Preparing for war — a Confederate photograph of 1861
Florida opens the grim game of war. On a sandy point at the entrance to Pensacola Bay over two hundred years ago, the Spaniards who so long held possession of what is now the Gulf coast of the United States had built a fort.
On its site the United States Government had erected a strong fortification called Fort Barrancas.
Between this point and a low-lying sandy island directly opposite, any vessels going up to Pensacola must pass.
On the western end of this island was the strongly built Fort Pickens.
Early in 1861 both forts were practically ungarrisoned.
This remarkable picture, taken by the New Orleans photographer Edwards, in February, 1861, belongs to a series hitherto unpublished.
Out of the deep shadows of the sally port we look into the glaring sunlight upon one of the earliest warlike moves.
Here we see one of the heavy pieces of ordnance that were intended to defend the harbor from foreign foes, being shifted preparatory to being mounted on the rampart at Fort Barrancas, which, since January 12th, had been in possession of State troops.
Fort Pickens, held by a mere handful of men under Lieutenant Slemmer, still flew the Stars and Stripes.
But the move of State troops under orders from Governor Perry of Florida, in seizing Fort Barrancas and raising the State flag even before the shot that aroused the nation at Fort Sumter, may well be said to have helped force the crisis that was impending. |