Fort Pickens and Fort Jefferson


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 23, 1861

The February 23, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly featured a number of interesting Civil War historical stories.  It includes the women and children being evacuated from Fort Sumter, illustrations of Fort Sumter and Fort Jefferson, and reports of a number of Abraham Lincoln Speeches.  Scroll down to see the complete page, or the Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest.


Statue of George Washington

George Washington Statue

Wives Leaving Ft. Sumter

Good-By to Fort Sumter

Reverand Murray

Rev. Murray

Abraham Lincoln Speeches

Fort Pickens and Fort Jefferson

Lieutenant Slemmer and Gilman

Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens

Fort Pickens

Fort Pickens

Fort Jefferson

Fort Jefferson

Map of the Confederate States

Map of the Confederacy




FEBRUARY 23, 1861



WE publish on page 120, from a drawing kindly furnished us by Mrs. Gilman, wife of Lieutenant Gilman, United States Army, second in comment at Fort Pickens, a view of that work, showing Fort McRae in the distance. The harbor of Pensacola —as is shown by the map published in this journal two weeks since—being the best harbor in the Gulf is protected by no less than three batteries, exclusive of the Navy-yard. These are Fort Pickens or Rosa Island; Fort McRae, a water-battery on tin main land, fronting Fort Pickens ; and Fort Barrancas, situate near the Navy-yard, between that point and Fort McRae.

Fort Pickens is the commanding work of the station. It is a pentagon, with a bastion at each angle. It has a counterscarp and glacis on one (the land) side, mounts guns in barbette on all sides, and has a tier of casemates on the four water sides. Its ditch is usually so full of moccasin and rattlesnakes as to be a peculiarly bad place of transit. In fact, the whole island is infested with them.

If fully equipped Fort Pickens would mount 21E guns, and would require a garrison of 2000 men, It contains, at present, only eighty-seven men. under the command of Lieutenant Slemmer, with whom is Lieutenant Gilman.

We have described, in previous numbers of this journal, the surrender of the United States Navy yard at Pensacola to the Florida troops, and the occupation of Fort Pickens by Lieutenant Slemmer. Mrs. Slemmer said to a city reporter:

" The exodus from the Barrancas Fort was made necessarily in much haste, there being little time except to hurredly pack up the most valuable of their articles of furniture and wardrobe. No personal violence was offered to these retreating women and children ; but the sudden and peaceable breaking-up of so many peaceful households, and the violent separation of family ties, were cause of great distress. To many the parting of husband and wife was as if for the last time, and tears bedewed many a hardy cheek when the last 'good-by' was spoken.

" The excitement produced upon the officers when they saw their flag at the Navy-yard hauled down, Mrs. Slemmer says, was most intense. It was a sight they never expected to see, and they had never conceived of the deep feeling of humiliation and vexation that the spectacle excited in every breast.

"During the day and night of the evacuation of Barrancas, and the transfer of the garrison to Fort Pickens, every person—men, the officers, and their wives—performed prodigies of labor, and never obtained a wink of sleep for nearly twenty-four hours and the hard work fell about equally upon all, without regard to rank or sex. The ladies cheerfully performed their part throughout the trying ordeal. On the day following the embarkation of the families on board of the Supply, Mrs. Gilman and Mrs. Slemmer, accompanied by officers from the storeship, went on shore under a flag of truce, to obtain a last interview with their husbands.

" Every step of their progress was met by armed officials. They were obliged, first, to obtain permission from the new Commandant of the Navy-yard—Randolph, who ten days before had resigned his commission in the Navy. This was very reluctantly granted, after appeals had been made to him as a husband and father. They then had to pass the Barrancas forts, whose commander, after some hesitation, allowed them to pass. In this place, so lately deserted by these peaceful and happy families, all was now confusion. The undisciplined soldiers or their understrappers had broken open some of the trunks and boxes containing the wardrobes and household relics of Colonel Winder, late Commander, probably in pursuit of clothing for their own use ; and they saw ladies' dresses and family daguerreotypes scattered about with little regard to their vaunted respect for the rights of personal property."

At latest dates from Pensacola, the Mississippi troops had returned home, but the Alabama troops were still there, bent on trying to storm Fort Pickens. There were five United States vessels anchored off Pensacola. The Brooklyn was among the number, having just arrived, and presented a warlike appearance. The Alabama troops regarded this fleet as a menace, and were disposed to fire into them. The insurgent troops were quartered at the Navy-yard, having taken possession of all the stores belonging to the United States. In fact, it was the only means of subsistence which they had. They had also sent large quantities of these supplies to other points on the coast.


WE publish on page 121, from a very accurate drawing sent us from Fort Jefferson, Florida, a picture of that work, which is destined, in all probability, to play a prominent part in the events of the year. On 18th ult. the Joseph Whitney landed at this fort Major Arnold's company of artillery, which places it in a position to resist an assault.

This fortification extends over the whole surface of Garden Key, and has an area of over thirteen acres. It is completely closed against surprise by escalade, though its armament is incomplete. The first and second tiers, however, are finished, and the twelve outworks of bastions and curtains can mount three hundred and fifty guns. The fort is further fortified by a wide ditch, reaching to the water, and protected by a strong counterscarp. The guns of the fort command the inner harbor, but the outer bay is beyond their longest range. The whole armament of the fort, when complete, is 450 guns, and the garrison necessary for its defense 1000 men. Captain Meigs, of the engineer corps, is now in command of the fortress, and is in a position now, with Arnold's reinforcement, to defend it against any thing less than a regularly-equipped besieging army.

The following extract from a letter from Key West describes the reinforcement of Fort Jefferson by the Joseph Whitney:

"It was on the 18th of January that the Joseph Whitney was descried by those maintaining possession of this important fortress. The steamer did not show any flag, and her motions were watched with intense anxiety by Captain Meigs and his small band of laborers, composed of about fifty persons (a part of whom were negroes, engaged in putting the fort in a state of defense. No flag was flying from the fort, and the steamer's company were far from certain that the insurgents had not surprised and

captured it. Therefore, to ascertain how matters stood, a boat, in which were the first mate and Lieutenant Benson, went on shore to ascertain the actual posture of affairs with regard to the power holding the post. The relief of Captain Meigs and party may be supposed at receiving the agreeable information that the steamer contained reinforcements with the view of preserving the fort to the United States, instead of a filibuster party to seize it for traitorous purposes. His gratification was increased by the fact that a rumor had prevailed that a steamer, with an armed force of two hundred men, would be sent from some Florida port to wrest the fort from its rightful possessors."

"olim meminisse jubabit."

OF pictures bath my soul good store,

Skilled mistress of encaustic art; Insatiate, ever gathering more

In the full chamber of the heart.


And tenderly, in after days,

The faint and fading lines are scanned, Memorials of oft-trodden ways,

Dim sketches of a traveled land.


Then, as she turns them o'er and o'er,

On some she casts a lingering eye, Treads and re-treads the dusty floor,

Would fain, yet can not, lay them by.


That ivied gable why regard ?

That sloping meadow, fringed with wood ? That oaken table hacked and scarred, Japanned by many an inky flood ?


Beneath that roof the boy has slept;

Full oft in that green field has played; O'er that old table laughed and wept ;

Learnt many a line beneath that shade.


As one who in a long ascent

Looks back the misty vale to scan, Trace I those scenes, all dimly blent, The paths I trod ere toil began.


The hill, where many a summer's day

To watch the game our master stood; Below, the merry group at play,

Above, the overhanging wood.


The long, low boat-house on the shore Of lazy, shadow-loving Wear,

Now lashed to spray by laboring oar, Now startled by the school-boy's cheer.

The mill, unvexed by clacking wheel, Long given to silent, mouldering ease; Whose waters, idly pent, reveal

The bole and branch of stately trees.


Three flood-stained arches of a bridge Suspended high 'twixt leafy bowers : The reflex of a shadowy ridge,

O'ertopped by crumbling Norman towers.


Hard by that solemn house of God

The turf 'neath which our master lies;

Turf which in sport we lightly trod, Life's chances hidden from our eyes.


There let me stand and look my last,

As once, dear master, at thy side I stood, and burying all the past,

Strove hard in joy my grief to hide.


Nor I alone ; for in that place

Where thou hadst taught to love and fear, Was gathered many a sorrowing face, Repressed was many a rising tear.


We brought a gift ; but thou didst prize

The love that made each bosom swell—Love, beaming forth from honest eyes,

Love, striving with the word " farewell !"


Love, that on thee and thine attends,

Locked in the silent breasts of men Who for thy sake, 0 hest of friends !

Would live their boyhood o'er again.



FIFTEEN degrees below zero! The snow creaked beneath the passing wheels as if in pain ; wayfarers, muffled yet shivering, hurried by, each blowing a cloud of vapor at every clung to the beard and bushy locks of many a hirsute pedestrian; while poor teamsters and stage-drivers swung their stout arms to and fro, and made the cold an excuse for numberless drinks of unexampled strength. From the river a cloud like steam was going up, white and fleecy, while in the docks and along the piers the ribbed ice walled the timbers in a glittering barrier. In many a warm parlor sat rosy children, trying industriously to keep a clearexhalation—icicles space on the window-pane; but Jack Frost as resolutely repainted its surface, shutting the outer scene from their view.

In a cheerless garret, in one of the wretched houses where poverty huddles and hides, sat a wan, hungry child, vainly trying to keep life and warmth in the blue fingers and stiffening limbs. The scanty supply of fuel was exhausted, and but a few white ashes remained on the hearth to recall the memory of a fire that had been there the day before. Harry, more weak from long illness, worn out with hunger, and heart-sick from loneliness, was silently crying as he sat by the hearth, with his head resting on the old chair beside it, and the poor worn blanket drawn around his shoulders.

" Mother, dear mother, where are you ! Harry will die here all alone." Then with pain and weariness, the child drew the old arm-chair to the window to watch and wait for her coming, if in-deed a more dread visitant should not enter before that time ; for Harry knew that the chill and the stupor coming on were fatal symptoms. In quiet despair he drew himself up within the tattered covering, and leaning his head backward, gazed dreamily on the tracery the frost had woven on the shattered pane ; for Jack Frost is no aristocrat, and his patterns are as beautiful and complicated on the cracked surface of the poor man's window as on the polished French plate of the brown stone front.

Harry gazed on the fairy pictures idly until fancy showed him landscape and waterfall, forest and streamlet ; and their changing forms blended with his dreams while the chilling life-blood grew colder and stiller. There seemed to be the grove of nodding trees and the grassy dell where he was born. There was even the tiny cataract behind the house, and the winding road beyond the brook. Soon it changed, and there seemed a mournful funeral train, and he knew that it was headed by his father's bier. The feathery, evergreens lined the way, and plumes were on the horses' heads. Shadowy mourners, ghost-like and weird, were following close behind, and their long garments trailed along the way.

Then, like the changes of the magic lantern, he saw a sunny open sea, where the wooded islands seemed bathed in eternal sunshine, and myriads of white-winged birds circled over the gleaming expanse. And even as he looked the snowy figures took the form of angels, white-winged and white-robed, who seemed to beckon. Still, as in a dream, he saw the spirit band bending over a dying child, folding the cold limbs in their em-brace, and gliding slowly, swiftly on and up through the clear sky, to vanish there. His eyes were shut now, the poor hand sunk helpless beside him, and the faint flicker of the heart-beat was the only token of life remaining.


AND the boy's mother—where was she when her child was dying of cold and hunger ? In one of the aristocratic houses on the Avenue the poor seamstress waited as patiently as she might the payment of her bill. She was in Mrs. May's nursery, whither she had been directed to wait that lady's coining, as soon as she could leave her guests ; for the house was vocal with the sound of merry laughter, as one after another arrived, and came tripping up the stairs to lay aside their warm bright wrappings, and the glitter of silver and glass in the dining-room below betokened a dinner party. Mrs. More stood by the fire warming her chilled fingers, but with a deadly chill at her heart as she thought of the suffering child at home. She glanced from the window, and found that the win-try sun had almost set, and she felt inclined to go home penniless as she had come. " Wait a few moments," Mrs. May had said, and now an hour had passed away. The servants were all out of her reach; she could not intrude herself among the brilliant guests below, even if she had known the way thither. She glanced around the room where she sat, and her eye fell on the child's bed, where the soft warm blanket and pillows were ready to infold the little sleeper. Then, as she remembered her own bright, noble boy in his rickety chair and tattered covering at home, she groaned aloud, and fairly wrung her hands in agony. The tears, so bravely kept back, were falling now like rain, for the thin hand could not check them; and, unstrung by want and sorrow, site could not be brave any longer.

A slight rustle, a tiny footfall, and a childish voice at her side lisping out, " Is you sick ?" roused her; and she looked with wonder at the little creature that stood beside her in rosy robes and floating ribbons, with blue eyes like stars amidst a cloud of golden ringlets, the tiny hands clasped behind her as she bent forward to look in her face, " Is you sick ?" and the sweet sympathy of childhood for sorrow and woe dimmed her blue eyes as site repeated her query. It was some moments before she could speak to tell the grief that was so heavy at her heart. Gravely and silently the baby-angel listened, still with the small hands clasped behindher, until the short tale was told, when she said, with a smile, " I know—mamma fordot ;" and away she bounded, leaving a hope and a prayer in the seamstress's heart. It was not many moments be-fore she returned dragging mamma by her rich robe, saying, all the way as she came up stairs, one foot at a time, " You fordot, didn't you, mamma?"

Pretty little Mrs. May, with her bright attire and cheeks all aglow, came hurrying in so full of compunction for her carelessness, of heart-felt sorrow for her fault, that, sorely tried as Mrs. More had been, she could not feel angry longer. The bill was soon adjusted ; but in her quick way Mrs. May said, " Wait!" and off she flew. "Here, Sarah, right away ! get a basket. Now a big quilt from the room up stairs ; and, Thomas—quick !—be ready to take this bundle—put in as much wood and coal as you can carry. Sarah, go to cook for some cold meat, and—I'll get a bottle of wine, and Lilly shall help put up sugar and tea for us." And thus she flew around chattering, and adding to the burden until the stout serving-man began to eye it askance, and afterward remarked to the cook, " That the missus hadn't no reason in her at all, sendin' sich cart-loads of things to oust." And the said cook, being in a severe mood, echoed the sentiment—"Jest like her, sending you out when it's most dinner-time !" and she punched the game she was preparing for the fire viciously. Small difference it would have made to Mrs. May at that moment what their views might be. She was too full of self-reproaches to heed them ; and after she had dispatched the messenger and received Mrs. More's heart-felt thanks, she did what just such a warm-hearted, careless little woman would be sure to do—she " had a good cry," and scolded herself

in this wise: " Freezing and starving, and I was keeping her waiting. I'll never be good for any thing, I ant afraid." Then Lilly's soft voice and caress recalled her, and she bathed her eyes and smoothed her thick ringlets anew ; and if there was in her manner that night a new grace, and in her eye a new light, it was the grace of humility when she remembered duty procrastinated, and the glow of charity from the outgushing of a warm heart.

Through the long avenues, down the cold, dark alley, and up, up to the cheerless room walked, or rather ran, poor Mrs. More with a step so rapid that Thomas could scarcely keep pace with her. But when the crazy door was opened, and the white form of the little child was seen in the chair pale and stiff, when from the blue lips no answering caress greeted the poor mother, stout-hearted Thomas fairly quailed before her bitter grief. At first they thought him dead, but a faint flutter of the heart and a tremor of the eyelids gave them hope. Pouring wine down his throat, rubbing his stiffened limbs, and wrapping him close in the warm covering they had brought, at last they saw the life slowly ebbing back ; and by the time the fire was lighted on the hearth the boy- opened his eyes as if in a dream, and smiled as he spoke that one dear word "Mother."

For a long while in the years that came after this, when Mrs. More and her son had gone off to the country, and they met no more, Lilly would listen to no story with so much pleasure as this; and when she inclined to put off until tomorrow what was the task for to-day, as she was very likely to do, Mrs. May would only touch her hand lightly and say, "Lilly, we remember Harry More, don't we, and how sorry mamma was that site put off her duty ?" and the work was done without an-other word. Years rolled away, and lent new beauty to the angel face of Harman May's only daughter; and the world wondered that she should be so good as well as beautiful—that her charities were so prompt, her promises so truly kept, and her kind deeds so thoughtfully planned and executed.


HARMAN MAY had dined, had smoked half a choice Havana, and read a few items of news, as he sat in his favorite chair one evening a dozen years after the date at which our story commences. Now it was no unusual thing for him to dine, still less to smoke or read after that, but to lay down paper or cigar until either was quite finished was unusual. So Mrs. May, a little stouter and more matronly than in that by-gone time, looked up, and her frank brown eyes propounded an inquiry, and Lilly glanced up from her book and forgot the thread of the story therein contained, and thought to herself that her father, albeit his hair was iron gray and his form a trifle bout, was much handsomer than the adorable Don Louis Extravada of the novelist. Another whiff of the cigar, and he rose, turned his back to the fire, and announced, " I am going to Billow tomorrow. I have heard a great deal to make me uneasy ; the mill is badly managed; the accounts are unsatisfactory; I am afraid the operatives are not fairly managed ; and I did not like Gilbert's manner when I questioned hint about it when he was here last week. I thought him a very trust-worthy young man when I sent him up there; but—I don't know."

"But, Harman, it is so cold and snowy," began his wife ; but he answered quickly,

"Can't help it; I never put any thing off, you know." She dropped her eyes, for she remembered the lesson on that precept, and smiled, wondering meanwhile if he intended the reproof.

"Oh, father, may I go too ?" pleaded Lilly, " to improve in skating, you know : oh, I should enjoy it so much, and Furnace Pond would be splendid! Carrie Wyman wrote me to come out sometime in the winter ;" and her face was all aglow with excitement as she coaxed, holding fast to her father's button as pertinaciously as ever an office-seeker did the like by a member of the house.

"Nonsense, child, you would freeze to death!" was the first answer to her request; and the last was, "Well, well, if mother says Yes, you may go: ten o'clock to-morrow, no delay for trunks and flounces to be packed. Skates all ready, warm cloak and hood all you need. No conquests to he made at Millow, I warrant." And thus it was arranged, and the evening of the next day saw them safely at their destination ; and Lilly's dreams were full of visions of skating like a bird, with Carrie Wyman's pleasant laughter for music. The Wymans were old friends, and the reunion was very delightful to both, and Lilly hoped that the business would not be adjusted very soon. So with those dreams and hopes passed the first night.

There was considerable confusion in her ideas when she woke in the morning as to where she was, who she was, and what was the meaning of the mill-bell ringing so early, instead of the noise of vehicles rolling by and the milkman's shrill yell, which sounds saluted her waking cars in her city home. Then the sunshine came peeping iii at the window by her bedside, and, leaning on her elbow, she saw the bright, beautiful country snow-scene the glittering rime on every, bush, the very roads white and pure, and far off the shining ice of Furnace Pond.

Then breakfast—and away the two girls started for a walk on the hard snow, to plan out walks and sleigh-rides and skating parties innumerable; and Mr. May to the counting-room of the mill, where no sign of life betokened the faithful went who was supposed to be there on all occasions. The said young gentleman was at that moment just about arraying. himself for a hunting expedition, after which he proposed to hire a team and proceed to the next town for a pleasure excursion, and settle all bills out of the money deposited in his hands for the purchase of wool and for the payment of the few hands engaged in sonic minor operations during the stoppage of the big wheel, which was now fast fettered by the thick ice. The knowledge of



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