Wednesday, April 6, 2011

150-years-ago -- Situation in Pensacola Tense

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
April 6, 1861

Fort Pickens, Pensacola Harbor.
(Library of Congress)
From Pensacola.

     A correspondent of the New York Times, writing from on board the United States shipfrigate Sabine, off Pensacola Bar, the 25th ult., says:

     About ten days ago Major-General Bragg who is in command at this place,) saw fit to stop all communication between us and the shore, and Captain O'Hara, of Fort McRae, sent us word that if the Wyandotte did not keep a little further off he would fire into her. Captain Adams, wishing to a void a collision with these fools, keeps himself and us on board ship. Our supplies have been cut off from Mobile, and the New Orleans steamer, in passing in and out of the harbor, avoids our boarding boat, so you see we are hard up for news of any kind.
     Capt. Adams addressed a letter to Welles, Secretary of the Treasury, last Tuesday and in it told him that starvation stared us in the face, and unless we heard from him or received relief in ten days from date, he would use his own discretion about leaving this place. We are all on half rations. We have plenty of money, but of what use is that to us now. Three days ago we transferred from the Brooklyn to this ship 82 troops, and sent her to Key West and Havana for supplies.
     We expect her back in a few days. In the meantime they may attack Fort Pickens, and we have got to wade through about 3,000 bayonets to reinforce the fort, with masked batteries playing on us from all quarters, in conjunction with McRae and Barrancas. Is it not a pleasant picture to look upon? You must know there is an armistice in existence between Bragg and Adams. Bragg will not attack Pickens unless we attempt to reinforce it. We see troops going in nearly every day from New Orleans, Mobile, and other places, and can see them at work erecting sand-bag batteries, &c., and here we are cooped up like a lot of chickens, waiting for the Administration to do something. They have neglected us shamefully at Washington. They do not answer our communications. They do not send us anything to eat, and yet expect a ship like ours, which has been out over her time, with a broken-down and worn-out crew, and an old tub like the St. Louis, to do all their fighting in Southern waters, while vessels not yet three months in commission are rolling in clover off New York Battery.--Everybody in our ship is disheartened, and no wonder. You do not know one-tenth part of what we have suffered lately. They say the darkest hour of the night is just before the break of day; it is pitch dark with us just about this time.
     Three nights ago we heard the booming of cannon, and saw lights passing and repassing on shore, We beat to quarters, called "All hands out boats," mustered our companies, and were all ready to go over the side, when the little Wyandotte came steaming out to let us know it was a false alarm. If I live a hundred years I shall never forget the feelings I had when I was loading my revolvers. We were all busy with our own thoughts, I can assure you, and for about ten minutes hardly anything was heard save the tick, tick, of a Colt, or the dull thud of a rifle ramrod. We did all our little valuables up, and directed them each with a letter for our friends at home, in case anything disagreeable might happen to us while attempting to reach the fort.
     We have on board now nearly six hundred men, with grub enough to last about ten or twelve days longer. We have about thirty days water on board. We bought most of that here before communication was stopped, at the rate of six cents per gallon. All our fish lines are in requisition every day, but sometimes the     fish even secede.

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