Friday, February 6, 2009

Fort Pickens - Pensacola, Florida

A few days ago I posted an update on the status of land access to Fort Pickens, which should be available again this spring.

If you are interested in learning more about this historic old fort, I've launched a new Fort Pickens page at

Built between 1829 and 1834, the five sided fort was located at the western point of Santa Rosa Island. Designed so that its guns could sweep the entrance to Pensacola Bay, Fort Pickens was a formidable obstacle to any enemy ship trying to enter Pensacola Bay.

Had Confederate troops been able to occupy the fort at the beginning of the War Between the States, Pensacola might have proved a very tough nut to crack for the Union navy. Unlike many similar works that were reduced by bombardment during the war, Fort Pickens was built right on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico and would have been very difficult to take by siege or naval bombardment.

Confederate troops attacked the outlying camps of the fort during the Battle of Santa Rosa Island on October 9, 1861, but did not attempt to take the main fort itself. Two heavy bombardments followed. The first, in November of 1861, lasted two days and was initiated by the Federals. Artillery fire from Fort Pickens and U.S. Navy ships offshore was directed at Fort McRee, Fort Barrancas, the Pensacola Navy Yard and other Confederate installations around the bay. The second, in January of 1862, was of shorter duration. Neither resulted in any significant damage to Fort Pickens.

After Confederate troops were withdrawn from Pensacola in May of 1862 to reinforce the Army of Tennessee, Union trops continued to occupy Fort Pickens. Prisoners were sometimes held there, but it primarily served as a military post. In the years after the war the fort became a prison for the Apache leader Geronimo and a number of his followers. It remained active as a military post until the end of World War II.

To learn more, please visit

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