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Fort Barrancas (1839-1947) - Present day Fort Barrancas is a Third System masonry fort designed by Joseph G. Totten who became the Chief Engineer of the Army. Located in Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida. The fort was constructed between 1839-1844 and deactivated 15 Apr 1947.
Fort Barrancas History
Fort Barrancas was one of four Third System fortifications designed to defend the Pensacola Harbor and navy yard along with Fort Pickens, Fort McRee and the Advanced Redoubt. The Advanced Redoubt is located near Fort Barrancas and was designed to stop land movement of enemy troops toward the naval yard. Fort Pickens and Fort McRee were located on islands in the Harbor.
The interior of the brick Fort Barrancas is a bit unusual in that it has no parade. It is filled with earth that slopes upward from the sally port toward the front gun positions and has no flat area for buildings or a parade. This arrangement made it impossible to house a significant number of troops within the walls of the brick fort and necessitated a separate cantonment area for housing and support. This separate area, located on the left flank of the old fort, came to be known as Barrancas Barracks but had a number of other names. The Barrancas Barracks served as the headquarters and support area for the three Third System forts, Fort Pickens, Fort McRee, Fort Barrancas and the Advanced Redoubt. The forts were rarely garrisoned in peacetime and Barrancas Barracks maintained a minimum number of men who could garrison the forts if needed.
Fort Barrancas is really two fort sites that are very close to one another and linked by a tunnel. The first site is actually the brick Third System Fort Barrancas built on the remains of a series of earlier forts including:
- Fort San Carlos de Austria (1698-1719) Spanish
- Royal Navy Redoubt (1763-17??) British
- San Carlos de Barrancas (1787-1839) Spanish/British/American
- Fort Barrancas (1839-1947) American
The second site is the Spanish built Water Battery below Fort Barrancas but connected by the underground tunnel. Also known as:
- Bateria de San Antonio (1787-) Spanish/British
- Fort San Carlos () Spanish/American
- Water Battery () American
After the Mexican War, Fort McRee, Fort Barrancas and Fort Pickens were garrisoned only during drills, maneuvers and target practice from the barracks at Fort Barrancas, this continued up to the start of the U.S. Civil War.
U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)
Florida left the Union 10 Jan 1861 and secessionists seized Fort Barrancas, Fort McRee and the Advanced Redoubt, only Fort Pickens remained in Union hands and it effectively blocked Confederate use of Pensacola Harbor. Federal forces reinforced Fort Pickens and managed to withstand bombardment and land assaults from Confederate forces. By May 1862 New Orleans had fallen to Union forces and Confederate forces abandoned attempts to take Fort Pickens. Confederates forces withdrew from the Pensacola area , all of the Pensacola Harbor defenses, including Fort Barrancas, were returned to Union control. The Pensacola area remained under Union control for the rest of the war.
Fort Barrancas was deactivated On 15 Apr 1947 and the site was added to adjacent Naval Air Station Pensacola. In 1971, Congress authorized the establishment of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, administered by the National Park Service. A $1.2 million, eighteen-month restoration project led to its reopening in 1980. Both Fort Barrancas and the Advance Redoubt are located on Naval Air Station Pensacola and access may be controlled.
Location: Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida
Maps & Images Lat: 30.347839 Long: -87.297561
- Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 147-149
- Kaufmann, J.E. and Kaufmann, H.W., Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America, 1600 to the Present, DaCapo Press, 2004, ISBN 0-306-81294-0, page 222-223
Visited: 26 Apr 2013, 16 Dec 2009
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