Florida In The Civil War
Confederate Military History, Vol. 11
FEDERAL STRENGTH IN FLORIDA--REINFORCEMENT OF FORT PICKENS--CONFEDERATE TROOPS CALLED OUT FOR PENSACOLA--DESTRUCTION OF THE JUDAH--FIGHT ON SANTA ROSA ISLAND--BOMBARDMENT OF FORT McREE -- EVACUATION OF PENSACOLA--OTHER EVENTS OF THE PERIOD.
WHEN on January 5th Senator Yulee wrote from Washington to Joseph Finegan at Tallahassee "the immediately important thing to be done is the occupation of the forts and arsenals in Florida," the United States occupied the following places in the State: the Apalachicola arsenal at Chattahoochee, where there were stored a small number of arms, 5,000 pounds of powder and about 175,000 cartridges; Fort Barrancas, with 44 cannon and ammunition; Barrancas barracks, where there was a field battery; Fort Pickens, equipped with 201 cannon with ammunition; Fort McRee, 125 seacoast and garrison cannon; Fort Taylor, Key West, with 60 cannon; Key West barracks, 4 cannon; Fort Marion, 6 field batteries and some small arms; and Fort Jefferson on the Tortugas.
As pointed out by Senator Yulee, "the naval station and forts at Pensacola were first in consequence." There was then on the mainland one company of Federal artillery, commanded by John H. Winder, at a later date a general in the Confederate service, but on account of his absence Lieut. A. J. Slemmer was in charge. On January 8th the latter removed a store of powder from the Spanish fort to Fort Barrancas, where a guard was placed with loaded muskets, one of which was fired on the same night toward a party of citizens who approached the fort.
Slemmer moved his force over to Fort Pickens on one of the vessels in the harbor under Commodore James Armstrong, commandant at the navy yard, and on January 12, 1861, the flag was lowered at the navy yard, which, with all the fortifications and munitions of war on the mainland, went into the possession of the State. The two vessels in the harbor, the Supply and Wyandotte, steamed out, remaining in the possession of the United States officers. The eighty men under Slemmer at Fort Pickens maintained a defiant attitude. On the night of the 12th a deputation went to the fort, consisting of Captain Randolph, Major Marks and Lieutenant Rutledge, and demanded the peaceable surrender of Pickens to the governors of Alabama and Florida, but Slemmer declined to recognize the authority of those officials. On the next night a small party of armed men from the mainland reconnoitered on the island, and a few shots were fired from the fort. On the 15th Col. W. H. Chase, who as an officer of the United States army had built the forts and was thoroughly familiar with all the defenses about Pensacola bay, visited Pickens in company with Capt. Ebenezer Farrand, who had been second in command at the navy yard, and renewed the request for surrender, but this and a third demand a few days later were equally without success. Nothing remained to the State forces except to make an assault; but the Florida senators in Washington and other representative men, including Senator Jefferson Davis, telegraphed advising that no blood should be shed. In the meantime the government at Washington was sending reinforcements to Forts Taylor and Jefferson, and on January 21st Capt. Israel Vogdes, with a company of artillerymen, was ordered to sail on the sloop. of-war Brooklyn to reinforce Fort Pickens. On being informed of the latter overt act, Senator Mallory telegraphed to Mr. Slidell that it would doubtless provoke an attack upon the fort by the force of 1,700 men then assembled at the land defenses under Colonel Chase, and he urged that President Buchanan be informed that Fort Pickens would not be molested if reinforcements were not sent. Vogdes was then instructed not to land his men unless hostilities were begun.
Thus the situation remained, with Vogdes' men on shipboard off Santa Rosa island, and the Alabama and Florida volunteers on shore engaged in strengthening their defenses. On February 11th Lieutenant Slemmer protested against the erection of a battery which he observed the volunteers working at, and Colonel Chase made prompt answer that, while he did not deem the erection of batteries as aiming at an attack on Fort Pickens, yet he would give orders for its discontinuance.
A few days after the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, Captain Vogdes was ordered by General Winfield Scott to land his company, "reinforce Fort Pickens, and hold the same until further orders." Thus the conditions of existing peace were broken.
But when Captain Vogdes sought the co-operation of Captain Adams, commanding the fleet, in making a landing, the latter refused on the ground that his instructions forbade such action so long as there was no aggressive movement on the part of the Confederate forces. When this was communicated to Washington Lieutenant Worden, of the United States navy, later distinguished in command of the Monitor at Hampton Roads, was sent through the South to Pensacola. He obtained permission to deliver a verbal message of a "pacific nature" to Captain Adams; did so on April 12th and started home by rail. But on the night of the 12th Vogdes' troops were landed at Fort Pickens, and General Bragg, reasonably inferring that Worden had brought orders to that effect, ordered his arrest, and he was apprehended at Montgomery and held for several months as a prisoner.
On the other hand, after General Bragg took command at Pensacola, March 11th, he had ordered the resumption of work on the batteries. and had informed the Federal commander that such action seemed" fully justified as a means of defense, and especially so under the threats of the new administration."
On April 1st a second and more formidable Federal expedition was ordered to the Gulf coast under Colonel Harvey Brown, who was given command of Florida by the Federal government and ordered to make Fort Jefferson his main depot and base of operations. He sailed on the ship Atlantic, followed by the Illinois, carrying stores, and the ships Sabine, St. Louis and Crusader were also in the expedition, as well as the Powhatan under Lieut. David D. Porter, all indicating the intention of the United States to make a formidable effort to retain armed possession of its strongholds at Key West, Dry Tortugas and Santa Rosa island. The forces with Colonel Brown landed April 18th, and troops continued to arrive, it being the intention to put 3,000 men on the island.
Meanwhile the government of the Confederate States was not idle. Provisional forces were called out for the defense of Pensacola harbor: 1,000 from Georgia, 1,000 from Alabama, 1,000 from Louisiana, 1,500 from Mississippi, and 500 from Florida; in all 5,000 infantry. General Bragg had an aggregate present on the last of March of a little over 1,000 Confederate State troops, and reinforcements soon began to arrive, so that he had 5,000 on the 14th of April, and advices of 2,000 more coming. On the 20th, the Federal expedition having arrived, affairs grew more warlike along the lines of works frowning across the bay. All intercourse with the Federals was prohibited by General Bragg, and martial law was declared at the Confederate position. But for some time there were no active operations, and late in May some of the troops at Pensacola were called to Virginia.
At other points the State of Florida had made warlike preparations for defense against hostile invasion, although it was realized that it was impossible to fortify the whole coast. From Pensacola to St. Augustine, 1,400 miles and more, there was nothing approaching a fortification except the works at Key West and Tortugas, and those posts, the keys to the Gulf, were held by the enemy. There were a few cannon mounted at St. Augustine, at Fort Clinch on Amelia island, at the mouth of St. John's river, at Fernandina, Cedar Keys, St. Marks, Apalachicola and Tallahassee; but there were only two guns at each of the gulf points, and St. Augustine had but eleven. At this time (May) it was estimated that Florida had 700 men in the field at Pensacola, and nearly 2,000 more, organized under the last call of the President and equipped by the State, ready to march where ordered.
On May 10th the Confederate steamer Spray captured off Cedar Keys the United States schooner William C. Atwater, with thirty-one men. The boat was taken to Apalachicola and converted into a blockade runner, but was recaptured off the same port in January following by the Federal steamer Itasca. Tampa bay was blockaded in July, and in August the port of St. Marks was covered by the steamer Mohawk, whose crew also obstructed the channel by sinking a captured sloop. In July the Federal steamer Massachusetts captured four schooners and sent them as prizes to Key West, but when off Cedar Keys they were recaptured by the Florida forces and the Federals in charge were sent to Tallahassee as prisoners.
The Federal blockade was established at all the important ports, and the sight of the enemy's war vessels was a common occurrence to the troops on the coast. Governor Milton sought to have the harbors protected, especially the important one of Apalachicola, and received notice from Secretary Walker, August 30th, that Brigadier-General Grayson of the Confederate army had been assigned to the military command of Middle and East Florida. He was succeeded by Gen. James H. Trapier in October, and early in November the east coast was included in the new department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, first under command of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
General Grayson, reaching Fernandina early in September, found a circular posted, warning "all loyal citizens of the United States" to assemble on the south end of the island to escape the "vengeance of an outraged government," as the Federal troops were about to take possession; and he reported that "as sure as the sun rises" if war munitions were not sent in thirty days Florida would fall into the hands of the North. But he did not reckon as fully as he might upon the indomitable courage of her people. Florida did not at once become a "Yankee province," as he expressed it.
General Grayson was in infirm health and died soon after his arrival, being temporarily succeeded in command by Col. W. S. Dilworth, Third regiment Florida volunteers, at Fernandina. On the 10th and 11th of October Maj. W. L. L. Bowen, commanding at Tampa bay, captured two sloops carrying the United States flag with thirteen men.
The quiet which had reigned for some time at Pensacola harbor was disturbed on the early morning of September 14, 1861, by an attack upon the Confederate schooner Judah, which had been fitted out with a pivot and four broadside guns. She was moored to the wharf at the navy yard, under the protection of artillery on shore, when assailed by 100 men from the Federal fleet, in four launches. The Federals boarded the schooner and a fiercely contested fight resulted, in which the crew displayed great courage, but were finally driven to the wharf, where they rallied and, joined by the guard, kept up a continuous fire on the vessel. The Federals had promptly applied the torch to the Judah, and as the flames shot up the alarm roll was sounded along the shore and signal rockets ascended. The Judah burned to the water's edge and sank, and with this achievement the Federal party withdrew, after losing 3 killed and 13 wounded. This is deserving of remembrance as the first encounter of armed forces in the State during the Confederate war, in which there was a loss of life. It did not provoke General Bragg into opening fire with his batteries, but he planned an expedition against the outposts on Santa Rosa island which should avenge the enemy's annoyances. About 1,000 men were detailed for this duty, under the command of Brig.-Gen. R. H. Anderson, whose official report which follows affords a graphic account of this celebrated affair:
"I have the honor," said General Anderson, "to submit the following report of the affair on Santa Rosa island on the night of the 8th and the morning of the 9th of October. The detachments which had been ordered to assemble at the navy yard arrived at the hour appointed and were embarked in good order on the steamer Time. Whilst proceeding from the navy yard to Pensacola the troops were divided into battalions, as follows: The First battalion, 350 strong, to the command of which Col. James R. Chalmers, Ninth Mississippi regiment, was assigned, was composed of detachments from the Ninth and Tenth Mississippi and First Alabama regiments. Three companies of the Seventh regiment Alabama volunteers, two companies of Louisiana infantry, and two companies of the First regiment of Florida volunteers, composed the Second battalion, 400 strong, to the command of which Col. J. Patton Anderson, First regiment Florida volunteers, was assigned. The Third battalion, 260 strong, under command of Col. John K. Jackson, Fifth regiment Georgia volunteers, was composed of detachments from the Fifth Georgia regiment and the Georgia battalion. An independent company of 53 men, selected from the Fifth Georgia regiment, and Captain Homer's company of artillery, lightly armed with pistols and knives, carrying material for spiking cannon, burning and destroying buildings, gun carriages, etc., were placed under command of Lieutenant Hallonquist, acting ordnance officer. Lieutenant Nelms, adjutant Fifth Georgia regiment, was attached to this command. The medical officers who accompanied the expedition were: Dr. Micks of the Louisiana infantry; Dr. Tompkins of the Fifth Georgia regiment; Dr. Gholson of the Ninth Mississippi regiment; Dr. Lipscomb of the Tenth Mississippi regiment, and Dr. Gamble of the First Florida regiment, and a detail of 20 men was made to attend on and assist them.
"Arriving at Pensacola at about 10 o'clock p.m. the transfer of the troops to the steamer Ewing and the barges and flats which had been provided was pushed on as rapidly as possible, but not without some unavoidable delay. It was found absolutely necessary to employ the Neaffie to assist in towing, and at length, all preparations having been completed, the boats departed from Pensacola at a little after 12 o'clock, crossed the bay, and effected a landing at the point which had been indicated by instructions. Disembarkation was rapidly executed in good order and silence, and the battalions were formed upon the beach at a little after 2 o'clock a.m.
"To effectually accomplish the object of the expedition Colonel Chalmers was directed to advance rapidly along the north beach, Colonel Anderson along the south beach, and Colonel Jackson, following a few hundred yards in the rear of Colonel Chalmers, was to push his command to the middle of the island, and deploy it as soon as he should hear firing from either of the other battalions or should perceive from any other indications that the enemy's camp was approached or assailed by the other columns. Colonels Chalmers and Anderson had been further directed to endeavor to restrain their men from firing, to capture guards and sentinels, and to place their commands, if possible, between Fort Pickens and the camp of the enemy. Lieutenant Hallonquist followed in rear of Colonel Jackson's battalion, with orders to do whatever damage he could to the batteries, buildings and camps from which the enemy might be driven.
"After a march of 3 or 4 miles, rendered toilsome and fatiguing by the nature of the ground, the head of Colonel Chalmers' column came suddenly upon a sentinel, who fired ineffectually at our troops, and was himself instantly shot down. The alarm having been thus given, and it becoming impossible to conceal our advance further from the enemy, I ordered Colonel Jackson to push his way through the thickets to the middle of the island, and advance as rapidly as possible. The guards and outposts of the Zouaves were now rapidly driven in or shot down, and the progress of a few hundred yards, quickly accomplished by Colonel Jackson, brought him upon the camp of the enemy in advance of either of the other battalions. Without a moment's delay he charged it with the bayonet, but met with no resistance. The camp was almost entirely deserted, and our troops speedily applied the torch to the tents, storehouses and sheds of Wilson's Zouaves.
"In the meantime Colonels Chalmers and Anderson, advancing along the shores of the island, encountered pickets and outposts, With which they had some sharp skirmishing, but quickly beat them off and joined in the work of destroying the camp. This having been most thoroughly executed, the troops were reassembled, with a view to proceeding against and destroying the batteries which lay between the camp and Fort Pickens; but daylight appearing, and there being no longer a possibility of a surprise of the batteries, I directed the signal for retiring to be sounded and the troops to be put in march for the boats. At about half way between the Zouave camp and the point of embarkation of our troops we encountered two companies of United States regulars, which had passed us under the cover of the darkness and posted themselves behind a dense thicket to intercept our retiring column, and a very sharp but short skirmish ensued. The enemy was speedily driven off, and our troops resumed their march. The re-embarkation was successfully accomplished, and the order given to the steamers to steer for Pensacola, when it was discovered that a hawser had become entangled in the propeller of the Neaffie, and that she could not move.
"After some delay, from ineffectual attempts to extricate the propeller, she and the large flat which she had in tow were made fast to the Ewing. It was soon found, however, that with this incumbrance the Ewing would not obey her helm, and a change in the manner of towing the Neaffie was necessary. While attempting to make this change the flats and barges which the Ewing had in tow became detached from her, and still further delay was occasioned in recovering them. By the time this had been done the hawser was cut away from the propeller and the Neaffie proceeded on her way. The enemy, taking advantage of these circumstances, appeared among the sand hills along the beach and opened a fire upon the masses of our troops densely crowded upon our transports, but without doing much execution, and we were soon out of the range of their rifles. The necessity of using the Neaffie as a tug, and the accident which for some time disabled her, prevented her guns from being brought into play, otherwise she might have rendered effectual service in driving back the enemy who harassed us from the beach.
"Our loss in this affair was as follows: Killed, 2 commissioned officers, 4 non-commissioned officers, privates and 1 citizen volunteer; wounded, 2 commissioned officers, 5 non-commissioned officers, and 32 privates; taken prisoners, 5 commissioned officers, 2 non-commissioned officers, and 23 privates. The larger portion of the officers, non-commissioned officers and privates captured by the enemy were the guard left for the protection of their hospital and sick and the medical officers who had remained in the building to attend to such of our wounded as might be carried there. Notwithstanding that I caused the signal for retiring to be repeatedly sounded during the return of the troops, it was not heard at the hospital, and the guard and medical officers were cut off and taken prisoners.
"The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded has not been precisely ascertained, but is certainly known to have much exceeded our own. From such imperfect observation as I made in passing over parts of the ground I will estimate his loss at 50 or 60 killed and 100 wounded. Twenty prisoners were taken, among them Maj. Isaac Vogdes, of the United States artillery. The destruction of property in the conflagration was very great. Large stores of provisions, supplies of clothing, camp and garrison equipage, arms and ammunition, were entirely consumed. Some arms were brought away by our men, and in a few instances money and clothing, as will be seen by the report of Colonel Jackson, and I would specially recommend that the captors be permitted to retain whatever private property they have taken.
"It is with pride and pleasure that I bear testimony to and call to the notice of the general commanding the admirable conduct of the troops throughout the expedition and conflict. The alacrity, courage and discipline exhibited by them merit the highest recommendation, and give assurance of success in any future encounters which they may have with the enemies of our country ....
The members of my staff, Capt. T. S. Mills, assistant adjutant-general, and Capt. Hugh M. King, Fifth regiment Georgia volunteers; Lieuts. Calvin L. Sayre and Wilber Johnson, C. S. marines, who volunteered their services and acted as my aides, rendered me active and efficient assistance throughout the whole of the operations. Captain Mills, who was with Colonel Anderson's battalion in its first encounter with the enemy, received a severe contusion in the chest from a partially spent ball, but nevertheless continued energetically to perform his duties, and Lieutenant Sayre, while fearlessly using his revolver with effect, had his thigh bone shattered just above the right knee by a musket ball, and being left upon the ground, fell into the hands of the enemy. Capt. Hugh M. King, in conveying orders and superintending the destruction of the camp, displayed commendable zeal and activity, and the ardor and intrepidity of Lieutenant Johnson, while deserving especial notice, give promise of this young officer's future success and distinction. The officers of the medical staff rendered to the wounded every service which under the circumstances was possible. Colonels Anderson and Jackson pay graceful tribute to the memory of Captain Bradford and Lieutenant Nelms, of their regiments, to which I desire to add my respectful admiration for them and for every brave patriot who fell with them for their country's liberties."
Col. J. P. Anderson, in a letter to Governor Milton, said of this engagement: "You will have heard of the affair on Santa Rosa island on the morning of the 9th inst. The object of the expedition was fully and completely accomplished, though the loss of such men as Captain Brad. ford of Florida; Lieutenant Nelms of Georgia; Sergeant Routh of Tallahassee; Private Tillinghast, etc., would not be compensated for, in my opinion, by the total annihilation of Billy Wilson and his whole band of thieves and cut-throats. The Florida regiment had only 100 men in the expedition, out of i,, and lost 6 killed, 8 wounded, and 12 prisoners, as follows: Killed: Captain Bradford, Sergeant Routh, Privates Tillinghast, Hale, Thompson of Apalachicola, and Smith. Wounded: Corporal Lanier, Privates Echols, McCorkle, Sims, William Denham,Hicks, Shattit and O'Neal (Peter, of Pensacola). These are doing well and will recover. Prisoners: Hale and Bond, Company A; Mahoney and Nichols, Company B; Bev-Parker and Finley, Company E; Holliman, Godlie, John Jarvis, M. Mosely, and Batterson, of Company F; also Lieutenant Farley, Company E. I deeply regret that such men as Lieutenants Farley, Parker and Finley should have fallen into the enemy's hands. However, they write to us that they are well treated, but destiny unknown. By any civilized nation in the world most of these prisoners would be promptly delivered up, for they were taken while standing as a safeguard over the enemy's hospital to prevent it from sharing the fate of the balance of the camp. They protected it from flame and sword most scrupulously, but failing to hear the signal to retire, only remained too faithful to their trust, and have fallen into the hands of the enemy by so doing. Their names should illustrate one of the brightest pages of Florida's history."
General Bragg well said of this expedition that it was a most daring and successful feat of arms. "Landing from steamers and flats on the enemy's shore within sight of his fleet, marching some three or four miles in the darkness of night over an unknown and almost impassable ground under his guns, killing his pickets, storming his intrenched camp of 600 or 700 men, driving the enemy off in utter confusion and dismay, and burning every vestige of clothing, equipage and provisions, leaving them individually in a state of destitution, and this under the close range of his stronghold, Fort Pickens, without his discovering our object or firing a gun, is an achievement worthy of the gallant men who executed it."
Capt. Richard Bradford, the highest in rank of those who fell among the Florida volunteers, was a noble and chivalrous young man, whose death was deeply mourned throughout the State. To him and other noble martyrs sacrificed on their country's altar, their grateful country. women have erected a monument on the grounds of the capitol at Tallahassee, inscribed as follows:
To rescue from Oblivion
And perpetuate in the Memory of succeeding Generations
The heroic Patriotism of the Men
Who perished in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.
Pensacola, Olustee, Natural Bridge, etc.
Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Richmond, Cold Harbor, Manassas,
Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville,
Wilderness, Yorktown, etc.
Richmond, Ky., Farmington, Shiloh, Corinth, Green River, Perry-ville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Resaca,
Gilgal Church, Cassville, Kenesaw Mountain, Decatur,
Jonesboro, Franklin, etc.
The situation at this time outside of the Pensacola region is described in a letter of October 29th from Governor Milton to President Davis, in which he said that the Third regiment, commanded by Col. W. S. Dilworth, was scattered from Fernandina to the mouth of the St. John's, while the Fourth, composed of eight companies, commanded by Col. Edward Hopkins, was stationed part at St. Vincent's island, part at St. Marks under Captain Dial, and at the lighthouse near there, and part at Cedar Keys. The State troops (500 or 600) at Apalachicola were under command of the governor's aide-de-camp, Col. Richard F. Floyd.
On the morning of November 22d began the most imposing military demonstration in the history of Florida, the artillery battle between Fort Pickens assisted by the men-of-war Niagara and Richmond, and Fort McRee and other Confederate batteries. The thunder of the guns continued through two days, and considerable damage was done to the works on each side, the Federal commander testifying that the Confederate fire was "heavy and well directed." The loss of life was small and the result indecisive, except as it indicated that the batteries which had been erected along the coast fronting Pickens could not be expected to do much more against her than maintain the defensive.
General Bragg reported that the enemy opened fire about 9:30 a.m. from Fort Pickens and all his outer batteries without the slightest warning. "His first shots were directed principally upon the navy yard and Fort McRee, the former known to be occupied by women and children and non-combatants, and used by us for defensive purposes only. In less than half an hour.we were responding, and the enemy distributed his fire on our whole line. Soon after Fort Pickens opened two large naval steamers, supposed to be the Niagara and Hartford, took position due west from Fort McRee and within good range, from whence they poured in broadsides of the heaviest metal throughout the day. From the defective structure of Fort McRee it was unable to return this terrific fire with any effect.
"Assailed at the same time from the south by Fort Pickens and its outer batteries, the devoted garrison of this confined work, under the gallant Colonel Villepigue, Georgia and Mississippi regiments, seemed to be destined to destruction. Three times was the woodwork of the fort on fire, threatening to expel its occupants, and as often extinguished. The magazines were laid bare to the enemy's shells, which constantly exploded around them, and a wooden building to the windward on the outside of the fort taking fire, showers of live cinders were driven constantly through the broken doors of one of the magazines, threatening destruction to the whole garrison. In the midst of this terrible ordeal the coolness and self-possession of the commander inspired all with confidence, and enabled him to hold a position which seemed to others utterly untenable.
"Toward evening our sand batteries appeared to have crippled the Hartford [Richmond], and she drew off and did not again join in the combat. Darkness closed the contest, which had lasted more than eight hours without an intermission. For the number and caliber of guns and weight of metal brought into action it will rank with the heaviest bombardment in the world. It was grand and sublime. The houses in Pensacola, 10 miles off, trembled from the effect, and immense quantities of dead fish floated to the surface in the bay and lagoon, stunned by the concussion. Our troops behaved with the greatest coolness and gallantry, and surprised me by the regularity and accuracy of their firing, a result which would have been creditable to veterans.
"A dark cloud, accompanied by rain and wind, at 6 o'clock so obscured the night as to enable us to withdraw in safety our transport steamers, which had been caught at the navy yard. The gunboat Nelms, Lieutenant Manston, Louisiana infantry, commanding, was also at the yard when the firing commenced; but she was gallantly backed out, and proceeded to Pensacola unharmed. The fire of the enemy, though terrific in sound and fury, proved to have been only slightly damaging, except to McRee. Prom Fort Pickens and the sand batteries we sustained very little injury. From the shipping, which fired with much greater accuracy, the fort and garrison of McRee suffered more.
"Our loss from the enemy's shot was 21 wounded--1 mortally, who died that night; 12 of the others so slightly as not to take them from duty. By an unfortunate accident--the caving in of a defective magazine badly planned and constructed--we had 6 other gallant men smothered, who died calling on their comrades never to give up the fort. Our women and children escaped through a shower of balls without an accident. The reports brought in during the night by my staff officers, dispatched to every point, were very satisfactory and encouraging, except from Port McRee. Exposed in front, flank and reverse, with half its armament disabled and magazines exposed, without the ability to return the enemy's fire, it was proposed to blow it up and abandon it. Upon mature reflection as to the effect this would have on the morale of my own troops as well as the enemy, I determined to hold it to the last extremity. An engineer officer and large working party were dispatched to Colonel Villepigue with the decision. Though suffering from a painful wound, he devoted the entire night to the necessary repairs. It was not our policy to keep up this unequal contest at long range, so we waited the enemy's fire the next morning.
"At about 10:30 he again opened, though much more slowly, and with only one ship. We responded, as before, with caution and deliberation. Their fire was so much slackened that our apprehension about McRee was greatly relieved, and our sand batteries played with a better prospect of success against the remaining ship. Toward evening the enemy finding all his efforts foiled that our guns were not silenced and McRee not reduced as he had predicted, turned upon the hospital and put several shots into the empty building (the sick having all been removed in anticipation of this barbarous act). The evacuation, however, was not known to them. All the appearance of occupation was kept up; the yellow flag was still flying. After this he poured hot shot into the dwellings of non-combatants in the village of Warrington and Woolsey, by which considerable portions of each were burned. The navy yard, too, received a large supply of these shot and a shower of mortar shells until past midnight, but only one unimportant building was fired, though many houses were struck and more or less damaged. Notwithstanding thousands of shot and shell fell in and around our positions, not a casualty occurred in the whole army for the day. Our fire ceased at dark, except an occasional shell as a warning that we were on the alert, the last shot being ours, about 4 a.m. on the 24th.
"We had fired about 1,000 shots, the enemy not less than 5,000. There are no means of knowing or conjecturing the loss or damage inflicted on them, but we believe it to have been very considerable. They certainly did not accomplish the object they had in view nor fulfill the expectations of their government. The injury to our side was the loss in killed and wounded given above; a few hundred dollars' damage done to the navy yard; the burning of two churches surmounted by the holy cross---the first buildings fired--and some twenty humble habitations of poor laboring men and women, mostly emigrants from the North; and finally, a violation of our hospital flag, in accordance with a previous threat. This last act stamps its author with infamy and places him beyond the pale of civilized commanders. As they did not renew the action, and drew off with their ships in a crippled condition, our fire was not reopened on Fort Pickens, to damage which is not our object. A fair challenge, however, was offered them on the 27th, when a small rowboat attempting to enter the harbor was fired on by us and abandoned by them. Several of our shots necessarily passed very near their works, but they declined our invitation .......
"This would seem not an improper occasion to place on record an expression of the admiration and gratitude I feel for the noble, self-sacrificing spirit which has ever pervaded the whole of this gallant little army. Called suddenly from home, without preparation, to serve an unorganized government, in the midst of a country destitute of supplies, it has patiently and without a murmur submitted to privations and borne labors which can never be appreciated. Consigned by fate to inactivity when their brothers elsewhere, later in entering the service, were reaping a harvest of glory, they have still nobly sustained their commander and maintained a well-deserved reputation for discipline rarely equaled, never surpassed. With a people capable of such sacrifices we may defy the world in arms. But in giving this praise to human virtue let us not be unmindful of an invisible Power which has ruled all things for our good. The hand of disease and death has been lightly laid upon us at a place and in a season when we had reason to expect much suffering and great mortality. And in the hour of our trial the missiles of death, showered upon us by an infuriated enemy, respecting neither women, children nor the sick, have been so directed as to cause us to laugh at their impotent rage. Verily, 'Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman walketh but in vain.'"
After this great artillery demonstration all was comparatively quiet at Pensacola harbor until the afternoon of January 1, 1862, when the Federals opened fire on a small private steamer that had imprudently run to the navy yard. In the absence of General Bragg the Confederate batteries returned the fire, and a brisk cannonade was kept up until dark. The main damage done on shore was the burning of a large and valuable storehouse in the navy yard.
Late in February the disasters in Tennessee and Kentucky persuaded the war department to authorize the abandonment of the Florida ports, and General Bragg, who had been transferred to Mobile, ordered General Samuel Jones, then in charge at Pensacola, to make dispositions at the earliest moment, working night and day, to abandon the works, removing the heavy guns with ammunition to Mobile, and other supplies to Montgomery. His instructions were: "I desire you particularly to leave nothing the enemy can use; burn all from Fort McRee to the junction with the Mobile road. Save the guns, and if necessary destroy our gunboats and other boats. They might be used against us. Destroy all machinery, etc., public and private, which could be useful to the enemy; especially disable the sawmills in and around the bay, and burn the lumber. Break up the railroad from Pensacola to the junction, carrying the iron up to a safe point."
General Jones immediately afterward succeeded Bragg in department command, and his plan of evacuation, as he stated, differed from Bragg's only in this: that he would detail Col. T. M. Jones and a few hundred men to accomplish the destruction as soon as an overpowering attack was made. Colonel Jones, left in command, sent out the valuable property as rapidly as possible until he was informed of the fall of New Orleans, when he removed the remaining heavy guns and ammunition, leaving the fortifications practically defenseless. On May 7th he was informed of Federal demonstrations at Mobile harbor, and determined to evacuate at once. All the sick and baggage were sent out on the 8th, and on the night of the 9th the infantry marched out toward Oakfield, leaving several companies of cavalry to begin the necessary destruction at a given signal. Precisely at 11:30 two blue lights were set off by Colonel Jones at the hospital, and were promptly answered with similar lights at the navy yard, Barrancas and Fort McRee, "and scarcely had the signals disappeared," said Colonel Jones, "ere the public buildings, camp tents, and every other combustible thing from the navy yard to Fort McRee were enveloped in a sheet of flames, and in a few minutes the flames of the public property could be distinctly seen at Pensacola. The custom house and commissary storehouses were not destroyed for fear of endangering private property, a thing I scrupulously avoided.
"As soon as the enemy could possibly man his guns and load them, he opened upon us with the greatest fury, and seemed to increase his charges as his anger increased. But in spite of bursting shell, which were thrown with great rapidity and in every direction, the cavalry proceeded with the greatest coolness to make the work of destruction thorough and complete, and see that all orders were implicitly obeyed. Their orders were to destroy all the camp tents, Fort McRee and Fort Barrancas as far as possible, the hospital, the houses in the navy yard, the steamer Fulton, the coal left in the yard, all the machinery for drawing out ships, the trays, shears--in fact everything which could be made useful to the enemy .... All the powder and most of the large shot and shell were removed; the small-sized shot were buried. I succeeded in getting away all the most valuable machinery, besides large quantities of copper, lead, brass and iron; even the gutters, lightning rods, window weights, bells, pipes, and everything made of these valuable metals were removed." At Pensacola an oil factory was burned, the quartermaster's storehouses, some small boats, and three small steamers used as guard boats, and transports. The Federal troops took possession of the ruins of the navy yard and forts the next day, and on May 12, 1862, a force marched to Pensacola and raised the United States flag, beginning a hostile occupation which continued without interruption during the remainder of the war.
The presence of the Federal forces was soon made forcibly apparent to the people of the surrounding country. Reconnoitering parties were sent out toward the positions of the Confederate troops at Bluff Springs and Pollard, Ala. About the middle of May some Confederate cavalrymen in Milton were assailed by a force sent to that village by boat, and a brisk fight occurred in the town. Three cavalrymen, three citizens of Milton and two negroes were carried away by the enemy.
The general plan of abandoning the coast involved other Florida points in addition to Pensacola. Fernandina was evacuated in March, 1862, and the well-constructed defenses abandoned. The town of St. Augustine was surrendered on March 11, 1862,to Commander Rodgers,of the Federal flag-ship Wabash, and on the next day Jacksonville peacefully capitulated.
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