Capt Eugene Cernan, USN
Lt Roger Staubach, USN
Heisman Trophy , NFL Superbowls VI XII,
NFL Hall of Fame
January 27, 1967. Robert Chaffee USN, died in the line of duty.
He and two crew members died from a fire in Command Module at Cape Kennedy during simulation countdown.
The photo below were the men present at the Naval Aviation Museum for the celebrated achievements of the astronauts, engineers, scientists that contributed to success in the Space Race.
Several of these gentlemen in the photo below graduated from flight school here at NAS Pensacola.
Kenneth Cockrell USN
Charles Conrad, Jr. USN
John O. Creighton USN
Robert L. Crippen USN
Frank L. Culbertson USN
R. Walter Cunningham USN
Robert Curbeam USN
Joe F. Edwards USN
Ronald E. Evans USN
Dale A. Gardner USN
Jake E. Garn USN
Robert L. Gibson USN
Clifton C. Williams USN
Donald E. Williams USN
Richard Richards USN
Kent Rominger USN
Walter Schirra, Jr. USN
Winston Scott USN
Elliot See USN
Alan Shepard, Jr. USN
Michael John Smith USN
Robert Springer USMC
Susan Still USN
Frederick Stuckow USMC
Norman Thagard USN
Stephen Thorne USN
Manley Carter, Jr. USN
Eugene Cernan USN
Douglas Hurley USMC
Dominic Gorie USN
David Griggs USN
Fred Haise, Jr. USN
Frederick Hauck USN
Kathryn Hire USN
David Hilmers USMC
Pierre Thuot USN
Richard Truly USN
James Van Hoften USN
David Walker USN
Paul Weitz USN
James Wetherbee USN
John Young USN
Gerald P. Carr
Charles Hobaugh USMC
Brent W. Jett USN
Joseph P. Kerwin USN
Wendy B. Lawrence USN
David C. Leestma USN
Don L. Lind USN
Michael E. Lopez-Alegria USN
John M. Lounge USN
John R. Lousma USMC
James A. Lovell, Jr. USN
Jon A. McBride USN
Bruce McCandless II USN
Michael J. McCulley USN
Michael L. Coats USN
Randolph Bresnik USMC
Andrew Allen USMC
Scott Altman USN
Neil Armstrong USN
Jeffery Ashby USN
Michael Baker USN
Alan Bean USN
Charles Bolden, Jr. USMC
Kenneth Bowersox USN
Vance D. Brand USMC
Daniel Brandenstein USN
James F. Buchli USMC
John Bull USN
John Glenn, Jr. USN
Richard Gordon, Jr. USN
Terrence Wilcutt USMC
Thomas K. Mattingly II USN
Edgar D. Mitchell USN
Franklin Story Musgrave USN
Carlos Noriega USMC
Bryan D. O’Connor USMC
Stephen S. Oswald USN
Robert F. Overmyer USMC
William F. Readdy USN
Kenneth S. Reightler, Jr. USN
Daniel W. Bursch USN
Robert D. Cabana USMC
Kenneth D. Cameron USMC
Malcolm Scott Carpenter USN
Fred Haise, Jr. USMC
George Zamka USMC
On Memorial Day,
hundreds of volunteer's place our Country's Flag on the tomb stones of the fallen.
The 1st Commodore of the Navy Ship Yard
Captain Lewis Warrington
Firing a salute on George Washington's birthday, Feb. 1861, while in Pensacola Navy Ship Yard. The Navy hospital to the right.
1860, Seminole Sloop built at the Navy Ship Yard
Historic persons having come through Naval Air Station Pensacola.
Some serving their term of enlistment, some in flight training, some astronauts, some entertaining... and some just making history!
The first six columns are of all the Astronauts that came through Pensacola.
21 Day Salute in December
by Wreaths Across America.
A flag is placed on each of the 32,643 graves in the Barrancas National Cemetery on board Pensacola Naval Air Station for Memorial Day. The memorial begins at 0900 (9:00 am). Flags are placed 12 inches (one foot) in front of the headstones and markers. The front of the headstone is marked with the religious emblems along with the name of the decedent.there are no cancellations for rain; the event proceeds, as Memorial Day will occur... rain or not.
Wreaths Across America (WAA) has enacting a 21-Day Salute, recognizing groups and individuals who exemplify the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. The organization has a goal to place a wreath at every headstone at Arlington National Cemetery, but they have a dream that people across the country will share the mission of WAA for generations. Wreaths Across America has evolved from a single gesture of kindness by Morrill and Karen Worcester to a national tradition.
There is no place that speaks to the true sacrifices of Pensacola's long military history as this cemetery. Still in use today, it provides a final resting place for veterans from every branch of Service and of every major American conflict since the War of 1812. Among the early graves, the names of men who served in battles against pirates in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean during the early 19th century. There are also men who served in the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. I have very close family members and friends laid to rest there. So, I can honestly say the Cemetery is VERT HONORED, VERY RESPECTED, VERY WELL MAINTAINED and still used.
I am going to jump ahead a bit and cover Pensacola's BIG TIME HISTORY of the...
USO (United Service Organization)
USO Club of Pensacola
This was the location of the original Pensacola USO building and YES it still stands! It was named the USO Northwest Florida Club in Pensacola during World War II. The Pensacola branch of the USO was chartered in 1941 and, with the assistance of congressional appropriation of funds, was being pushed and lobbied for by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to honor ALL of the military persons serving our Country for both Enlisted and Officer's. Side Note: President Roosevelt has come to Pensacola a couple of times (first time was in 1918, when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy and is pictured further below). He returned from a three week long fishing trip to Pensacola, Florida aboard the U.S.S. Houston coming into port at NAS Pensacola in August of 1941, February 1942 coming to visit the USO facility at 25 S. Spring Street just south of W. Garden Street. Pensacola’s USO building is one of the first (of only 5) USO buildings constructed across America. This is a very historic building. I am unsure as to when the USO building closed it's doors, but I'm still trying to get that information to share. As of the late 1990’s and into the very early 2000’s (still, as of 2012), this site is mostly used for storage. The USO has since moved to the Pensacola International Airport, nicknamed "The Flight Deck" is located on the second floor. The other USO location is USO NAS Pensacola nicknamed “The Hangar” at 153 Ellyson Avenue, Building 625D, Open: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM (Monday through Friday), 9:00 PM to 9:00 PM (Saturday and Sunday), 365 days a year. It's across from the NEX/Gas Station.
Major Newby had a narrow escape from capture. He was confined to his bed dangerously ill at the time of the attack, and having been assisted to dress by his servants, was on the point of leaving his quarter, when the rebels charged up to the door. One of his servants was instantly killed, and the other taken prisoner; the Major leveled his revolver and shot one of the rebels through the head, and then passing quickly out of the house, succeeded in mounting his horse, and rode safely through the storm of bullets showered upon him. The Sixth Regiment lost ten who were killed, sixteen wounded, and nine prisoners. The regulars had four killed, twenty wounded, and ten prisoners. The rebels lost, by their own statement, 350 killed, wounded, and missing. We took thirty-five prisoners, including three doctors, who were released."
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THIS PHOTO BELOW AND THE INFORMATION THAT DIFFERS FROM THE HARPER'S WEEKLY.
READ THE MARKED and RECORDED HISTORY OF THE BATTLE! (below, left)
The Advanced Redoubt is sometimes called Fort Redoubt. The Redoubt was built to defend the land approaches to both Fort Barrancas and the Pensacola Navy Yard. As a result, its design and construction is markedly different from the other Pensacola Bay forts. Advanced Redoubt was first armed in 1851, but construction was halted in 1859. It was never fully completed. It was occupied by CSA troops until May 1862. Also, it was known as Barrancas Redoubt during the Civil War by both sides. The Redoubt was practically abandoned after 1870 and was restored by the National Park Service in 1976. It may not seem like much, but honestly it is a step back in time.
Last, but not least, of the "Third System" of coastal defenses is...
The Advanced Redoubt 1845
The Redoubt was constructed to work in conjunction with Fort Barrancas to defend the tip of the Pensacola peninsula and the Pensacola Navy Yard from attack by land. Fort Barrancas and the Advanced Redoubt were positioned at the southern and northern edge of the peninsula at the narrowest point so that any enemy force attempting to take the Pensacola Navy Yard would have to pass between the forts and cross the trench line that connected them.
The Advanced Redoubt is trapezoid with two long unequal sides with the shortest side toward the landward direction of attack. The Redoubt has a dry moat with a drawbridge to the entrance, but unlike Barrancas the moat completely surrounds the fort. The redoubt was designed to make a landward assault by foot soldiers as costly as possible. The outer walls of the moat feature rifle ports that would create a deadly crossfire. The ramparts mounted fifteen guns. This is the least known of the huge masonry forts built by the United States during the 19th century to defend Pensacola Bay is also the most unique.
All of the photos above are from THEN.
Below is from NOW.
General Braxton Bragg took command of Confederate Pensacola on March 11, 1861, and continued work on the batteries. On October 9, a Confederate force of 1000 troops landed east of Fort Pickens, but was repelled by Union forces. Fort McRee and Fort Barrancas exchanged heavy cannon fire with Fort Pickens on November 22–23, 1861 and January 1, 1862. However, in May 1862, after hearing that the Union Army had taken New Orleans, Confederate troops abandoned Pensacola. Braxton Bragg is a graduate of West Point and during his Army career he promoted to the rank of Colonel while in the U.S. Army. Due to his grand ability to lead and his extensive knowledge while serving, The U.S. Army named Fort Bragg in his honor.
During the late 1890s and early 20th century, new gun batteries were constructed at Fort Pickens. These batteries were part of a program initiated by the Endicott Board, a group headed by a mid-1880s Secretary of War, William Endicott. Instead of many guns located in a small area, the image most people have of a fort, the Endicott batteries are spread out over a wide area. This system used dispersement and concealment for protection from naval gunfire, which was more accurate and powerful than in the past. The use of the modern, powerful weapons eliminated the need for the concentration of guns that was common in the Third System fortifications. One such battery, called Battery Pensacola, was constructed physically within the walls of Fort Pickens and is now fenced off because of the deterioration of the Battory, while other similar concrete batteries were constructed to the east and west as separate facilities. The ruins of these later facilities are also included in the Gulf Island National Seashore complex. To take a ride out to Fort Pickens as it is quite honestly a two day (all day) adventure. One can take tours of the sites or just walk the grounds, the batteries, the fort, trek out to the beach, see "everyday" birds (such as; Bald Eagles, Osprey, Falcons, Hawks & lots more) and even choose to camp and/or fish from the pier while being out there. IT IS SO VERY WORTH THE TRIP OVER THERE TO CHECK IT OUT... WHETHER YOU ARE A TOURIST OR A LOCAL! I have YET to have a "bad" trip out there.
Shown to the left is a SMALL portion of the British Fort of Pensacola, it had its starting point in 1754. The photo to the right shows when Jefferson Street was being re-conditioned and
re-paved. There is no idea how much of the fort had been destroyed considering the amount of building and parking lots
that have been constructed over the centuries. Another portion of the fort was found behind former City Hall/City Courthouse (now the T.T. Wentworth Museum). Further inspected by the University of West Florida and historically marked for preservation.
Fort Barrancas Constructed 1839-1844
On Board Naval Air Station Pensacola
Fort Barrancas occupies a spot overlooking the Fort San Antonio and Pensacola Bay first fortified by the British in 1763, later by the Spanish in the late 1790s. In 1840 the United States remodeled a masonry water battery originally constructed by the Spanish, and rebuilt the hill top fortifications into an impressive brick fortification known as Barrancas between 1839 and 1844. Starting in 1845 the Advance Redoubt was constructed as part of Pensacola's defenses; this is the only fort designed to guard against a land-based attack of the Pensacola Navy Yard. These fortifications were part of the United States comprehensive "Third System" of coastal defenses, as mentioned further above. Construction of these Third System forts began in 1816 with most being complete before the Civil War. These were large masonry forts that were to be constructed along the nation's coastline to protect important harbors, cities, interior waterways, and navy yards from seaborne and land based attacks.
This flag has been professionally conserved (partially restored) and is now on permanent display at the T.T. Wentworth Museum in downtown Pensacola. Constructed of scraps of material, some cotton, and some wool, some straight weave, and some twill, this flag was obviously hastily made by sewers with little practical sewing experience. The eight stars indicate it was made after April 17, 1861 when Virginia (the eighth state) seceded, and before word had reached this area that Arkansas and Tennessee (the ninth and tenth states) had seceded on May 6, 1861. On October 9, 1861, the flag was captured in battle by Wilson's Zouaves (the 6th Infantry Regiment, Billy Wilson's Zouaves; Union Battalion Zouaves, Union Volunteers) who took it to New York for display as a trophy of war. It hung for a while in the New York City Hall, and was exhibited at the New York Sanitary Commission Fair in April 1864 with the label: "Taken by Wilson's Zouaves in Florida." Later it was acquired by Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc., a retail surplus military goods business, where, until the 1970s, the flag was hung on display among hundreds from various wars. In 1994, it was acquired by Dr. Norman Haines, and exhibited in the Civil War Soldiers' Museum. Dr. Haines gave the flag to West Florida Historic Preservation Inc. in 2004, after Hurricane Ivan destroyed his museum building. Over the years, the flag suffered from a lot of wear and tear. The patchwork construction, the differing materials and weaves, the injuries of battle, and decades of hanging unsupported from a staff caused a lot of distortion and stress damage. There were numerous stains, holes, and tears in the weakened fabric, and some sections were missing completely. In 2011, the flag was restored with funds donated by private individuals, mostly from the Pensacola community.
This sign formerly stood on Santa Rosa Island at Fort Pickens State Park. Something about a hurricane or two messing it up. Like we ever get those here! Umm, okay, we do! This marked the location of the October 9, 1861 Battle of Santa Rosa Island, with the actual tally of the killed, wounded, missing and captured. FROM BOTH SIDES. The recorded file for this battle states, "The entire battlefield of the Battle of Santa Rosa Island is in Fort Pickens State Park across the bay from Pensacola. The Confederates came by boats from the Navy yard to Pensacola where other troops joined the expedition against the Federals. The sign indicates the number of Federal and Confederate killed, wounded, missing and captured." OBVIOUSLY, HARPER’S WEEKLY NEWS REPORT WAS WAY WRONG! Upon historical and validated documents, the information provided to the public was NOT accurate. The following IS a very true statement and can be validified. CAPTAIN RICHARD G. BRADFORD: During the Civil War's Battle of Santa Rosa Island on the 9th of October, Captain Richard G. Bradford of Madison was killed. The battle was fought in an attempt to capture Fort Pickens which protected Pensacola Harbor. Bradford was first Confederate officer from Florida to die in the War Between the States. In his honor the Florida Legislature voted to change the name of New River County to Bradford County. Gov. John Milton signed the law December 6, 1861.
Fort Pickens was part of the defenses of Pensacola at the outbreak of the Civil War along with Fort Barrancas, Advanced Redoubt and Fort McRee. U.S. troops abandoned Barrancas and McRee early in 1861 but occupied Pickens for the duration of the Civil War. One of the first battles of the Civil War in Florida, the Battle of Santa Rosa Island, resulted from a Confederate attempt to capture Fort Pickens. Union forces were victorious and retained control of Fort Pickens throughout the Civil War.
Construction of Fort Pickens began in 1829, only 8 short years after Florida became U.S. territory. It was completed in 1834. It was part of the United States comprehensive "Third System" of coastal defenses. Construction of these Third System forts began in 1816 with most being complete before the Civil War. The completion needed to complete the construction was an overwhelming, with more than 21 million bricks needed to complete the project. The bricks were made on the mainland of Pensacola and brought on sight via water. These were large masonry forts that were to be constructed along the nation's coastline to protect important harbors, cities, interior waterways, and navy yards from seaborne attack.
Some of the dated images of each section visually covers the change / growth in history from THEN and NOW.
1899, Main Gate at the
Pensacola Navy Ship Yard
PENSACOLA NAVY YARD - ESTABLISHED IN 1825 and is now the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola
In 1825, only 3 years after the Florida Territory became a State in the United States of America, Congress passed a law authorizing a navy yard on Florida's Gulf Coast. A 3-man commission team came to Pensacola to examine the area as a possible site. Their report favored Pensacola, and in December, 1825, the Secretary of the Navy reported Pensacola's selection. In 1826 plans for the yard were laid out, but not until 1830 was the yard established. Captain Lewis Warrington (center picture below), a member of the 1825 commission, was the first commander. Hence, the community and county road located to the west of downtown Pensacola that is titled after him (Warrington Community and New Warrington Road).
MORE OVER, THE FIRST SHOT OF THE CIVIL WAR HAPPENED HERE IN PENSACOLA... NOT FORT SUMTER!!! THIS IS A HIGHLY CONTESTED FACT!!!
We'll cover more of this fact of history in a moment.
For now, the following photos / paintings and history are of Fort Pickens... from THEN and NOW.
Fort Pickens 1829, just 3 years after the Pensacola Navy Yard was founded
Fort George was a British fort at Pensacola, built in 1778 atop Gage Hill. The fort was the largest of a trio of fortifications on the hill, along with the Queen's Redoubt (about 600 yards out) and the Prince of Wales Redoubt (about 300 yards out). It was surrendered to Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez in the 1781 after the 3 month Battle of Pensacola during the American Revolution and renamed Fort San Migeul (Fort Saint Michael). Again, this is known for being one of the most important American Revolution battles. After the battle the Spanish government did not occupy the fort or the redoubts and further deteriorated after receiving the brunt of the battles attack. During the Civil War, Union forces placed a small battery called Fort McClellan on the site, and several decades later, the Confederate memorial park Lee Square was established there. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places onJuly 8, 1974. In 1976, a nine-month archaeological excavation discovered remnants of both the British and Spanish forts, and a portion of the fort was reconstructed. That area is now a historical waymarkered park that is maintained by the City of Pensacola. The following are photos of the area... from Then and Now.
Fort George, 1778
British Fort of Pensacola 1763, but but its building was built around the site of the Spanish Presidio 1752
The first complete architectural foundation was of the early Spanish period from 1752 to 1763.The British fort, 1763 until 1781, was built with stockade lines and wall trenches (this fort was later used as the location of the Spanish fort, so named Spanish Presidio (again) from 1781 until 1821. The British took West Florida from Spain in 1763, they began to build their own fort around the run down Spanish Presidio in the Plaza Ferdinand. The area of present day Seville Square is and was a cleared area just to the east of the British fort and Ferdinand Plaza. Seville Square of today was the open area to the west of the British fort.
A vast majority of the land that made the Fort a fort has been reused several times throughout Pensacola's history. As Florida became part of the United States, the colonists used the land to fortify and protect our territory. In 1887, a building containing the Masonic Temple #7 (located on the second floor) and a restaurant (on the first floor) was constructed. This building had a few other uses through time. It became Club Rooms, a Police Patrol, a free clinic for the youth, a city garage and a fire station. In 1956 the building was completely torn down and the parking lot we have today was placed. In 1994, this area was historicaly marked and honor & tribute was paid to those who built Pensacola from its beginning as it was the new Capital of Florida.
Pictured to the left is one of the two remaining portions of the British Fort of Pensacola. This excavated area includes a part of the space where the Commanding Officer's compound was located. It included a building, outbuildings, a formal garden area and an outdoor kitchen (well, during those times an indoor kitchen was not normal). In addition, it was the center of Fort business after the American Revolution and is where Andrew Jackson raised the FIRST American Flag for the newly aquired Florida Territory. General Andrew Jackson became Governor Andrew Jackson.
Fort San Carlos de Austria and the Presidio Santa Maria de Galve’ 1698
The Spanish fort and presidio was erected in 1698. This, as pictured above, was a bastioned log fort about 100 yards square and was located on "La Barrancas de San Tomé" ("Cliffs of St. Thomas" and barrancas is a Spanish word meaning: red clay bluffs, cliffs) at the Santa Maria Presidio complex. Initially armed with 12 guns, later 28 guns. This site was located on the dune ridge between present-day Barrancas and Slemmer Avenues., about 1500 feet east of Fort Barrancas.This was the beginning of both a military occupation and the permanent settlement on the present day Naval Air Station Pensacola (NAS Pensacola). The fort protected the fortified settlement against attack from the French, British and American Native Indians. The French burned the fort after taking control of Pensacola in 1719. In 1722, the Spanish reoccupied Pensacola ("changing" the name back to Panzacola). Completed in 1797, the Bateria is the third oldest standing fortification in Florida and one of the oldest in the continental United States. The history of Bateria de San Antonio can be traced back to the American Revolution. The British, who then controlled Florida, had built a fort atop the red clay bluffs or barrancas of Pensacola Bay. Called the Royal Navy Redoubt, this fort was designed to prevent enemy warships from sailing into the bay.
In 1781, however, the Spanish fleet of Bernardo de Galvez stormed into Pensacola Bay suffering little damage from the guns of the redoubt. The general's allied forces went on to capture Pensacola in one of the least known but most significant battles of the American Revolution and in 1825 becoming the U.S. Navy Yard of Pensacola, also called Warrington Naval Yard (hence Warrington community to the west of downtown Pensacola). This, becoming what is now NAS Pensacola.
For over 300 years this original Fort of San Carlos site was lost. Between the 1995-1998 time periods, archaeologist from the University of West Florida rediscovered it and found that much of the settlement still survives below the ground. In the top row's second photo is a small portion that was rebuilt and is located in its original location, the third photo marks the location of where the outer walls once stood. Below, the photos of Fort San Antonio, which was later named the Water Battery. Then Fort Barrancas was built above it. All of this can be seen and/or visited when you go out to NAS Pensacola.
A BROAD HISTORY OF THE MILITARY IN AND AROUND PENSACOLA ... THEN AND NOW
Let's get to more of our Then and Now, quoting a portion from Paul Harvey "...the rest of the story."
Pensacola was first settled by the Spanish in 1559 becoming THE FIRST EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES. Yes, Pensacola IS older than Saint Augustine. St, Augustine is the first city in the United States. Pensacola (Panzacola) is the first settlement. It may have very well become the first on both points, but the settlement established by Don Tristan De Luna was cut short due to a devastating hurricane that cut him off. The French forcibly overran the Spanish occupying Pensacola for a short period of time, from 1719 - 1722. Great Britain occupied Pensacola from August 1763 - May 1781. This was when Panzacola became Pensacola and Flora became Florida. This is due to a change in dialect from espanol to english. The Florida Territory was traded to the British when the British swapped land. Cuba formaly was British Territory and they exchanged the territories. Pensacola was the British. Pensacola was the capital of the West Florida colony. When Bernardo de Galvez attacked the British held Pensacola during the American Revolution and in 1819 sold the Florida Territory to America. The Americans took formal control from Spain in July 1821. Pensacola became Florida's first Capital City and General Andrew Jackson became Florida's first governor. He was appointed by President James Monroe (no election needed). Here's a brief rundown of our history;
Presidio de Santa Maria de Galve and Fort San Carlos d'Asturias (both in 1698), Fort Ayenlade on Santa Rosa Island. These were destroyed by the French in 1719. France (using their french language called Pensacola, Pensacolle.
Presidio de Santa Rosa de Punta Siguenza (1723), destroyed by a hurricane in November 1752.
Fort San Miguel (in the late 1740's) was originally an eight-man blockhouse located at or near present-day Seville Square. It was renamed Presidio de San Miguel de Panzacola, or Fort Panzacola, in 1757 and was taken over by the British in 1763.
My goodness, I could keep listing all the forts/fortifications, but that would take way too much time, space and your ability to SEE Pensacola from THEN to NOW.
I will cover some more of this as it unfolded as we go. But for now, let's move on...
Trader Jon's and Martin Weissman are VERY MISSED. I, and many others, would love to see him remembered and honored with the opening of a Trader Jon's downtown.
He has been laid to rest in the Barrancas National Cemetery on NAS Pensacola.
Rest In Peace.
In May 1986, Mr. Martin Weissman was featured in Hope's birthday special, taped aboard the USS Lexington. To be so well known, well appreciated and respected it was (and still is) an awesome memory. Trader Jon's is definitely a lasting memory.
Trader Jon's was the basis of the fictional club "TJ's" in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman (imbd picture below), which was inspired by the Officer Candidate School at NAS Pensacola. With such an extensive collection of Naval Aviation and other military paraphernalia, Trader Jon's become a haven, not just for Naval aviators, but for aviation enthusiasts from all over the world.
Trader Jon's was founded by Martin "Trader Jon" Weissman and his wife Jackii on January 1, 1953. Trader was a World War II Army paratrooper who was honorably discharged for an ankle injury before being deployed to Europe. The couple had previously operated bars in Miami and Key West before moving to Pensacola.The bar's location at 511 South Palafox Street (now known as the Trader Jon's building) dates back to 1896 and was previously occupied by such tenants as Samuel Charles's shoe repair shop and Birgar Testman's ship chandlery. It was already a bar when Weissman purchased it, so there wasn't a whole lot of "prep work" needed to be done before they opened Trader Jon's.
Through all the years of a military in Pensacola, the first on the long list, the most respected and... the so very much missed is Martin "Trader Jon" Weissman. Trader Jon's was a bar in downtown Pensacola that was a popular destination for officers, enlisted and aviators stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola. I, personally, remember the very fun times I had at Trader Jon's. The staff, the patron's (both military and civilian) and Mr. Martin. He had sincere humor and his establishment was like walking through a military museum with an atmosphere that was full of wonder. I could spend my entire time there and not have a seat at the bar. Why? I didn't want to miss looking at the thousand's of breath takingly awesome items. There have been some VERY HIGHLY NOTED individuals who where graced with the honor of getting to visit Trader Jon's. Here is JUST A FEW of the persons who were asked by Mr. Martin to sign his modest little hard back autograph book. John Wayne, Don Johnson, Elizabeth Taylor, John McCain, John Glen, Prince Andrew, Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Junior, Roger Staubach, Emmit Smith, Roy Jones Junior, Tommy Kennedy, George H.W. Bush, Pappy Boyington. This list could take all day to write and share the history. I truely wish someone would purchase and open a "Blue Angel Museum Annex", or better yet a "Trader Jon's Remembered" bar. This is the only property that is left of the Trader Jon's Bar. The LOADS of keep sake items could be put back up and the loads of people coming to visit would be nothing short of amazing!!! Take a look at a very small portion of the historical memories of the, still loved, very deeply missed Trader Jon's Bar. Oh, and yes, there are quite a few photos from Trader Jon's and of Mr. Martin himself (even before the "info" started).
THE MILITARY HISTORY CONTINUES...
THE PAGE TAB (and the other pages) IS BELOW.
Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels
1898, Right next door to Trader Jon's location was the
Glad Hand Saloon, for sailors... and gentlemen alike.
This is the very first class of aviators for the United States Navy and...
it all started at NAS Pensacola in 1915!
Here is their picture roster.
Standing (L-R): Robert R. Paunack, Earl W. Spencer Jr., Harold T. Bartlett, Edwards, Clarence K. Bronson, William M. Corry, Norfleet, Edward O. McDonnell and Harold W. Scofield.
Seated: Richard C. Saufley, Patrick N.L. Bellinger, Kenneth Whiting, Henry C. Mustin, Albert C. Read,
Earle F. Johnson, Alfred Austell Cunningham, Francis T. Evans, and Haas.
This is the Wright Brothers, "Wright experimental seaplane" with a Wright 60 h.p. engine. This photo was taken at NAS Pensacola, 1914. There is a little bit more history of the Wright Brothers concerning Pensacola in the THEN & NOW 3 page.
Actors of the TV show
Pilots of Squad 214, WW II
This FG - 1D Corsair is at the National Naval Aviation Museum on the base of NAS Pensacola. The Corsair was in production the longest of the fighter aircraft during WW II. The Corsair was extensively used by the Navy and Marine Corps with both carrier and land base usage. The Corsair established itself as one of the very finest combatant aircrafts of World War II. It was restored to flyable condition by the late Wayne Thomas, Jr..
Ellyson Field Outside Landing Field (OLF)
Ellyson Field was named after the U.S. Navy’s first aviator Commander Ellyson (pictured further above). The Commander’s “flight name” (nickname) was “SPUD’S”. The entrance to Ellyson Field: "The Best Helicopter Pilots In The World Are Trained Here.", also 14 of the 15 APOLLO Astronauts. Ellyson Field is near downtown Pensacola and was the only facility for training helicopter pilots for Navy and Marines. It served as an auxiliary field for Chevalier Field. As World War II intensified, it was decided to make it into a larger field similar to Saufley & Corry Fields to assist in increased flight training. Construction began in 1941. The field consisted of six taxiways & runways, three hangars, administrative & operations buildings, barracks & a mess hall. On the morning of October 1,1941, five divisions of aircraft from VN2D8 (Basic Training Squadron) flew in a huge V of division from Chevalier Field to their new home at Ellyson. Training flights began that same afternoon. It shut down due to the rise in air traffic at Pensacola Regional Airport. The city airport was re-classified to the Pensacola International Airport in 2011. The 8 photos below are where you can see THEN and NOW. With some things, time does change. With others... they don't.
Navy Ship Yard Becomes Naval Air Station
The base is in Warrington, a community outside of the base. It is best known as the initial primary training base for all Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviators and Naval Flight Officers, the advanced training base for most Naval Flight Oficers. The Navy Department awakened to the possibilities of naval aviation through the efforts of Captain Washington Chambers (pictured below). He prevailed upon Congress to include in the Naval Appropriation Act enacted in 1911–12 a provision for aeronautical development. Chambers was ordered to devote all of his time to naval aviation. In October 1913, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels (pictured below), appointed a board, to establish a policy to guide future development. One of the board's most important recommendations was the establishment of an aviation training station in Pensacola.
On November 14, 1910, Eugene Burton Ely (the 1st Civilian Naval Aviator and pictured below) took off in a Curtiss pusher from a temporary platform erected over the bow of the U.S.S. Birmingham. The airplane plunged downward as soon as it cleared the 83-foot platform runway; and the aircraft wheels dipped into the water before rising. Ely's goggles were covered with spray, and the aviator promptly landed on a beach rather than circling the harbor and landing at the Norfolk Navy Yard as planned.
On January 20, 1914, was the arrival in Pensacola with the men and aircraft from the Naval Aviation Camp at Annapolis, Maryland. The aviation unit consisted of nine officers, 23 enlisted men, and seven aircraft.
Theodore "Spuds" Ellyson, (4th picture below) the first U.S. Naval aviator ("Naval Aviator No. 1"). Ellyson served in the experimental development of aviation in the years before and after World War I. He is a recipient of the Navy Cross for his antisubmarine service in World War I.
Barrancas National Cemetery
The area has been used as a burial ground since the War of 1812. It was solidly established as a United States Navy cemetery in 1838, pre-Civil War. During the Civil War, Pensacola was hotly contested, as it was considered to be the best port for access to the Gulf of Mexico. Numerous soldiers on both sides were interred in the cemetery after falling in combat, or dying in nearby hospitals. After the war, in 1868, Barrancas was officially made a National Cemetery and many other nearby makeshift burial grounds were disinterred and relocated to Barrancas. Barrancas contains a monument (centered below) honoring those who died from yellow fever. It was erected in 1884 by the U.S. Marine Corps Guard of the Navy Yard in memory of eight comrades who died in an epidemic during late August and early September 1883. The names of the fever victims are inscribed on the four faces of the monuments.
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat June–August 1946
Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat August 1946 – 1949
Grumman F9F-2 Panther 1949 – June 1950 (the first jet); F9F-5 Panther: 1951 - Winter 1954/55
Grumman F9F-8 Cougar Winter 1954/55 - mid-season 1957 (swept-wing)
Grumman F11-1 Tiger mid-season 1957 – 1969 (the first supersonic jet)
McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II 1969 – December 1974
Douglas A-4F Skyhawk December 1974 – November 1986
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 A/B Hornet (F/A-18B was the two-seated #7 aircraft) November 1986 – 1992
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 C/D Hornet (F/A-18D is the two-seated #7 aircraft) 1992–present
You can get a DEEP HISTORY of the Blue Angels in the next page, The Miitary in Pensacola 2.
Above you can get an overall view of all of the jets put into service for the Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron, the BLUE ANGELS from 1936 to 2004.
For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Pensacola Naval Air Station has a new aircraft on display at the main gate. In 1965, the Navy placed an F-11 F1 Blue Angel aircraft (1957-1969) on display at the main gate. In 2014, the aircraft was changed to an F/A-18 C/D that is and has been in use as a flight demonstration aircraft since 1986. This makes the F/A 18 the longest running jet fighter used since the Blue Angels started in 1946.
For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Pensacola Naval Air Station has a new aircraft on display at the main gate. 1st Class Petty Officer Brandon Dodd (photo right above), a member of the Blue Angels maintenance team and Non-Commisisoned Officer (NCO) in charge of the conditoning of the jet, helps unveil the new Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet display at the entrance of Naval Air Station Pensacola during the ceremony. As part of a series of events to celebrate the base’s 100 year anniversary, a special ceremony was held to unveil the new plane. During the ceremony the partial coverings were removed, revealing special details on the plane. Here is the list of jets picture above, with their dates of operation.
Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong,
he was here for baseball too.
This was (and still is) a valued part of the honor, love, respect and appreciation of those serving our Nation!
Now, lets move on with the Military History in Pensacola.
The new USO Information/Reception Center and Flight Deck Lounge opened in 2012 at the Pensacola International Airport.
Mac Davis, Bob, Sammy Davis Jr.
A birthday bash was held in honor of Bob Hope's 83rd Birthday and the 75th anniversary of naval aviation. This was all done aboard the USS Lexington at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Here is everyone that shared part in the celebration. (obviously) Bob Hope and his wife Dolores Hope, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Johnson (this was when he was in Miami doing the TV show Miami Vice), Phylicia Rashad, Brooke Shields, Mac Davis, Barbara Mandrell, Jonathan Winters, Sammy Davis Jr., Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, Patty Andrews and even the Blue Angels who did a fly over with a few aerial manuvers. These are just a few photos of the show (party) and this is a pretty good idea as to how many stars came to Pensacola to perform for all of the military personnel at the old (or original) USO building in downtown. Below these pictures I will follow this up with a list (and photos) of just a few of those I know for a fact performed there. I have yet to find a FULL LIST of the shows that where held there. Well... I'm not that old, but MAN how I still miss the good old days!!!
A postcard from 1945
President Roosevelt here in 1942, inspecting the USO building.
General Braxton Bragg
The sketchs to the left and right are showing the 1861 harbor defenses at the entrance to Pensacola Bay. The town of Warrington (shown east of Fort Barrancas) was moved north of Bayou Grande in the 1930s to provide land for Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. This is when the community of Woolsey was renamed and omitted. Hence, the name of the road of the area is scene today… New Warrington Road. Also scene in the sketching is of the Fort McRee. This fort succomed to the cannon fire received from Fort Pickens during the Civil War, elements of weather, time and a lack of ability for site upkeep.
Confederate troops outside of Fort McRee
Fort McRee Water Battery
Confederate troops in formation at Fort McRee
during the Civil War.
Fort McRee layout pre-Civil War
Army Private Rosamond Johnson, Jr.
May 18, 1933 - July 26, 1950
Army Private Rosamond Johnson, Jr. was the first Escambia County resident to die in the Korean War on July 26, 1950. He had successfully carried two wounded soldiers to safety and was returning with a third when he was fatally wounded. He had joined the military at age 15 and died at 17. He posthumously received the Purple Heart August 21, 1950. During the early days of an integrated military it was not uncommon for recognition to be overlooked for black troops. After the Korean Conflict the county-owned recreational area was renamed to honor its fallen hero. The area became part of Gulf Islands National Seashore May 8, 1973. A permanent monument in his honor was erected at Johnson Beach on June 10, 1996. Guest speaker, retired Army Maj. Gen. Mike Ferguson of Pensacola and the Veterans of Underaged Military Service, said the real heroes of the war - those who make the ultimate sacrifice - can never receive enough recognition. "There is no medal that signifies hero. You couldn't invent a medal to signify hero." He crossed the 38th parallel three times. The first two times, he carried back wounded. The third time, he got killed before he could make it back.
In grateful memory of
Private Rosamond Johnson, Jr.
RA 14 289 828, Infantry
Who died in the service of his country
in the military operations in Korea
on July 26, 1950
He stands in the unspoken line of patriots
who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings.
Freedom lives, and through it, he lives -
in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.
So, there you go. Now you have validated history.
"And now you know... the rest of the story." Paul Harvey
1st Lt. Adam J. Slemmer
The Harper's Weekly for November 9, 1861, carried this report of the Battle of Santa Rosa Island:
"THE FIGHT ON SANTA ROSA ISLAND"
"WE illustrate on this page an incident of the fight on 9th October on Santa Rosa Island-the REMARKABLE ESCAPE OF MAJOR NEWBY, of the Sixth New York Volunteers. The whole affair is decribed. The fight occurred on the morning of October 9. The Zouave camp was situated on Santa Rosa Island, about one mile from Fort Pickens , and was so distributed as to command all the approaches to the fort; and also to protect the batteries. The rebel force, 1500 strong, embarked from the Pensacola Navy-yard in three large steamers, and landed on the island, about four miles above the camp, Soon after 2 A.M. The night was very dark. The revels rapidly formed in three columns, and proceeded silently toward the Zouave camp, hoping to Effect a total surprise. In this they were but partially successful. The picket guard, stationed about 600 yards from the camp, discovered and fired upon them. This gave the alarm, and saved the regiment from annihilation. The attack of the enemy's columns was simultaneous, and volley after volley was aimed at the volunteers, who were forced to fall back, leaving their camp in the hands of the rebels, which they immediately commenced burning. Fort Pickens was by this time thoroughly aroused, and three companies of regulars went to the assistance of the Zouaves. It was now our turn-the rebels commenced retreating to their boats, closely followed by the regulars and a small number of volunteers keeping up a destructive fire upon them, killing and wounding a large number. The rebels finally succeeded in reaching their boats, but were not permitted to depart so easily. Their steamers were about five hundred yards from the beach, and our men poured volley upon volley into the crowded mass. Every bullet told, and from the shouts and utter confusion of the enemy it was clearly evident that we had obtained ample satisfaction. The regular soldiers behaved nobly, and great credit is due to Captains Robertson and Hildt, and Lieutenants Seely and Taylor, for the admirable coolness they displayed in maneuvering their respective commands. The volunteers were badly mangled, and Colonel Wilson is very much censured for the inefficiency and want of skill displayed n the action. He did not arrive at the scene of action until all was over. The camp of the Sixth Regiment was almost totally destroyed, officers and men losing everything.
This photo shows the railroad that was built from Langdon Beach to Fort Pickens. The railroad is no longer there, but a bicycle path has been built on the path from the Fort Pickens campground to the fort. The original length of the tracks was only 2.2 miles in length and used to bring supplies to the fort.
When the American Revolution started, he sided with the rebel militia, and was made a Captain. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General during the war.
It would be a really good idea for you to cover your ears considering the tremendous thundering noise and shock waves bouncing of the walls after firing this 32 pounder cannon (32 pounds is the weight of every cannon ball fired. This smooth bore cannon was cast in 1823 and would fire a solid shot just over a mile away. They must have had a real "blast" firing this cannon... HA HA.
On June 20, 1899, a fire in Fort Pickens' Bastion D reached the bastion's magazine, which contained 8,000 pounds of powder. The resulting explosion killed one soldier and obliterated Bastion D. The force of the explosion was so great that bricks from Bastion D's walls landed across the bay at Fort Barrancas, more than 1.5 miles away.
Fort Pickens was the largest of a group of forts designed to fortify Pensacola Harbor. Constructed between 1829–1834, Pickens supplemented Fort Barrancas, Fort McRee, and the Navy Yard. Located at the western tip of Santa Rosa Island, just offshore from the mainland, Pickens guarded the island and the entrance to the harbor. Its construction was supervised by Colonel William H. Chase of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Ironically, he opted to stay in Pensacola. This was largely because of the very nice home he had that located across from the State of Florida Governor's house and the Confederate States Secretary of the Navy Stephen Russell Mallory. These homes had their location at the intersection of Palafox and Wright Streets, the Perry home still stands. Chase was later appointed by the Confederate State of Florida as Major General to command its troops and seize for the South the very fort he had built.
By the time of the American Civil War, Fort Pickens had not been occupied since the Mexican-American War. Despite its dilapidated condition, Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, in charge of United States forces at Fort Barrancas, determined that Pickens was more defensible than any of the other posts in the area. His decision to abandon Barrancas was hastened when, around midnight of January 8, 1861, his guards repelled a group of local men intending to take the fort. The fort was also reinforced by troops and material that were brought by General Meigs, who had been sent by Lincoln and Sec Seward. Meigs was also the engineer who was responsible for building the Washington aqueduct and getting the dome on the US Capital. Some historians suggest that these were the first shots fired by United States forces in the Civil War. Shortly after this incident, Slemmer destroyed over 20,000 pounds of gunpowder at Fort McRee, spiked the guns at Barrancas, and evacuated about eighty troops to Fort Pickens. Despite repeated Confederate military threats to it, Fort Pickens was one of the few Southern forts to remain in Union hands throughout the Civil War. From 1886 to May 1887, the famous Apache Indian named Geronimo was "imprisoned" in Fort Pickens, along with several of his warriors. All of the Apaches had basically free roam within the walls of the fort, they weren't placed in jail cells at any time while there.
Col Greg "Pappy" Boyington Commanding Officer of VMA- 214
Black Sheep Squadron
Since I just went over some of the VERY well noted persons having gone through NAS Pensacola, here is one more I must inform you of.
Gregory "PAPPY" Boyington
USMC Pilot and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor
On February 18, 1936, Boyington accepted an appointment as an aviation cadet in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. He was designated a Naval Aviator on March 11, 1937, then was transferred to Quantico, Virginia, for duty with Aircraft One, Fleet Marine Force. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve on July 1, 1937 in order to accept a second lieutenant's commission in the regular Marine Corps the following day.
He attended The Basic School in Philadelphia from July 1938 to January 1939. On completion of the course, Boyington was transferred to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Group at theSan Diego Naval Air Station. He took part in fleet problems off the aircraft carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown. Promoted to first lieutenant on November 4, 1940, Boyington returned to Pensacola as an instructor the next month. (World War II, "Black Sheep Squadron") On September 29, 1942, he wrangled a major's commission. The Marine Corps were in great need of experienced combat pilots and in early 1943, he was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 11of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and deployed to the South Pacific as the Executive Officer of Marine Fighter Squadron 122 operating from Guadalcanal until April 1943. While assigned to VMF-122, Boyington did not shoot down any enemy planes. He became commander of Squadron 122 from July to August 1943. In September 1943, he became the Commanding Officer (CO) of the Squadron, better known by its nickname, the "Black Sheep Squadron". Boyington is best known for his exploits flying the Vought F4U Corsair in VMF-214. During periods of intense activity in the Russell Islands - New Georgia and the Bougainville - New Britain - New Ireland areas, Boyington added to his total almost daily. During his squadron's first tour of combat duty, the Major shot down 14 enemy fighter planes in 32 days. By December 27, his record had climbed to 25.
A typical daring feat was his attack on Kahili airdrome at the southern tip of Bougainville on October 17, 1943. He and 24 fighters circled the field where 60 hostile aircraft were based, goading the enemy into sending up a large force. In the fierce battle that followed, 20 enemy aircraft were shot down while the Black Sheep returned to their base without loss. Boyington’s squadron, flying from the island of Vella Lavella, offered to down a Japanese Zero for every baseball cap sent to them by major league players in the World Series.
They received 20 caps and shot down many more enemy aircraft.
On January 3, 1944, he tied the American record of 26 enemy planes destroyed when he downed an enemy plane over Rabaul. He was shot down just after getting his 26th shoot down. Following a determined but futile search, Boyington was declared missing in action. He had been picked up by a Japanese sub and became a P.O.W. (The submarine was sunk 13 days after picking him up.) According to Boyington's autobiography, he was never accorded official P.O.W. status by the Japanese and his captivity was not reported to the Red Cross. He spent the rest of the war, some 20 months, in Japanese prison camps. Shortly after his return to the U.S., as a lieutenant colonel, Boyington was ordered to Washington to receive the nation's highest honor — the Medal of Honor — from the President. On October 4, 1945, Boyington received the Navy Cross from the Commandant of the Marine Corps for the Rabaul raid; the following day, "Nimitz Day," he and other sailors and Marines were decorated at the White House by President Truman. Many people know of him from the mid-1970's television show "Baa Baa Black Sheep", a drama about the Black Sheep squadron based very loosely on Boyington's memoir of the same name, with Boyington portrayed by Robert Conrad.
This list of True PATRIOTS could go on, and on, and on. It may take a little research, but you can find SO much more.
The history you find is well worth your time!
Here is a bit more visual history of NAS Pensacola.
Seen here in 1982 flying
with the Blue Angels in #7.
During the filming of
"Wings of Eagles",
A true story of the
Frank "Spig" Wead
Senator John McCain,
Admiral Bill "Bull" Halsey
The oldest pilot in
Base Commander, USN
The following are other persons that have served our Country and/or contributed to the moral of those serving at NAS Pensacola.
Col David Scott,
Capt James Lovell,
Brig Gen Charlie Duke, USAF
Col Walter Cunningham, USMC
Lt Gen Thomas Stafford, USAF
Capt Richard Gordon, USN
Senator John Glenn,
Just so you know, the ship yard gate and the main gate are in (WAY) different locations. It is easy to understand and see how the base has enlarged with a change from a ship building base to the air station it is today. It is MASSIVELY HUGE in comparison to the former base. The Pensacola Naval Air Station is home to the U.S. Naval Air Training Command and encompasses almost 12,000 acres.
Since we just touched on the aviation history, I will show history of some of the persons of HIGH NOTORIETY when it comes to the military.
2009 Naval Aviation Station Pensacola Main Gate
1977 Naval Aviation Station Pensacola Main Gate
1898 Navy Yard Main Gate
Eugene Burton Ely,
1st Civilian Naval Aviator
Theodore Gordon Ellyson,
1st U.S. Navy Aviator
Captain Washington Irving Chambers
1898, Floating Dry Dock @ Navy Ship Yard
Stewart Ramsey and USO Director Heidi Blair with servicemen/servicewomen and the donated turkeys served for the Thanksgiving feast aboard NAS Pensacola. This was for the many personnel who couldn't be "home for the holidays".
B.B. King, who did his last tour here.
For Pete sake, THIS IS ONE OF THE FIRST 5 IN AMERICA!!!!!!!! That's when there were ONLY 5!
The following is the USO in Pensacola NOW.
The former site of the USO on
S. Spring Street in
IT SHOULD BE OPENED, STILL BE USED FOR THE PUBLIC (as a museum and/or entertainment) AND HISTORICALY MARKED!
Secretary of the Navy
Bob on the flight deck and the Blue Angels flying overhead.
Bob and Don Johnson
after the show
Brooke Shields and Bob
Bob and Elizabeth Taylor
Jonathan Winters and Bob
Take a look at Fort McRee from THEN and NOW, mostly from then.
Civil War Battle October 9, 1861
The Battle of Santa Rosa Island on October 9, 1861 stands as one of the most significant Civil War engagements in Florida and was of some national significance during the early months of the war. This was the most serious attempt by the Confederacy to take Fort Pickens from U.S. control. The fact that Fort Pickens remained in U.S. hands--and it remained in U.S. hands throughout the war--deprived the Confederacy of perhaps the best port on the Gulf Coast and of the use of the important Navy Yards within the bay. The attack on Fort Pickens was also in reprisal for daring U.S. raids on Confederate held resources at the Navy Yard, which resulted in the burning of a dry dock on September 2 and the capture and burning of the Confederate Privateer Judas on September 14. U.S. and Confederate losses during the Judah event were the lives lost in during combat in Florida during the Civil War.
Lieutenant Slemmer had his men put the cannon into working order and, fearing that a move against the fort might come in the night, he stationed a sergeant's guard in the fort and had the drawbridge raised. Slemmer's move came just in time. The following is a quoted post from his Officer's Report:
“…That night a body of men (about twenty in number) came to the fort with the evident intention of taking possession. The corporal of the guard caused the alarm to be given, upon which the assailants retreated precipitately. The guard was immediately strengthened by half the company, but nothing further occurred that night. “- Lt. Adam J. Slemmer, U.S. Army, February 5, 1861
What the lieutenant did not mention in his report was that the guard gave the "alarm" by actually firing on the men seen on the opposite side of the
bridge. It is unclear how many shots were fired, but the sound of the muskets brought reinforcements running and caused the mysterious intruders to withdraw. After the war, R.L. Sweetman of Mobile, Alabama, informed Slemmer: "I was one of the men seen at the drawbridge that night. Word had reached parties of volunteers and militia forming in the area that the U.S. troops had left Fort Barrancas. I went with a friend and a few others to see if the report was true, but we encountered the fire of the guards at the gate of the fort." No one was injured, but he and his comrades quickly ran to safety.
Fort McRee 1837 - 1878/1947
Johnson's Beach, Gulf Island National Seashore, Perdido Key
Built on Foster's Bank, now named Johnson's Beach (this bit of history is just below) and is at the eastern end of Perdido Key. The fort was designed in 1829 by Simon Bernard. Ironically, the man the fort would be named is Army engineer Colonel William McRee. He resigned his commission in 1819 in protest after Bernard was appointed to a high position in the Army Corps of Engineers. Its unique, boomerang-like design was necessitated by the narrowness of the Foster's Bank site and the need to face its main cannon force toward the inlet channel to Pensacola Bay. Garrisoned from 1843 to 1850. Erroneously, it has been misspelled as McRae on many old maps. Anyway, A brick Water Battery (aka South Battery) was built in 1851 about 600 yards south of the fort. This Fort, Fort Barrancas and the Advanced Redoubt were occupied by the Confederates until May 1862. Nearly destroyed by Union bombardment, it was never rebuilt. Finally abandoned in 1878, many of the bricks and stones were used for paving projects at Barrancas Barracks (brick roads). What was left of the old fort lies in ruin and is mostly under water in the surf, due to all of the hurricanes that have hit the area since. It closely resembled Fort Wool, Virginia, in design. Endicott batteries located here were Battery Slemmer (1900 - 1917) partially buried just west of the site of the old fort, and Battery Center (1901 - 1920) was partialy buried, it was built during WWII. It was titled Battery 233 (1944), but was never armed. A searchlight position was built on the #1 gun platform of Battery Slemmer in the 1930's. A WWII fire-control tower was once located to the west at Barrancas Beach. Access now is by 4x4 vehicle, four wheeler, boat (or kyake, canoe) or on foot from Gulf Beach. By foot get ready for a beach/dune walk of about 6 miles. Oh, you probably should bring a drink with you. You might need it. (Been ther, done that.) Take a look at what used to be standing there. Today, it is a beautiful east point of Perdido Key.
The First SHOT of the Civil War
Again, quoting Paul Harvey "And now, ...for the rest of the story."
In 1861, the actual first shots of Civil War fired at Fort Barrancas on January 8th. Contrary to popular debate, the first shots of the War Between the States were fired neither at Fort Sumter nor on the relief ship Star of the West. The incident at Fort Barrancas took place one day before cadets from the Citadel opened fire on the relief ship Star of the West at the entrance to Charleston Harbor and two days before the State of Florida officially seceded from the Union. The sergeant's guard had fired the first known shots of the Civil War, three months before Confederate troops opened fire on Fort Sumter. In reality, the first real shooting of the war took place at the sally port (gate) of Fort Barrancas on Pensacola Bay. This has been omitted because it isn’t considered a battle. Fort Sumter is widely recognized as the place where the “first shots (or first battle) of the Civil War” started. Actually, that aspect is truth. Fort Sumter was an actual full-on battle that consisted of rifle fire, cannon fire, ships and imposed a few fatalities to both the Union and Confederate sides (even a mule). The actual first shots of the Civil War consisted of about seven (or several) rifle shots and occurred about 3 months earlier at Pensacola’s Fort Barrancas. The rifle shots were mainly fired as warning shots and inflicted no damage or injuries. Due to no return fire or injuries/casualties, this is not held as an actual battle. But, in fact, is the first shot of the Civil War. January 8, 1861, NOT the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12–14, 1861. The Barrancas Post, was a sprawling military complex adjacent to the brick fort that is preserved today. This Post (Fort) provided quarters for the only U.S. troops assigned to Pensacola Bay in January of 1861. The soldiers were from Company G, 1st U.S. Artillery, and were commanded by Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, who was fiercely devoted to the Union cause. The total strength of his force was only 46 men.
The view from above is looking from Fort Barrancas to Fort Pickens and was the direction of cannon fire from one fort to the other during the Civil War.
In 1886 the U.S. Army exiled 400 Apaches from the Southwest to Florida. Most of them went to Fort Marion (in Saint Augustine). Several Pensacola citizens, however, petitioned the government to "imprison" Geronimo, a medicine man and warrior and quite a few more Apache men at Fort Pickens. Some where seperated from their families. The prisoners worked seven hours a day clearing weeds, planting grass and stacking cannonballs. All of the families where reunited a Fort Pickens in 1887. From Fort Pickens they went to Fort Sill in the Oklahoma Territory. Here is a quote given by Geronimo, "I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun, I was born where there were no enclosures." These photos above is where the Apache Indians were "held". Actually, they all had free roam through the open areas of the Fort. They just couldn't go outside the Fort walls. They were not kept in jail cells! The third of photos above are of Geronimo and the other Apaches that stayed at the Fort. Geronimo's wife was with him, but died of Bright's disease. She was laid to rest at Barrancas National Cemetery where her headstone can be seen (below) and visited. In the third photo above, you see the railcar behind the Apaches. Trains brought in lumber and brick for the Fort's needs for ammunition, every living and it's growth. Below is a portion of the rail line that ran atop the seawall.
Look throught the photos of Fort Pickens. These photos give you a small glimpse at the Fort AND THE AREA TO THE EAST OF THE FORT!