On January 15th 1861 Florida militia Colonel William Henry Chase demanded the surrender of Fort Pickens which was being used as a United States Army garrison.
Florida became the third state to secede on January 10th 1861 and began right away to seize Union property. On January 15th 1861 on the behest of the Florida State Governor, Florida Militia Colonel William Henry Chase demanded the surrender of Fort Pickens at Pensacola, Florida. Chase had been a Captain in the United State Army Corps of Engineers, and had designed and oversaw the construction of the Fort.
The United States commander of the Fort was Lieutenant Adam J Slemmer, he refused to surrender. Slemmer had 81 men under his command, who he had moved from the other local Forts of Barrancas and McRee over to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island. When Chase and his aide; Captain Ebenezer Farrand went to Fort Pickens to demand the surrender, they were met outside by Slemmer and his second in command; Second Lieutenant J H Gilman. The Confederates were denied entrance to the Fort. Chase had written the demand for surrender and gave it to Farrand to read, but he was without glasses, and so Gilman took it and read it out loud.
Gilman asked how many he faced and if Chase thought they could take the Fort by force. Chase said that he could, but he would loose about half of his men. Chase told Slemmer that Florida could not allow the Fort to be held and that he must know an attack would bring on a Civil War.
The next day Union Navy ships in the harbor moved closer to the Fort and Slemmer refused to surrender, and the Fort remained in Union hands throughout the war.