Near Pensacola, First Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer of the First U.S. Artillery, anxiously watched the unfolding crisis. Lt. Slemmer’s commanding officer, Captain John H. Winder, who would become a Confederate brigadier general and be placed in charge of the Confederacy’s prisons, was absent on leave. This left Slemmer in command of U.S. Army posts around Pensacola Bay, which included Forts Barrancas and McRee on the mainland, and Fort Pickens across the bay on Santa Rosa Island. Slemmer began to prepare for trouble.
Florida would secede from the Union two days later, on January 10. Lt. Slemmer found himself in a situation very similar to Major Robert Anderson’s at Charleston. Like Anderson, Slemmer decided that his posts on the mainland were indefensible with the small force at his disposal, so he ordered the guns of Forts Barrancas and McRee spiked, and transferred his troops out to Fort Pickens. Florida troops took possession of the mainland fortifications on the 12th, and demanded the surrender of the Navy Yard. Without even a hint of resistance, Armstrong turned control of the Yard over to the Floridians. Armstrong would be court-martialed on March 12 for surrendering his post to the Floridians, and was sentenced to be suspended from the service for five years. Lieutenant Slemmer, on the other hand, was acclaimed as a hero throughout the north, and received a promotion to Major as a reward for his actions at Fort Pickens.