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Exploring the Exciting and Rich History of Forts Pickens, McRee, and Barrancas in Pensacola, FL

Tuesday, June 13, 2023   /   by Alicia Vidal

Exploring the Exciting and Rich History of Forts Pickens, McRee, and Barrancas in Pensacola, FL

Welcome, history buffs and adventurous explorers! Prepare to embark on a thrilling time-traveling escapade as we unravel the tales of Fort Pickens, Fort McRee, and Fort Barrancas in beautiful Pensacola, Florida. Grab your imaginary muskets and put on your invisible helmets as we delve into the captivating world of these historic forts. Get ready to be amazed by towering walls, secret tunnels, and the echoes of battles long past. It’s time to dust off the cobwebs of history and bring these forts back to life! Let’s march forth and uncover the secrets of Pensacola’s formidable guardians of the past.


Nestled along the picturesque coastline of Pensacola, Florida, stand three historic military forts that have witnessed centuries of American history. Fort Pickens, Fort McRee, and Fort Barrancas are iconic landmarks that played crucial roles in the defense of the Gulf Coast and the United States as a whole. From their strategic positions overlooking Pensacola Bay, these forts offer visitors a captivating journey through time, showcasing the military prowess and resilience of the nation.



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Let’s embark on a historical exploration of these remarkable forts.


  1. Fort Pickens:
    Situated on the western tip of Santa Rosa Island, Fort Pickens was one of the few forts in the South that remained under Union control during the American Civil War. Construction of the fort began in 1829 and took over twenty years to complete. The fort was named after Major General Andrew Pickens, a Revolutionary War hero.


As you step within the towering walls of Fort Pickens, feel the echoes of history reverberate through its tunnels and corridors. Gaze out across the vast expanse of the Gulf of Mexico, imagining the mighty cannons that once defended these shores. Explore the nooks and crannies, where soldiers once stood vigilant, and discover the rich stories of the fort’s role in American history.


Fort Pickens played a significant role in various historical events, including the Battle of Santa Rosa Island in 1861. It was also the prison where the renowned Native American leader Geronimo was held captive in the late 19th century. Visitors can explore the well-preserved fort, with its impressive masonry walls, gun emplacements, and underground tunnels, providing a glimpse into the past and breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico.



  1. Fort McRee:
    For those willing to venture across the waters, the remnants of Fort McRee await on Perdido Key. Accessible only by boat, this fort reveals the resilience of its construction, standing as a testament to the determination of those who built it. Let your imagination run wild as you wander among the ruins, envisioning the fort’s former glory and the challenges it withstood. Fort McRee was initially built to defend Pensacola Bay. Named after Lieutenant Colonel William McRee, the fort was constructed in the early 19th century. It served as an essential fortification during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.


Fort McRee was designed with advanced military tactics of the time, featuring a pentagonal shape to maximize defensive capabilities. Though largely destroyed by hurricanes and the passage of time, its remnants can still be seen, offering a fascinating insight into its former grandeur. Fort McRee is only accessible by boat, adding to its allure and preserving its historical ambiance.



pensacola, fort, fort barrancas



  1. Fort Barrancas:
    Nestled within the boundaries of Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fort Barrancas is a testament to the skillful craftsmanship of the 19th-century military engineers. It was constructed by the Spanish in the late 1700s and later expanded by the United States. The fort was designed to protect Pensacola Bay and the entrance to the harbor.


Fort Barrancas showcases an exquisite blend of Spanish and American architectural influences. Its distinctive red brick walls and intricate details make it a remarkable sight. Admire the skillful craftsmanship of the Spanish and American engineers as you traverse its red brick walls and explore its intricate interiors. Descend into the dark tunnels, tracing the footsteps of the soldiers who once sought refuge within. The nearby Advanced Redoubt offers additional insights into the military strategies employed during its time. A short walk away, the adjacent Advanced Redoubt showcases additional defensive structures, adding to the historical significance of the site.


The trio of Fort Pickens, Fort McRee, and Fort Barrancas stand as enduring testaments to Pensacola’s historical significance and the nation’s military heritage. Exploring these forts allows visitors to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of American history, from the early days of Spanish colonization to the battles of the Civil War.


As you wander through these well-preserved sites, the stories of brave soldiers, strategic maneuvers, and the ever-changing tides of history come to life. The forts’ remarkable architecture, scenic locations, and educational exhibits make them must-visit destinations for history enthusiasts and those seeking a deeper understanding of the nation’s past.


So, the next time you find yourself in Pensacola, take a journey back in time by visiting Fort Pickens, Fort McRee, and Fort Barrancas. Whether you’re a history enthusiast seeking to immerse yourself in the past or an adventurer hungry for stories of brave soldiers and strategic battles, these forts offer an unforgettable experience. While each fort possesses its unique allure, collectively they showcase the resilience and historical significance of the Gulf Coast region. Stand at these historic sites, bask in the sea breeze, and transport yourself to a time when these forts were bustling with activity.


Beyond the forts themselves, Pensacola offers a treasure trove of historical attractions, charming coastal scenery, and vibrant culture. From strolling along the picturesque downtown streets to indulging in fresh seafood at waterfront eateries, you’ll find plenty to captivate your senses and make your visit truly memorable. So, pack your curiosity and your sense of adventure and set sail for Pensacola’s historic forts. Discover the stories of valor, ingenuity, and the ever-changing tides of history that shaped the nation. Fort Pickens, Fort McRee, and Fort Barrancas eagerly await your arrival, ready to transport you on a remarkable journey through time.


If you happen to be driving by on your way to something fun, don’t forget to stop by our Pointe South office for a list of available properties or to just say “hello!” We are always here to help!


Call or email us today to begin your search!


Call us at 850.492.1148 or email us at contact@pointesouth.com


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Pointe South Inc
Susan Carleton
13587 Perdido Key Drive
Pensacola, FL 32507
850-516-7238

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