tallahassee from being taken by Union Troops. Tallahassee was the only capital city east of the Mississippi River to not fall into Union hands during the Civil War. Many people, from many different backgrounds fought on both sides at this battle. However, not many people realize that African American Soldiers fought and led the charge in the battle. Under Union General John Newton, troops from the Second and Ninety-ninth U.S. Colored Infantry Regiments fought in the Battle of Natural Bridge. In this battle the Union lost twenty-one men and the Confederates lost three men, with many more men on both sides being injured or captured. The site of this historic battle is now owned by the state and is open to the public as a Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park. Every year, in March, a reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge takes place at this park.
This last reenactment on March 6 was special for several reasons. First, March 6th is the actual date the battle took place in 1865. It is also significant for one other, very historic reason. As mentioned, African American troops fought and led the charge in this battle. These men were members of the Second and the Ninety-ninth Regiments United States Colored Troops (USCT). This year the John Gi. Riley and House Museum of African American History and Culture, along with the Natural Bridge Historical Society, formed the Second Infantry Regiment USCT to participate in the reenactment. This was an effort to assure the authenticity and accuracy of the battle as it actually occurred on March 6th, 1865.
The John G. Riley House Museum’s mission is to preserve the cultural and educational history of African Americans in the Tallahassee area and in Florida. The Riley house was named in honor of John Gilmore Riley. Riley was a prominent member in the African American community in Tallahassee. In 1857 he was born into slavery, but he died a millionare in 1954. The Jonh G. Riley House Museum is open to the public, and for more information about the museum you can visit their website at www.rileymuseum.org.
The reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge is held each year in March to commemorate this significant event in Florida’s history. To learn more about this battle you can visit the Natural Bridge Historical Society’s website at www.nbhscso.com or the Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park’s website at http://www.floridastateparks.org/naturalbridge/. Also, don’t forget that the Florida Public Archaeology Network has launched our Civil War internet resource, “Destination: Civil War”. Here you can learn about Natural Bridge and other Civil War heritage sites in Florida. From “Destination: Civil War” you can also see the locations of sites throughout Florida via Google Maps or Google Earth. So check it out, you may just find a site near you or a great destination for your next road trip!