Pensacola Beach is part of a barrier island just off the coast of Florida. If you drive west along this island, all of the hotels and upscale housing gives way to sand dunes and scrub growth. At the end of this short trip you’ll find the remains of Fort Pickens.
Built in the early 1830’s, the fort became an important location for Union forces during the Civil War. The fort guarded the entrance to Pensacola Bay and thus to the naval yard in Pensacola. After Fort Sumter surrendered to the Confederacy at the beginning of the war, President Lincoln immediately sent reinforcements to Fort Pickens. As a result, Fort Pickens became one of only 4 southern forts never to be occupied by confederate troops. In fact, Union ships coming out of Pensacola were used to inflict heavy damage on confederate forces in other locations.
One of the guns on display at the fort was capable of firing a 400 pound ball up to 3 miles. Interesting. I don’t know how accurate the damn thing was, but I don’t think I would have wanted to be on a wooden ship trying to make a run past the fort into Pensacola Bay. The south, by the way, did try to capture Fort Pickens, but failed. It wasn’t actually closed as a military installation until after World War II.