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Nothing was more surprising for me than to realize the strong connection between soldiers engaged at the Battle of Shiloh and the early Rebel occupation of Pensacola Florida: it was as if the Battle for Pensacola was fought on 6 April 1862 in Tennessee. Of the regiments of infantry, artillery and cavalry Braxton Bragg brought north, twelve had significant exposure on the Gulf Coast (Mobile to Pensacola) in MGen Bragg’s area of responsibility. Of the senior commanders and leaders engaged on the Confederate side at Shiloh, at least a dozen had served under Bragg during the previous year. And when it is accepted that five of Bragg’s officers had gained significant night-fighting experience during service in Florida, the potential for “continuing the contest of Sunday, April 6th past sundown” is revealed as very real, with likely outcome “undetermined.” It could have been General Beauregard who was responsible for not finding out the result of a night action at Shiloh; it could have been the introduction of the Federal gunboats; it could have been the tardy resupply of ammunition to the Confederate front line… But, having not been tested, we will never know.

What we do know: on May 9th 1862 the public buildings, fortifications, and “everything of potential use to Federal invaders” were put to the torch on Pensacola Bay, in conjunction with Confederate evacuation. Braxton Bragg had lost the Battle for Pensacola in Tennessee and abandoned that strategically essential deepwater port, forever.

More Shiloh connections, as well as the importance of Fort Pickens and Pensacola are detailed in my new book: “The Struggle for Pensacola, 1860 – 1862.” Available on Amazon.com since 8 October 2020.

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