Was Fort Pickens the real prize?

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Does Pensacola provide anything Mobile doesn't?

Pensacola had a rail connection via Montgomery and Atlanta to the eastern Confederacy.

Mobile only had a rail connection via Corinth and Chattanooga that was cut early in 1862.

Question sirs - Mobile looks easier to get into than P'cola based only on looking at the width of the channel...

View attachment 419945

View attachment 419946

...does anyone know the depths of these channels during the ACW time frame?

I'm not sure about channel depth, but it must have been enough for the navy yard.

An important point: the modern channel has shifted substantially westward in 150 years. Fort McRee is now underwater while Fort Pickens is no longer right on the waterfront.
 

USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Pensacola had a rail connection via Montgomery and Atlanta to the eastern Confederacy.

Mobile only had a rail connection via Corinth and Chattanooga that was cut early in 1862.

Indeed sir. However, did the amount of runners that came into these Gulf ports justify the rail lines? And Mobile - at least Mobile Bay - did connect to the east via rail...

Railroad_of_Confederacy-1861.jpg


Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
Last edited:

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
The bar of Mobile entrance is next to that of Pensacola in depth, having 20 feet upon it, which can be carried to the fine protected anchorage known as the Lower Fleet. From this to the city wharves 8 feet can be carried. ... Besides the main entrance to Mobile Bay, there is an artificial side entrance between Dauphin Island and the mainland, at Grant's Pass, with 5 feet at low water and about 6 at high. This pass was excavated through oyster reefs and mud, and has remained open. (Fourth Report of the Blockade Strategy Board: ORN I:16, pp. 618-630)

Pensacola entrance is a mile wide, with a clear channel nowhere less than three-eighths of a mile wide, and with 21 feet on the bar. (Fifth Report of the Blockade Strategy Board: ORN I:16, pp. 651-655)
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 1 [S# 1] CHAPTER IV.
OPERATIONS IN FLORIDA.
January 6-August 31, 1861.

SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS.

January 6, 1861.--United States Arsenal at Apalachicola seized by State troops.
January 7, 1861.--Fort Marion, Saint Augustine, seized by State troops.
January 10, 1861.--Ordinance of secession adopted. U.S. troops transferred from Barrancas Barracks to Fort Pickens, Pensacola Harbor.
January 12, 1861.--Barrancas Barracks, Forts Barrancas and McRee, and the navy-yard, Pensacola, seized by State troops. Surrender of Fort Pickens demanded.
January 14, 1861.--Fort Taylor, Key West, garrisoned by United States troops.
January 15, 1861.--Second demand for surrender of Fort Pickens.
January 18, 1861.--Fort Jefferson, Tortugas, garrisoned by United States troops. Third demand for surrender of Fort Pickens.
January 24, 1861.--Re-enforcements for Fort Pickens sail from Fort Monroe, Va.
February 6, 1861.--U. S. steamer Brooklyn arrives off Pensacola with re-enforcements for Fort Pickens.
March 11, 1861.--Brig. Gen. Braxton Bragg, C. S. Army, assumes command of Confederate forces.
March 21, 1861.--Seizure of the sloop Isabella.
April 7, 1861.--Reinforcements for Fort Pickens sail from New York.
April 12, 1861.--Re-enforcements from Fort Monroe, and detachment of marines, landed at Fort Pickens.
April 13, 1861.--Bvt. Col. Harvey Brown, Second U.S. Artillery, assumes command of the Department of Florida.
April 17, 1861.--Re-enforcements from New York arrive at Fort Pickens.
August 5, 1861.--The Alvarado burned off Fernandina, by the U.S. steamer Vincennes.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Here's where Braxton arrives on the scene:
WAR DEPARTMENT, Montgomery, March 7, 1861.
Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG,
Provisional Army, C. S. A., Comdg. Troops near Pensacola, Fla.:

SIR: By the inclosed order you will perceive that you have been signed to the command of the troops at and near Pensacola, Fla. It is of the greatest importance that the Government here should be accurately informed of the state of affairs in that quarter. The Secretary of War, therefore, desires that you will as soon as possible forward to this office a comprehensive report of whatever may come under your observation, especially in regard to affairs immediately connected with Fort Pickens. You will also be pleased to make reports to this Department as often as it may be convenient for you to do so. Very little information in respect to the nature of the service and its requirements at the station to which you have been assigned to command has reached this Government. The Department is anxious to know accurately the condition of things there and the necessities of the service, so that it can act with full intelligence, which is so much wanting at present. A return of your command is required.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. DEAS,
Acting Adjutant-General
-----
ORDERS, No. 1
PENSACOLA, FLA.,
March 11, 1861.

I. In compliance with Special Orders No. 1 from the War Department, Confederate States of America, dated at Montgomery, Ala., March 7, 1861, Brigadier-General Bragg assumes the command of all troops in the service of said States in the vicinity of Pensacola. His headquarters will be at Fort Barrancas.

BRAXTON BRAGG,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Confederate first actions/preparations:

WAR DEPARTMENT,
Montgomery, March 16, 1861.
Capt. J. C. BOOTH,
Corps of Artillery, Commanding Baton Rouge Arsenal:

CAPTAIN: Issue with all possible dispatch to General Braxton Bragg, commanding forces at Pensacola--
One thousand 8-inch columbiad shot; two thousand 8-inch columbiad shell; four thousand 42-pounder shot; two thousand 24-pounder shot; one thousand 18-pounder shot; one thousand 12-pounder shot; fifteen hundred 10-inch shell (columbiad shell, if possible); one hundred and thirty-eight 24-pounder spherical case, strapped; one hundred and forty-seven 24-pounder grape-shot stands; seventy-nine 18-pounder grape-shot stands; eighty-eight 8-inch grape-shot stands; one hundred and fifty 8-inch columbiad cartridge bags; fifteen thousand priming tubes; two thousand port-fires; five hundred pounds slow match; four thousand friction tubes; fifty thousand musket buck and ball cartridges (percussion).

Have made and issued to General Bragg as above, with all possible dispatch--
Two thousand 8-inch cartridge bags for columbiads; two thousand 42-pounder cartridge bags; two thousand 32-pounder cartridge bags; one thousand 24-pounder cartridge bags; one thousand 12-pounder cartridge bags.

By order of the Secretary of War:
GEO. DEAS,
Acting Adjutant-General.
-----
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 4.
HDQRS. TROOPS CONFEDERATE STATES,
Near Pensacola, Fla., March 18, 1861.
The commanding general learns with surprise and regret that some of our citizens are engaged in the business of furnishing supplies of fuel, water, and provisions to the armed vessels of the United States now occupying a threatening position off this harbor.
That no misunderstanding may exist on this subject, it is announced to all concerned that this traffic is strictly forbidden, and all such supplies which may be captured in transit to such vessels, or to Fort Pickens, will be confiscated. The more effectually to enforce this prohibition, no boat or vessel will be allowed to visit Fort Pickens, or any United States naval vessel, without special sanction.
Col. John H. Forney, acting inspector-general, will organize an efficient harbor police for the enforcement of this order.
By command of Brig. Gen. Braxton Bragg:
ROBERT C. WOOD, JR.,
Assistant Adjutant-General.
-----
WAR DEPARTMENT,
Montgomery, March 19, 1861.
Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG,
Commanding Troops near Pensacola, Fla.:
SIR: Capt. G. W. Lee, of Atlanta, who will present you this letter, is in command of a company of volunteers from Georgia. This company, consisting of one hundred men, chiefly artisans, is exclusive of the quota which has been required from that State, and the Secretary of War desires you will cause the officers and men to be mustered into service and assigned to duty.
The requisition for the 5,000 troops for your command, mentioned in the communication from this office of the 14th instant, is now being rapidly filled. The several commands will be pushed forward with the least practicable delay, and may be shortly expected to report to you.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General.
P. S.--I take occasion to inform you that the Government has accepted the services of a battalion of Louisiana Zouaves, to consist of not less than four hundred or more than five hundred men, with a proper proportion of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, to serve in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States for a period of twelve months or during the war, unless sooner discharged. One hundred and fifty men of this battalion will be immediately sent to your command, and the remainder of this battalion will follow a few days after.
------
MOBILE, March 21, 1861.
Hon. L. P. WALKER:
The sloop Isabella, laden with stores mostly for officers of the United States Navy at Pensacola, was seized last night by the acting mayor, and at the request of General Bragg.
W. J. HARDEE,
Colonel First Regiment Infantry.
------
WAR DEPARTMENT, A. G. O.,
Montgomery, March 25, 1861.
Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG,
Comdg. Provisional Forces, Pensacola Harbor, Fort Barrancas :

SIR: In reply to your communication of the 21st, I am instructed by the Secretary of War to state that the Provisional Forces called into the service of the Confederate States for the defense of Pensacola Harbor are as follows: 1,000 infantry from Georgia; 1,000 from Alabama; 1,000 from Louisiana; 1,500 from Mississippi, and 500 from Florida, making in all 5,000 infantry. The organization of companies will be Such as may be furnished by States, but the number of privates should not fall below fifty per company. Should the companies come singly, or organized into battalions or regiments before muster into service, they will be received with such officers as have been furnished by the State, medical officers excepted. The field officers are either elected by the companies or appointed by the respective governors. Such medical officers as may be required for the troops of your command you are authorized to employ under contract. The battalion of Louisiana Zouaves, mentioned in my communication of the 19th instant, will be mustered as they arrive, including the officers who accompany them.

I inclose a brief of the organization of a regiment of infantry and a company of artillery and cavalry of the C. S. Army, as fixed by law.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General.
-----
MONTGOMERY, March 29, 1861.
General BRAXTON BRAGG, Pensacola:
Your communication of the 27th received.(*) Do you propose or prefer an increase of force beyond the five thousand ordered, and to what extent?
S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General.
(*) Note: Not found. Entered in Confederate archives as "Plan of Attack on Ft. Pickens"
On March 31, 1861, Bragg actually reports he has:
General Staff 17
1st Alabama 46 Officers and 762 Men
Georgia volunteers 4 Officers and 106 Men
Louisiana Zouaves 5 Officers and 95 Men

Total Infantry: 55 Officers and 963 Men
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Confederate first actions/preparations:

WAR DEPARTMENT,
Montgomery, March 16, 1861.
Capt. J. C. BOOTH,
Corps of Artillery, Commanding Baton Rouge Arsenal:

CAPTAIN: Issue with all possible dispatch to General Braxton Bragg, commanding forces at Pensacola--
One thousand 8-inch columbiad shot; two thousand 8-inch columbiad shell; four thousand 42-pounder shot; two thousand 24-pounder shot; one thousand 18-pounder shot; one thousand 12-pounder shot; fifteen hundred 10-inch shell (columbiad shell, if possible); one hundred and thirty-eight 24-pounder spherical case, strapped; one hundred and forty-seven 24-pounder grape-shot stands; seventy-nine 18-pounder grape-shot stands; eighty-eight 8-inch grape-shot stands; one hundred and fifty 8-inch columbiad cartridge bags; fifteen thousand priming tubes; two thousand port-fires; five hundred pounds slow match; four thousand friction tubes; fifty thousand musket buck and ball cartridges (percussion).

Have made and issued to General Bragg as above, with all possible dispatch--
Two thousand 8-inch cartridge bags for columbiads; two thousand 42-pounder cartridge bags; two thousand 32-pounder cartridge bags; one thousand 24-pounder cartridge bags; one thousand 12-pounder cartridge bags.

By order of the Secretary of War:
GEO. DEAS,
Acting Adjutant-General.
-----
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 4.
HDQRS. TROOPS CONFEDERATE STATES,
Near Pensacola, Fla., March 18, 1861.
The commanding general learns with surprise and regret that some of our citizens are engaged in the business of furnishing supplies of fuel, water, and provisions to the armed vessels of the United States now occupying a threatening position off this harbor.
That no misunderstanding may exist on this subject, it is announced to all concerned that this traffic is strictly forbidden, and all such supplies which may be captured in transit to such vessels, or to Fort Pickens, will be confiscated. The more effectually to enforce this prohibition, no boat or vessel will be allowed to visit Fort Pickens, or any United States naval vessel, without special sanction.
Col. John H. Forney, acting inspector-general, will organize an efficient harbor police for the enforcement of this order.
By command of Brig. Gen. Braxton Bragg:
ROBERT C. WOOD, JR.,
Assistant Adjutant-General.
-----
WAR DEPARTMENT,
Montgomery, March 19, 1861.
Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG,
Commanding Troops near Pensacola, Fla.:
SIR: Capt. G. W. Lee, of Atlanta, who will present you this letter, is in command of a company of volunteers from Georgia. This company, consisting of one hundred men, chiefly artisans, is exclusive of the quota which has been required from that State, and the Secretary of War desires you will cause the officers and men to be mustered into service and assigned to duty.
The requisition for the 5,000 troops for your command, mentioned in the communication from this office of the 14th instant, is now being rapidly filled. The several commands will be pushed forward with the least practicable delay, and may be shortly expected to report to you.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General.
P. S.--I take occasion to inform you that the Government has accepted the services of a battalion of Louisiana Zouaves, to consist of not less than four hundred or more than five hundred men, with a proper proportion of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, to serve in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States for a period of twelve months or during the war, unless sooner discharged. One hundred and fifty men of this battalion will be immediately sent to your command, and the remainder of this battalion will follow a few days after.
------
MOBILE, March 21, 1861.
Hon. L. P. WALKER:
The sloop Isabella, laden with stores mostly for officers of the United States Navy at Pensacola, was seized last night by the acting mayor, and at the request of General Bragg.
W. J. HARDEE,
Colonel First Regiment Infantry.
------
WAR DEPARTMENT, A. G. O.,
Montgomery, March 25, 1861.
Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG,
Comdg. Provisional Forces, Pensacola Harbor, Fort Barrancas :

SIR: In reply to your communication of the 21st, I am instructed by the Secretary of War to state that the Provisional Forces called into the service of the Confederate States for the defense of Pensacola Harbor are as follows: 1,000 infantry from Georgia; 1,000 from Alabama; 1,000 from Louisiana; 1,500 from Mississippi, and 500 from Florida, making in all 5,000 infantry. The organization of companies will be Such as may be furnished by States, but the number of privates should not fall below fifty per company. Should the companies come singly, or organized into battalions or regiments before muster into service, they will be received with such officers as have been furnished by the State, medical officers excepted. The field officers are either elected by the companies or appointed by the respective governors. Such medical officers as may be required for the troops of your command you are authorized to employ under contract. The battalion of Louisiana Zouaves, mentioned in my communication of the 19th instant, will be mustered as they arrive, including the officers who accompany them.

I inclose a brief of the organization of a regiment of infantry and a company of artillery and cavalry of the C. S. Army, as fixed by law.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General.
-----
MONTGOMERY, March 29, 1861.
General BRAXTON BRAGG, Pensacola:
Your communication of the 27th received.(*) Do you propose or prefer an increase of force beyond the five thousand ordered, and to what extent?
S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General.
(*) Note: Not found. Entered in Confederate archives as "Plan of Attack on Ft. Pickens"
On March 31, 1861, Bragg actually reports he has:
General Staff 17
1st Alabama 46 Officers and 762 Men
Georgia volunteers 4 Officers and 106 Men
Louisiana Zouaves 5 Officers and 95 Men

Total Infantry: 55 Officers and 963 Men
Wow, thank you so much for writing all that. I'll give it a look when I have time.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Preparations for attack and worries about Union reinforcements:
WAR DEPARTMENT, A. AND I. G. O.,
Montgomery, April 3, 1861.
Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG,
Commanding Troops in Pensacola Harbor, Warrington, Fla.:

GENERAL: I am instructed by the Secretary of War to inquire whether you have made any progress in or preparation for the erection of reverse batteries on Santa Rosa Island, and if you have considered this mode of attack.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
-----
PENSACOLA, April 5, 1861.
Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War:

Dispatch of 3d received. We are prepared for defense. Should the agreement not to re-enforce be violated, may I attack? Answer immediately.
BRAXTON BRAGG.
-----
MONTGOMERY, April 5, 1861.
General BRAGG, Pensacola, Fla.:

Can you prevent re-enforcements being landed at other points on Santa Rosa Island other than the docks? Do you mean by "attack" the opening of your guns upon the fort or upon the ships? If the former, would your operations be confined to battering the fort? Telegraph, and write, also, fully.
L. P. WALKER.
-----
PENSACOLA, April 6, 1861.
Hon. L. P. WALKER:

I can control the dock, but re-enforcements can be landed on the outside Santa Rosa Island in spite of me. The ships, except the Wyandotte, are beyond my range. She can be driven off or destroyed. Any attack by us now must be secretly made by escalade. My batteries are not ready for breaching, and we are entirely deficient in ammunition. No landing should be made on Santa Rosa Island with our present means. Will write.
BRAXTON BRAGG.
-----
WAR DEPARTMENT, A. AND I. G. O.,
Montgomery, April 6, 1861.
Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG:
The Government at Washington have determined to re-enforce Fort Pickens, and troops are now leaving for that purpose.
S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
-----
HEADQUARTERS CONFEDERATE STATE TROOPS,
Near Pensacola, Fla., April 6, 1861.
Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War, Montgomery, Ala.:
SIR: Your dispatch of the 5th instant reached me this morning, and was answered immediately. Mine of the 3d,(*) asking if I might attack, was predicated on several occurrences which I could not explain in a dispatch, and which admitted of no delay. A strong easterly wind was blowing, calculated to drive off the United States naval vessels. It continues yet, but they hold on, though evidently with trouble. They have placed an Engineer officer in Fort Pickens in violation, as I conceive, of the agreement "not to re-enforce." And, finally, I have reason to believe the garrison in Fort Pickens is greatly demoralized by influences which are operating strongly in our favor. Under these circumstances I desired to know if I should be free to act when a favorable occasion might offer. Believing myself that the United States Government and some of its agents are acting in bad faith towards us, I do not hesitate to believe we are entirely absolved from all obligations under the agreement of 29th January; but as a question of political policy might be raised, I deem it prudent to ask the consent of the Department before acting on so important a matter.

I am not prepared with my batteries for anything more than a feeble defense (see my requisition for ordnance and ordnance stores), and that condition cannot be changed until I can get supplies. The only attack which I could hope to make now would be a sudden dash, distracting the enemy by a false attack, and scaling the walls in an opposite direction. The weakness of the garrison, and the ardor and ignorance of my troops, would be strong elements of success. In this movement I should not propose to fire a gun unless in the diversion.

Such is now the incessant occupation of my staff officers in receiving, supplying, and organizing troops that but little can be done in other preparations. We have the force and the labor necessary, but the skill to apply them is confined to a few.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BRAXTON BRAGG,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.
-----
PENSACOLA, April 7, 1861.
Hon. L. P. WALKER:

Your dispatch of 5th answered by telegraph and letter. I shall fire upon any re-enforcements to Pickens unless ordered not. Need supplies called for in my ordnance requisition. Have but few cartridge bags and no flannel. I shall send to Mobile for some to-day, but have no money to pay. Not a cent has been received since I arrived. Dispatches for Fort Pickens and the fleet can be received from Washington through the post-office here. The blow is over, and the vessels stood it out. Twelve hundred men expected on to-day from Mississippi and Georgia.
BRAXTON BRAGG,
Brigadier-General.
-----
MONTGOMERY, April 8, 1861.
General BRAGG, Pensacola:

Our Commissioners at Washington have received a flat refusal.
L. P. WALKER.
-----
MONTGOMERY, April 8, 1861.
General BRAGG, Pensacola:

The expression "at all hazards" in my dispatch of this morning(*) was not intended to require you to land upon the island. The presumption is that re-enforcements will be attempted at the dock, and this I hope you can and will prevent, though it should lead to assault of your works. The belief here is that they will not only attempt to re-enforce the fort, but also to retake the navy-yard.
L. P. WALKER.
-----
 

NFB22

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jun 21, 2012
Location
Louisville, KY
So from these communications, it appears that as I stated earlier, Bragg would not have been able to oppose a landing on Santa Rosa Island (or Perdido Key for that matter) and he did not have sufficient artillery or ammunition to take the fort by force. At least not early on.

A side note: I see the mention of the capture of navy uniforms. I do know that a company of CS Marines was organized and outfitted at Pensacola before being sent north to Drewry's Bluff. They were issued US Navy caps along with blue and gray flannel shirts, blue and white trousers as well as a jackets all seized from the storehouse at Warrington.
 
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