Touring Florida - The Civil War in the Sunshine State

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lelliott19

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Seahorse Key and its lighthouse. Or rather, light station.
That light station was re-lit on July 5, 2019 for the first time since it was deactivated in 1915. Everyone who plays CWT trivia will be pleased to know about the careful restoration which included a reproduction fourth-order Fresnel Lens manufactured by Artworks Florida Classic Fresnel Lenses, LLC to original specifications. I know you love those Fresnel lenses as much as I do. :D Source
 

luinrina

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Can't wait. Especially Fort Ward. It was almost closing time when I got there and only had time for a quick walk-through at the site. Didn't get to go in the museum/visitor center. They were closing up. Hit the Visitor Center at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. That's where the lens from the lighthouse is. The $4 guided tour at the Lighthouse is worth it too.
It's an almost 3 hours drive up to St. Mark's Lighthouse (my first stop) from Cedar Keys, that's why I'm making an early start and even got the B&B owner to get me an early breakfast, so that I have time for everything. And thanks for the tip with the guided tour, I didn't know about that one.

Too bad it was closed huh? Hate it when that happens.
Yeah, but I knew it wasn't publically accessible when coming. Next time I'm heading here it'll be for a date when it's open. :smile:

He did a lot of work with lighthouses before the CW, including a major upgrading of the lighthouse on Key West.
I knew he did various lighthouses, but not the upgrade on Key West. Thanks!

That light station was re-lit on July 5, 2019 for the first time since it was deactivated in 1915. Everyone who plays CWT trivia will be pleased to know about the careful restoration which included a reproduction fourth-order Fresnel Lens manufactured by Artworks Florida Classic Fresnel Lenses, LLC to original specifications. I know you love those Fresnel lenses as much as I do. :D Source
Who wouldn't love a Fresnel Lens? :giggle: But thanks about the re-lit! I had no idea. They didn't say anything on the cruise, only talked about the deactivation.
 

bdtex

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It's an almost 3 hours drive up to St. Mark's Lighthouse (my first stop) from Cedar Keys, that's why I'm making an early start and even got the B&B owner to get me an early breakfast, so that I have time for everything. And thanks for the tip with the guided tour, I didn't know about that one.
Nice choice since that's where the troops started. Have a great day.
 
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James N.

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… I had a chat with a couple at the museum about Meade. He was wondering if the Lieutenant Meade building the light station was the same General Meade that led the Union army at Gettysburg. I told him it's the same man and explained to him the difference between rank in the regular army vs. rank in the volunteer army. They asked where I came from and she was impressed that a German knows more about American history than they did! :D
Nothing at all surprising about THAT, considering how stupid most Americans are about almost everything! As I recall, R. E. Lee may have had something to do with the lighthouse at the mouth of the Savannah River when he was a young officer stationed at Fort Pulaski.
 
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luinrina

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Getting an early start paid off handsomely for much of the road was relatively empty. I reached St. Marks Lighthouse around half past ten and wandered around a little before they opened for a tour of the lighthouse. We couldn't climb to the top - bummer! - but had an interesting tour through the attached keeper's house. @bdtex , I was lucky it was open at all - the lighthouse has tours only on Tuesdays and other special dates, mostly Fridays through Sundays.

After the lighthouse tour, I walked around the lighthouse pond and got to see some wildlife. At the end of the trail they believe Fort Williams was located. The Confederates used the lighthouse as a lookout, and nearby they had a fort which they called Fort Williams to guard the salt workers and townspeople. In June 1862, the Union landed near the lighthouse, burned it and destroyed Fort Williams.

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I believe this to be the site of Fort Williams. It's at the corner of the St. Marks River and one can see quite a bit in all directions - in my humble opinion the best site for a fort that was to guard both the salt works on the beach and the townspeople down the river. And it's the end of the trail according to the map.
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At the start of the Civil War, the Confederates removed the Fresnel lens and hid it. Some say it was hidden in the swamps, my lighthouse guide said it was hidden in a warehouse in St. Marks. The original can today be found in the refuge's visitor center some 8 miles away from the lighthouse while the lighthouse itself sports a replica.
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When you get really close to the lens, you can see the marks time has left on it. :smile:

Before we head on, one of my favorite shots of today:
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Next stop was Fort Ward at the confluence of the Wakulla River and St. Marks River. Unfortunately, the state park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. :frown: However, there was a gap in the fence and I slipped through. :whistling: I took a couple of shots of the Spanish bombproof and earthworks before heading out again.
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Last stop of today was the Natural Bridge Battlefield State Park. I walked around the premises for a bit, comparing the topography with the map and battle map I had with me to figure out who came in from where, etc. The rangers noticed that and came to talk to me. They pointed out troop positions for me and I got to ask a few questions about the earthworks and breastworks on the grounds. The former wasn't there during the battle; it was built after the Union retreated. The Confederates wanted to be prepared in case the Union came back to attack again. The breastworks are just models to give the visitor an idea how breastworks looked like.
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That's the edge where the St. Marks River goes underground and forms the natural bridge. The road you see in the background: from there the Union came in. And they headed up that little slope where the Confederates were waiting. (The above water edge is the the right of the pic below, just next to where that triple sign is.)
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The rangers and I also had a nice little chat about the reenactment in March as well as the Olustee reenactment. They told me a story about Olustee when a reenactor acted being wounded by an explosive. A nurse on the bleachers rushed down to help the man while he tried to explain to her he's only acting it. :laugh:

After that I headed toward Tallahassee and my hotel. Thanks to an early start and Fort Ward being closed, I was done early so after consulting Google at the hotel (since my GPS just didn't want to find the address) I headed out again to Fort Houstoun. It's the only remnant of earthworks that protected Tallahassee. It was never needed for the Union never got that far, mainly thanks to the Confederate victory at the Natural Bridge. It was built on a hill on the plantation of Edward Houstoun whose son Patrick commanded a Confederate battery at the Battle of Natural Bridge. Today it's a neat little park in the middle of a suburban area - a perfect spot for kids to play Rebels and Yankees. :D
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Here I'm standing in the ditch. The earthworks are taller than I am!
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I wandered around Fort Houstoun thrice - it left such an impression on me. :smile:

On tomorrow's program: Marianna and Tallahassee (part 1).
 

bdtex

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After that I headed toward Tallahassee and my hotel. Thanks to an early start and Fort Ward being closed, I was done early so after consulting Google at the hotel (since my GPS just didn't want to find the address) I headed out again to Fort Houstoun. It's the only remnant of earthworks that protected Tallahassee. It was never needed for the Union never got that far, mainly thanks to the Confederate victory at the Natural Bridge. It was built on a hill on the plantation of Edward Houstoun whose son Patrick commanded a Confederate battery at the Battle of Natural Bridge. Today it's a neat little park in the middle of a suburban area - a perfect spot for kids to play Rebels and Yankees. :D
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Here I'm standing in the ditch. The earthworks are taller than I am!
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I wandered around Fort Houstoun thrice - it left such an impression on me. :smile:
I am glad you got to do that and posted pics. I didn't get to do that when I went. By that point in the day,my mom,uncle and aunt were tired of being dragged all over the place. :D They were ready to sit and eat.
 
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bdtex

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Getting an early start paid off handsomely for much of the road was relatively empty. I reached St. Marks Lighthouse around half past ten and wandered around a little before they opened for a tour of the lighthouse. We couldn't climb to the top - bummer! - but had an interesting tour through the attached keeper's house. @bdtex , I was lucky it was open at all - the lighthouse has tours only on Tuesdays and other special dates, mostly Fridays through Sundays.
It was a Saturday when we went and it was sort of an unplanned stop. My aunt and uncle wanted to go there and so we did. They've lived in Florida most of their lives and had never been there.
 

bdtex

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Next stop was Fort Ward at the confluence of the Wakulla River and St. Marks River. Unfortunately, the state park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. :frown: However, there was a gap in the fence and I slipped through. :whistling: I took a couple of shots of the Spanish bombproof and earthworks before heading out again.
Well rats. Again it was Saturday when we went and I had printed the site brochure beforehand. I knew it was open that day and what the hours were,but it was 15 minutes before closing time when we got there.
 
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luinrina

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I've always wanted to fly down there and land at the little Cedar Key Airport, but never seem to find the opportunity. It looks very picturesque from all the photos I've seen.
Cedar Key is a great spot for vacation. I know I'll be back one day for sure!

Lu you are a traveling Lady! Beautiful photos! See you soon in Shiloh.
Regards
David
Thank you! But I won't be at Shiloh, unfortunately. I'm planning to attend the Antietam meeting though. See you there, maybe?
 

luinrina

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My day started with a surprise. I headed out of the hotel before 7 a.m. and briefly stopped to gas up. Back on the highway I glanced at the estimated arrival time on my GPS - 7 a.m. I was taken aback since it was already past 7 a.m. at that point, so I figured the GPS meant 8 a.m. Maybe a technical hiccup? Shortly before reaching Marianna though my car's clock changed to 6 a.m.-something. Once I stopped I checked my cell, and indeed, I was in another time zone! I had no idea that the western part of Florida is in another time zone. Learned something new today.

Anyway, the Civil War. @rebel brit posted a great tour of the Battle of Marianna in my planning thread here: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/planning-florida-trip-suggestions.162123/#post-2150693 (Many thanks, Ken!) I had that with me as an audio file and listened to it while walking the tour. It made it that much easier to envision what happened where. I unfortunately couldn't get into the church as it was locked so I strolled through the cemetery while listening. And when I stood in front of Jesse Robinson's grave and heard the story of the 15 years old boy it brought tears to my eyes.
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Monument to the Battle of Marianna:
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After returning to my car, I headed for the Riverside Cemetery where some of the Confederates that died in the Battle of Marianna are buried.
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I also found this blog post by Dale Cox about the Riverside Cemetery where he, among other things, talks about this Union soldier's grave and its connection to events during Reconstruction:
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After that I already headed back to Tallahassee. Since I was too early for The Grove, I thought of hitting the State Capitol Museum first. After parking, though, I realized I was much closer to the Old City Cemetery so I headed there first.

Sections for Confederate and Union soldiers, at different ends of the cemetery:
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There are several veterans buried throughout the cemetery, like these:
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A notable grave is that of David Lang. He commanded the Florida brigade at Gettysburg and at the surrender at Appomattox. After the war, he was Adjutant General of the Florida State Militia in which position he established the Florida State Troops. He also served as private secretary to Governors Mitchell and Bloxham.
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I then headed to The Grove, also known as the Call-Collins House. It was built in the 1830s by two times Territorial Governor Richard Keith Call who was a close friend of Andrew Jackson, having served with him in the War of 1812 and at the Battle of New Orleans. Call was an outspoken Unionist. When Florida seceded, people came over to The Grove from the Capitol and he apparently replied, "You have opened the gates of Hell, from which shall flow the curses of the ****ed which shall sink you to perdition!" Call died in 1862, just a few days after the Battle of Antietam.

The house remained in the family until Florida's 33rd governor LeRoy Collins. His wife was a direct descendant of Richard Keith Call through his youngest daughter. Today it houses a museum for all the family members who lived there, starting with the 19th century on the first floor, the 20th century on the second floor, and in the basement is an exhibition on Collins's political career especially focused on the Civil Rights Movement. But there are also some displays about the enslaved that built the house.
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Most of the Calls as well as Mr. and Mrs. Collins are buried in the family cemetery on the grounds of the house.
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I finally got to the State Capitol Museum where I had about 75 minutes to whiz through before they closed. There's very little on the Civil War so I didn't really have trouble with the time. I snapped a couple of pics of the Senate and House Chambers as well as the Supreme Court Chamber before leaving again.

Final stop of the day was the St. John's Episcopal Church Cemetery. Richard Keith Call was one of the church's founders. Unfortunately, the cemetery is not open for visitors. :frown: What a bummer; I had been looking forward to take a pic of Call's son-in-law, Theodore W. Brevard who fought at the Siege of Yorktown as well as the Battle of Williamsburg before returning to Florida where in 1863 he skirmished at Jacksonville and fought at the Battle of Olustee, as well as of Patrick Houstoun who commanded artillery at the Battle of Natural Bridge. *sigh* I think this is not my trip of open doors...

Tomorrow's program: Tallahassee (part 2), Suwanee River State Park, probably also Olustee battlefield (depending on how I do timewise :smile:)
 
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bdtex

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After returning to my car, I headed for the Riverside Cemetery where some of the Confederates that died in the Battle of Marianna are buried.
You didn't happen to notice the Confederate monument at the Courthouse did you? Part of it got knocked off by a falling tree limb during Hurricane Michael in October 2018 and it was still on the ground when I visited Marianna again on February 1,2019.
 
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