Friday, January 14, 2011

January 14, 1861 - Fort Pike Seized and Fort Taylor Occupied

Fort Taylor (Florida State Archives)
January 14, 1861

As the military situation in the South continued to grow more tense, moves were made on January 14, 1861 - 150 years ago today - involve key forts in Florida and Louisiana.

In Florida, Captain J.M. Brannan of the First U.S. Artillery moved his company from the Key West Barracks into Fort Taylor on the night of January 14th.  Begun in 1845 and still under construction, the fort was a strong work with three tiers of artillery that commanded the harbor at Key West. The movement was made at the request of Captain E.B. Hunt of the engineers, who was supervising work on the fort, following the secession of Florida and reports of seizures of other forts and arsenals throughout the South.

Fort Taylor is now a part of the Florida State Park system and is open to the public daily. To learn more, please visit

In Louisiana on the same day, state militia forces occupied Fort Pike. Built in 1819-1826, the strong masonry fort guarded the Rigolets, a channel that connected Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain, providing water access from the Gulf of Mexico to the "back door" of New Orleans. The importance of this channel had been made clear by British operations at the time of the Battle of New Orleans (1814-1815) and the U.S. had moved quickly to strongly fortify the Rigolets.

Fort Pike is now a Louisiana State Historic Site and is open to the public by appointment. To learn more, please visit,

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