Friday, May 16, 2008
Apalachicola River, Part Sixteen
This open field was once part of the Nixon Plantation, a large farming operation at Ricco's Bluff in Liberty County, Florida.
The plantation site had been occupied for a number of decades by the time of the Civil War. Early maps of the Forbes Purchase show that cowpens were located here prior to the transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States in 1821.
A significant settlement grew in the area during the early 1820s and by the time of the war, Ricco's Bluff was an important farming community and riverboat landing.
Following their evacuation of Apalachicola in early 1862, the Confederates withdrew up the river to Ricco's Bluff. Here they constructed earthwork batteries overlooking the river and emplaced the heavy artillery they had brought with them from Apalachicola. The Ricco's Bluff batteries were the first in a series of Confederate installations constructed to defend the river.
The main Confederate troop encampment, however, was back away from the river in the fields of the Nixon plantation. The primary reason for this was to protect the men from the mosquito-infested swamps that surrounded the actual bluff. Malaria was then a greatly feared disease in the swamps of Florida and would claim many lives before the end of the war.
Our series on Civil War sites along the Apalachicola River will continue.