Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January 11, 1861 - Situation at Fort Pickens

Ruins at Fort Pickens
This is part of a month-long series on the military aspects of Florida's secession from the Union.

January 11, 1861

The day after Florida's secession from the Union found little taking place across the state. The word of the passage of the ordinance continued to spread and citizens reacted in various ways, some with joy and others with concern.

In Pensacola, Lieutenant Slemmer and his men began their work at Fort Pickens in earnest. Supplies continued to come ashore from the U.S.S. Supply, a vessel sent over for that purpose my Commodore James Armstrong at the Pensacola Navy Yard.

There was some discussion by letter between Slemmer and Armstrong about future orders for the Supply and the U.S.S. Wyandotte. Slemmer had expected the two vessels to be assigned to help protect Fort Pickens until he could put the works into condition. He learned from a captain of one of the ships, however, that the commodore had ordered him to land his supplies and then return to the yard.

Slemmer contacted the commodore, who explained that the Supply was only on temporary assignment but that the Wyandotte could remain off the fort. Slemmer later reported that some additional arms for his men were also provided on the 11th by the Navy:

The Wyandotte and Supply remained at anchor under the fort that night. Captain Berryman sent me during the evening thirty muskets and bayonets to arm the ordinary seamen, which he had procured after some difficulty from the navy-yard. He also had for me some musket cartridges which were promised me from the yard, as my supply was limited. - Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer,U.S. Army, February 5, 1861.

State troops in the vicinity continued to watch the situation at Pensacola Bay, but made no move to interfere on the 11th. Plans were being made, however, that would change that situation the next day.
 

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