Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bombardment at Pensacola, Florida

The Forts in Pensacola Bay
At the time of the Civil War there were three forts to defend the Pensacola harbor: Fort Pickens, on an island sheltering the harbor, and Fort McRee and Fort Barrancas on the mainland. Just before Florida's secession, a garrison was sent to Fort Pickens, and they the fort for the rest of the war. The Confederates were not content with this. They garrisoned the forts and batteries in the area in an attempt to capture the fort. On October 9th the Confederates made a strong attack on the fort, and Col. Harvey Brown, Union commander in Florida, decided to attack the Confederate fortifications to prevent the attack from being renewed.
Fort Pickens
The Union batteries opened in the morning of December 22nd, assisted by the warships Niagara and Richmond. A half an hour later the Confederate's two forts and fourteen batteries along four miles of coastline responded. Confederate commander Bragg wrote this in his report:
Darkness closed the contest, which had lasted for 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.
Fort Barrancas
The barrage continued all day, with the Union forces getting the best of the fight. Fort McRee's guns were silenced, and there was a little damage to the other fortifications. The fight would continue the next day.

Fort Barrancas today


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