|Drawbridge of Fort Barrancas|
It is a little known fact that the first hostile shots of the Civil War were actually fired on the drawbridge of a Florida fort on the night of January 8, 1861.
The incident at Fort Barrancas near Pensacola took place three months before Confederate troops opened fire on Fort Sumter and one day before cadets from The Citadel fired their cannon at the relief ship Star of the West at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. It is also interesting to note that the gunfire came from U.S. troops, not Southern forces.
|Fort Barrancas (right) and Water Battery|
Slemmer was devoted to the Union cause and, having heard that troops from Florida and Alabama were moving to seize the fort, he took steps on January 8, 1861 - 150 years ago today - to prepare Fort Barrancas for defense. The gunpowder from the fort's Water Battery was moved into the main citadel, the cannon were prepared for action and a sergeant's guard was placed in the fort that night. Slemmer also took the additional precaution of having the drawbridge raised.
|Cannon at Fort Barrancas|
The "alarm" reported by Slemmer was actually given by opening fire on the intruders. The musket shots were the first hostile shots of the Civil War and were fired 150 years ago tonight.
One of the men against whom the fire was directed was R.L. Sweetman of Mobile, Alabama. He later described how he and a friend had heard that the fort had been evacuated by U.S. troops and went to investigate. They had just come up on the platform leading to the raised drawbridge when soldiers in the fort opened fire on them. They quickly retreated and according to his account no one was injured. Slemmer reported that there were 20 men in the party.
If you would like to read more about this incident, please visit http://civilwarflorida.blogspot.com. You can learn more about Fort Barrancas by visiting http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortbarrancas1.