1861 January 20th

January 20 1861 Sunday

Louisiana. An incomplete US Army fort at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Ship Island was seized by Mississippi State troops. Ship Island was a key location for naval operations in the Gulf of Mexico and the lower Mississippi River.

In 1858, Mississippi passed legislation to give jurisdiction over the island to the United States government. The US Congress was constructing modern masonry fortifications at strategic locations along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, including Ship Island. Construction of the fort began in 1859 and continued up to the outbreak of war. The Confederate captors later named the uncompleted structure Fort Twiggs after David Emanuel Twiggs who was dismissed from the US Army after joining the Confederacy on 1 March 1861.

In 1862, after Union reoccupation, the fort was renamed Fort Massachusetts in honor of the Union warship which had seized the abandoned outpost. Construction on Fort Massachusetts was halted in 1866, although the fort was not fully completed.

Union Organisation

Commander in Chief: President James Buchanan

Vice-President: John Cabell Breckinridge

Secretary of War: Joseph Holt

Secretary of the Navy: Isaac Toucey

  • African Squadron USN: Captain William Inman USN
  • Brazil Squadron USN: Captain Joshua R Sands USN.
  • East Indian (Asiatic) Squadron USN: Captain Cornelius K Stribling USN
  • European Squadron USN: vacant
  • Home Squadron USN: Captain Garrett J Prendergast USN
  • Mediterranean Squadron USN: Captain Charles H Bell USN
  • Pacific Squadron USN: Captain John B Montgomery USN

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

  • Department of the Pacific: Albert Sidney Johnston
    • District of Oregon: George Wright
  • Department of the East: John Ellis Wool
  • Department of New Mexico: Thomas Turner Fauntleroy
  • Department of Texas: David Emanuel Twiggs
  • Department of Utah: Philip St George Cooke
  • Department of the West: William Selby Harney

Union Generals

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
David Emanuel Twiggs
William Selby Harney

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Joseph Eggleston Johnston

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