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Civil War, Pensacola

A History of Florida


Secession and the Confederacy. Alabama withdrew from the Union one day after Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi having already done so. The other Southern States followed their example. A convention of delegates from these States met at Montgomery on February 4, 1861, to form a new government, and on February 17, Florida became one of the Confederate States of America. The President of the new government was Jefferson Davis; the Vice President, Alexander H. Stephens.

Governor John Milton. In November John Milton was elected governor of Florida. Serving until his death, April 1, 1865, his term was filled with the events of the four years of war that followed the withdrawal of the Southern States from the Union.

Was there unanimity as to secession? Name the first four States to secede. When and where was the Confederacy formed?

State Troops seize Arsenal and Forts. A few days before Florida seceded, the Quincy Guards seized the United States arsenal on the Apalachicola, with a good supply of arms and ammunition. On the next day Fort Marion at St. Augustine surrendered to the State troops without making any resistance. About the same time the navy yard, Fort Barraneas, and Fort McRae near Pensacola were seized. But Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, commanding the harbor of Pensacola, was still held by the United States troops; also the forts at Key West and the Tortugas.

Call for Volunteers. Governor Perry began preparations for the war by ordering volunteer companies to organize into battalions and regiments, and all citizens subject to military duty to be ready for the defense of the State. From all over the State men answered the call eagerly, and on April 5 the first regiment, under Colonel Patton Anderson, was sent to Pensacola.

Gen. Bragg
General Bragg

General Bragg at Pensacola. General Bragg was in command at Pensacola, with a force of about 7000 men from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. Fort Pickens, though having only a small garrison, was not captured, General Bragg thinking best to prepare for a siege, build batteries, and strengthen the forts. In the meantime Fort Pickens was reenforced by the Union army, and became their headquarters in the State.

Who was elected governor at this time? How long did he serve? What hostilities occurred before the State seceded? How were troops secured? What commander and what force occupied Pensacola? Where were the Federal headquarters?

Pensacola Blockaded. Pensacola was now blockaded, and by the end of the summer all important ports on the coast were closed.

The Judah Burned. Early on the morning of September 14 the Confederate schooner, Judah, moored to the wharf at the navy yard, was burned by the Federals. The guard and crew made a desperate resistance, but were finally driven to the wharf. The schooner burned to the water's edge and sank. Three of the attacking party were killed and thirteen were wounded. This was the first encounter in the State in which there was loss of life.

Attack on Santa Rosa Island. Two batteries had been erected by the Federals on Santa Rosa Island and a company of Zouaves, known as "Uncle Sam's Pet Lambs," was encamped less than a mile farther. General Bragg planned an attack upon this camp. About a thousand men under General R. H. Anderson reached the island at two o'clock on the morning of October 9. The men were ordered to form in companies and march silently, to take the camp by surprise. Part of the force came upon a sentinel, who immediately fired and was shot down. This gave the alarm, and when the camp was reached, after some skirmishing, it was almost deserted. The torch was used to destroy tents, stores, clothing, arms, and ammunition. As day broke and it was no longer possible to destroy the batteries, the signal for retiring was given and the troops were ordered to the boats. Before the boats were reached, however, there was an encoounter with two companies of Federal troops, and by an accident to one of the steamers, delay was caused and the men on deck were exposed to the enemy's fire from the shore.

Describe the first fatal encounter in this State. When were the Union forces stationed?

The Losses. One hundred men from the Florida regiment took part in this expedition. Six of them were killed, eight wounded, and twelve were taken prisoners. In all there were eighteen killed, thirty-nine wounded, and thirty missing. Colonel Anderson wrote Governor Milton that while the object of the expedition was fully gained, it did not compensate for the loss of the brave men who fell.

Artillery Battle. On the morning of November 22, Fort Pickens opened fire upon the navy yard and Fort McRae, the Confederate guns returning the fire. Fort Pickens was assisted by the Federal men-of-war, Niagara and Richmond. The battle lasted more than eight hours, the chief damage being done to Fort McRae. This fort was used only for defensive purposes, and many women and children had taken refuge there. The fight was renewed next day, when much damage was done to the villages of Warrington and Woolsey by the Federal guns. There was small loss of life on either side, and the only decisive result was to show that the coast batteries could do little more than defend themselves against attack.

Describe the attack on the Union forces. The result of the encounter? The cost in killed, wounded, and prisoners? Describe the battle between the batteries and forts on November 22, and again January 1.

New Year's Battle. Pensacola remained quiet until the afternoon of New Year's Day, when the Federals opened fire upon a small steamer that had run to the navy yard. The Confederate batteries returned the fire, and there was cannonading until dark. Some houses at Woolsey and a storehouse at the navy yard were burned.

Pensacola Evacuated. In February General Bragg was transferred to Mobile and General Samuel Jones was placed in command at Pensacola. General Jones was ordered to evacuate Pensacola—that is, to withdraw his troops as soon as possible. He was to move the heavy guns and ammunition to Mobile and other supplies to Montgomery; also to destroy, if necessary, gunboats and other boats, all machinery, public and private, that might be useful to the Federals, and especially to destroy the sawmills and lumber about the bay. The railroad from Pensacola to the junction was to be broken up. These orders were carried out, but, with bad roads and the need of secrecy, it was slow work. On May 8 the sick were sent out and the baggage. The next night all the troops marched out except several cavalry companies left to begin the destruction that had been ordered. The signal was given, and soon the flames from the navy yard to Fort McRae lighted the whole bay. At Pensacola an oil factory, storehouses, and some small boats and steamers were burned. The inhabitants of Pensacola fled to the interior of the State for safety. On the next day the Federal troops took possession of Pensacola.

What change was made in the Confederate commander? What important movement immediaetly followed?

Fernandina and St. Augustine Evacuated. The Federal forces were now in practical control of the Florida coast. Fernandina had been evacuated in March, and a few days later in the same month St. Augustine surrendered.

Excerpt from Part Two, Chapter 12, "Events of the War at Pensacola" A History of Florida, 1904. Next Section; Table of Contents.


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