Cannon from Camp Walton
This carronade was sent to
Camp Walton after the troops
there came under attack.
Fort Walton Marker
This marker tells the story of
the Confederate outpost that
gave Fort Walton Beach its
Camp Walton - Confederate Fort at Fort Walton Beach, Florida - Site of Camp Walton, Florida - Site of Camp Walton, Florida
The Fort Walton Cannon
This 18-pounder was sent to Camp Walton from
Pensacola by Gen. Braxton Bragg.
Old Fort of Fort Walton Beach
There never was a "Fort" Walton, but the
modern city of Fort Walton Beach, Florida,
takes its name from a Civil War camp
established there in 1861 by the Walton

Raised at Eucheeanna, then the county seat
of Walton County, the guards included men
from both Walton and Santa Rosa Counties.
Okaloosa County, of which Fort Walton
Beach is now a part, did not exist in 1861.

In April of 1861, the Walton Guards moved
down to the Narrows of Santa Rosa Sound.
East Pass, the primary inlet from the Gulf of
Mexico to Choctawhatchee Bay, was then
shallow enough to wade across at low tide,
so vessels leaving the bay normally passed
through the Narrows and up Santa Rosa
Sound to Pensacola.

By taking up a position at the Narrows, the
troops could react quickly to any threat to
commerce in the bay.

Selecting a large Mississippian mound
group for their campsite, the Walton Guards
pitched camp in what is now the heart of
downtown Fort Walton Beach. Their main
camp was located near the base of the large
temple mound that can still be seen there.

The Confederates dug into a shell mound
near the shore and used its ancient sides to
form the embankments of a small fort. In the
process they recovered skeletons that they
displayed in a museum of sorts at the camp.
It was destroyed in 1862.

Since the area was then part of Walton
County, the soldiers called their outpost
"Camp Walton." The name lives on today as
Fort Walton.

The men from Camp Walton engaged in
some minor skirmishing with sailors from a
Union blockade vessel stationed offshore, an
action that prompted a retaliation on April 1,
1862, by Captain Henry W. Closson of the 1st
U.S. Artillery.

Marching down Santa Rosa Island from Fort
Pickens, Closson moved a rifled cannon into
position opposite the outpost during the night
of March 31, 1862. Once he could see the
outlines of the Confederate buildings the next
morning, he opened fire:
...I remained here until their huts could be
seen in the dawn, and then directed
Lieutenant Jackson to open fire. The shells
burst right in their midst. Loud cries and yells
were heard, and the rebels could barely be
seen through the brush in their shirt-tails
making rapidly for the back country. A
scattering volley was fired from what I
supposed to be their guard, who then
disappeared also...

The attack prompted Gen. Braxton Bragg to
send an 18-pound carronade (a short
barreled naval cannon) from Pensacola to
help the men at Camp Walton defend
against future attacks.

Camp Walton was evacuated later in the
summer and the Walton Guards went north
to Tennessee where they served as
Company D of the 1st Florida Infantry. Their
cannon was buried in the shell mound, from
which it was later recovered.

The cannon is now on display at
Fort Walton
Beach's Heritage Park, where markers also
interpret the history of both the cannon and
the Civil War camp. The park preserves part
of the site of Camp Walton. The fortified shell
mound was about 200 yards away.
The Walton Guards
The fort and camp were built
by the Walton Guards, later
part of the 1st Florida Infantry.
Fort Walton Temple Mound
Civil War soldiers dug
skeletons from the mounds at
Fort Walton Beach.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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