|Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, U.S.A.|
Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer and a garrison of fewer than 100 U.S. sailors and soldiers held Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, while state militia troops from Florida, Alabama and Mississippi took up positions on the mainland and besieged the fort. The commander of state forces at the bay, Colonel William H. Chase, demanded three times that Slemmer surrender Fort Pickens but each time he refused.
While Slemmer believed he could use his artillery to hold the masonry fort against an attacking force of as many as 5,000 men, he also knew there was a strong possibility that he and his men would be overwhelmed if Chase launched a sudden assault. As result, he he took steps to prepare Fort Pickens not only for defense, but for an emergency evacuation. Part of this plan, according to his wife and the wife of Lieutenant J.H. Gilman, involved reducing the fort to rubble if he was forced to evacuate: