he peaceful surroundings--white sugar-sand beaches, clumps of golden sea oats, and the soothing sounds of coastal waves pounding on the shores of a long barrier island--belie the serious purpose of Fort Pickens, located on Santa Rosa Island in Florida. One of the largest brick forts built in the United States, Fort Pickens provided the setting for a serious effort by a small group of men to avert or at least postpone the outbreak of the Civil War. Months before the firing on Fort Sumter, the Southern forces at nearby Pensacola, Florida, worked to find a way of seceding from the Union without initiating bloodshed.
Fort Pickens and nearby Fort McRee, Fort Barrancas, and Advanced Redoubt today lie within Gulf Islands National Seashore. They provide an intriguing setting for the important events that occurred in the Pensacola area just prior to and during the Civil War.