Confederate Trenches
A fallen tree bridges a section
of the trench connecting two
of the cannon emplacements.
Cannon Emplacement
All six of the artillery positions
can still be seen along the
River Bluff Trail.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Torreya State Park Gun Battery, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Torreya State Park Gun Battery, Florida
The Civil War at Torreya State Park - Liberty County, Florida
Confederate Earthworks
The preserved remains of a Civil War artillery battery
can still be seen at Torreya State Park.
Remains of a Civil War Battery
Although it is primarily noted as the home of
the extremely rare Florida Torreya tree and
the beautiful antebellum Gregory House,
Florida's Torreya State Park also holds
unique significance as the site of a
Confederate artillery battery built during the
Civil War.

When Florida seceded from the Union in
1861, the Apalachicola River was a vital
transportation artery. With its Chattahoochee
and Flint River tributaries navigable as far
north as Columbus and Albany in Georgia,
the river provided access to vital Southern
industrial centers and one of the most
prosperous plantation belts in the
Confederacy.

Part of the Union strategy for waging the Civil
War was to blockade the Southern coastline,
choking off commerce and slowly strangling
the Confederacy to death. Rivers like the
Apalachicola could then be used to access
the interior.

The Confederates responded by fortifying
such streams, placing heavy cannon along
their banks in a desperate effort to hold back
the gunboats of the Union Navy.

Beginning in 1862, following their evacuation
of the City of Apalachicola, Southern troops
built a series of batteries for heavy artillery
along the river. One of these fortifications
was built in 1863 at Battery or Neal's Bluff in
what is now Torreya State Park. Called the
Battery at Hammock's Landing in military
reports, it mounted six heavy cannon ranging
in size from 18- to 32-pounders.

To protect the guns from Union artillery fire,
the Confederates dug them into the crest of
the bluff, building earthworks around each of
the emplacements to provide additional
protection. The gun emplacements were
paired, with each two being connected by
deep trenches and rifle pits.

The battery was manned during part of the
war by the 28th Battalion, Georgia Siege
Artillery (Bonaud's Battalion). The men from
this battalion were among the troops that
responded by rail to news of the Union
invasion of East Florida in February of 1864.
The artillerymen shouldered muskets and
fought as infantry during the
Battle of Olustee.

Other units stationed at the battery included
the First Georgia Regulars, the 12th Battalion
Georgia Artillery and the 29th Battalion
Georgia Cavalry.
Artillery Shell from Torreya
This hollow artillery shell is
one of two on display in the
gift shop at the Gregory
House. It was found in the
battery.
The battery was abandoned and the guns
removed before the end of the war, leaving
the earthworks to be reclaimed by the natural
forest of the bluff.

Rediscovered by the Civilian Conservation
Corps (CCC) during the 1930s development
of Torreya State Park, it became one of the
attractions of the park.

Recent archaeological work has revealed
that the site is extremely well-preserved.
Original planking and posts were found at
Emplacement Number 2 and an adjacent
gunpowder magazine was also found to be
in an excellent state of preservation.
Click
here to read more about the archaeological
work.

The emplacements can be seen along the
River Bluff Trail, just down the slope from the
Gregory House. The earthworks of the battery
are preserved and the connecting trenches
are still very distinct. A small sign at the site
provides a brief history of the installation and
each of the six cannon locations is marked.

Please click here for more on the park.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Florida Torreya Tree
The Confederates may have
used posts from rare Florida
Torreya trees while building
the battery.