Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28, 1861 - Developments on the Gulf Coast

Fort Pickens in 1861, by a Union officer.
January 28, 1861

A series of events that took place 150 years ago today in Louisiana and Florida resulted in the loss of several facilities to the U.S. government, while another was all but guaranteed to remain in Union control for the duration of the coming war.

From Pensacola, recently resigned U.S. Senator Stephen R. Mallory telegraphed still serving senators from Louisiana, Virginia and Pennsylvania in an effort to avoid bloodshed over Fort Pickens on Florida's Santa Rosa Island. If President James Buchanan would agree not to reinforce the fort, Mallory offered, Florida would not attack it. While Mallory's intent was noble, the move would lead to the Fort Pickens Truce on the next day, an agreement that gave U.S. forces the time they needed to prepare Fort Pickens for battle. Once the guns of the fort were mounted, any hopes Southern forces might have had of taking it were all but over.

To learn more about the events that took place in Florida in 1861, please visit our sister site, Civil War Florida.

In Louisiana, meanwhile, state forces took Fort Macomb east of New Orleans while also seizing military supplies in the Crescent City. One of the two forts located at the Rigolets, a channel leading from Lake Borgne into Lake Pontchartrain and to the "back door" of New Orleans, the masonry fort was a vital defense of New Orleans.

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