War of the Rebellion: Serial 001 Page 0338 OPERATIONS IN FLORIDA. Chapter IV.

Search Civil War Official Records

public property passes peacefully under Federal authority. If a Southern Confederacy separates itself from the Union would it not be worse than folly to attempt the maintenance of Fort Pickens or any other fortified place within its limits?

Listen to me, then, I beg of you, and act with me in preventing the shedding the blood of your brethren. Surrender the fort. You and your command may reoccupy the barracks and quarters at Barancas on your simple parole to remain there quietly until ordered away, or to resume the command of the harbor should an adjustment of present difficulties in the Union be arrived at.

All the baggage and private property of and kind belonging to yourself, officers, men, and their families shall be preserved to you. Consider this well, and take care that you will so act so to have no fearful recollections of a tragedy that you might have averted, but rather to make the present moment one of the glorious, because Christian like, of your life.

I beg of you to receive this communication in the same spirit in which it is offered.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. H. CHASE.

I asked, "How many men have you? The colonel answered, "Tonight I shall have between eight and nine hundred." I then said that I would consider his letter, and would give my answer the next morning. I also desire to consult with the captains of the Supply and Wyandotte, which vessels were lying of the navy-yard under a white flag. The colonel said he would make arrangements for their coming to the fort, and would see them as he passed. I made this request for two reasons-first, because thereby I would gain more time for resting my men (who were completely exhausted), and, second, becasure I deemed it but courtesy on my part to consult them with reference to anything which would affect our common flag, and because one of them was in name co-operating with me. They did not come, however, I after-wards learned that the permission came in such a form that they could not accept it.

The next morning I was with surprise both vessels under way going out of the harbor. I immediately sent a boat with Lieutenant Gilman to learn to cause of the movement. Captain Walke desired Lieutenant Gilmon to go on board the Wyandotte-that he would join him there. On Lieutenant Gilman's representations Captain Walke ordered the Wyandotte to stay and render us assistance, and take us off if necessary on being overcome by a superior force. The following letter was then sent to Colonel Chase at the navy-yard:

FORT PICKENS, FLA., Pensacola Harbor, January 16, 1861.

Colonel W. H. CHASE,

Commissioner for the State of Florida:

SIR: Under the orders we now have from the War Department, we have decided, after consultations with the Government officers in the harbor, that it is our duty to hold or position until such a force is brought against us as to render it impossible to defend it, or until the political condition of the country is such as to induce us to surrender the public property in our keeping to such authorities as may be delegated legally to receive it.

We deprecate as much as you or any individual can the present condition of affairs, or the shedding of the blood of our brethren. In regard to this matter, however, we must consider you the aggressors, and if blood is shed that you are responsible therefor.

By order of A. J. Slemmer, first lieutenant, First Artillery, commanding:

J. H. GILMAN,

Second Lieutenant, First Artillery, Act. Post Adjt.

Captain Berryman took this letter to the yard, and then ran out of the harbor.

On the 117th I mounted one 12-pounder gun and one 8-inch sea-coast howitzer on the northwest bastion. I had previously mounted three 32-pounders in the southeast bastion, and rendered effective the 24-