Old Fort Park & Fort Houston - Tallahassee, Florida
Old Fort Park in Tallahassee
The fortifications here were
built near the end of the Civil
War and occupied during the
Battle of Natural Bridge.
The old fort took its original
name of Fort Houstoun from
its location on the Houstoun
Old Fort Park & Fort Houstoun - Tallahassee, Florida
|The Earthworks of "Old Fort"
Originally named Fort Houstoun, this earthen redoubt
in Tallahassee's Old Fort Park was a key Civil War
defense of Florida's capital city.
Tallahassee's Civil War Fort
During the fall of 1864, the Battle of Marianna
in Northwest Florida demonstrated to state
officials in Tallahassee that the unfortified
capital city could fall to a similar Union attack
at any time.
Spurred to action by the devastating attack to
the west, authorities in Tallahassee began
an effort to strongly fortify the city. Brigadier
General William Miller, a veteran of the Army
of Tennessee, oversaw the project with help
from Captain Theodore Moreno, a military
Together the two officers designed a system
of fortifications to protect Tallahassee. The
works were extensive and consisted of
earthwork forts and batteries on key hilltops
from which artillery could create a converging
field of fire. Rifle pits and trenches connected
Although tradition holds that Tallahassee's
"old fort" was built during the emergency of
the Battle of Natural Bridge in March of 1865,
the fortification is actually a surviving part of
the extensive line of works built by Miller and
Moreno during the fall of 1864.
Named Fort Houstoun due to its location on
the Houstoun plantation, the fort was located
on a hilltop from which cannon could sweep
the open fields that then surrounded the
approaches to the state capitol building and
the southeast corner of the city. The Civil War
era fields are now covered with residential
and commercial developments.
The actual work of building the fort was done
by a Corps of Engineers formed by 1,000
enslaved African Americans conscripted from
plantations across North Florida. These men
worked on a number of military projects for
the Southern government. When General
Samuel Jones authorized the enlistment of
African Americans into a regiment of state
troops following the Battle of Natural Bridge,
many of them briefly became Confederate
The old fort (Fort Houstoun) was occupied by
home guards from outlying areas during the
Battle of Natural Bridge. Had Union troops
succeeded in breaking through, the fort and
other defenses would have served as a final
line to defend the capital.
Fort Houstoun never came under fire during
the Natural Bridge expedition. Confederate
forces defeated the Union troops of General
John Newton at the Battle of Natural Bridge,
preserving Tallahassee's status as the only
Southern capital east of the Mississippi not
taken by force during the war.
The well-preserved earthworks are now a
part of Old Fort Park in Tallahassee and are
open to the public during daylight hours. The
site is free to visit.
The park is located on Old Fort Drive in the
historic Myers Park neighborhood not far
from the State Capitol. Features include the
original earthworks and historical markers
that detail the history of the site.
The earthworks of Fort Houstoun are among
the best preserved Civil War defenses in
The Unconquered Capitol
The fort was located so that
cannon there could sweep
the land approaches to
Florida's Old Capitol.
|Copyright 2012, 2013 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: March 2, 2014
Old Fort Park Mini-Documentary. Just click the play button!