The story of the obviously important role that Fort Sumter-Charleston played in the secession crisis and the beginning of the shooting war has been told repeatedly and well by a number of well-respected authors. However, the somewhat similar situation that was taking place over in West Florida at Fort Pickens and Pensacola is usually pushed into the background although it could easily have provided the match that lit the powder keg. Pensacola During the Civil War: A Thorn in the Side of the Confederacy by George F. Pearce does a great job of recounting these events.
The first half of the book takes the reader from the secessionist capture of the navy yard and Forts Barrancas and McRee through the long stalemate that prevailed between the those forces and the Federals holed up in Fort Pickens. The book's second half begins with the Confederate abandonment of Pensacola and traces the development of the Union use of the enclave as a key support element of the Gulf blockading squadrons. The late war Union cavalry raids north and west of Pensacola that served to damage already tenuous Confederate communications and also to support the land attack on Mobile are detailed here as well. Overall, this is an important study of the war's impact on the eastern Gulf coast region.