Sunday, November 22, 2009
A Battle In The Keys
Located on the Perdido Key in Florida, Fort McRee was begun in 1834. It was a three tiered fort with a separated water battery. The fort was completed in 1839, but the 124 guns weren’t in place until around 1844. The fort was named in 1840 for Army Engineer Colonel William McRee. The first soldiers stationed at the fort were of Company I of the 3rd United States Artillery, and they began service there on May 2nd 1842.
At the outbreak of the Civil War there were less than 50 Federal troops in Pensacola. The senior officer, First Lieutenant Adam J Slemmer, moved them all to his most defendable location at Fort Pickens, across the bay from Fort McRee. The Union soldiers spiked the guns at Fort McRee on January 9th 1861, and the Confederate troops took over the evacuated fort on the 12th of the month.
Beginning on the morning of November 22nd 1861, Union troops at Fort Pickens along with the ships the “USS Niagara” and the “USS Richmond” laid in a heavey bombing. The Confederates in Fort McRee returned the fire and did damage to the “Richmond”. The combined effect of the ships and firing from Fort Pickens, overcame the Rebel artillery and the guns at Fort McRee fell silent around 5pm. The bombing by the Union forces resumed the next morning, but the guns at Fort McRee remained quite.
Fort McRee was badly damaged by the attack. Chunks of wall were blown away and one part of the wall had completely collapsed. A powder magazine caved in killing 6 Confederate soldiers. Confederates abandoned Pensacola in May 1862. When they left they burned the Fort.