The U.S. troops holding the fort were jumpy over reports that state forces were planning to take possession of the fort. In the early morning darkness, sentries saw shadowy figures on the opposite side of the drabridge and opened fire. No one was injured. Years later it was revealed that the men were state soldiers from Alabama who had arrived to assist Florida troops in taking the fort, but that they had merely been looking at the fort. The incident took place months before Confederate forces in Charleston opened fire on Fort Sumter.
Built between 1839 and 1844, Fort Barrancas was an impressive masonry fortification designed to function in conjunction with Fort Pickens and Fort McRee to defend the entrance to Pensacola Bay against enemy attack.
Shortly after the drawbridge incident, U.S. troops evacuated the fort and moved to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island. The latter position could be more easily defended from attack. Southern troops quickly occupied Fort Barrancas and held it until the spring of 1862. During that time the cannon of the fort took part in two major bombardments.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortbarrancas1.