Monday, June 10, 2013

The Advanced Redoubt (Forts of Florida #3)

Advanced Redoubt of Fort Barrancas
The Advanced Redoubt on the Pensacola Naval Air Station is one of Florida's least known Civil War forts, yet it is one of the best preserved. It is the focus for Part #3 of our series on the Forts of Florida.

Please follow these links to read: Part #1 Fort McRee or Part #2 Fort Barrancas.

U.S. plans for the defense of Pensacola Bay during the early 19th century centered around three primary fortifications, Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, Fort McRee on Foster's Bank (Perdido Key) and Fort Barrancas on the mainland. These three forts mounted hundreds of cannon that could sweep the channel leading into the bay.

While Fort Pickens and Fort McRee were relatively secure from land attack thanks to their positions on the tips of narrow barrier islands, Fort Barrancas was not.

Barrancas was located on the red clay bluffs overlooking Pensacola Bay, but was vulnerable to a siege by land forces. Gen. Andrew Jackson had taken an earlier fort on the same site in 1818 by employing just such siege tactics. To eliminate this threat, U.S. Army engineers decided to built an additional masonry and earth fortification on a hilltop from which Barrancas could be threatened. The structure they built there was called the Advanced Redoubt.

Sally Port and Drawbridge of the Advanced Redoubt
Work on the fort began in 1845 and progressed slowly until 1861 when it was seized by state militia forces as Florida seceded from the Union. Confederate forces occupied the Redoubt but did not place a major focus on it due to the lack of a land-based threat.  That changed when they evacuated Pensacola Bay in 1862 and the fort was reoccupied by U.S. forces.

Union troops mounted cannon in the redoubt and built a long breastwork that connected it to Fort Barrancas. That fortification followed the route of today's Breastworks Trail which can be followed from one fort to the other.

The Advanced Redoubt, however, was never seriously threatened by Confederate forces for the duration of the war.

To learn more about the Advanced Redoubt, which is now part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, please visit

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