Union Fort Occupations: Pensacola and Fort Pickens

Union Fort Occupations: Pensacola and Fort Pickens :: St Augustine: A Divided City

Fort Pickens, Florida Fort Pickens, Florida
McDonell, Augustus O. to His Mother. Camp Magnolia, April 28, 1861
McDonell, Augustus O. to His Mother. Camp Magnolia, April 28, 1861
Columbiad Guns of the Confederate Water Battery at the Entrance to Pensacola Bay
Columbiad Guns of the Confederate Water Battery at the Entrance to Pensacola Bay

This Civil War-era map shows the area surrounding Fort Pickens, located on Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola Bay, Florida.  The fort was constructed between 1829 and 1834 to help fortify the Pensacola Harbor. U.S. Army Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer took control of the fort in January of 1861, the same month that Florida seceded from the Union. 

Augustus O. McDonnell of Gainesville, Florida, served in Company H of the First Florida Infantry, also known as "Gainesville's Minute Men."  In this letter, Augustus describes Confederate preparations to take back Fort Pickens around April of 1861.  Despite the repeated Confederate attempts to take the fort, it remained under Union control throughout the Civil War.

On page one of this particular letter McDonnell  uses the "cross writing" technique that is often found in Civil War letters.  This method involves writing perpendicularly over existing text in order to save paper.

Columbiads were cannons that were able to fire projectiles at both high and low trajectories, and were used by both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.  This particular photograph depicts Confederate soldiers with the columbiad cannons at the entrance to Pensacola Bay in 1861.