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Delving into the deep south: Part II.

Trip 8: Southeast Florida and Georgia

These southeastern states were strategic battlegrounds during two centuries. Armies clashed on their landscapes from the Spanish colonial era through the Civil War.

Today, they are home to key military bases. In addition to preserved colonial forts and Revolutionary and Civil War sites, the states' modern installations house several aviation collections, as well as the National Infantry and POW museums.


Museum of Florida History Tallahassee, (850) 245-6400.

Contains military exhibits "Florida in the Civil War" and "Florida Remembers WWII," plus small amount on the Second Seminole War (1835-42).

Museum of Florida's Military St. Augustine, (904) 824-2872.

Part of Oldest House Museum Complex. Covers Florida soldiers from 1560s through the 1990s.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument St. Augustine, (904) 829-6506.

Oldest masonry fort in the U.S. (built 1672-95) and Spain's northernmost holding. Tours of original fort include rooms with exhibits tracing the fort's history, a video presentation on request and living history demonstrations on weekends and holidays.

Fort Caroline National Memorial Jacksonville, (904) 641-7155.

Site of French colony established in 1564. Captured by Spanish in 1565, attacked and burned by French in 1568. Reconstructed fort, visitor center with exhibits and interpretive trail.

Fort Jefferson National Monument (Dry Tortugas National Park) Florida Keys, (305) 242-7700.

Constructed between 1846-1876, but was never completed. Largest masonry fort in the Western Hemisphere. Visitor center with exhibits, brief audiovisual presentation, serf-guided tours. Only accessible by boat.

Fort Matanzas National Monument St. Augustine, (904) 471-0116.

Well-preserved masonry watchtower fort built by Spanish in 1740-42. Small visitor center with exhibits on fort's history and 8-minute video. Fort accessible by passenger ferry. Guided boat tours available.

Dada Battlefield State Historic Site Bushnell, (352) 793-4781.

Site of December 1835 battle marking the beginning of the Second Seminole War. Includes reproductions of log breastworks used in battle, monuments, visitor center with exhibits and artifacts, and interpretive trail marking the military road and battlefield.

Fort Clinch State Park Fernandina Beach, (904) 277-7274.

Brick and masonry fort was begun in 1847 but never completed. Preserved fort, visitor center, tours, monthly living history demonstrations.

Fort Foster State Historic Site (Hillsborough River State Park) Thonotosassa, (813) 987-6771.

Active 1836-38. Repeatedly attacked during the Second Seminole War. Reconstructed fort with seasonal guided tours, interpretive center with exhibits.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Key West, (305)292-6713.

Built 1845-66 to prevent hostile invasion. Canons and ammunition buried in the walls represent the largest collection of Civil War armaments in the U.S. Guided and self-guided tours.

Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park Woodville (near Tallahassee) (850) 922-6007.

Site of March 1865 Civil War battle. Confederate monument outlining battle, interpretive plaques.

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park Olustee, (386) 758-0400.

Site of state's largest Civil War battle, February 1864. Interpretive center with artifacts, one-mile interpretive trail and monuments to Union and Confederate armies.

San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park St. Marks, (850) 925-6216.

Fort construction began 1739. Traded hands between Spain, England, Creek Indians, Confederates and the U.S. from 1763-1861. Interpretive center, military cemetery, remains of fort and earthworks.

Fort Barrrancas (Gulf Islands National Seashore) Pensacola, (850) 455-5167.

Built in 1839. Held by Confederates in 1861-2; exchanged artillery fire with nearby Fort Pickens. Interpretive center with displays on the Civil War and coast artillery. 12-minute video and tours of fort available.

Fort Christmas Museum Christmas, (407) 568-4149.

Built in 1837-38 during the Second Seminole War. Reconstructed fort with two blockhouses containing exhibits on the Seminole Indian wars.

Fort Gadsden Historic Site Sumatra, (850) 643-2282.

Built by British during War of 1812. Taken over by Indians and escaped slaves and known as the "Negro fort." Attacked and destroyed in June 1816, Network of trenches and earthen out lines of old fort remain, Guided tours, interpretive signs.

Fort Pickens (Gulf Islands National Seashore) Pensacola, (850) 934-2635.

Active 1829-1947. Site of Battle of Santa Rosa, the state's first Civil War battle, fall of 1861. Visitor center, museum, tours.

Air Force Armament Museum Eglin Air Force Base (Fort Walton Beach), (850) 651-1808.

Only U.S. museum dedicated to Air Force armaments. Exhibits include nearly 30 restored aircraft, plus missiles, bombs, rockets, weapons and a film on the history of Eglin AFB.

Air Force Space and Missile Museum Cape Canaveral, (321) 853-9171.

Covers development of U.S. space programs through missiles, rockets, models and exhibits. Features blockhouse and control rooms for Space Launch Complex 26, authentically restored with much of original equipment, plus foil-scale Explorer 1 model and "astro chimps" display. Exhibit hall includes space-related displays on role of the Air Force in development of space exploration, 55 rockets on outdoor display.

Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park Starke, (904) 682-3196.

Museum houses a refurbished WWII barracks and exhibits remembering the WWII training center. Florida Regimental Memorial includes roster of state National Guardsmen killed on duty. Memorial Park features monuments to various units, POWs and medal recipients.

Flying Tigers Warbird Restoration Museum Kissimmee, (407) 933-1942.

Specializes in restoration of WWII aircraft. Displays include WWII and Korean War planes, equipment, armaments and memorabilia. Guided tours available. Damaged by Hurricane Charley; should reopen spring 2005.

Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park Fort Walton Beach, (850) 884-6507.

Features 16 aircraft on display and 18 Air Force special operations memorials, including those to the Iran hostage rescue, Operation lust Cause, Southeast Asia and Medal of Honor recipients from WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

National Museum of Naval Aviation Naval Air Station (Pensacola) (850) 452-3604.

Traces development of U.S. naval aviation with more than 140 restored aircraft. Exhibits portray a WWII carrier hangar bay, a South Pacific Sea island forward Marine base and parts of the "Hanoi Hilton" Vietnam prison. Other displays include a flight deck replica of the USS Cabot, aircraft carrier models, Medal of Honor recipients and personal items of Navy, POWs in Vietnam. IMAX theater presents films.

Special Operations Memorial MacDill AFB (Tampa), (813) 281-8791.

Marble wall with engraved names of special ops personnel who risked or gave their lives in action, plus soldier statue.

UDT-SEAL Museum Fort Pierce, (772) 595-5845.

Depicts history, and development of Navy's UDT (Underwater Demolition Teams), SEALs (Sea, Air, Land teams), Naval Combat Demolition Units, Scouts and Raiders. Exhibits include Medals of Honor, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and Persian Gulf War. Outdoor displays feature small landing craft, helicopter and Apollo training module.

Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, Titusville, (321) 268-1941.

Restores, maintains and displays military aircraft from WWI to present. 30,000-sq.-ft. hangar contains aircraft displays. 15,000-sq.-ft. area displays memorabilia of those who flew or maintained the aircraft.


Andersonville National Historic Site Andersonville, (229) 924-0343.

One of the largest Confederate military prisons, built in 1864. Serves as a memorial to all American POWs. One corner and north gate of prison stockade have been rebuilt. Audio driving tour, interpretive programs, national cemetery. The National Prisoner of War Museum honors all American POWs from Revolutionary War to the present. Exhibits cover aspects of the POW experience, including capture, living conditions, morale, escape and freedom. Features a 27-minute audio-visual program, letters and videotapes of prisoners' firsthand accounts, and personal items of prisoners at Andersonville.

Chikamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park Fort Oglethorpe; Chattanooga, Tenn. (706) 866-9241.

Oldest and largest national military park. Contains sites of September 1863 Battle of Chickamauga--the war's bloodiest 2-day battle--and November 1863 Battle of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tenn. Park features more than 1,600 markers, monuments, cannons and tablets.

Chickamauga site features self-guided 7-mile loop tour and visitor center that houses museum with Civil War exhibits and Fuller gun collection (shoulder arms dating 1600-1918), plus multi-media presentation on the battle. Lookout Mountain site features Point Park Walking Tour, visitor center with 7-minute audio program, and tours, talks and demonstrations during the summer.

Fort Frederica National Monument St. Simons Island (912) 638-3639.

One of the most important British fortifications in America, established 1736. Fort ruins with wayside exhibits, visitor center with small museum and historical film. Nearby is site of 1742 Bloody Marsh battle, considered the first great decisive battle fought in the New World, with wayside exhibit.

Fort Pulaski National Monument Savannah, (912) 786-5787.

Built 1829-47. Attacked with experimental rifled cannon fire in April 1862, forcing a Confederate surrender. Visitor center with exhibits and 17-minute film, ranger-led talks and demonstrations, and self guided tours.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Kennesaw, (770) 427-4686.

Site of June-July 1864 battle. Three battlefield areas include 17 miles of interpretive walking trails with earthworks, cannon emplacements, interpretive signs and maps, and 3 monuments. Visitor center features museum and a short film. Self-guided auto tour includes 4 stops with wayside exhibits.

Fort King George State Historic Site Darien, (912) 437-4770.

First English settlement in the state (1721-36). Reconstructed earthen palisades, cypress blockhouse, barracks and officers' quarters. Museum interpreting Indian, Spanish and British occupation, living history demonstrations most weekends.

Fort McAllister State Historic Park Richmond Hill, (912) 727-2339.

Best-preserved Confederate earthwork fortification in the U.S. withstood multiple Union Navy attacks, but fell to land forces in December 1864. Self-guided tours and Civil War museum that features a video and exhibits on artillery and history of the fort.

Fort Morris State Historic Site Midway, (912) 884-5999.

Built in 1776. Attacked twice during Revolutionary War and active during War of 1812. Visitor center, museum, video presentation and walking tours.

Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park Cordele, (229) 276-2371.

Established as a memorial to all American veterans, the park includes a museum that houses artifacts from the Revolutionary War through the Persian Gulf War. Aircraft, armored vehicles and guns from WWI through Vietnam also are displayed.

Pickett's Mill Battlefield Historic Site Dallas, (770) 443-7850.

One of the best-preserved Civil War battlefields in the U.S. was site of May 1864 battle. Visitor center includes video and interactive museum on the battle and the Atlanta Campaign. Site features earthworks, interpretive walking trails and living history programs.

Allatoona Pass Battlefield Cartersville, (770) 387-1357.

Site of October 1864 battle that began the Nashville Campaign. Two earthen forts, miles of trench works and interpretive trail markers.

Atlanta Cydorama Atlanta, (404) 658-7625; 624-1071.

360-degree painting of the Battle of Atlanta (358 feet circumference and 42 feet high) is viewed from a revolving platform as music, lighting, sound effects and narration tell the story. Located in Grant Park, which also contains a Civil War museum, Old Fort Walker and Civil War breastworks.

Atlanta History Center Atlanta, (404) 814-4000.

Features largest collection of Civil War artifacts in Georgia (one of 5 largest in U.S.), plus major WWII exhibit and model of USS Atlanta.

Brier Creek Battle Site Sylvania, (912) 564-7878.

Site of March 1779 Revolutionary War battle. Breastworks, detailed historical marker on Brannen's Bridge Road at Brier Creek, 11 miles NE of town. Administered by city.

Fort Stewart Museum Fort Stewart, (912) 767-7885.

Traces history of 3rd Infantry Division and the installation, and features exhibits on equipment and campaigns from WWI to the present.

Fort Tyler West Point, (706) 645-8378.

Site of Battle of West Point, the last Civil War battle east of the Mississippi, April 16, 1865, one week after the war's official end. Interpretive signs provide a detailed tour. Maintained by Fort Tyler Association.

Kettle Creek Battlefield Washington, (706) 678-2013.

Site of one of the most important Revolutionary War battles in Georgia, February 1779. Monument, historical marker and several marked graves.

Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum Pooler (near Savannah) (912) 748-8888.

90,000 square feet of exhibits include a Nissen hut where visitors experience a simulated briefing, and a mission-experience theater that re-creates a bombing mission. Command Gallery exhibits cover specific jobs and duties of airmen, the unit's major WWII rams, and features dioramas of life in a POW camp and survivors who bailed out over enemy territory. Vintage aircraft also are on display.

Museum of Aviation Warner Robins, (478) 926-6870.

Second-largest Air Force museum. 200,000 square feet display 93 aircraft and hundreds of exhibits in four buildings and hangars. Exhibits include dioramas, 60-foot cutaway replica of a B-17 bomber, Tuskegee Airmen, 14th Air Force Flying Tigers, flight simulator, interactive theater and films.

National Infantry Museum Fort Benning (Columbus) (706) 545-2958.

30,000 square feet cover the evolution of the infantry from 1521 (Spanish Colonial) through Afghanistan and Iraq. Exhibits include weapons, uniforms and personal equipment of both U.S. infantrymen and their enemies, including 1,500 firearms. Military art gallery and a variety of films shown daily.

Old Fort Jackson Savannah, (912) 232-3945.

Original fort built in 1740s. Standing brick fort (oldest in Georgia) built in early 1880s. Garrisoned during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Exhibits, living history demonstrations.

Port Columbus National Civil War Naval Museum Columbus, (706) 327-9798.

40,000 square feet cover Civil War naval history, including remains and recreations of 5 ships and a multi-media show depicting battle aboard an ironclad.

Savannah History Museum Savannah, (912) 651-6825.

Stands on the site of the 1779 Revolutionary War Battle of Savannah and includes exhibits on the battle and siege.

U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum Fort Gordon (Augusta) (706) 791-3856.

Covers development of Signal Corps from its beginning in 1860. Exhibits cover circa-1870 meteorological office, Spanish-American War, trench warfare, Cold War, Vietnam POWs, Persian Gulf War and Signal Corps equipment.

National Museum of Naval Aviation Four A-4 Skyhawks are suspended from the ceiling in formation in the Blue Angels atrium of this extensive museum on Naval Air Station Pensacola. Bus tours of the flight line showcase additional aircraft.

Editor's Note: Be sure to let us know if we missed any of your favorite sites.
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Author:Hanson, Shannon
Publication:VFW Magazine
Geographic Code:1U5GA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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