Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 19, 1861 - Florida Gains an Important Ally

Old Capitol Building in Milledgeville, Georgia
This is part of a continuing series on the 150th anniversary of the Secession of Florida.

January 19, 1861

As Federal troops continued to secure their grip on Fort Pickens at Pensacola, Fort Taylor in Key West and Fort Jefferson on Garden Key on this date 150 years ago, a major event of military significance took place 225 miles north of Tallahassee in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Despite the dire warnings of key leaders including former U.S. Representative and future Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens that such a move would lead to the desolation of their beloved state, the delegates to the Georgia Secession Convention voted to declare the state's independence and secede from the Union.The vote at the historic Old Capitol Building in Milledgeville, then the capital city of Georgia, was 208-89, although many sympathized with those voting no. An earlier attempt to delay the action had resulted in a much closer vote of 166-130, but it was obvious that secession would be the final result and many delegates voted that way in the end as a show of unity.

The secession of Georgia gave Florida a powerful new ally in her stand against the U.S. government in Washington. It also would have a military impact that would last throughout the coming war. With both Alabama and Georgia now having declared their independence from the old Union, Florida's entire northern border was secure. At no point during the entire war would Union troops seriously threaten an attack on the state from the north.

This allowed military leaders in Florida to focus their attention, instead, on the state's extensive coastline. All of the artillery, troops and fortification efforts were directed to the coast while the borders with Alabama and Georgia remained unfortified but safe.

To learn more about Georgia's historic Old Capitol Building in Milledgeville, where that state's secession vote took place, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/gaoldcapitol.

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