The annual reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge will be held Saturday and Sunday, March 5 & 6, 2011. The event commemorates the 146th anniversary and 34th annual reenactment of the Civil War battle which took place 12 miles south of Tallahassee. Early on the morning of March 6, 1865, shots rang out in southern Leon County where the St. Marks river temporarily flows underground then reemerges thus forming a natural bridge. These shots marked the opening skirmish of the Battle of Natural Bridge. Over the course of the day, Union troops consisting of the 2nd and 99th United States Colored Troops (USCT) attempted to charge over the Natural Bridge. Each charge was repulsed by murderous artillery and small arms fire by the Confederate defenders. By days end, Union forces retreated to the protection of the Federal fleet at St. Marks. Tallahassee became the only Southern Capitol east of the Mississippi River not to succumb to military capture during the American Civil War.
The Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park is now part of Florida's state park system. Today the Division of Parks and Recreation, Florida Department of Environmental Regulation maintains a portion of the original battlefield for the State of Florida. The Site is included in the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1978, the Florida Park Service, in conjunction with the Anna Jackson Chapter 224 United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and living historians, has hosted a commemoration of the Battle of Natural Bridge, including a full scale reenactment of the battle.
Activities during the weekend will include living history demonstrations interpreting civilian and military life during the 1860’s, a military skirmish on Saturday, and a full reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge on Sunday. Historic presentations will also be presented by volunteers from the John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History and Culture and the Ladies Soldiers Friends Sewing Society. On Sunday, the Anna Jackson Chapter 224 United Daughters of the Confederacy will celebrate their annual pilgrimage to the site with a brief ceremony and laying of a wreath honoring the original participants of the battle.
The authentic camps will be open for public visitation starting at 9:00 A.M. Saturday and Sunday. Period merchants will be available on site selling articles and souvenirs of the period. Food vending will be provided by the Tallahassee Elks Lodge. The Natural Bridge Historical Society, Inc., the Citizen Support Organization for the park, will also be on hand to distribute historic literature about the battle and answer questions about the events which took place during this pivotal period of American history. A $3.00 donation is requested for admission to the event. All proceeds collected help to maintain and preserve the Park. The Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park is located 6 miles east of the community of Woodville on the Natural Bridge Road.