|Pensacola Navy Yard from the Air|
January 12, 1861
The situation at Pensacola took on new dimension 150 years ago today when hundreds of state militiamen and volunteers forced the surrender of the critically important Pensacola Navy Yard.
Established in 1826 as a major naval construction, repair and supply facility for the Gulf of Mexico, the Pensacola Navy Yard was one of the most important naval bases in the South. Commanded by Commodore James Armstrong and defended by U.S. Marines, it was the location of warehouses, an armory, a hospital, wharves, workshops, a dry dock and other facilities. The complex was surrounded by a brick wall.
On the morning of January 12, 1861, 150 years ago today, Commodore Armstrong was informed by a naval officer that a representative of the Governor of Florida was at the east gate of the Navy Yard, accompanied by a regiment of state militia from Florida and Alabama:
|William Conway, sketch by William Waud, 1861|
The surrender of the Navy Yard was watched from a distance by the U.S. soldiers and sailors in Fort Pickens. Lieutenant Adam Slemmer reported watching the flag of the yard go down. Later in the day, he found himself facing a similar demand that he give up his post.
Shortly after retreat was sounded in the fort to end the day's work, four men appeared at the gate of the fort and demanded access as citizens of Florida and Alabama. Among them was Captain V.M. Randolph, who now commanded the Pensacola Navy Yard on behalf of the State of Florida: