Putting It All Together
The following activities explore issues related to events in the Pensacola area at the outbreak of the Civil War and military installations in the local community.
Activity 1: Surrender or Not
Provide students with copies of Reading 2 and ask them to reread "A Profile of William Chase." After students read this selection, choose members of the class to represent Maj. William Chase and Cmdr. Ebenezer Farrand (Confederates), and Lieutenants Adam Slemmer and Jeremiah H. Gilman (Union). Have these students act out the confrontation that occurred at Fort Pickens on January 15, 1861. Remind students that Florida seceded from the Union on January 10, 1861, and would join the alliance that became the Confederate States of America. After the role play is completed, have the class discuss the relative merit of the positions presented.
Activity 2: Researching Pensacola in the Civil War
Divide the class into three groups and give each group one of the following questions to consider. (Some may require additional research.) After adequate preparation time, have the class listen as each group explains its question and defends its answers.
1. As a Pensacola citizen in 1861, realizing Pensacolaís economy was based primarily on the federal governmentís presence in the area and that issues of concern included statesí rights as well as slavery, would you have supported Floridaís secession from the United States? Why or why not?
2. One of the principal issues of the Civil War was statesí rights versus national rights. Does the phrase the "United States is" mean something different from the "United States are"? Based on events in the United States in the early 1860s and in the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, would you recommend statesí rights over national rights or would you support the opposite perspective?
3. Find a reference to Fort Sumter in a history textbook or an encyclopedia. Now look up Fort Pickens. Why might Fort Pickens have been the site of the start of the Civil War just as easily as Fort Sumter?
Activity 3: Isnít It Ironic?
There were many ironies connected with activities in the Pensacola area in the 19th century. Use one or two of those listed below as examples and then ask students to list others. See how many ironies they can find. Then hold a general class discussion about inevitability or lack of inevitability in historic events.
1. The forts were built to protect the U.S. from the threat of foreign attack. The forts, however, saw action only during the Civil War when Americans fought among themselves.
2. William Chase supervised the construction of Fort Pickens (1829-1834). In 1861 he found himself asking for the fortís surrender. When the Union refused, he had to decide whether or not to attack the very fort he helped build.
3. Contracted slave labor built the Pensacola forts. In 1861 slaves who built Fort Pickens crossed the bay to tell the Union about the fortís weaknesses. Fort Pickensí only active use was during the Civil War, a war that set its slave builders free.
4. Fort McRee is now destroyed primarily due to the forces of nature, not man.
Activity 4: Military Installations in the Local
Ask students to research their own community (or region if necessary) to determine if there is a military base in the area. Have them answer the following questions: When was it established? Why was it established? Approximately how many military personnel are stationed at the base? What impact has the base had on the growth and development of the surrounding communities? How might these communities be affected if the military base was to close? Hold a classroom discussion based on the studentsí findings.