Sunday, June 30, 2013

Apalachicola set to celebrate Independence Day on July 3rd!

Riverfront Park in Apalachicola, Florida
If you are looking for a really great historic place to get the 4th of July holiday started this year, you might consider the beautiful and historic Apalachicola waterfront.

The city hosts its annual Old Apalachicola Independence Day at Riverfront Park on Wednesday, July 3rd. The event begins with a Red, White & Blue Parade through downtown at 6 p.m. (Eastern), followed by an ice cream social, live music and food at Riverfront Park at 8. The fireworks will launch over the Apalachicola River at 9 p.m.

I really love this event because it takes place at one of the most historic places in Florida.

Trinity Episcopal Church, 1839
Apalachicola is one of the most beautifully preserved historic cities in the South and its culture is rich and deep. The waters over which the fireworks will take place have been  battle over by American Indians, the Spanish, pirates, the English, the United States and the Confederacy.

The famed pirate and adventurer William Augustus Bowles, who is celebrated each year in Fort Walton Beach as the pirate Billy Bowlegs (not to be confused with the Seminole chiefs of the same name), once battled Spanish coast guard vessels at the mouth of the Apalachicola River and it was up the river that his pirate ships sailed carry their booty from raids on Spanish and merchant shipping in the Gulf of Mexico.

Then, during the War of 1812, British forces landed here to supply Creek, Seminole and African (Black Seminole) warriors and to enlist them to fight against the United States. It was at the mouth of the Apalachicola River that the famed Red Stick Creek leaders Peter McQueen and the Prophet Josiah Francis went aboard British ships to forge an alliance in the months ahead of the Battle of New Orleans. 

Cannon in Apalachicola
In 1816, as U.S. Navy gunboats arrived in Apalachicola Bay ahead of a planned attack on the so-called "Negro Fort" 30 miles upstream, a small boat carrying a party in search of fresh water was attacked by warriors from the fort and almost all of its crew wiped out. The gunboats went on to attack the fort, now known as Fort Gadsden Historic Site, blowing it up with what is believed to be the deadliest cannon shot in American history. One cannonball killed 270 of the men, women and children in the fort.

Orman House, 1838
After Florida became part of the United States in 1821, Apalachicola - first known as West Point - developed into one of the busiest port cities on the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of bales of cotton came down the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, Flint and Chipola Rivers to the city where they were warehoused and loaded on ocean-going vessels for the trip to the textile mills of the North and Europe.

In 1861, after Florida left the Union, Confederate forces fortified the Apalachicola waterfront. Heavy cannon were emplaced at The Battery and Fort Mallory was built offshore on St. Vincent Island.

Downtown Apalachicola
Southern troops drilled in the very streets where the Independence Day Parade will take place and after they evacuated the city in 1862, Union sailors often came ashore to walk the same streets. Neither side formally occupied Apalachicola after 1862, however, and for three years it was a city "between the lines." 

If you are looking for a great place to explore Southern history and learn more about the War Between the States in Florida, consider making it to Apalachicola on Wednesday. You can spend the day exploring the historic sites of the city, enjoying some of the best seafood anywhere, and then settle in for the parade, festivities and fireworks during the evening.

Please click here to learn more about historic Apalachicola.

See the full list of Florida 4th of July fireworks at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/floridafireworks.

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