Military Pass

February 9, 1861

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

1st Lieutenant Adam Jacoby Slemmer, Commanding Fort Pickens

This pass was carried by Lieutenant Jeremiah H. Gilman on his journey from Pensacola, Florida to Washington, DC as "Special Messenger." Lt. Gilman's presence was required to serve as a prosecution witness in the court martial of Captain James Armstrong , US Navy, for the surrender of the Pensacola Navy Yard on January 10, 1861 to a mixed force of Alabama and Florida militias. Lt. Gilman was second-in-command to Lt. Slemmer who, with the 54 men of Company G, 1st US Artillery and 31 sailors from the navy yard , prevented state troops from occupying Fort Pickens at the mouth of Pensacola Bay prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

This document, although damaged and stained, is notable for several reasons. It is an artifact of the Secession Crisis, that period between the election of Abraham Lincoln in November of 1860 and the firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, du ring which Forts Pickens and Sumter were considered equally likely to be the scene of conflicts between state and federal forces. The "agreement lately entered into between the Federal and State Authorities" mentioned was a "gentlemen's agreement" between (lame-duck) President James Buchanan, Senator (and soon-to­ be Secretary of State) William H. Seward, and Senator (and soon-to-be Confederate Secretary of the Navy) Stephen Mallory that state forces would not attack Fort Pickens as long as the Federal government did not reinforce the fort. The damaged signature at lower left is the approval of William Henry Chase, "Commanding forces of Florida," who had served for over 30 years as the Army Corps of Engineers' senior officer on the Gulf coast. In that role he had supervised the construction of every fort on that coast, including Fort Pickens. This is from a collection recently donated by the descendants of Lt. Gilman.

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  • Title: Military Pass
  • Date Created: February 9, 1861
  • Contributor: Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Park Website: Park Website
  • National Park Service Catalog Number: GUIS 72793
  • Measurements: L25.1, W 1 9.8 cm
  • Material: Paper