Monday, January 10, 2011

January 10, 1861

On Thursday, January 10, 1861, Florida became the third state to secede from the Union.  A state convention voted for secession 62 to 7.

At Pensacola, the Federal troops under Lieutenant A. G. Slemmer abandoned Fort Barrancas and moved to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island.

In Louisiana, Braxton Bragg and the state militia seized Forts Jackson and St. Philip and the arsenal at Baton Rouge.  William Tecumseh Sherman, then the head of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy (later Louisiana State University), called Bragg's actions "an act of war and a breach of common decency."  He resigned his post in protest but agreed to stay on until he could turn the school over to a successor.

In one of the more comic episodes of these final prewar days, the citizens of Smithville and Wilmington, North Carolina came down with secession fever and seized Forts Johnson and Caswell.  A few days later Governor John W. Ellis ordered the forts returned; North Carolina had not seceded and was not really even considering it.  The two caretakers, who had demanded receipts for the property, told the citizens they would take the forts back "if there was none of it broken, or none of the ammunition expended."

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