• Beach walkway to white sandy beach and bluegreen waters

    Gulf Islands

    National Seashore FL,MS

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  • Partial Closure on Horn Island

    Small portion of Horn Island, Mississippi, closed to entry due to discovery of asbestos and possible other bio hazards. Click on more for map and press release. More »

  • Shorebirds Nesting Near Roads - 20 mph

    Shorebirds are nesting near roads and cross the road regularly. Observe posted speed limits and be alert for tiny birds on the roads. Last year 155 birds were killed on park roads, help us reduce the mortality rate of these beautiful birds and go slow.

Trading Cards

Kids! Collect stories about the Civil War and civil rights! The National Park Service is offering more than 500 trading cards to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Visit a park in person to earn a card (sorry, cards cannot be mailed). Ask a ranger or stop by the visitor center at a participating park. You can view all the cards online and discover stories from nearly 90 national parks in 31 states and the District of Columbia. You'll be surprised at what you will learn.

Gulf Islands National Seashore has a total of eight trading cards.

 
Fort Barrancas with bridge down

The Pensacola Forts Avenue to Freedom

With the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the military became an avenue to freedom. By 1864, Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas, that had been built by slave labor, were now guarded by the 25th Regiment, US Colored Troops. Where free blacks had not long before fled Pensacola to preserve their freedom, now they came to fight for and secure it.

 
Navtive Guards in line

The First to Fight

The Louisiana Native Guards

Several thousand "free men of color" mustered into service in New Orleans. In early April, the 2nd
Regiment boarded ships, landed at East Pascagoula, and took the village. Confederates launched a furious counterattack, but these Native Guards prevailed, becoming the first black unit on the Gulf Frontier to meet the enemy in battle.

 
Branded Hand with letters SS

"The Branded Hand" of Jonathan Walker

In 1844, Jonathan Walker was caught helping escaped slaves. Imprisoned for months in Pensacola, Florida, his hand was branded "SS" for "slave stealer." Reinterpreted as "Slave Savior," this inspired a popular poem, "The Branded Hand." Walker's published journal bore witness to harsh punishment of slaves, and images of his hand were widely circulated among abolitionists.

 
Tents on fire soldiers fighting

Secret Night Time Raid on Santa Rosa Island

On October 9, 1861, over 1000
Confederates secretly landed on
Santa Rosa Island near Fort Pickens,
Florida. Before dawn they attacked
and burned a Union camp outside
the fort in the fi rst signifi cant Civil
War battle in Florida. In retaliation
for this raid, a massive artillery
bombardment struck Confederate
positions on November 22-23.

 
Firing on Fort Pickens

Federal Fire Power at Fort Pickens

On November 22-23, 1861, Union
forces at Fort Pickens, Florida
unleashed one of the heaviest
artillery bombardments of the Civil
War on Confederate positions
across Pensacola Bay. Over 5000
cannonballs wrecked Fort McRee
and the Pensacola Navy Yard, leading
Confederates to abandon Pensacola
in May 1862.

 
Housing at Ship Island

"Dead Line" at Ship Island

Ship Island housed over 5,700
Confederate prisoners-of-war
awaiting transfer or exchange with
Union soldiers. With no prison walls,
inmates were fenced or held in tents
behind a "dead line." If they crossed
this line, they would be shot. Due
to the island's shifting sands, 153 of
the men who died there are buried
at sea.

 
Lieutenant Adam Slemmer

Lieutenant Adam Slemmer

Saving Fort Pickens

Lieutenant Slemmer commanded
Company G, 1st U.S. Artillery at Fort
Barrancas on Pensacola Bay, Florida
in January of 1861. Transferring his
men to the stronger Fort Pickens
and refusing repeated demands to
surrender, his actions saved Fort
Pickens for the Union, denying
Confederate use of an important
harbor and navy yard in the South.

 
Fort Massachusetts

Ship Island

Strategic Union Staging Ground

The Union used strategically located
Ship Island, Mississippi as a base for
the naval blockade of southern ports
from September 1861 until the end
of Civil War. Admiral Farragut utilized
the island as the staging ground for
naval operations, including the 1862
takeover of New Orleans and the
1865 Battle of Mobile Bay.

Did You Know?

WWII dog trainers at Cat Island, Mississippi located at Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Because of the tropical-like conditions, the U. S. Army established the Cat Island War Dog Training Camp in south Mississippi during World War II. A variety of dog breeds were trained to guard, deliver messages, and attack the enemy. Cat Island is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore.