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Confederate Pensacola Itinerary

A 2019 BGES Day of History Program

February, 2019

We all know the Civil War started with the firing on Fort Sumter. But what is not widely known is that the war could very easily have started in Escambia Bay, as Federal troops defended another important fortification at Fort Pickens. Isolated but not inaccessible, the southern insurrectionists plotted to seize the important fortification and, given a few more weeks, perhaps the first shots would have occurred here. Once the Confederates evacuated Pensacola, the town became a thorn in the side of Confederates holding Mobile Bay, and which subsequent operations throughout the remainder of the war are staged. A great location, with winter gripping the rest of the country and the warm Gulf of Mexico constantly in view all day long!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

8 AM. We will meet at an easily accessible and designated location in central Pensacola just off I-110. You can leave your vehicles there all day as we head for Santa Rosa Island. Our first stop will be the iconic Fort Pickens at the tip of the island overlooking the entrance to Escambia Bay. The interpretation will focus on the start of the war and the Confederate occupation of the fort. A secondary interpretation will discuss the third-tier fortification system of the United States that produced places like Pickens, Sumter, and Monroe, among many others. After lunch, we will head into Pensacola for Fort Barrancas, which is one of the most significant preserved fortifications in the United States. While there is not a great deal of active military activity, there is much to discuss about the symbiotic relationship with Pickens and the control of the harbor. While we are there, we will discuss the use of the town by the Federals as a staging area for operations against Mobile Bay and then Marianna, Florida. Our final stop will be at the land fortification of the Outer Redoubt that protected Barrancas from ground assault. Here we will finish the tour by discussing the overland operations as the Federals moved to assault Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley in April of 1865. A really full day with a lot of fulfilling information with the Executive Director of the BGES.

About the Faculty

Len Riedel is the Executive Director and Founder of the Blue and Gray Education Society. The BGES, founded in 1994, is the only national Civil War Educational organization in the country with a long record of educational and charitable projects and achievements. Riedel is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute with a Master of Arts degree in History from Old Dominion. He designs every one of the BGES study programs and is often thought to have encyclopedic recall of information that is well synthesized. That knowledge was on display in his role conceptualizing and editing the best-selling Civil War guidebook, The Civil War, A Traveler’s Guide (2016), in a publishing partnership with the National Geographic.

Travel Details

Hotel Information

This one-day program does not require a hotel, but we will depart from a designated central location in Pensacola where you may leave your car for the day.


The servicing airport is Pensacola (PNS), which is served by Southwest Airlines. It is generally more expensive to fly into Mobile (MOB). New Orleans (MSY) is a bit farther, but is all interstate from the airport to Pensacola, taking about 2 3/4 hours.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

George Pearce: Pensacola During the Civil War: A Thorn in the Side of the Confederacy

Dale Cox: The Battle of Marianna, Florida

John Driscoll: The Civil War on Pensacola Bay, 1861-1862

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: Confederate Pensacola