Editor's Note: The following account was written by William H. Trimmer, of Molino, on Feb. 24, 1909 for the United Daughters of the Confederacy Scrapbooks. M96-18, Volume 1. Trimmer was a volunteer in Co. B. 1st Florida Infantry, from Apalachicola.
March 25th, 1861 – The members of the Franklin Rifles of Apalachicola, Fla. were invited to partake of a farewell supper before leaving for Pensacola at Mrs. D. P. Holland’s house at 8 PM. Mrs. Holland was the wife of Lawyer Holland who afterwards became Colonel of the 3rd Florida Regiment. After the supper the company was presented with a flag white & trimmed in blue which was accepted but never carried. At 10 AM on morn of 26th the company composed of about 90 men with William Cropp as captain filed upon the side wheeled boat Wm. H. Young for Chattahoochee, where we arrived on 27th and in the afternoon assembled with numerous other companies to elect our field officers. There were companies from Madison, Jackson, Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson, Bradford & Franklin present. We formed on the parade ground at the then US Arsenal and choose for Colonel Patton Anderson, a lawyer at Monticello who had served in the Mexican War of 1846. William K. Geard of Tallahassee for Lieut. Colonel and McDonald for Major, each company selected its own officers. The Franklin Rifles elected Cropp for Captain; he then was out of door shipping clerk at Apalachicola for the Buckman Cotton Press, for 1st Lieut. Wm. T. Ormand, 2nd Lieut. Charlie Babcock and 3rd Lieut. Nat Hunter. We then embarked on the steamboat again with the other companies and went up the river to Columbus, Ga.
At Columbus we were entertained by the Light Blues & Columbus Guards company in their tents out on the fair grounds. After two days spent in Columbus we were transported over the West Point Road to Montgomery remaining till early Saturday morn then boarded the cars for Pensacola arriving at Garland then the end of the completed road and camped for the night. At daylight we got coffee and started to march through the country for Evergreen. Just as we were leaving we received the news of the bombardment & capture of Fort Sumpter which put us all in good spirits. The day before in coming from Montgomery the train stopped at Auburn for breakfast. Here the young ladies from the college turned out en masse and could not do enough for us.
This spontaneous reception at Auburn “loveliest village of the plain” has followed me in memory hundreds of times in past years. The distance across country through cotton plantations to Evergreen was about 18 miles. Here we camped, tired & hungry, each with his knapsack, gun and cartridge box. Next morning took cars again not nicely cushioned seats for us but flats & boxcars, plenty good for volunteer soldiers. At Cantonment we were joined by a regiment of La. Zouaves and the Shreveport Greys, landing in Pensacola at corner of Government & Tarragonia and marched to plazza and told to camp on the square which most of us did as then there was plenty of grass & big trees. On the plazza at about 9 AM we were formed and each of us pledged our lives and services to the Confederate State of America for twelve months. We were then marched down to Knapp’s wharf (now Palafox) where steam boats were waiting to carry us to the Navy Yd. arriving we were quartered in one of the sail lofts and rations issued.
In meantime our tents and baggage arriving we were sent out into the woods back of the Navy Yard and made to clear & clean up camps for the Regiment, now the 1st Florida Infantry. If any of us boys imagined they came for a nice easy pleasant time the heavy details daily imposed on each company soon learned us differently. First orderly Sergeant R. F. Abbot made out his guard duty. This was imposed on each company and a line of sentries from Ft. Barrancas to the outside wall of Navy Yard was established day & night. The camp detail was daily kept at work cleaning up the timber, digging up roots of pine trees, levelling the soil and in a few days had prepared a fine parade ground of ten acres. At daylight every morning Colonel Patton Anderson had the regiment out for drill till 8 AM and again at 10 AM and at 1PM. Six hours were spent daily in drilling.
In the meantime other squads of men were called off for fatigue duty. This consisted in constructing sand batteries along the outside beach mounting big Columbian and Dalghren guns, building bomb proofs and magazines, tearing down and demolishing the dwelling houses in Warrington which had been abandoned by residents who left furniture, bedding, crockery, etc. Large amounts of this stuff found places in our tents and at our messes. At the Colonel’s tent were his two horses and the purple silk Regimental flag with “In God we trust” in gold letters. Each company had the same guns we had brought with us. The Franklin Rifles had a small brass mounted rifle known as the Jeff Davis as it was made during his term as Sec. of War in 1857. The Quincy Guards, Capt. Gee, had smooth bore muskets bright barrels and the Jefferson & Bradford Companies drilled with the old flintlock musket. This necessitated all different ammunition in our cartridge boxes.
After about a month in camp we had a visit from Gen. Beauregard to inspect our batteries, etc. Soon after which all our guns were turned in and each soldier was given a smoothbore Springfield musket bright barrels muzzle loaders with big copper percussion caps 20 rounds of cartridges were issued. These we had to bite at end & empty powder with three buck shot & one big ball. Each of us as infantry had served out a big bowie knife & sheath which we strapped round the waist. A big side wheel steam boat called the Time slipped into the harbor past Fort Pickens. She had been engaged in carrying cotton from Columbus, Ga. Via Eufaula to Apalachicola; the Quartermaster Department soon pressed her into service carrying supplies for the troops from Pensacola. In early part of September 1861 Gen. Bragg was in command of some ten thousand finely drilled men who were spoiling daily to cross & capture the Yankee garrison at Fort Pickens. Outside across Santa Rosa Island could be seen laying at anchor numerous men of war, many big transports like the 3000 ton steamship Vanderbilt that had brought troops to reinforce Harry Brown in command at the Fort.
About 2 AM on the morning of Sep. 14, an armed boat from the flagship Colorado slipped up to a schooner named the Judah and set her on fire. She was laying fast at the Navy Yard and on it was a guard were 7 or 8 men from the Apalachicola Company. They killed three Yankees and wounded some 8 or 10 others. On the night of Oct. 8th – morning of 9th about 1500 men selected and representing each regiment and company were quietly landed on Santa Rosa Island being put on big lumber flats and towed over. A fine body of men about 400 of 9th & 10th Mississippi Colonel Chambers and First Ala. Three companies of the 7th Ala. 2 companies of La infantry and 2 companies of the 1st Fla. composed the 1st & 2nd Battalions in command of Colonel Patton Anderson. The 3rd Battalion in command of Colonel John K. Jackson of the 5th Ga. Also Capt. Homer’s company of artillery who were armed with pistols and bowie knives and carrying material for spiking cannon, burning and destroying buildings, gun carriages, etc. in command of Lieut. Hallonquist and Lieut Nelms adjutant of the 5th Ga. Several medical men also were taken. Doctor Gamble of the 1st Fla. Dr. Tompkins of the 5th Ga. Dr. Gholson of the 9th Miss., Dr. Lipps of the 10th Miss. and Dr. Gamble of the 1st Florida. Micks of the La. Infantry to attend on the doctors a squad of 20 men were also detailed.
Landing on the beach of Santa Rosa Island about 2 AM Colonel Chalmers took his command up the north beach, Patton Anderson marched his up the south beach and Colonel Jackson followed in rear of Col. Chalmers. After a hard march in the heavy beach sand of between three and four miles, Col. Chalmers column was fired into by sentry on post who was immediately shot down. Colonel Jackson now pushed his way through the thicket to the middle of the Island advancing rapidly to the outposts of the Zouaves who were rapidly driven in or shot down charging them with the bayonet right into their camp which they found deserted, tents standing alone houses full of provisions sheds and stables all empty save a few sleepers who were shot and bayonetted in their tents. These troops were the notorious Billy Wilson Zouaves from New York City. Wilson was an Alderman in the city and he raised this body of roughs uniforming them as Zouaves. Colonel Jackson’s command hastily set fire to tents & store houses and ran lots of the Zouaves with the bayonet into the Gulf.
Meantime Colonel Chalmers and Anderson advancing along the shores of the island with which they had some sharp skirmishing. About half way between the Zouave camp and where we disembarked we encountered two companies of US regulars which had passed us in the dark, posting themselves in a dense thicket to intercept our men who were retiring here a very sharp and severe skirmish ensued which delayed for some time the men getting on the flats and barges to return. In the meantime the tide had fallen and some of the flats were aground in the sand. In trying to pull off the steamboat Neaffie got her propeller foul in a hawse causing much delay. The US regulars taking advantage of this soon appeared among the sand hills forming themselves on the beach fronting the flats upon which our men had scrambled. Now commenced a scene for the US soldiers fired as fast as they could load on us who were comparatively helpless to return, and waiting for the steam boats to drag us off the beach. Our loss in this night attack was heavy. Captain Bradford of 1st Fla. was killed, also Lieut. Nelms of the 5th Ga., the adj. of the 1st Fla. Reg, was wounded by spent ball. The Franklin Rifles lost one killed, Gill Hicks, and Thompson shot through thigh died in hospital. Gen. R. H. Anderson was shot in the arm. Our loss with prisoners was about 100. The prisoners they captured 5 commissioned officers and 32 privates were the guard left for the protection of their hospital and sick and the five doctors left to attend our own wounded who were left. Mrs. Grady’s big store building outside the West Gate in Woolsey was used as a hospital for our wounded and our dead were brought over at night by flag of truce boat at request of Gen. Bragg and now lay in Cemetery at Navy Yard.