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The Battle of Fort Brooke was a minor engagement fought October 16–18, 1863 in and around Tampa, Florida during the American Civil War. The most important outcome of the action was the destruction of two Confederate blockade runners which had been hidden upstream on the Hillsborough River (Florida), Hillsborough River.


Background

An important facet of the Union (American Civil War), Union's long-term strategy during the American Civil War was the Anaconda Plan, which established a blockade along much of the coast of the Confederate States of America, Confederate States. Though only a small town at the time, History of Tampa, Florida, Tampa had been an important port for exporting cattle and crops from ranches and farms in the interior of central Florida before the war. By 1862, most local shipping had been stymied by Union Navy ships patrolling near the mouth of Tampa Bay. However, several fast blockade runners based in Tampa had consistently slipped out to deliver cattle and cotton to Spanish Cuba in exchange for needed goods and gold. Captain Alexander Alderman Semmes, A.A. Semmes, the commander of Union naval forces in the area, decided to mount an expedition to destroy the ships used in the trade.


Battle

Two Union gunships, and , sailed into Tampa Bay on October 16, 1863 and began a slow bombardment of Fort Brooke while staying just out of the range of the fort's batteries. Two days later on October 18, a Union raiding party under Acting Master T.R. Harris secretly disembarked at Ballast Point (Tampa), Ballast Point, landing near the current intersection of Bayshore Boulevard and Gandy Boulevard. While the Union gunships continued a diversionary bombardment of the fort, about 100 Union troops marched north through a heavily wooded area that was later developed into the neighborhoods of Palma Ceia, West Tampa, and Seminole Heights. Their target was the Jean Street Shipyard on the Hillsborough River (Florida), Hillsborough River near today's Sligh Avenue, and upon reaching their destination, they quickly seized and burned several ships moored at the dock including two notorious blockade runners, the steamship ''Scottish Chief'' and the sloop ''Kate Dale.'' The ships and the shipyard were owned by the once and future mayor of Tampa, James McKay Sr., James McKay. Escaping capture by the attackers along with some crew members, McKay sped to the town and warned the Confederate States Army, Confederate forces at Fort Brooke about the raiding party and the fate of his ships. The 2nd Florida Infantry Battalion along with the Oklawaha Rangers cavalry unit and a few citizens of the town quickly gave chase and caught up with the Union detachment near their landing point on Tampa Bay. A short but sharp engagement known as the Battle of Ballast Point ensued as Union troops attempted to board their dinghies near today's Ballast Point Park and return to the waiting ships in the bay. With the support of covering fire from ''Tahoma'' and ''Adelia'' directed at Confederate forces on shore, the raiding party reached the ships having suffered 16 casualties. Union forces sailed out of Tampa Bay soon thereafter.


Aftermath

The raid met its objectives, as shipping out of Tampa came to a virtual halt for the duration of the war. The blockade running steamer ''Scottish Chief'' was heavily damaged but remained afloat after it burned. It was towed back downriver to near today's Howard W. Blake High School, Blake High School, stripped of usable materials, and destroyed. The steamer ''A.B. Noyes'', which had also been damaged in the raid, was similarly broken down to preclude her capture. The ''Kate Dale'' sank near its mooring and remains at the bottom of the Hillsborough River near the current location of ZooTampa at Lowry Park, ZooTampa.


See also

*History of Tampa, Florida *Battle of Tampa


References

{{authority control Naval battles of the American Civil War, Fort Brooke Battles of the Lower Seaboard Theater and Gulf Approach of the American Civil War, Fort Brooke Union victories of the American Civil War, Fort Brooke Hillsborough County, Florida Battles of the American Civil War in Florida, Fort Brooke History of Tampa, Florida Conflicts in 1863, Fort Brooke 1863 in Florida Riverine warfare, Fort Brooke October 1863 events