March 6, 1865
Natural Bridge Battlefield
7502 Natural Bridge Road, 32305
The Battle of Natural Bridge occurred on March 6, 1865 at a point on the St. Marks River known as the "Natural Bridge." The originination of the St. Marks River is east Leon County where it is fed by swamps. Its flow increases to the south with discharge from springs along the way, and at Natural Bridge the river goes underground (through limestone caves) for about one kilometer and resurfaces near the Leon-Wakulla County line.
The feature known as Natural Bridge is just that, a land bridge over the St. Marks River as it flows below. It was the location of a road during the Civil War and is today the location of Natural Bridge Road (County Road 2191).
The Battle of Natural Bridge occurred during a late war United States campaign with the intent of engaging Confederate troops that had been early active against Cedar Key and Fort Myers, and capturing Fort Ward at St. Marks. Citizens of Tallahassee, however, apparently feared the expedition was intent on capturing the state capital. After landing in Apalachee Bay near the St. Marks lighthouse, U.S. infantry and cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. John Newton marched across East River and Attempted to cross the St. Marks River at Newport, but were repulsed by Confederate defenders of the bridge. The U.S. expedition then moved up the east side of the St. Marks River and again attempted to cross at Natural Bridge where on March 6 the of Natural Bridge occurred. Arrayed on either side of the road on the west side of Natural Bridge and behind earthworks, Confederate cavalry, infantry, and artillery under Maj. Gen. Sam Jones prevented several attempts by U.S. troops to advance across the Natural Bridge. Afterwards, U.S. troops began a retrograde action to Newport and then back to the St. Marks lighthouse and the U.S. fleet.
Today, significant parts of the battlefield are preserved as the Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park. Monuments and interpretive waysides are found at this park to comemorate and interpret this important event. Remains of earthworks can still be seen in the park. Bodies of some of the soldiers who died duriing this battle are buried in Old City Cemetery in Tallahassee.
The park is open daily from 8:00 AM until sundown. Admission is $3.00 per vehicle and $2.00 for pedestrians and bicycles.