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Featured Book: The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories
Author Michael Smith tells the story of the thousands of women who provided important intelligence that led to the Allied victory in the Second World War. Learn more
Everyone who reads about the American Civil War knows about Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina and how the opening shots of the Civil War were fired there by Confederate forces commanded by P.G.T. Beauregard at Union Major Robert Anderson's artillerymen manning the fort. But most people dont know that there was another fort in the seceded Southern states that both sides were willing to go to war over in 1861. Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island at Pensacola Bay, Florida was the other U.S. military installation that had a Union garrison and the Confederate forces wanted it. The Union wanted to keep control of the fort to show that they did not recognize the new Confederate government as legitamate or its claims on Union property in the seceded states, and they wanted to maintain control of Pensacola Bay as a safe harbor to base Union Naval forces for blockading the Confederate Gulf coast. The Confederates already had captured the Pensacola Naval Yard, Fort Barrancas, the adjacent water battery, Fort McRee on Perdido Key across from Fort Pickens on the opposite side of the entrance channel to Pensacola Bay, and Barrancas Barracks, built to house the garrisons of the forts in peacetime. But the Southerners needed Fort Pickens to secure Pensacola Bay and enable them to use the great natural harbor in conjunction with the Naval Yard as a base for blockade runners and commerce raiders to aid the Confederate war effort.
To this day U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson is recognized as an American hero for his actions at Fort Sumter, but hardly anybody has heard of First Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer who commanded the Union army forces at Fort Pickens. Like Anderson he refused to surrender the fort he was entrusted to hold by the U.S.Read more ›
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