Civil War buffs in Florida know the first shots of the Civil War took place around midnight on January 8, 1861, at Fort Barrancas, a fort adjacent to the port of Pensacola. With just 46 soldiers, fort commander Lt. Adam J. Slemmer began moving weapons and doubling guards.
Thinking the Union was deserting the fort, some twenty armed civilians marched to the sally port gate hoping to claim the structure. They found the drawbridge up and the corporal of the guard pointing his rifle at them. He fired at the force to alarm the rest of the fort. The civilians fled away.
The next day Stemmer decided the mainland fort was indefensible against a large Confederate force so he spiked the guns and secretly moved supplies to Fort Pickens, a fort across Pensacola Bay on Santa Rosa Island. If not for Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., the first real battle of the Civil War would have started when Union supply ships reinforced Pickens. Unlike Sumter, Pickens remained in Union hands, blocking Pensacola Harbor. For more visit the FHIC Civil War Section.