Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More on the Apalachicola Arsenal - Chattahoochee, Florida

This is the officers' quarters of the Apalachicola Arsenal at Chattahoochee, Florida, as they appear today. The structure is now the Administration Building of the Florida State Hospital. One note, the grounds of the hospital are open to the public but cameras are not allowed without prior permission. This photograph was taken a couple of years ago through the courtesy of the hospital staff.

The officers' quarters and the small structure adjoining it to the left were part of the original quadrangle of the Apalachicola Arsenal at Chattahoochee. The name came from the Apalachicola River, not the city of Apalachicola.

The site for the compound was selected and surveyed in January of 1833 and clearing of the site began that same year. A brick factory was set up in the nearby river bottom and by the end of 1834, more than 1.5 million bricks had been manufactured for the arsenal project. Actual construction began during the spring of 1834 and was completed in 1839. The total cost of the project was $226,932.50 in 19th century dollars.

The facility included the officers' quarters, barracks, workshops, the tower, magazines, storehouses and a shop for constructing artillery carriages and wagons. All of these except the magazines were grouped around the edges of a square, four acre compound. The exterior walls of the structures helped form the outer perimeter of the quadrangle. The buildings were linked by a 9-foot high, 30-inch thick brick wall penetrated by gates on the east and west sides. The external magazines, located a short distance away from the main complex, were surrounded by similar brick walls. A government wharf serving the facility was located at today's Chattahoochee Landing on the Apalachicola River.

On the eve of the Civil War in 1861, the post was garrisoned by Ordnance Sergeant Edwin Powell and a detachment of three men. This left the arsenal extremely exposed at a time when Southern governors were considering moves to take possession of military posts within the limits of their states.

In our next installment on the Apalachicola Arsenal, we will look closer at the capture of the facility by state troops in January of 1861.

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