The Battle of Santa Rosa Island (October 9, 1861) was an unsuccessful Confederate attempt to take Union-held Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, Florida.

Battle of Santa Rosa Island Background

Santa Rosa Island is a 40-mile barrier island in the U.S. state of Florida, thirty miles from the Alabama state border. At the western end stood Fort Pickens, which in the fall of 1861 was garrisoned by parts of the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th U. S. artillery and the 3rd U.S. Infantry, under command of Col. Harvey Brown, of the 5th artillery. The 6th New York Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Col. William Wilson, was encamped outside the fort, a short distance east of it.


After midnight on October 9, Brig. Gen. Richard Anderson crossed from the mainland to Santa Rosa Island with 1,200 men in two small steamers to surprise the Union camps and capture Fort Pickens. He landed on the north beach about four miles east of Fort Pickens and divided his command into three columns. After proceeding about three miles, the Confederates surprised the 6th Regiment, New York Volunteers, in its camp and routed the regiment. Gen. Anderson then adopted a defensive stance to entice the Federals to leave the fort and attack. Receiving reinforcements, Col. Harvey Brown sallied against the Confederates, who reembarked and returned to the mainland.

The Union loss was 14 killed, 29 wounded and 24 captured or missing. General Braxton Bragg, commanding the Confederate forces at Pensacola, reported their loss as "30 or 40 killed and wounded," but a Confederate newspaper, found by Lieut. Seeley a few days after the occurrence, gave the total casualties as 175. Maj. Vodges, of the 1st artillery, was captured, and on the Confederate side Gen. Anderson was severely wounded. The camp of the 6th N. Y. was partially destroyed.

Fort Pickens and the battle site are preserved within the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Union Forces

Col. Harvey Brown

  • 6th New York Zouave Infantry, Col. William Wilson
  • Vodge’s Command – Major Israel Vogdes (c), Capt. John McL. Hildt
Company A, 1st Artillery – Lieutenant F. E. Taylor
Company E, 3rd Infantry – Captain John McL. Hildt
  • Company G, 3rd New York Infantry – Captain Dobie
  • Arnold’s Command – Major Lewis Golding Arnold
Company C, 3rd Infantry – Lieutenant Shipley
Company H, 2nd Artillery – Captain James M. Robertson

Confederate Forces

Brig. Gen. Richard Heron Anderson

  • Demolition Team --- Lieutenant J. H. Hallonquist
  • 1st Battalion – Colonel J. R. Chalmers
Detachment, 10th Mississippi Infantry
Detachment, 1st Alabama Infantry
  • 2nd Battalion – Colonel J. Patton Anderson
3 Companies, 7th Alabama Infantry
2 Companies, Louisiana Infantry
2 Companies, 1st Florida Infantry
  • 3rd Battalion - Colonel John K. Jackson
Detachment, 5th Georgia Infantry
Detachment, Georgia Infantry Battalion
  • Artillery
Homer’s Artillery Company - Lieutenant Hollonquist
  • Confederate Naval Forces
CSS Neaffie
Battle of Santa Rosa Island
Part of the American Civil War
Date October 9, 1861
Location Santa Rosa Island near Pensacola
Result Union victory
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Harvey Brown Richard H. Anderson
600 1,200
Casualties and losses
67 (14 killed, 29 wounded, and 24 captured or missing) 87 (30-40 killed)