The importance of Pensacola

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USS ALASKA

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It is interesting how many times the CSN and/or Army planned to retake Pensacola and Port Royal. Admiral Buchannan was still entertaining schemes to retake Pensacola in early 1864 and allocated men and equipment for the effort.
@georgew ...or anyone else

Sir, apologies for dragging up a post from almost 4 years ago. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/setting-torpedoes-in-charleston-harbor.109897/page-3#post-1220004

Found your statement very interesting. Was the reason for this planning because Pensacola could have been of great use to the Confederacy or rather to deny her usage by the Union?

Thanks for the help,
USS ALASKA
 

jgoodguy

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FWIW
Noll on Pearce, 'Pensacola during the Civil War: A Thorn in the Side

Union troops stayed in control of the city for the remainder of the war, even though troops were evacuated to surrounding forts in March 1863. Sporadic raids and skirmishes took place in the vicinity of Pensacola, but no major battles occurred. Union soldiers periodically marched into the surrounding countryside, destroying and confiscating "agricultural products and farm animals, timber and lumber, and household furnishings" (p. 237). Pensacola became an important port city for ships of the Northern blockade squadrons, as its harbor and navy yard provided docking, coaling, and refitting stations for Union vessels. Though few battles occurred in the region, Pearce concludes that the strong Union presence there was a factor in the overall Northern victory. In order to block Union incursions from the Pensacola enclave, "a fairly large troop concentration that could have been used in other places in the Confederacy to better advantage had to be maintained in the Pensacola military district" (p. 237). Part of the plan to stretch the Confederacy thin and force it to allocate scarce resources over a wide geographic area, the Union occupation of Pensacola was a successful, yet unappreciated, piece of the larger Union strategy.​
IMHO without Pensacola in Union hands, the Union could not have blockaded the Gulf. I am not sure what the CSA could do with it that Mobile would not suffice.
 

bdtex

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@georgew ...or anyone else

Sir, apologies for dragging up a post from almost 4 years ago. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/setting-torpedoes-in-charleston-harbor.109897/page-3#post-1220004

Found your statement very interesting. Was the reason for this planning because Pensacola could have been of great use to the Confederacy or rather to deny her usage by the Union?

Thanks for the help,
USS ALASKA
I have posted about Pensacola in several threads over the past months due to my travels to and reading about CW sites/battles in the Florida panhandle. Got another trip there coming up next week.

The inability of the Confederacy to take Pensacola should have been a sign of the eventual outcome of the war. It became a haven for Unionists, runaway slaves and Confederate deserters all of which were trained and armed as cavalry and infantry soldiers. It became a base of operations for raiding expeditions in the Florida panhandle. See the Battle of Marianna in September 1864.
 
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bdtex

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FWIW
Noll on Pearce, 'Pensacola during the Civil War: A Thorn in the Side

Union troops stayed in control of the city for the remainder of the war, even though troops were evacuated to surrounding forts in March 1863. Sporadic raids and skirmishes took place in the vicinity of Pensacola, but no major battles occurred. Union soldiers periodically marched into the surrounding countryside, destroying and confiscating "agricultural products and farm animals, timber and lumber, and household furnishings" (p. 237). Pensacola became an important port city for ships of the Northern blockade squadrons, as its harbor and navy yard provided docking, coaling, and refitting stations for Union vessels. Though few battles occurred in the region, Pearce concludes that the strong Union presence there was a factor in the overall Northern victory. In order to block Union incursions from the Pensacola enclave, "a fairly large troop concentration that could have been used in other places in the Confederacy to better advantage had to be maintained in the Pensacola military district" (p. 237). Part of the plan to stretch the Confederacy thin and force it to allocate scarce resources over a wide geographic area, the Union occupation of Pensacola was a successful, yet unappreciated, piece of the larger Union strategy.​
IMHO without Pensacola in Union hands, the Union could not have blockaded the Gulf. I am not sure what the CSA could do with it that Mobile would not suffice.
It's worth a lot. Good stuff. I agree with Mr. Pearce too.
 

bdtex

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Thanks for the book link @jgoodguy . Just ordered a used copy from Abebooks. All of my mom's side of the family and my direct ancestor CW veterans are from south/south-central Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Got CW visits to Mobile and Pensacola planned for the next coupla years and reading I need to do on both. Had Mobile covered with books and Blue & Gray Magazine. Got Pensacola covered now too.
 

redbob

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By holding Pensacola as @jgoodguy said, the Union had a ready made coaling, refitting/repair and operations hub for operations around the Gulf and especially in the Mobile area. During the blockade of Mobile, ships would cycle in and out of Pensacola for refueling, refitting and repairs. One of the stories told in that area was that when the Union ships would leave Pensacola headed back to Mobile, there was an orange grove on shore that they would practice their gunnery skills on and that area is now known as Orange Beach- whether that is true or not, it still makes a pretty good story.
 
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DaveBrt

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There was no reason for the CSA to try to retake Pensacola after its evacuation in early 1862. The region was not rich with needed resources and the town and shipyard could not be used unless the fort was taken (which was not remotely possible until late war). The Confederacy covered the area with a single cavalry unit most of the war -- adding troops only when Mobile felt threatened. Almost the entirety of the Alabama & Florida (of Florida) RR was take up by the South to feed important RRs. Yes, the port was easier to use than other places for the maintenance of the Mobile blockade, but it could have been run from New Orleans.
 

georgew

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There was no reason for the CSA to try to retake Pensacola after its evacuation in early 1862. The region was not rich with needed resources and the town and shipyard could not be used unless the fort was taken (which was not remotely possible until late war). The Confederacy covered the area with a single cavalry unit most of the war -- adding troops only when Mobile felt threatened. Almost the entirety of the Alabama & Florida (of Florida) RR was take up by the South to feed important RRs. Yes, the port was easier to use than other places for the maintenance of the Mobile blockade, but it could have been run from New Orleans.
Just a short add-on to Dave's comments. Once the newly built rail line to Pensacola was dismantled, the port was virtually worthless to the Confederates. The potential of Pensacola was two fold, the shipyard and a protected deep water anchorage. But to get the advantages you had to take Fort Pickens which covered the main channel entrance to the bay. Gen. Bragg drew a lot of criticism at the time for not making strong attempts to take Pickens. One valid question is if you take it, do you have the resources to keep it and build up the batteries to a point that Union vessels could not enter. There is also the question of Union boat expeditions, one of which actually torched the privateer Judah in the dock at Pensacola. You can argue that a deep water port with rail connections to distribute cargo to other points in the Confederacy was worth the effort, but without an intact rail access it didn't seem to matter. The Union station at Pensacola never seemed worth the effort to eliminate it during the war.
 
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